The Case For Maratha Reservation

Rs 3,200 crore

What is it? Tata Motors’ net profit in the three months ended June quarter, a 41.5% increase from Rs 2,260 crore in the corresponding quarter last year.

Why is it important? This was possible mainly because of a one-time gain from changes made to its pension plan at its UK unit Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) with the company saying that the first quarter results have not met its expectations. Its revenues fell by nearly 10% year-on-year to Rs 58,651 crore in the April-June quarter due to lower wholesale volume sales of JLR, a slowdown in its heavy vehicles business among other factors.

Tell me more: The one-time gain due to the changes made to the JLR pension plans was Rs 3,609 crore.

4,765 MW

 What is it? The installed solar capacity in the first six months of 2017, according to a report by Mercom Capital Group.

Why is it important? This has surpassed the total capacity addition in all of 2016, which was at 4,313 MW. The report forecasts nearly 10.5 GW of solar installations by December this year. The country had installed 12.2 GW of utility scale solar as of March 2017. While the pace of capacity addition has increased, it remains to be seen if the government can achieve its solar power target of 100 GW by 2022, given the confusion around the recently-introduced goods and services tax.

Tell me more: India is likely to leapfrog Japan to become the third biggest solar market in 2017, according to another consulting firm in the clean technology space, Bridge to India.

8

What is it? The number of MLAs (members of legislative assembly) the Congress party has expelled in Gujarat.

Why is it important? They have been expelled for cross-voting in the Rajya Sabha elections in favour of the BJP. The Congress says that it would take action to ensure they will not be able to participate in the elections for the  next six years. The party, which has not been in power in Gujarat for the last 20 years or so, has faced infighting and defections recently and it remains to be seen if these expulsions would further weaken it ahead of the assembly elections later this year.

Tell me more: Ahmed Patel, political advisor to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, secured a dramatic win in the Rajya Sabha elections from Gujarat, which is likely to boost the morale of the party, whose relevance has been considered to be diminishing in the recent past.

58

What is it? The number of protests by the Maratha community in the last 12 months across Maharashtra seeking concessions from the state.

Why is it important? The 58th protest took place in Mumbai on Wednesday, with lakhs of people flooding the streets of Mumbai in a show of strength. Following this, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis announced reservations in education (currently given to OBCs or other backward castes) to the Marathas as well. He also announced land and Rs 5 crore grant for hostels for the community.

Tell me more: India has seen similar protests from other communities, including Jats in Rajasthan and Haryana and Patidars in Gujarat.

80

What is it? The number of countries whose nationals can enter Qatar without a visa.

Why is it important? Qatar announced the visa waiver programme even as it faces blockade from four of its neighbours – Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – which have accused the oil-dependent country of supporting terrorism. 25% of all Qatar Airways flights served these four states. The blockade has been on since June. Earlier this month, Qatar passed a law that will grant permanent residency to some of the foreigners.

Tell me more: Qatar’s visa waiver – which are given on arrival at no cost – allows citizens of 33 countries to stay in Qatar for up to 90 days, and citizens of 47 other countries (which includes India, China and United States) to stay for up to 30 days.

Read More

A costly waiver

Rs 30,500 crore

What is it? The amount Maharashtra government was set to waive off in farm loans, according to its chief minister last week.

Why is it important? The government has now said it would waive off all farm loans, in response to farmers’ unrest.  The final amount is yet to be confirmed, but the amount the government was willing to waive off represents over 98% of the state’s planned capital expenditure of Rs 31,006 crore. The promise of the waiver of all outstanding loan payments saw farmers end their strike of over a week.

Tell me more: The strike had seen destruction of farm and dairy produce, leading to a rise in prices in the state.

 

17.79 million-tonne

What is it? India’s fuel consumption in May, 2017.

Why is it important? The country’s fuel demand rose 5.4%, the most in the last six months. It had suffered a setback in January-March, when demand fell following demonetisation. The pickup began last month.

Tell me more: Diesel, which comprises 40% of the sales, rose 8% to 7.5 million-tonne, while petrol 15% to 2.4 million-tonne, in May, 2017 over last year.

 

4

What is it? The number of days of listing time for initial public offerings (IPOs), the markets regulator, Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) is considering.

Why is it important? It would be less than the present norm of six days taken to list a company on the stock exchanges from the end of bidding in an IPO. The reduction aims to cut the time for which investors’ money is locked in, a move Sebi had been mulling for a few years.

