News in Numbers, May 25, 2016: Non-functional ATMs, world’s first 3D printed office…


What is it? The number of companies that have withdrawn from launching payments banks.

Why is it important? That is three out of 11 payment banks which got the RBI’s approval, and the withdrawal highlights some of its limitations: payments banks cannot lend, there are restrictions on deposit deployment, and, more importantly, might not find a strategic fit with a group’s other businesses. The companies which have said no to payment banks are: Cholamandalam Investment and Finance Co., Sun Pharma promoter Dilip Shanghvi and his partners (IDFC Bank and Telenor Financial Services) and Tech Mahindra.

Tell me more: Reliance Industries, Aditya Birla Nuvo, Vodafone and Airtel are among 11 companies that received in-principle approval from the central bank to set up payment banks last August.



What is it? The pass percentage of Indian students with foreign medical degrees in the screening test that allows them to practice in India in 2015.

Why is it important? Indicates the urgent need to increase number of seats for medical courses in India and the lack of awareness among students about low standards of medical education in some colleges abroad. The pass percentage was 50.12% in 2005, which fell to an all-time low of 4.93% in 2014. With just 52,000 seats for MBBS courses and 25,577 post-graduate medical seats in India, students look to other countries such as China, Ukraine and Russia where medical courses are said to be cheaper.

Tell me more: The screening test called the Foreign Medical Graduates Examination is conducted by the Medical Council of India through the National Board of Examinations, where one needs at least 50% to pass.



What is it? The percentage of automated teller machines (ATMs) that were found to be non-functional, of the 4,000 surveyed by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) recently.

Why is it important? If this is a representative sample, then a whopping 65,000 ATMs (as per February data) in India are out of order. Highlights the high cost of maintaining ATMs where footfalls are low – a likely reason why the banks have failed to keep them in order.

Tell me more: RBI’s deputy governor SS Mundra has warned the banks of penal action for non-compliance of RBI rules with respect to ATMs.



What is it? The number of months by which e-commerce firm Flipkart has deferred the joining date of six Indian Institute of Management (IIM) graduates.

Why is it important? Flipkart has attributed this to corporate restructuring. It signals wider problems the company is facing. It is growing slower than expectations, in the wake of increased competition, especially from Amazon India. It has reportedly slashed its hiring and is cutting down on discounts and advertising.

Tell me more: Flipkart expanded its workforce at a rapid pace earlier: from 14,000 to 35,000 (at the end of December 2015) in 12-18 months.



What is it? The number of days it took to build a 3D-printed office in Dubai, in addition to two days to install it on site.

Why is it important? This is the world’s first functioning 3D-printed office, which cost about $140,000. The technique used to build this structure could cut down building time by 50-70% and labour costs by 50-80% and a quarter of the buildings in Dubai would be printed by 2030, according to a United Arab Emirates Minister. This could well signal the beginning of a revolutionary change the construction industry might undergo.

Tell me more: A 3D printer, which is 20-feet high, 120 feet long and 40-feet wide, was used to print the building with a floorspace of about 2,700 sq.ft. using a special mixture of cement and a set of building material (designed in the UAE and the US). It took 18 people to put up the structure – one to monitor the printer, seven to install the building components and 10 to handle the electrical and mechanical engineering aspects.


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News in numbers, Apr 29, 2016: Peer-to-peer lending platforms, India’s gets its own GPS…


What is it? The number of peer lending startups in India.

Why is it important? Reserve Bank of India has proposed that such platforms register as non-banking financial companies. If accepted, it would bring them under regulatory framework, lending more credibility to peerlending (or P2P, peer to peer) business in India. It would interests of the borrowers and lenders, even as these businesses fill gaps due to lack of formal credit.

Tell me more: As per the recommendations, P2P platforms are to have a minimum capital of Rs 2 crore, can act only as intermediaries and not seek deposits, should transfer funds directly from the lender’s account to the borrower’s, report regularly to the RBI and register themselves as companies.


What is it? The number of navigation system satellites the Indian Space Research Organisation has launched.

Why is it important? This reduces India’s dependence on the foreign navigation systems such as the US Global Positioning System (GPS). The navigation system – called Navic – will be useful especially during war-like times when it becomes a strategic asset.

Tell me more: The applications of this system, (called Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System or IRNSS) include terrestrial, aerial and marine navigation, mapping, disaster management and vehicle tracking, which can also be made use of by the neighbouring countries. India now joins the list of a few countries that have their own navigation satellite systems – US, the European Union, Russia and China.

Rs 100 crore

What is it? The amount Mahindra Intertrade in partnership with state-owned MSTC would invest in equipment to set up India’s first automobile shredding plant.

