News in Numbers, Nov 17, 2016: Silent killer…

199 million

What is it? The estimated number of Indians who suffer from high blood pressure, according to a study published in the medical journal Lancet.

Why is it important? This is 17.6% of the total number of people suffering from high blood pressure globally (1.13 billion in 2015), which has doubled from 594 million in 1975. Raised blood pressure or hypertension is the leading global risk factor for kidney disease and cardiovascular disease (leads to strokes and heart attacks and causes an estimated 7.5 million deaths globally). The highest worldwide blood pressure levels have shifted from high-income countries to the poorer ones (mainly in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa) in the last four decades.

Tell me more: The analysis is based on 1,479 studies that measured blood pressure in 19.1 million individuals aged 18 years and above. Over 2 out of every 10 people with hypertension are in South or East Asia.



What is it? The number of hours within which search engines run by firms including Google, Yahoo and Microsoft have to bring down information or advertisements related to pre-natal sex determination once they are brought to their attention, according to an order by the Supreme Court.

Why is it important? The apex court directed the government to set up a nodal agency to monitor and act on public information received on ads promoting sex determination techniques or kits on the Internet. Pre-natal sex determination is illegal in India though this direction could raise questions such as the role of search engines and if it is possible to screen and remove all information related to a particular topic. However, this is an interim arrangement and would continue until the top court takes a final decision on the issue.

Tell me more: As per the Census 2011 data, India’s population ratio was 943 females for every 1,000 males, up from 933 females per 1,000 males in 2001. However, the decline in child sex ratio (number of girls per 1,000 boys) to 918 in 2011 from 927 in 2001 is a cause for concern. This is the lowest since 1961.


Rs 7,016 crore

What is it? The amount of loans written off by the State Bank of India owed to it by 63 wilful defaulters.

Why is it important? This includes the amount owed by the now defunct Kingfisher Airlines, whose founder Vijay Mallya slipped away to London in March even as lenders and investigating authorities are chasing him for non-repayment of his companies’ dues and alleged financial irregularities. Some of the opposition parties including the Congress, the Aam Aadmi Party and CPI (Marxist) used this point to attack the government, which has been facing flak from them over its demonetisation move. SBI and the government clarified that these loans had only been written off and not waived off, and that efforts are on for their recovery.

Tell me more: The opposition has been attacking the government for the withdrawal of the old currency notes in Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denominations terming it ‘anti-poor’ and alleged that it has inconvenienced the common man.



What is it? The expected growth of India’s IT services industry in 2016-17, according to industry body Nasscom.

Why is it important? This is lower than the 10-12% (in constant currency terms) growth rate it had projected in February. This is the second time that Nasscom has predicted a single-digit growth for the industry in the last 10 years after it reported its lowest growth of 5% in 2009-10 due to the 2008 global financial crisis. The growth rates have been revised downwards following Donald Trump’s win in the US elections (he was quite vocal about his anti-immigration stance and putting restrictions on foreign companies that took away US jobs) and UK’s exit from the European Union.

Tell me more: Indian IT firms have been struggling to grow in the last few quarters with some of their results falling below the market expectations and a couple of them downgrading their own guidance. Indian IT exports are expected to be in the range of $116-118 billion, down from the earlier projection of $119-121 billion.



What is it? The total compensation in basis points (as a percentage of company net sales) paid to top executives (managing directors and chief executive officers) at the most indebted firms among 313 BSE-500 companies. A basis point is one-hundredth of a percentage point.

Why is it important? This is much lower than the 5.06 basis points paid to the top executives of the overall sample of 313 firms in the same year. Also, the growth in compensation to the people at the helm of the most indebted companies has been slower than that recorded for the total sample in the last four years. Interestingly, the salaries of the promoters leading the most indebted firms grew at a faster rate than those headed by non-promoter professionals while the growth of the overall top executive compensation at the most indebted firms was higher than the overall employee compensation in these firms.