Tell me more: In 2015, the applications supported by blocked amount (Asba), a mandatory service for retail investors, was introduced cutting down listing times. It made banks debit the investment only after the stock allotment. By January, 2016, the time gap came down to six days from the earlier 12 days.

 

66

What is it? The number of items for which GST (Goods and Services Tax) Council has reduced tax rates.

Why is it important? The council was facing demands to reduce tax rates for 133 goods and services, and it’s an indicator of intense pressure it is facing as the government prepares to roll out GST from 1st July. The council also relaxed rules for more number of small and medium businesses – by increasing the the upper limit for the ‘composition scheme’ to Rs 75 lakh. Composition scheme exempts small businesses with a certain turnover from GST, and lets some of them pay GST at a concessional rate.

Tell me more: The items with reduced rates include some cinema tickets, insulin, instant food mixes and printers. GST council will meet again to clear the remaining issues – including e-way bills and lotteries – on June 18th.

 

$2.68 million

What is it? The amount an anonymous bidder will donate to a San Francisco charity to have lunch with billionaire Warren Buffett.

Why is it important? The bid amount is down from $3.46 million in 2016, also from an anonymous donor. Auctioned on ebay, Power Lunch with Warren Buffett has been garnering over a million dollars every year in the last ten years. The annual auctions began in 2000.

Tell me more: Glide, the charity, helps the homeless, homeless women and drug users  in San Francisco. Buffett has raised over 25 million for Glide in the 18 auctions so far.

Read More

News in Numbers, June 21, 2016: FDI norms relaxed in 9 sectors, Flipkart sellers on strike…

9

What is it? The number of sectors in which the Indian government has relaxed foreign direct investment (FDI) norms.

Why is it important? The timing – coming days after RBI governor Raghuram Rajan announced that he wouldn’t seek an extension after his term ends in September – is seen as government’s measures to assuage investor concerns. The government has denied this. In any case, the move is likely to help single-brand retailers such as Apple and Ikea, defence contractors and Walmart and Tesco (which could enter retailing through the food sector route).

Tell me more: The norms have been liberalised in food trading, aviation, pharmaceutical, defence, retail and television broadcasting, animal husbandry, broadcasting carriage services and private security agencies. India has reported a 29% increase to $40 billion in FDI in 2015-16.

 

57%

What is it? The share of global urban population that is unconnected, either with fixed or mobile broadband, according to a study.

Why is it important? This goes against the popular perception that a majority of the global urban population is digitally connected. What’s more, about 37% of the unconnected urban population lives in some of the wealthiest cities such as Los Angeles and Shanghai. The Middle East and African regions are the most unconnected while Europe and North America are the least unconnected.

Tell me more: In New Delhi, the proportion of the urban population unconnected is 41.6%. The study is by the Wireless Broadband Alliance conducted by Maravedis Rethink Research, a wireless infrastructure analyst firm.

 

1,000

What is it? The approximate number of sellers on Flipkart’s platform who went on a strike on Monday to protest the e-commerce firm’s decision to increase seller commissions to be paid to Flipkart, according to the All India Online Vendors Association (AIOVA).

Why is it important? Flipkart maintains that the number of sellers on strike are only a handful of the total 90,000 on its platform. Those on strike did not process any orders on Monday and put up out-of-stock notifications against their products. They claim higher commissions would increase product prices by 20-25%. Analysts say it is highly unlikely that sellers would leave Flipkart, though if the issue is not resolved quickly, it may affect customer experience.

Tell me more: Amazon, which has around 85,000 sellers, recently decreased its commission rates for sellers in a few categories while Snapdeal, which has over 300,000 sellers, decreased the commission for sellers with specific ratings and then put a cap of 70% on discounts.

 

1,242

What is it? The total number of graduates (including 253 postgraduates and 5 MPhils) who have applied for five posts of porters in Maharashtra.

Why is it important? The minimum educational qualification for this post is Class IV pass. Yet, about half of those vying for these posts are graduates and above. It shows the level of unemployment in the country, the desperateness to get some job (especially government jobs) and probably the high unemployability factor in professional degree holders.

Tell me more: There have been other such instances in the recent past. Over 1.75 lakh (of a total of 23 lakh applicants) graduates, postgraduates and PhD degree holders applying for the jobs of peons and 17,000 MBAs, B.Tech and B.Sc degree holders applying for the posts of sweepers – both in Uttar Pradesh.