Why is it important? The Indian government plans to scrap older vehicles and introduce stricter vehicular emission rules, which would provide an opportunity for Mahindra’s latest business venture. The shredding plant could help in providing scrap to steelmakers and other industries, which depend on imported scrap for their operations. India was the third largest importer of steel scrap in 2013-14.

Tell me more: Currently, independent workshops deal with dismantling of cars and there is no organised market in India. The plant, which would begin operations in about a year, would need to handle 100,000 units a year to be financially viable. The company is willing to extend its services to scrapping ships and other machines too.

6.68 lakh

What is it? The number of candidates appearing for the All India Pre-medical/Pre-dental Entrance Test scheduled for May 1.

Why is it important? This replaces all other entrance examinations by government colleges, deemed universities and private colleges, and promises to make it more convenient and less expensive for aspiring medical doctors and dentists. Some states including Tamil Nadu and Karnataka had opposed this move for different reasons. It also raises questions about infringement on states’ right to conduct exams as per their own procedures.

Tell me more: The students who have not applied for the test to be conducted on May 1 (now, considered to be Phase I of the common entrance exam) would be allowed to appear for the second phase of the common entrance exam on July 24. The combined results will be declared on August 17 and the admission process to be completed before September 30.


What is it? Samsung’s market share in Rs 30,000-plus smartphone segment in India in January-March 2016 quarter.

Why is it important? With this, Samsung has overtaken Apple as the market leader in this segment, a reversal of positions from October-December 2015. Samsung’s rise was helped by launch of Galaxy S7 launched last month and price cuts for previous models such as Galaxy S6 and Note 5. Apple, which is betting big on India, lost out to Samsung despite an increase of 56% in iPhone sales during the three months to March 2016.

Tell me more: In September-December 2015, Apple’s market share in the segment was 55%, which slid to 37% in the first three months of 2016. Samsung’s market share jumped from 35% to 62% in the same time periods.

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News in Numbers – June 29, 2015

That’s the total number of people linked to the “Vyapam Scam” who have died “under mysterious circumstances” till date. One of the biggest scams in Madhya Pradesh, this relates to an admission and recruitment scam involving politicians, bureaucrats and officials where over 300 “ineligible” students managed to find their names in the merit list of the entrance test for the MBBS course. Vyapam, a self-financed autonomous body under the Directorate of Technical Education of the MP government, also conducts tests for various government posts. About 3,000 people have been accused of various irregularities in the conduct of examinations, of which nearly two-thirds are in jail.


Profit margins of Indian companies are under pressure due to raising debt and depreciation costs. Measured as a percentage of GDP, the ratio has declined for the fifth consecutive year to 4.1%, much lower than what is prevalent in developed countries and 10-year average of 5.3%. This is another data point that is contrary to GDP growth numbers projected by the Statistics ministry. Growth estimate of Asia’s third largest economy for 2014-15 was revised upwards to 6.9% from 4.7%, and rising corporate profits was cited as one of the reasons for doing so.

24 million tonnes

Relaxed procurement norms for wheat last year has created a problem for Food Corporation of India, a state-run agency which buys food grains at government mandated price. Quality standards for wheat procurement was lowered to help farmers compensate for the damage caused in March this year. 90% or 24 million tonnes of wheat procured last year was of inferior quality and had to be used within the next 10 months, or else it would be deemed unfit for consumption. But India’s public distribution system would require only 20 million tonnes of wheat every year. The rest – around 4 million – can’t be sold in open market as import prices are lower than government-fixed procurement price. The only solution: sell at lower than procurement cost.

Rs 15,600 crore

Deal-making in start-ups is moving at a rapid pace in India. Venture capital (VC) funds have invested Rs 15,600 crore ($2.46 billion) in start-ups in the first six months (up till June 26) this year. And, that has surpassed the total VC inflows into start-ups (Rs 14,850 crore or $2.34 billion) in all of 2014. Interestingly, the number of deals in 2014 was 1.5 times more than that recorded in the first half of this year, indicating a higher average deal size in 2015. The total angel investment funding in the first six months this year also marginally crossed the previous year’s total funding. Taxi aggregator raised $400 million in April this year, the biggest deal in 2015 so far. Recently, market regulator SEBI relaxed the listing norms for Indian start-ups making it easier for them to take the IPO route and also, giving an additional exit route to investors.


The Indian government is taking action against 43 officials in Indian diplomatic missions in 17 countries. Complaints against these officials, which also include low-ranking officials and locally hired staff, range from corruption to dereliction of duty. The number of complaints this year seems quite high when compared to those recorded in the last three years: six in 2012, 10 in 2013 and 27 in 2014.

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