News in Numbers, Aug 19, 2016: SBI board approves merger, Sindhu aims for the gold…

63,000

What is it? The number of jobs technology companies in the US have shed so far this year, according to an outplacement agency.

Why is it important? Automation is replacing jobs, and analysts say that this trend is likely to continue. Hardware engineers are the most hit with firms such as Cisco making the shift to more profitable software-oriented services. Cisco laid off 5,500 employees recently and it may affect its research and development centre in India.

Tell me more: Other companies that are likely to lay off employees are IBM Corp, Oracle Corp, Dell Inc and Hewlett Packard Enterprise, according to analysts. A Global Equities Research analyst said the tech industry is likely to shed 370,000 jobs this year.

 

Rs 37 lakh crore

What is it? The balance sheet size of State Bank of India (SBI) and its five associate banks post merger. This proposal was cleared by its board on Thursday.

Why is it important? The announcement was made in May and this is the first step in what is believed to lead to a major consolidation phase in the banking sector after many years. This, despite the fact that bank unions have been opposing the move and have gone on strikes in the recent past.

Tell me more: The SBI has announced swap ratios (acquiring company offers its shares in exchange for the target company’s shares) for three of its associate banks (State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur, State Bank of Mysore and State Bank of Travancore), in addition to that for Bharatiya Mahila Bank. It is yet to announce the swap ratios for State Bank of Hyderabad and State Bank of Patiala.

 

1.6 million

What is it? The number of pellets fired by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) between July 8 and August 11 to control violent mobs in Kashmir, as per its admission to the Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Thursday.

Why is it important? The use of pellet guns, which caused eye injuries (including loss of vision) to many, has come under sharp criticism by human rights organisations and political parties. After Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s announcement in July that the government would form an expert panel to consider other non-lethal alternatives for crowd control measures, the court had said this meant that pellet guns are not non-lethal weapons and this is enough reason to discontinue its usage.

Tell me more: The protests erupted after separatist militant, also the head of a terrorist group called Hijb-ul Mujahideen, Burhan Wani was killed in July. The CRPF told the court that pellet guns were introduced in 2010 as an accepted form of riot control and if these are withdrawn, then it would have no option but to open fire with rifles in extreme situations, which could be fatal.

 

41%

What is it? The gap between the actual number of toilets built under the Swachh Bharat Mission and the official numbers as put up by the sanitation ministry in Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur, as per a field survey report of select districts.

Why is it important? Such a mismatch raises concerns about the real progress of the programme. India has set a target to eliminate open defecation by 2019. In some states such as Jharkhand, Gujarat, Karnataka and Rajasthan, the gaps between the actual numbers and those reported to the central government are 19%, 23%, 27% and 28% respectively. The field survey numbers for Sikkim, which became the first to achieve the open defecation free status, are the only ones that match with those with the ministry of sanitation.

Tell me more: Retired civil and defence services officers and non-government institutions with rural development experience are empanelled by the rural development ministry as individual and institutional National Level Monitors. These monitors covered 24.22 lakh random households in some districts across states.

 

51

What is it? The duration of the semi-final match between Indian shuttler PV Sindhu and World Number 6 Nozomi Okuhara from Japan on Thursday. Sindhu smashed her way into the finals.

Why is it important? With her Thursday’s win, Sindhu has assured India of at least a silver medal – the second one after Sakshi Malik won a bronze in the 58 kg women’s freestyle wrestling category on Wednesday, and the fifth Indian female athlete to get a medal overall. All eyes are on the 21-year-old athlete from Hyderabad who would face World Number 1 Carolina Marin from Spain this evening and if Sindhu defeats Marin, she would be the second Indian sportsperson to win the gold after ace shooter’s Abhinav Bindra’s victory at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

Tell me more: This was Sindhu’s debut at the Olympics. She trains under Pullela Gopichand at his academy in Hyderabad.

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News in Numbers, August 9, 2016: Impact of diesel ban on Toyota, single-teacher schools…

Rs 1,700 crore

What is it? The total business Toyota Kirloskar Motors claims it has lost due to the ban on diesel vehicles in the Delhi-NCR region since last December.

Why is it important? The company says it has lost business of around 8,500 units of Innova and the Fortuner and that the ban has halted the company’s future investments in the country. The Supreme Court had banned the registration of 2,000 cc and above diesel vehicles in Delhi on December 2016 as a measure to curb the high pollution levels in the city. This comes at a time when the government is aggressively trying to promote its ‘Make in India’ campaign, which is aimed at attracting foreign companies to help convert the country into a global design and manufacturing hub.

Tell me more: Mercedes-Benz, another auto firm hit by this ban, has moved the Supreme Court and has asked for it to be lifted. It has said it is ready to pay 1% environmental cess on the sale of diesel cars.

 

6.5%

What is it? The stake the promoters of Max Financial would get in the merged entity approved by the boards of HDFC Life Insurance Company and Max Life Insurance Company in addition to a Rs 850 crore non-compete fee, subject to approval of public shareholders.

Why is it important? With this deal, the merged entity would have Rs 1.1 lakh crore in assets and overtake ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Company and become India’s largest private life insurer and the second biggest life insurer after Life Insurance Corporation of India. After the merger, the entity would have a 10.8% market share. This could also signal the beginning of consolidation in the insurance sector.

Tell me more: The merger involves a three-step process: Max Life would be merged with its parent Max Financial Services, after which the insurance unit would be demerged from this entity to be combined with HDFC Life and the non-insurance businesses of Max Financial would be merged with group company Max India.

 

Rs 5,000 crore

What is it? The additional amount India’s flagship rural employment guarantee scheme would get in 2016-17, taking the total to Rs 43,500 crore.

Why is it important? This is likely to aid many in the rural areas affected by two consecutive years of drought in 2014-15 and 2015-16. Ten states had declared drought last year. However, since the current year is expected to be an above-normal monsoon one, there are concerns about inflationary pressures due to an increase in the budget. The increased budget overlay reportedly lays to rest doubts about whether the scheme would be continued or not.

Tell me more: Under the scheme, jobs to 48.2 million families were provided in 2015-16.

 

105,630

What is it? The number of government elementary and secondary schools in India which are run by a single teacher, according to a report tabled in the Parliament on Monday.

Why is it important? Indicates the extent of paucity of teachers in the country, especially in state-run schools and partially explains the clamour for private ones, despite the huge difference in fees. According to the Right to Education rules, the recommended student-teacher ratio is 30:1 for primary classes and 35:1 for upper primary classes.

Tell me more: Madhya Pradesh has the highest number of single-teacher schools followed by Uttar Pradesh and together, these two states account for a third of such schools. The next three worst states in this regard – Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Jharkhand – account for nearly 29% of single-teacher schools.

 

$52.7 billion

What is it? India’s trade deficit with China in 2015-16.

Why is it important? The deficit might widen further if India cuts its tariff on Chinese imports in line with tariff reductions for other members in Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). So far, India has been favouring a three-tier system for tariff reductions – offering more cuts to some countries, and less to others including China. Now, it has changed its approach. This is likely to benefit China more with whom India does not have a free trade agreement (FTA). It remains to be seen what India is offered in return for agreeing to such a deal.

Tell me more: The RCEP is a proposed FTA between the 10 members of the Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN and the six countries with which the ASEAN has existing FTAs.

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