65.3 million

What is it? The number of people forcibly displaced in 2015, about 0.9% of the world’s population or 1 person in 113.

Why is it important? This is the highest ever since global forced displacement records began. They are driven by old conflicts such as those in Somalia and Afghanistan lasting longer, emergence of new conflicts in countries including South Sudan, Yemen and Burundi in the last five years and the slowing pace at which solutions are being found to tackle the problem.

Tell me more: On an average, 24 people were forced to flee from their homes every minute in 2015, four times more than 10 years ago (six people every minute).

Read More

News in numbers, Apr 28, 2016: Pollution in tier-II cities, record wind energy capacity addition…

41

What is it? The number of tier-II cities that exceed the ambient air quality standard, according to the government.

Why is it important? This is contrary to the popular perception that only the big cities or the tier-I cities are polluted in terms of air or water. The Indian government will spend over Rs 550 crore over five years to bring down pollution levels in these tier-II cities, which include Rishikesh (Uttarakhand), Tezpur (Assam), Vapi (Gujarat), Sangrur (Punjab) and Angul (Odisha).

Tell me more: Water pollution in these cities is caused due to discharges of untreated water. Cumulative sewage generation in these tier-II cities has been estimated to be 2,696.7 million litres per day but their treatment capacity is less than 10%.

56%

What is it? Apple’s iPhone year-on-year sales growth in India in the three months ended March 2016.

Why is it important? Apple is looking to emerging markets such as India to boost its sales, even as it posted its first quarterly revenue decline in 13 years. A government panel recommendation to waive 30% sourcing norm (required for foreign owned single-brand retailers) for Apple would further help its sales in India. The recommendation is pending finance minister’s approval.

Tell me more: Currently, Apple sells its products through distributors such as Redington and Ingram Micro. Reportedly, this waiver may bring prices of Apple products down in India. The panel has recommended the waiver because of the cutting-edge technology Apple would bring to the country, a conditional clause present in the government policy. Two Chinese mobile companies – LeEco and Xiaomi – have also asked for the waiver of the 30% sourcing norm.

3,460 MW

What is it? The wind energy capacity addition in India in 2015-16.

Why is it important? This is the highest ever annual capacity addition, surpassing the previous high of 3,197 MW added in 2011-12. It has also exceeded its target of 2,400 MW by 44.2%. However, India needs to step up its pace of wind energy addition if it has to meet its target of 60,000 MW by 2022. The country’s cumulative wind energy capacity, the primary source of renewable energy, was 26,904.16 MW at the end of 2015-16.

Tell me more: Madhya Pradesh accounted for over 37% of wind energy capacity addition in the last financial year followed by Rajasthan (nearly 20%), Gujarat (over 11%) and Andhra Pradesh (10.5%). The data is by the Indian Wind Turbine Manufacturers’ Association, which expects an increase in capacity addition by 4,000 MW in in 2016-17.

17 million

What is it? The number of former and current government officials Maruti Suzuki is all set to target for selling its automobiles.

Why is it important? These government employees would soon be the recipients of the Seventh Pay Commission payout – and consumer businesses such as Maruti are hoping to get a boost from their shopping. Maruti itself hopes to get nearly a fifth of its sales over the next 2-3 years from them. In 2015-16, government employees accounted for 16% of the 1.3 million cars the company sold in India.

Tell me more: Maruti Suzuki launched the ‘Wheels of India’ programme in 2006 specifically aimed at government employees, to whom it has sold 1.5 million cars so far. The new database prepared has 4.7 million central government employees, 7 million state government officials and 5.2 million pensioners.

21 lakh

What is it? The number of farmers in 26,670 drought-hit villages in Maharashtra whose crop loans would be restructured.

Why is it important? This would extend the loan repayment duration for farmers by 1-5 years and also, enable them to apply for fresh loans for the sowing season beginning June. The loans total Rs 8,503 crore (includes last year’s crop loans and 2014 kharif sowing season). Maharashtra is one of the worst drought-hit states in the country and accounted for half of the farmer suicides recorded so far this year. As many as 20,504 farmers have ended their lives in the state since 2001.

Tell me more: The government also plans to seek the central bank’s help in restructuring loans worth Rs 2,438 crore taken by 4.4 lakh farmers from drought-affected villages in 2012-13 and 2013-14.

Read More