News in Numbers, Nov 23, 2016: The unregulated coin…

Rs 64,000

What is it? The price at which Bitcoin, the world’s largest and oldest of cryptocurrencies, was trading on some of the leading Indian Bitcoin trading exchanges yesterday.

Why is it important? This was about 25% higher than the international price of around $740 (around Rs 51,000). This is likely an effect of the government’s demonetisation announcement that caused currency notes in Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denominations to be illegal tender since November 9 when people are looking for alternate payment and investment options. On November 8, Bitcoin was trading at around Rs 52,000 on leading Bitcoin exchanges (Unocoin and Zebpay), which was at a difference of 10% than the international prices. The increased demand for bitcoins and the shortage of supply are pushing the prices of bitcoin in India compared to global prices, according to experts.

Tell me more: Bitcoin, which was created in 2009 by an unknown person using the alias Satoshi Nakamoto, can be used to make transactions without the need for any bankers or other intermediaries. Increasingly, merchants are beginning to accept this form of payment and it can also be used to send money to others.

12

What is it? The number of countries that signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal in 2015, which covers 40% of the global economy.

Why is it important? President-elect Donald Trump has said in a video message that US would quit this deal, which is yet to be ratified, on his first day in the White House. Instead, he would focus on “fair bilateral trade deals” to revive industry and bring back jobs. If this happens, the deal is likely to cease to exist as it requires ratification by at least six countries that account for 85% of the total gross domestic product of the member nations. It remains to be seen if India gains or loses out due to this decision; currently, the opinion seems to be divided.

Tell me more: TPP aims to cut down tariffs, remove trade barriers and deepen economic ties among signatory countries; it includes measures to cover labour and environmental standards, patents, copyrights and other legal protections. Critics of this deal have said that it is secretive in nature and is designed to favour the big corporations.

 

Rs 13,192 crore

What is it? The total tax collection by 47 municipal bodies this month as of November 22.

Why is it important? This is over 3.5 times the amount collected last November by these civic bodies and seems to be an additional point on the ‘pros’ column of the government’s demonetisation move. However, this is more likely to be a one-off increase as many of them turned up to pay their dues with old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. What it shows is the potential revenue collection by municipal bodies, which can help authorities devise a mechanism to track down those do not pay their taxes.

Tell me more: Mumbai received the lion’s share of the total tax collected (90%) this month, which is thrice the amount it collected in November a year ago. Hyderabad was distinct in terms of showing the maximum increase in tax collections – about 26 times the amount it received last year.

 

14,000

What is it? The number of jobs Larsen and Toubro Group (L&T) has cut in the July-September period of this year.

Why is it important? This is one of the biggest layoffs by an Indian corporate group in recent times, which seems to be a result of an economic slowdown and its efforts to increase productivity by way of digitisation. India’s largest engineering and construction group said the layoffs is a one-time exercise and has been applicable across sectors though it did not provide a break-up.

Tell me more: Earlier this year, L&T Finance Holding (non-banking finance arm of L&T) had reportedly asked 550 employees to leave due to high costs and slow business. The $16-billion conglomerate had 84,027 employees as of March 2014.

 

400

What is it? The number of compositions credited to Carnatic musician Dr M Balamuralikrishna who passed away in Chennai on Tuesday. He was 86 years old.

Why is it important? A child prodigy, Balamuralikrishna is known for having revived old ragas (Narthak, Sunadavinodini) and creating new ones including Mahathi, Lavangi, Omkari, Murali, Manorama, Sushma and Ganapathi, some of them with just 3-4 notes. He was adept at playing different instruments such as violin, flute, veena, mridangam and kanjira, which is rare for a vocalist. He is said to have composed songs in all the 72 Melakartha ragas, which are considered to be the backbone of Carnatic Music.

Tell me more: Born in East Godavari district in Andhra Pradesh, he is the fifth generation disciple in the Guru-Sishya parampara (hierarchy of disciples) of saint-composer Thyagaraja.

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News in Numbers, Aug 19, 2016: SBI board approves merger, Sindhu aims for the gold…

63,000

What is it? The number of jobs technology companies in the US have shed so far this year, according to an outplacement agency.

Why is it important? Automation is replacing jobs, and analysts say that this trend is likely to continue. Hardware engineers are the most hit with firms such as Cisco making the shift to more profitable software-oriented services. Cisco laid off 5,500 employees recently and it may affect its research and development centre in India.

Tell me more: Other companies that are likely to lay off employees are IBM Corp, Oracle Corp, Dell Inc and Hewlett Packard Enterprise, according to analysts. A Global Equities Research analyst said the tech industry is likely to shed 370,000 jobs this year.

 

Rs 37 lakh crore

What is it? The balance sheet size of State Bank of India (SBI) and its five associate banks post merger. This proposal was cleared by its board on Thursday.

Why is it important? The announcement was made in May and this is the first step in what is believed to lead to a major consolidation phase in the banking sector after many years. This, despite the fact that bank unions have been opposing the move and have gone on strikes in the recent past.

