News in Numbers, Nov 18, 2016: The right note…

15 million

What is it? The number of new Rs 500 notes that have reportedly been printed by the Security Printing and Minting Corp of India, the government agency that prints notes and coins.

Why is it important? There seems to be a delay in the printing of this denomination as the order is to print 400 million by the end of this month. The reason for the delay is due to the presses at Dewas (Madhya Pradesh) and Nashik (Maharashtra) are running below capacity. The presses operated by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), which are to produce the new Rs 2,000 notes, are now likely to take up the printing of the new Rs 500 notes to meet the demand. Printing of currency notes in Rs 100 denomination has been stalled, according to unnamed RBI officials, as the focus has now shifted to the new ones.

Tell me more: Before the demonetisation move, there were 16.5 billion Rs 500 notes and 6.7 billion Rs 1,000 notes in circulation.

 

789,000 barrels per day

What is it? India’s oil imports from Iran, according to a report by Thomson Reuters Oil Research and Forecasts and ship tracking data.

Why is it important? This exceeded Saudi Arabia’s oil supply to India by 92,000 barrels per day (bpd) and Iran is now the top oil supplier to India. However, Saudi Arabia still retains the top slot over the January-October period. With the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries meeting at the end of this month to take its final call on cutting down production to boost oil prices, it remains to be seen if Iran continues to enjoy the exemption to be excluded from these price cuts, given its recent dominant position in oil supply to India, the world’s third-largest oil importer.

Tell me more: Due to the western sanctions imposed on Iran over its nuclear development programme, the country had slipped to the seventh position in 2013-14 and 2014-15 among the 50-odd countries from which India imports oil.

 

25 million

What is it? The capacity of a vaccine facility (in terms of number of doses) set up in Gujarat by CPL Biologicals, a joint venture of Cadila Pharmaceuticals and US-based Novavax at an investment of Rs 100 crore.

Why is it important? The company says it has become the first Indian company to have developed a vaccine to treat seasonal influenza (Cadiflu-S), which is also the world’s first influenza vaccine based on virus-like particle technology (VLP). The vaccine does not contain any viruses, which means it completely does away with the possibility of any infection to the vaccinated person from the vaccine (viruses present in vaccines can sometimes replicate in the human body, causing disease by itself).

Tell me more: CPL Biologicals says with the VLP technology, it can develop the new strain specific vaccine in 12-14 weeks compared to the 24-32 weeks it takes to develop a conventional vaccine. Cadiflu-S doesn’t contain egg proteins, antibiotics and preservatives, which would help those who are prone to allergies.

 

Rs 137.18 crore

What is it? Losses posted by food delivery startup Swiggy (owned and operated by Bundl Technologies) in 2015-16.

Why is it important? This is an increase of nearly 65 times of the loss it posted in 2014-15 (company started operations in August 2014). Swiggy’s revenue increased to Rs 23.59 crore in FY16 (from Rs 11.59 lakh a year ago) while its total expenses were Rs 160.77 crore, indicating that it burnt cash in order to scale up (a trend observed in many other startups such as Flipkart and Ola). Food startups have been struggling to get their economics right with some of them such as Eatlo and Dazo shutting down, some being acquired (FoodPanda acquired TastyKhana) and others downsizing their operations.

Tell me more: Swiggy reportedly has started charging consumers delivery fees for orders from a few food outlets, which have refused to pay a commission to the startup. Earlier, it was delivering for free from these outlets, which is unlikely to be feasible in the long-term.

 

5-100 basis points

What is it? The cut in deposit rates offered by various Indian banks. A basis point (bps) is one-hundredth of a percentage point.

Why is it important? This is a result of the government’s recent demonetisation move, which saw customers depositing old currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000, which have ceased to be legal tender since over a week ago. Lending rates are expected to come down as well. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has noted on several occasions that banks have not been passing on interest rate cuts to their customers. Between January 2015 and March 2016, the RBI has reduced its benchmark repo rate (the rate at which the apex banks lends to other banks) by 125 bps but public sector banks have lowered their base rate by an average of 55 bps while the private ones have decreased it by 50 bps.

Tell me more: The RBI introduced a new methodology for setting interest rates since the beginning of this financial year after which public sector banks have reduced their base rates by 15 bps on an average while the private banks have lowered it by 25 bps.

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News in Numbers, June 23, 2016: East’s answer to NATO, India’s largest spectrum auction…

8

What is it? The membership strength of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) once India and Pakistan join the group at a two-day summit starting today.

Why is it important? It’s East’s answer to NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation). This would help India participate in military cooperation in the areas of counter-terrorism measures in Central Asia, intelligence sharing and tackling cyber terrorism with the member-states of this group. This would also provide better access to Central Asia for both India and Pakistan at a time when they are seeking to deepen their ties with the region, especially given their involvement in projects such as Chabahar Port and China-Pakistan Economic Corridor respectively.

Tell me more: The SCO comprises of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan while Afghanistan, Belarus, India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan have observer status.

 

$950,000

What is it? The penalty the US’ Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has levied on mobile advertising company InMobi for tracking locations of consumers including children without their permission.

Why is it important? Shows how some new-age firms resort to practices deemed to be unethical and illegal to chase growth. Highlights the risks to consumers who have no way of knowing if their privacy (and their children’s privacy) is being compromised. For InMobi, which is competing with Facebook and Google, this comes at a time when it is struggling to raise funds, build a sustainable business model and fighting attrition in its senior and mid-level management.

Tell me more: Under the terms of settlement, the FTC said InMobi is subjected to a $4 million civil penalty, which is suspended to $950,000 given the “company’s financial condition”. InMobi has to delete all information collected from children and location information of consumers besides instituting a comprehensive privacy policy, which will be independently audited every two years for the next 20 years.

 

Rs 5.66 lakh crore

What is it? The amount the spectrum auction is estimated to fetch the Indian government.

Why is it important? Given how expensive the spectrum bands are (a firm bidding for 5 MHz of pan-India bandwidth in the 700 band would have to pay Rs 57,000 crore– over half of what the government earned from the 2015 auctions) and the Rs 3.5 lakh crore debt under which the telecom sector is reeling, the level of participation by the firms in the auctions remains to be seen. Idea, Vodafone and Airtel are reportedly not planning to bid for spectrum in the 700 MHz band.

Tell me more: This is the first time the government would put up the entire spectrum available on sale. The bidding is expected to commence from September 1.

 

Rs 418.25 crore

What is it? Revenue of ANI Technologies, which owns and runs brand Ola, in 2014-15.

Why is it important? It increased eight-fold from Rs 51.05 crore in 2013-14 though its losses shot up 20 times from Rs 34.21 crore in FY14 to Rs 754.87 crore in FY15. Indicates that the growth of the company, which raised two rounds of funding totalling to $251.5 million (nearly Rs 1,700 crore) in this period, came at a high cost (discounts and driver incentives) and that it requires increased capital to fend off competition from Uber and maintain its lead.

Tell me more: Ola is reportedly in talks with investors to raise $300-400 million or $1 billion, according to different publications.

 

57%

What is it? Percentage of cost of travel recovered by the Indian railways on passenger fares on an average.

Why is it important? The railways has been printing this information on train tickets in the last one week. The idea is to make rail passengers aware of the huge subsidy on rail tickets. Increasing rail fares is a politically sensitive subject in India and this awareness-building could be the first step in rationalisation of fares in the coming years.

Tell me more: Passenger fares were last hiked by 14.2% in June 2014. Suburban and short-haul train passengers account for over half of the traffic but their share in total passenger revenues was just 6-7%, accounting for around 60% of the annual subsidy of Rs 34,000 crore.

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