News in Numbers, May 23, 2016: Distressed asset sale deals, ISRO’s latest milestone…

29

What is it? The number of 10 million-people-plus megacities in 2015 compared with 14 in 1995.

Why is it important? Four out of five of them are in developing countries (Asia, Africa and Latin America), indicating that these regions would contribute increasingly to the global economy and attract global businesses. However, this also highlights the challenges these countries would face in tackling urban migration, pressure on infrastructure and the availability of resources.

Tell me more: As many as 49 metropolitan clusters are likely to account for 77% of incremental GDP from 2010 and 2015 in India. The country, which is implementing an ambitious programme to create 100 smart cities by 2022, has just 0.23 urban planners per 100,000 population and the municipal expenditure as a percentage of GDP is just 1.1% (compares very poorly with the other BRICS nations, and OECD countries).

 

0.41%

What is it? The average percentage of tickets Jet Airways sold in the highest fare bucket across the 20 busiest domestic routes in April, according to Directorate-General of Civil Aviation’s (DGCA) first monthly report aimed at checking soaring airfare prices.

Why is it important? Its competitors – Indigo, Spicejet and GoAir – did not sell a single ticket in the highest fare bucket in many of the 20 domestic routes. Some Parliamentarians had raised the issue of high airfares despite low fuel prices, and also the surge in prices during certain events (such as the Jat agitation in Haryana) and natural calamities. The first set of data do not support the lawmakers’ concerns on this issue, though it would be monitored every month to see if it justifies to impose a cap on airfares.

Tell me more: The DGCA will hold consultation talks with the airlines to discuss a cap on airfares. The Ministry of Civil Aviation has proposed the levying of a 2% fee on all domestic and international commercial flights in order to cross-subsidise air tickets on non-metro routes and bring it down to around Rs 2,500 per flying hour.

 

33

What is it? The number of asset sale deals announced by the top 10 most indebted business houses (as profiled by Credit Suisse last year) since April 2015.

Why is it important? Of these, only six deals have been completed. Of these six, the total value of four deals (for which information is available) is Rs 2,546 crore,  a mere 3% of the total value (Rs 82,343 crore) of the 33 deals. Indicates that companies are struggling to find buyers for their assets. Some may not be willing to mark down the value of their assets to reflect the actual market value, betting that the market may improve, prompting them to either delay the sale of assets or not sell at all.

Tell me more: As many as 14 deals are pending, nine of which account for Rs 48,910 crore. Another 12 are in the proposal stage, of which seven are worth Rs 28,810 crore and one has been withdrawn.

 

4

What is it? The number of months the poor families in drought-hit Bundelkhand region will get free rice, wheat and coarse grain starting June 1.

Why is it important? Last week, Uttar Pradesh declared eight districts (seven of them in Bundelkhand) drought-hit – a much-delayed move, according to ruling Samajwadi Party’s political rivals. The region has seen at least 3,000 farmer suicides over the last five years. It also suffered continuous drought between 2003 and 2010, floods in 2011, late and deficit rainfall in 2012 and 2013 and drought in 2014.

Tell me more: The Uttar Pradesh government has sanctioned Rs 145 crore for rejuvenating 100 extinct ponds in the region. The farmers are being encouraged to cultivate oilseeds, especially sesame, and the government has increased subsidy on these crops.

 

70 km

What is it? The distance India’s indigenous version of a space shuttle travelled today, after which it descended into the Bay of Bengal.

Why is it important? This is the country’s first reusable space shuttle and its first step towards creating a full–fledged reusable rocket, which might take another 10-15 years. The use of a reusable launch vehicle would reduce the cost of space exploration and utilisation, besides providing on-demand space access.

Tell me more: The Indian Space Research Organisation declared the mission a success. It took about 10 minutes from lift-off to splash-down. The 6.5-metre long ‘aeroplane’-like structure weighs 1.75 tonnes and is almost six times smaller than the final version.

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