Tell me more: The SBI has announced swap ratios (acquiring company offers its shares in exchange for the target company’s shares) for three of its associate banks (State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur, State Bank of Mysore and State Bank of Travancore), in addition to that for Bharatiya Mahila Bank. It is yet to announce the swap ratios for State Bank of Hyderabad and State Bank of Patiala.

 

1.6 million

What is it? The number of pellets fired by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) between July 8 and August 11 to control violent mobs in Kashmir, as per its admission to the Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Thursday.

Why is it important? The use of pellet guns, which caused eye injuries (including loss of vision) to many, has come under sharp criticism by human rights organisations and political parties. After Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s announcement in July that the government would form an expert panel to consider other non-lethal alternatives for crowd control measures, the court had said this meant that pellet guns are not non-lethal weapons and this is enough reason to discontinue its usage.

Tell me more: The protests erupted after separatist militant, also the head of a terrorist group called Hijb-ul Mujahideen, Burhan Wani was killed in July. The CRPF told the court that pellet guns were introduced in 2010 as an accepted form of riot control and if these are withdrawn, then it would have no option but to open fire with rifles in extreme situations, which could be fatal.

 

41%

What is it? The gap between the actual number of toilets built under the Swachh Bharat Mission and the official numbers as put up by the sanitation ministry in Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur, as per a field survey report of select districts.

Why is it important? Such a mismatch raises concerns about the real progress of the programme. India has set a target to eliminate open defecation by 2019. In some states such as Jharkhand, Gujarat, Karnataka and Rajasthan, the gaps between the actual numbers and those reported to the central government are 19%, 23%, 27% and 28% respectively. The field survey numbers for Sikkim, which became the first to achieve the open defecation free status, are the only ones that match with those with the ministry of sanitation.

Tell me more: Retired civil and defence services officers and non-government institutions with rural development experience are empanelled by the rural development ministry as individual and institutional National Level Monitors. These monitors covered 24.22 lakh random households in some districts across states.

 

51

What is it? The duration of the semi-final match between Indian shuttler PV Sindhu and World Number 6 Nozomi Okuhara from Japan on Thursday. Sindhu smashed her way into the finals.

Why is it important? With her Thursday’s win, Sindhu has assured India of at least a silver medal – the second one after Sakshi Malik won a bronze in the 58 kg women’s freestyle wrestling category on Wednesday, and the fifth Indian female athlete to get a medal overall. All eyes are on the 21-year-old athlete from Hyderabad who would face World Number 1 Carolina Marin from Spain this evening and if Sindhu defeats Marin, she would be the second Indian sportsperson to win the gold after ace shooter’s Abhinav Bindra’s victory at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

Tell me more: This was Sindhu’s debut at the Olympics. She trains under Pullela Gopichand at his academy in Hyderabad.

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News in Numbers, Aug 18, 2016: Ola shuts down TaxiForSure, India’s first medal at Rio…

Sakshi Malik creates history at the Rio Olympics 2016. She won the bronze medal in the 58 kg women’s freestyle wrestling category on Wednesday. With this, India gets its 25th medal at the Olympic Games. It first participated in the Games in 1900.

Read more about Malik’s win and the firsts that have come along with her victory. This, and four other numbers, make up today’s edition.

As always, we appreciate suggestions and feedback. Look forward to hearing from you.

7001,000

What is it? The number of jobs cab-hailing aggregator Ola will lay off as a result of shutting down TaxiForSure (TFS) it acquired 18 months ago.

Why is it important? The layoffs can cut costs by nearly Rs 30 crore a month, according to reports. Ola has been trying to raise funds and battle with cash-rich Uber, which can now devote more time and resources to India after having sold its China operations to Didi Chuxing. Over the last few months, Ola was said to be integrating some of TFS teams such as human resources and tech while keeping the drivers and call centre teams separate.

Tell me more: Ola had acquired TFS for $200 million last year to fend off competition and up its strength against Uber. It had initially said it would manage TFS as a separate brand. Nearly 90% of the employees being laid off belong to operations such as call centres, driver relations and business development units.

 

730 million

What is it? The estimated number of Internet users in India by 2020, according to a report.

Why is it important? Three-fourth of the new user growth is expected to be from rural areas and a similar percentage of people is expected to consume data in local languages. These estimates, if true, is a pointer for the government and businesses to focus their digital initiatives or expansions more towards the countryside and also, will help provide opportunities for those in the rural areas. There were 350 million Internet users at the end of 2015.

Tell me more: The report by Nasscom in association with Akamai Technologies also predicts that online shopping would account for two-thirds of the e-commerce market by 2020 (with fashion and lifestyle to overtake the consumer electronics segment) and half of the travel transactions would be done online.

 

4

What is it? The number of Indian women athletes who have clinched a medal at the Olympics with the latest being Sakshi Malik who won a bronze in the 58 kg women’s freestyle wrestling category on Wednesday.

