News in Numbers, Feb 20, 2017: The cost of a Tirupathi Laddu

Rs 2,500 crore

What is it? The estimated cost of re-verification of existing mobile subscribers through Aadhaar-based electronic know-your-customer process.

Why is it important? The attempt to weed out fake or forged identities used to secure telecom connections, especially wireless ones, will be a costly one. In January, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) proposed the e-KYC for Aadhaar-based ratification of users, and suggested incentives to help it.

Tell me more: In a letter to the Telecom Department, Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) estimates that not just the cost, but the process would also require resources to rope in about 1,000 million subscribers.

 

26

What is it? The number of army personnel that died in the first 50 days of 2017.

Why is it important? The unrest in Kashmir from summer last year continues this year, triggering more counter-insurgency measures that claimed six soldiers in 2017. The rest of the security forces were killed in avalanches in the valley, a result of global warming. These deadly 50 days follow a year with the highest death count of 82 among the J&K forces since 2008.

Tell me more: But the counter-insurgency operations led to the death of 22 militants, the highest since 2010.

 

-$1,020 million

What is it? The difference in income of terror group, Islamic State, between 2014 and 2016.

Why is it important? The effects of political moves against ISIS, such as Operation Tidal Wave II, reduction in cross-border smuggling in Turkish and Kurdish-controlled areas in Iraq etc. and military opposition to its expansion are starting to show. Unlike other terror groups, donors play a negligible part in ISIS’ finances. Its territories yield natural resources, and properties, businesses and people to pillage and tax, for its to extract revenue from. But a shrinking territorial grasp has hit its coffers too.

Tell me more: Its biggest source of money — looting, confiscations and fines — have declined from 52% of its income of $970-1,890 million in 2014 to 22% of its  $520-870 million income in 2016, according to a report by the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence .

 

Rs 140 crore

What is it? The annual loss to Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam, the trust that manages the famous Tirumala temple in Andhra Pradesh, on account of laddus, an offering made to the deity of the temple, and sold at subsidised rates or given away free to the pilgrims.

Why is it important?  It costs Rs 32.50 to make a laddu and it’s sold for Rs 25 for the pilgrims in general, at Rs 10 for those who opt for free entry into the temple, and for free to those who walk up the hill. About 70 lakh people reach the temple every year by foot. About 4 crore to 5 crore people visit the temple annually.

 

Tell me more: TTD earns over Rs 2000 every year, primarily from hundi collection.

 

~ 50%

What is it? The share of coal in total exports of North Korea to China.

Why is it important? China has banned coal imports from North Korea following the country’s claim that it has successfully tested ballistic missiles recently. China also accounts for over two thirds of North Korea’s exports. The move is expected to cause a shock to the struggling North Korean economy under Kim Jong-un and aimed to increase pressure on the country to stop its nuclear programme.

Tell me more: North Korea tested a medium long range ballistic missile on February 12, which landed in the Sea of Japan. China has been reducing trade with North Korea partly due to local economic compulsions and partly because of international pressure to impose trade sanctions on the country.

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News in Numbers, Feb 13, 2017: Nothing to kill or to die for

7

What is it? Number of people killed in a gun-battle in Kashmir on Sunday.

Why is it important? The violence in the state, rekindled in 2016, continues with four terrorists killed in the fight. With two Indian soldiers dead, J&K security forces’ death toll increased. Avalanches had claimed lives earlier this year, which succeeds a year with the highest death count of 82 among the forces since 2008.

Tell me more: A civilian was also killed and three soldiers injured in the incident. In civilian deaths, three road-workers had been killed by militants last month.

 

Rs 385.6 crore

What is it? The first-ever loss reported by India’s third-largest telecom player, Idea Cellular in the third quarter financial year 2017 (Q3 FY17).

Why is it important? While it was expected Idea would report a loss, the amount was more than the forecast. A quarter of free voice and data promotional offers by Reliance Jio has dented financial performance of all the three (including Airtel and Vodafone) major players, with the smallest, Idea, being hit the hardest.

Tell me more: Idea says the sector can hope to recover only when Jio starts charging for its pan-India mobile services. Idea’s income fell from a profit of Rs 764.2 crore in Q3 FY16 and Rs 90 crore in Q2 FY17. The operator waited for the official confirmation of a merger with Vodafone India before sharing its financial results this quarter.

 

~$200 million

What is it? The amount Oil and Natural Gas Corporation’s (ONGC) overseas arm, ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL), is said to have overpaid in acquiring Videocon Group’s 10% stake for $2.5 billion, in a large natural gas-field in Africa’s Mozambique in 2013.

Why is it important? If proved, this could mean a big lapse in judgement for the public sector company and India’s largest oil and gas explorer by revenue. What was allegedly on the market for $2.3 billion, was acquired for $2.475 billion by it, and since has faced a write-down in asset value as crude energy prices fell. The payment to Videocon is now being investigated by the oil ministry.

Tell me more: OVL later bought stake in the same area from another energy player, the US Anadarko Corp, for $2.64 billion in 2014 that the latter calculated was a gain of over 62% of the purchase price.

 

310 miles

What is it? The distance travelled by a North Korean intermediate-range ballistic missile before it landed in the Sea of Japan on Sunday.

Why is it important? By testing the missile, North Korea has violated United Nation’s restrictions, even as many observers commented that it was to provoke Donald Trump, the newly elected president of United States, a long time ally of Japan. Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe, who is on a visit to US, and was with Trump, called it “absolutely intolerable.”

Tell me more: Just a day before the launch, Trump and Abe had urged North Korea not to test ballistic missiles and to drop its nuclear programme. It comes about two weeks ahead of the largest ever joint military exercise between the U.S. and South Korea.

 

43,512

What is it? The number of housing units sold in the quarter ended December 2016 in top nine cities in India, according to a report by PropTiger.

Why is it important? The sales are down 20% from the previous quarter, one of the expected impacts of demonetisation, which took away 96% of currency in circulation. The monthly average sales during November and December when demonetisation was in full flow, dropped by 40% and 49% respectively, PropTiger said in a report.

Tell me more: Gurgaon, Noida and Ahmedabad saw 30-40% decline in sales, while Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Chennai saw 20% drop in sales.

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