News in numbers, Apr 26, 2016: The water wasters, India’s malaria elimination plans…

1.32

What is it? The number of times Punjab’s water footprint exceeds world average for growing wheat.

Why is it important? It’s an indicator of inefficient water usage across the country. For example, UP’s water footprint for wheat is 2.27% and Madhya Pradesh’s is 0.93%. With the drought affecting several parts of the country, this indicates the need for taking a fresh approach towards the crops India grows and how efficiently it grows them.  

Tell me more: The government procurement also seems to be tilted towards water inefficient states. For example, Rajasthan, the highest wheat producing state in 2014-15 and which has a low water footprint of 0.69 has a procurement share of just 4.6%.

Rs 22,085 crore

What is it? Government subsidy for petroleum products such as LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) and kerosene in the first nine months of 2015-16, 71% lower than the subsidies in 2014-15.

Why is it important? While reduction can be attributed to low crude oil prices, it also shows market reforms are working. The government had linked diesel and petrol prices to market and introduced direct benefit transfer scheme. India, which imports 80% of its oil needs, can use this saving along with the amount gained due to lower oil import bills, to spend on other purposes such as education and health.

Tell me more: India’s crude oil import bill is expected to almost reduce by half (45%) to $62 billion in 2015-16 from $113 billion the previous year.

3

What is it? The number of students who have been rusticated by Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) for allegedly raising anti-national slogans at an event organised in support of Afzal Guru, a convicted terrorist.

Why is it important? JNU can be expected to sizzle for some more time. Kumar said he rejects the punishment as it is biased and that the students “will fight back and will win”.

Tell me more: A university committee set up to probe the incident found the students guilty on various charges such as not following university procedures, providing misinformation, instigating communal violence, participating in sloganeering, indiscipline, misconduct, and creating discord among students. Reportedly, financial penalty has been imposed on 14 students including student leader Kanhaiya Kumar. Some of the students including Kumar were arrested on sedition charges and are currently, out on bail.

200,000

What is it? The number of households in Mandla district in Madhya Pradesh where a malaria elimination project will be implemented by the Indian Council for Medical Research and Sun Pharma over the next 3-5 years. Mandla is one of the most malaria-endemic districts in the state.

Why is it important? This is India’s first public-private-partnership for research and innovation in preventive health care. This is likely to help India in its goal of eliminating malaria by 2030. According to official estimates, there were 561 deaths due to malaria in 2014 though this is much lesser than WHO’s estimates of 15,000 deaths a year and an independent research, which claims malaria kills over 200,000 people a year in India.

Tell me more: The project would include measures such as strengthening existing health systems, development and testing of medical products and disease surveillance and the learnings would be used to draw strategies for malaria elimination in other parts of the country.

458

What is it? The number of examiners the Indian government has hired for clearing applications for patents, designs and trademarks.

Why is it important? This increases the examiner strength by over 3.5 times, which would help in bringing down the time taken to process applications to 18 months by March 2018 from the current 5-7 years. As many as 237,000 patents and 544,000 trademarks registrations are pending approval.

Tell me more: Another 263 examiners would be hired on a contract basis to help clear the backlog.

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News in numbers, Apr 25, 2016: Mixed signs of economic recovery, judge-population ratio…

13.8%

What is it? The year-on-year net profit growth of 60 companies in the January-March 2016.

Why is it important? This is the lowest in four quarters, though it is better than the 10.6% growth a year ago. The analysis of companies that have declared their fourth quarter results so far indicates mixed signs of economic recovery. The net profit growth numbers disappointed observers, but the combined revenue growth at 0.6% the highest in seven quarters provided some cheer.

Tell me more: A better picture would emerge after key manufacturing and infrastructure companies declare their results. This sample of companies analysed includes some of the biggest companies in India – Reliance Industries, Infosys, HDFC Bank, Wipro – which account for a majority of the combined net profit and revenues in the three months to March 2016.

15

What is it? The number of judges for every 10 lakh population in India.

Why is it important? Lack of judges is one of the main factors for India’s slow justice system. It has serious economic costs too. A survey by Bengaluru-based NGO Daksh estimated that the loss of wages and business for litigants attending lower court hearings, in addition to legal fees and other costs works out to be over Rs 80,000 crore a year, 0.7% of India’s GDP in 2015-16.

Tell me more: The Supreme Court has six vacancies while as of February 29, the High Courts had 464 vacancies of judges. This has resulted in high pendency of cases – as of February 19, 59,468 cases were pending before the apex court; around 45 lakh cases pending before all 24 high courts and 2.75 crore cases before the trial courts as reported in early January.

750

What is it? The number of complaints against private universities received by the Indian government and University Grants Commission (UGC) in the last three years.

Why is it important? The government and UGC have stepped up their scrutiny of private universities, which are loosely regulated and enjoy a great amount of freedom in their operations. The challenge for India is to improve the quality of higher education even as it aims to increase gross enrolment ratio to 30% by 2020 from 23.6% in 2014-15.

Tell me more: The complaints – including on fake degrees and irregularities in finance – have seen a threefold increase in the last couple of years.

~ $1 billion

What is it? The value of offshore loans, which SSG Capital Management, a Hong Kong-based distressed-asset investor, is reportedly interested in buying from Standard Chartered’s India portfolio. It’s the only firm that has shown interest so far.

Why is it important? Indicates tepid response to the sale of distressed assets in India as banks scramble to clean their balance sheets before the March 2017 deadline set by the central bank.

Tell me more: Standard Chartered’s sale of India loans was reported about a fortnight ago. The Hong Kong-based firm is also seeking a 30% discount on the value of the assets.

2

What is it? The number of people killed in a gun battle between two rival groups at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) during the weekend.

Why is it important? AMU is ranked among the top 10 universities in India, and it comes on the back of unrest at Jawharlal Nehru University and Hyderabad University. The AMU incident was said to be due to groupism, which also resulted in the destruction of 28,000 students records in fire.

Tell me more: Reports say that trouble began when a hostel student was assaulted and an attempt was made to set his room afire. Following the student’s complaint to the proctor against this, a rival gang arrived with weapons and both the groups resorted to firing at each other.

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