Why is it important? She is the first woman wrestler from India to have won a medal at the Olympics and overall, hers is the country’s fifth wrestling medal. Malik’s win also ended India’s 11-day wait to win a medal at the Rio Olympics 2016. In all, India has now won 25 medals at the Olympic Games over the years.

Tell me more: The other Indian women athletes to have won a medal are: weightlifter Karnam Malleshwari in 2000, boxer MC Mary Kom and shuttler Saina Nehwal in 2012.

 

Rs 4,566.6 crore

What is it? The total amount pharmaceutical companies owe the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) for charging higher prices than those prescribed by the government.

Why is it important? Over 80% of the amount is under litigation and just around 8% of the total amount demanded (for overcharging) has been recovered by the NPPA so far (since August 1997). This highlights the difficulty of price control, and the need for better methods to ensure pharma companies follow regulations.

Tell me more: The prices of essential medicines are fixed by the NPPA from time to time and the manufacturers who are found to be overcharging are to pay the overcharged amount along with interest under the Drugs (Price Control) Order, 2013.

 

1.96 crore

What is it? The number of private vehicles registered in 2015. That’s nearly 53,720 per day.

Why is it important? It touched an all-time high last year and is a huge jump from over two decades ago (less than 10 lakh until 1993). With an increase in population and disposable incomes and inefficient public transport systems, this trend is likely to continue. Underlines the importance of devising strategies for infrastructure and public transport to avoid further congestion in the urban areas.

Tell me more: Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka top the charts in terms of vehicle registrations, which together account for nearly a third of the total private vehicle registrations in the country.

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News in Numbers, May 16, 2016: Google’s likely antitrust fine, polling across three states…

€3 billion

What is it? The antitrust fine amount Google is reportedly to be served with, by the European Commission in the near future.

Why is it important? If true, this would be the highest antitrust fine imposed on any company, surpassing a €1.1 billion fine on chip-maker Intel in 2009. The world’s largest search engine has been accused of promoting its shopping service in Internet searches, harming its rival services. This is likely to force Google to stop manipulating its search results, a case which has gone on since 2010 in the European Union.

Tell me more: The fine is expected to be announced in June and could go up to €6.6 billion, one-tenth of Google’s annual sales.

5,000

What is it? The number of jobs affected in the automobile sector due to the ban on diesel cars and SUVs with engine capacity of 2,000 cc and above in the Delhi-NCR area, according to an industry body.

Why is it important? The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers has contended that there is no link between engine capacity and emission levels and automakers such as Mercedes Benz have argued that their vehicles are BS VI-compliant and that diesel does not pollute the air anymore than petrol. Some have called for phased reduction, which might also give more time for transition for workers. However, Supreme Court appears to be entertaining no further debate on the issue.

Tell me more: Due to this ban between December 16, 2015 and April 30, 2016, production of 11,000 vehicles has been affected and a countrywide ban during the same period would have impacted 47,000 jobs and resulted in a loss of production of 1 lakh vehicles.

402

What is it? The total number of constituencies where polling is happening across Tamil Nadu (232 of 234), Kerala (140) and Puducherry (30).

Why is it important? In Tamil Nadu, which has always elected a clear winner for nearly 50 years, the fight is between J Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK and M Karunanidhi’s DMK, it remains to be seen if the combine of a few regional parties including Vijayakanth’s DMDK is able to make a mark to result in vote-splitting. In Kerala, the ruling UDF and the LDF are battling it out. In both these states, BJP’s vote share would be keenly watched as a measure of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity, who campaigned in both the states.

Tell me more: In the southern union territory of Puducherry, two Congress parties are up in arms against each other – one, led by Sonia Gandhi and the other, a breakaway faction led by chief minister N Rangasamy.

6 days

What is it? The delay in the onset of Indian monsoons this year, which is now expected to hit the Kerala coast on June 7.

Why is it important? After two consecutive years of drought and with a quarter of India’s population reeling under its effects, India’s monsoon this year is highly anticipated. The monsoon accounts for over 70% of India’s annual rainfall, is the primary source of irrigation for half of the country’s cropland and refills over 80 nationally-monitored water reservoirs (important for drinking purposes, power and irrigation). The delay is unlikely to affect the sowing of the Kharif crops.

Tell me more: Monsoon usually arrives on June 1 and the India Meteorological Department’s forecast has a margin of error of four days.

0.616

What is it? The number of seconds by which Dutch teenager Max Verstappen beat Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen in Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix.

Why is it important? With this win, 18-year-old Verstappen became the youngest winner of a Formula One race, beating four-times world champion Sebastian Vettel’s victory in 2008 at the age of 21. He is also the first Dutch race winner since the championship began in 1950.

Tell me more: Dominant players Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg collided and crashed out in the opening lap. Verstappen made his F1 debut when he was 17 for Toro Rosso, one of the two F1 teams owned by Austrian beverage company Red Bull, after which the minimum entry age was changed to 18 years.

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