Tell me more: The analysis, which excluded banks and other financial firms, divided the 313 companies into four quartiles based on their level of indebtedness. The total compensation includes salary, sitting fee, commission and any other payment, excluding earnings from exercise of stock options.

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News in Numbers – January 27

Rs 13,000 crore

What is it:
Black money unearthed by Indian income tax (IT) officials in banks abroad.

Why is it important:  Any progress in identifying and retrieving black money is important for the government which came to power on the promise that it would bring back thousands of crores of money stashed abroad. The leaked Panama Papers, legal and financial records detailing the transactions which featured several Indian names, has increased the public pressure on the government to act fast.

Tell me more: More than Rs 8000 crore of unaccounted income linked to Indian were in HSBC, Geneva, (followed up based on information IT department got from French government back in 2011) and Rs 5000 crore in other foreign accounts (based on documents published by Washington based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists)

$1.98 billion

What is it:
Education-related overseas expenditure by Indians in 2015-16


Why is it important: It’s down 20% from $2.47 billion in 2014-15, according to Reserve Bank of India data. The fall is attributed to smaller number of Indian students who went abroad, possibly because of tighter visa rules and better education option here. It could also be that 2014-15 saw an exceptional spike. The expenditure was $1.93 billion two years ago, and $1.63 billion three years ago.


Tell me more: The top destinations for Indian students are United States (103,968), United Kingdom (38,205),  Australia (20,429), New Zealand (6,650) and Canada, according to UNESCO data.


What is it?
Growth in loan portfolio of microfinance institutions during the year ending March 2016


Why is it important:  This came during a year when the client base grew only by 44%, indicating higher ticket size of loans. A reason could be the aggressive expansion of their loan books by the larger players such as Janalakshmi and Bharat Financial Inclusion (formerly SKS) on the back of the change in lending rules by Reserve Bank in 2015. The relaxed rules expanded the customer base by opening doors for customers with higher annual household income and by letting MFIs lend more.
Tell me more: Some experts say such an aggressive growth could be a cause for concern. A few years back, MFIs expanded rapidly in Andhra Pradesh, only to be clamped down by the government worried about people getting into debt trap.

$750 million

What is it:
The amount India would reportedly spend to buy 145 artillery guns from BAE systems

Why is it important: It’s yet another sign that India is stepping up on gas in the defence sector.  The deal could also help boost local industry, as 120 of these 145 M777 Ultra Lightweight Howitzer artillery guns  would be assembled in India

Tell me more:  In the past some high profile defence deals have kicked up controversies, which in turn led to delays in ordering new equipment.  AK Antony, who was the defence minister under UPA government has often been criticised for sitting on his hands to avoid bad press.


What is it: The number of resignations at UK Labour party’s shadow cabinet

Why is it important? An immediate fallout of Brexit. Highlights the growing opposition to the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn over the EU referendum, who has been leading the party since last year. Two labour party MPs have called for a no confidence motion against Corbyn. The crisis in UK’s opposition party follows the criticism that Corbyn was not clear about his message on remaining with EU.

Tell me more: Following the referendum which resulted in favour of those who wanted UK to exit European Union, David Cameron announced his resignation.


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How PNB is feeling the pinch from wilful defaulters at both ends

This piece originally appeared on


At Rs.11,432 crore, Punjab National Bank (PNB) had the second largest portfolio of wilful defaulters: borrowers who have defaulted on meeting their loan commitments despite having the ability to make payments or who are in violation of some part of the loan agreement. PNB is also perhaps the only bank that has been making public, at three-month intervals, a list of these borrowers. An analysis of PNB’s lists for December 2014 and February 2016, during which its number of wilful defaulters multiplied 2.6 times, shows how truant borrowers are biting the bank at both ends.

At the top, the bulge is due to loan size…

The number of wilful defaulters grew at a faster clip than their amount at default. As a result, the average amount per wilful defaulter fell. However, what this masks is the rising distress among big borrowers. The top 10% and 25% of PNB’s wilful defaulters now account for 75% and 90% of the amount at risk, respectively—an increase over the corresponding 2014 figures.



