News in Numbers, Nov 2, 2011: How many Facebook friends do you have?


What is it? The percentage by which an average Facebook user is less likely to die than someone who does not use the social networking site, according to a study.

Why is it important? The study says the use of Facebook increases longevity only when it is used to maintain or improve real-life social connections. Those with large social networks lived longer than those with fewer friends, which seems to mirror studies of real-world relationships.

Tell me more: The study, which was led by University of California-San Diego researchers, looked at 12 million California-based Facebook users born between 1945 and 1989 and matched them with their health records, monitoring their online activity over six months. The researchers have said that the study is just observational and by no way proves that one would live longer if they use Facebook.


$600 million

What is it? The amount ride-hailing startup Ola is reportedly looking to raise while another report pegs the amount to $300-500 million.

Why is it important? This would help ANI Technologies’ Ola, which is playing the discounts game with Uber (said to be the most valuable startup, according to Statista) in India to maintain its lead position. The amount would reportedly provide Ola enough capital for the next 18 months. Uber has been focusing on the Indian market after selling off its Chinese operations. Ola has been in talks to raise funds since it last raised $57.3 million in December 2015.

Tell me more: Ola has raised $1.23 billion in eight rounds from 20 investors so far and was last valued at $5 billion.



What is it? The estimated number of captive elephants in India, most of whom are under the care of private individuals including temples.

Why is it important? Soon, elephants could join the list of animals banned from being exhibited or trained as performing animals. Currently, bull, bear, monkey, panther, tiger and lion are included in this list. The Animal Welfare Board of India, the country’s advisory body on animal welfare laws) has asked the environment ministry to ban the training, exhibition and use of elephants for performance in temples, circuses and joyrides.

Tell me more: Animal activists have been asking for better treatment of elephants, provide better welfare measures for them including food, veterinary care and housing facility and give better training to mahouts. The estimated number of elephants in India is 23,900 to 32,900; the Indian government declared the elephant as an animal of national heritage to increase its protection-measures.



What is it? The number of states that are open-defecation free (ODF) with Kerala being the latest to join the list. Sikkim and Himachal Pradesh are the other two states that have officially declared themselves to be free of open defecation.

Why is it important? The government has expressed hope that many states can achieve ODF status well before the deadline of October 2, 2019. Other states such as Gujarat, Uttarakhand and Mizoram are likely to achieve this status for their rural areas by March next year. However, certain challenges such as reporting of unreliable toilet construction numbers (the Comptroller and Auditor General of India found 16 states had overstated the data on individual toilet constructions by 190% of the actual constructions), improper construction of toilets (making them dysfunctional) and bringing about a behaviour change in people.

Tell me more: India compares poorly with other countries in terms of open defecation: 48.3% of the country’s population do not use toilets and in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sub-Saharan Africa, the corresponding numbers are: 23.1%, 4% and 24.9%, according to data by r.i.c.e, a non-profit research organisation.



What is it? The number of polls (of a total of six) in which Republican candidate Donald Trump has a lead of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in the US Presidential elections, as of November 1. Clinton is ahead in three polls while the sixth one predicts a tie between the two.

Why is it important? The previous day’s data showed Clinton was ahead of Trump in seven of eight general election polls and indicates that the 2016 US Presidential elections is a tight race and just either of them could be the next US President. Last week, the FBI said it had found a new set of emails that could be “pertinent” to the Clinton email case and this may have an impact on the elections. The timing of the announcement of this development has drawn sharp criticism from many.

Tell me more: The prediction system devised by Allan J Lichtman, professor of history at American University, which has been correct in predicting the winner of all the US elections since 1984, says Trump is the man. Another prediction by an artificial intelligence system, whose predictions have been correct in the last three elections, gives Trump the lead position.

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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.


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.


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.


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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News in numbers, Apr 11, 2016: Kollam temple fire accident, Pak’s infiltration attempts…

> 100

What is it? The number of people killed by fire and explosions caused by fireworks at Puttingal Temple in Kollam district of Kerala.

Why is it important? Though Kerala temples have seen fire accidents in the past, the scale of Sunday’s disaster is one of the largest. Rules are often flouted or ignored during such festivals. The Puttingal temple authorities did not have permission for any kind of fireworks, not even to store them. As many as 20,377 fire accident cases killed 19,513 people in 2014.

Tell me more: The Puttingal Temple accident has injured nearly 400 people. A judicial enquiry was set up on Sunday to investigate why the temple authorities went ahead with the fireworks when there was no permission granted.  

Rs 12,230 crore

What is it? The amount the central government has released to the states for rural employment guarantee programme, MGNREGA.

Why is it important? This is likely to provide some respite to people in rural areas at a time when nearly half of India’s 676 districts are facing drought. The move comes after the Supreme Court pulled up the government last week for not releasing adequate funds on time for the MGNREGA scheme.

Tell me more: The government has also reduced the estimated number of person-days by 220 million in 2016-17 from 2,391 million person-days the previous year. This means fewer people would get work or there would be lesser work for those who apply for the scheme, which is supposed to be demand-driven.

$20 billion

What is it? India’s proposed investments in oil and gas, petrochemical and fertiliser projects in Iran.

Why is it important? If this goes through, India could get access to cheaper gas in addition to land for various projects and Iran could increase its crude oil exports to the levels that existed before Western sanctions. The likely deals would help revive Indo-Iranian relations, which had gone downhill after India shied away from investments in Iran due to the sanctions.

Tell me more: Iraq replaced Iran as India’s second largest crude supplier after the Western sanctions were imposed. Currently, Iran is India’s fifth largest crude supplier.

Rs 3,500 crore

What is it? Bharti Airtel’s investment to acquire 4G spectrum from Aircel in eight telecom zones.

Why is it important? This makes Bharti Airtel the first telecom operator to have 4G services across the country, strengthening its position ahead of the likely 4G war. Reliance Jio, which has spectrum access in all the 22 circles, would launch by the end of the year.

Tell me more: Sunil Bharti Mittal’s firm would acquire 4G spectrum in Tamil Nadu (including Chennai), Bihar, Jammu & Kashmir, West Bengal, Assam, the North-East, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. This spectrum is valid up to September 20, 2030. Last month, Bharti Airtel bought Videocon’s entire spectrum (in six circles) for Rs 4,428 crore.


What is it? The number of infiltration attempts from Pakistan into India in 2015 (against 222 in 2014).

Why is it important? The Indian government has approved a five-layer plan to stop infiltration on India’s 2,900-km western border shared with Pakistan. At a reported cost of Rs 1 crore per kilometre, the security upgrade would help in preventing incidents such as the Pathankot attacks and smuggling.

Tell me more: The five-layer plan includes the multiple use of technologies such as CCTV cameras, thermal image devices, night vision devices and laser barriers, and a control room set up at every 5-6 km of the stretch. Two pilot projects in 5-km stretches each in Punjab and Jammu commenced two weeks ago.

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