News in Numbers, July 21, 2016: Mobile service quality complaints, fine for noise pollution…

89 crore

What is it? The number of person-days of employment generated under India’s flagship national rural employment scheme in the first quarter of 2016-17.

Why is it important? This is a jump of nearly 65% from the 54 crore during the same period last year comes on the back of rural distress caused by droughts in 13 states this year. Compared to last year’s allocation of Rs 20,000 crore in the three-month period, the central government has allocated Rs 30,000 crore in the last quarter, which is nearly 78% of the total budget.

Tell me more: To ensure proper implementation of the scheme, all assets created under the programme are being geo-tagged in addition to increased number of field visits for assessments.

 

9,720

What is it? The number of complaints the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has received for poor services in 2016 until June 30.

Why is it important? The trend seems to be similar to last year when 20,548 complaints were registered with the telecom regulator (2015 figure doesn’t include the complaints received against smaller players). Indicates that the quality of service of telecom players has not improved from last year, which is likely to be a crucial factor in retaining customers as competition among the players intensifies, especially with the impending launch of services by Reliance Jio Infocomm.

Tell me more: Of the total complaints received till last month this year, 3,257 are against Airtel, 2,130 against Vodafone, 1,526 against RCom, 997 against Idea Cellular with those against the other players being less than 500.

 

Rs 5,000

What is it? Fine for causing noise pollution in Delhi.

Why is it important? If this rule is successfully implemented, the capital city would be free of pressure horns’ usage and forbid people from removing silencers from their bikes. This is likely to bring down noise pollution levels in Delhi, which was ranked as the fourth noisiest city in India, according to a report by the Central Pollution Control Board released a few months ago. High noise pollution levels can lead to aggression, hypertension, hearing loss, tinnitus (hearing of sound when there is no external sound) and sleep disturbance.

Tell me more: The prescribed standards mandate that noise levels should not exceed 55 decibels during the day and 45 decibels in the night.

 

26

What is it? The number of districts the Indian government is rolling out direct cash transfers to kerosene customers.

Why is it important? This is to help prevent the diversion of the subsidized fuel and to ensure it reaches the intended beneficiaries. However, the idea of doing this is also to reduce the usage of kerosene for cooking and lighting purposes and instead, encourage people to use LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) cylinders while pushing to electrify all villages by the end of 2016, ahead of its target of May 2017.

Tell me more: It remains to be seen how the scheme will be implemented given that around half of the 80 million households that use kerosene for lighting, of a total of 250 million households as per the 2011 Census, are situated in rural areas that have limited banking services. The districts are spread across eight states.

 

$1 billion

What is it? The worth of copyrighted materials including movies, musical recordings and video games illegally distributed by Kickass Torrents, the world’s largest torrent site.

Why is it important? The US government arrested the alleged owner of Kickass Torrents, who is an Ukranian, in Poland. Even as governments and authorities try to fight digital piracy, the popularity of such torrent sites indicates that many people are reluctant to pay for content.

Tell me more: The torrent site’s net worth is estimated to be over $54 million while its annual advertising revenue is estimated to be in the range of $12.5-22.3 million, according to a criminal complaint filed in US District Court in Chicago. The site received an enviable 50 million unique visitors every month and was estimated to be the 69th most frequently visited website.

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5 kms = 500 kms 🚌 – News in Numbers July 13, 2016

Please accept my apologies for the rather cryptic subject line. I promise it’s not some kind of clickbait. It’s a reality for thousands of our fellow citizens living in rural areas. For years there were no roads, and when the roads came, there were no inexpensive but comfortable way to go from one place to another. If the photo below is cliche, it’s a cliche because the scene is so common for a lot of people.

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One of the numbers we picked for you today hints at an answer. Let us know what you think about it.

25 paise

What is it? The amount by which Kerosene prices is likely to be raised every month till March 2017.

Why is it important? This will cut down the subsidy bill by 30% in current financial year, and also reduce adulteration of other petroleum products by mixing Kerosene. At present, the subsidy per litre of Kerosene sold is Rs 13.12. Kerosene price was increased by 50 paise in the first of this month, after a gap of nearly five years.

Tell me more: If the decision to rise Kerosene prices are implemented, it would be replication of the strategy adopted earlier to cut down Diesel subsidies. Price was increased by 50 paisa per month until all subsidies were eliminated.   

125,000 villages

What is it?The number of villages the government plans to connect by purchasing 80,000 mini-buses.

Why is it important? This will increase the mobility of people living in rural India, expanding job opportunities and market access. Government built 190,413 kms of new roads and upgraded 258,189 kms of existing roads under the Bharat Nirman program. Despite the connectivity, public transport were not available as it was not viable for private operators and state transport undertakings did not have the resources to expand.

Tell me more: The program will be 60% funded by centre, with the states contributing the rest.

6 months

What is it? The number of months Honda’s top selling scooter model, Activa outsold Splendour, which is sold by its erstwhile partner, Hero Motors. Splendour was the highest selling vehicle for 17 years.

Why is it important? Underscores the increasing share of scooters in the two-wheeler market and the foothold of Honda Motorcycles and Scooters in the Indian market. Honda now sells every second scooter bought in India.

Tell me more: Scooter sales was 5 million units in last fiscal, and accounted for a third of two-wheeler market.

823

What is it? The number of students from the scheduled castes who made it to IITs (Indian Institute of Technology) in general ranking list, up from 515 last year. 22 of them were ranked among the top 2000.

Why is it important? IITs have come under heavy criticism for its lack of diversity, especially the low numbers of students from socially backward communities. The elite institutions responded by increasing the seats reserved for students from scheduled castes and scheduled tribes – and by waiving their fees. Their growing number in general list underlines the importance of education/training interventions outside the campus.

Tell me more: 49.5% of the total 10,500 seats in IITs are reserved for various castes – 7.5% for STs, 15% for SCs, 27% for OBCs. The students who got through the general list might still use the quota to get a campus of their choice.

2,36,000

What is it? The number of dollar millionaires in India end of 2015, according to ndia 2016 Wealth Report, by New World Wealth

Why is it important? The number is expected to almost double by 2025 to 5,54,000, the report says. This in a country where almost 30% of the population live in poverty spending  less than Rs 32 a day in rural areas or Rs 47 in urban areas. Whether the wealth of the few will create the much needed jobs remains the big question

Tell me more: The report attributed the growth of millionaires to growth in local construction, financial services, IT, business process outsourcing and healthcare sectors. The wealth of 2.36 lakh millionaires adds up to $1.5 trillion, the report said.

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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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