… and half of the top 15 were not there in 2014

Of the top 15 wilful defaulters by loan size, eight were not there in 2014. And three of these eight are units of Ramsarup Industries.




At the bottom, the bulge is due to growing number of wilful defaulters

Along with an increase in large defaulters, PNB has also seen smaller defaulters grow at a faster pace than the portfolio average—an indication of the widening of the bad-loans problem.




They are now spread across twice as many cities

New Delhi (148 cases), Mumbai (90 cases) and Chandigarh (62 cases) still lead PNB’s city-wise list of wilful defaulters. But the number of cities has nearly doubled, another indication of the widening of the bad-loans problem.




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News in numbers, Apr 12, 2016: Tiger population, brand ambassadors may be made liable…


What is it? The percentage of rainfall over the long-period average (LPA) of 887 mm forecast between June and September this year.

Why is it important? The monsoons, which account for around 70% of the annual rainfall and are the primary irrigation source for over half of India’s farmlands, would alleviate rural distress caused by back-to-back droughts. This is also likely to help boost falling food production, increase farm wages and boost rural economy.

Tell me more: The predictions by India’s sole weather forecaster Skymet says there is a 20% chance of excess rainfall (over 110% of LPA), 35% chance of above normal (105-110% of LPA), 30% chance of normal (96-104% of LPA), 10% chance of below normal (90-95% of LPA) and 5% chance of drought (less than 90% of LPA).


What is it? The price at which Tata Steel is selling one of its factories in Scunthorpe in Northern England to investment firm Greybull Capital.

Why is it important? This would help save nearly a third of the total likely job losses after Tata Steel announced the sale of its loss-making steel assets in Britain. The turnaround plan for this unit, which includes a £400 million investment and financing package, does not call for any job cuts, according to Greybull co-founder.

Tell me more: Subject to union members’ approval, the deal includes two additional mills, an engineering workshop, a design consultancy, and a mill in northeast France. The business will be renamed ‘British Steel’.


What is it? The estimated number of tigers in the world.

Why is it important? This is the first time that the global count of the endangered species has increased since 1900 when there were 100,000 tigers in the world. The number had hit an all-time low of 3,200 recorded in the last global census in 2010. Indicates either or a combination of better conservation and survey methods/areas.

Tell me more: India accounts for over 57% of the tiger population (2,226) while Russia is a distant second with an estimated 433 tigers.

Rs 41,641 crore

What is it? The amount State Bank of India, the country’s largest bank, wrote off between 2005-06 and 2014-15, as against a recovery of Rs 11,566 crore in this period.

Why is it important? The government and the banking regulator said such write-offs were technical adjustments and that the processes to recover them would continue. However, the bank has not been transparent about the process, giving an unclear picture of how much of the written-off loans can be recovered.

Tell me more: The above information is from responses to RTI applications filed by the Indian Express. Bank of Baroda wrote off loans worth Rs 9,929 crore in the last 10 years and recovered less than a third of that (Rs 3,177 crore). The write-offs by Allahabad Bank, IDBI and Corporation Bank in the last decade are worth Rs 7,359 crore, Rs 7,174 crore and Rs 3,732 crore respectively.

2 years

What is it? The proposed jail term for brand ambassadors in addition to a fine of Rs 10 lakh (or both) if the claims related to products and services endorsed turn out to be false. This is for a first-time offence.

Why is it important? This is likely to make famous personalities wary of endorsing just any brand, affecting their revenue from such deals. This also renews a debate on whether brand ambassadors should be held accountable for claims made by companies about their products or services.

Tell me more: For second time offenders, the proposed punishment is five years of imprisonment and a fine of Rs 50 lakh. These recommendations are as per a Parliamentary Committee report on changes in the Consumer Protection Bill, subject to the Central government’s approval.

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