When the Earth isn’t enough 🌏


What is it? The number of H-1B visa applications filed by employers between October 2016 and June 2017.

Why is it important? The number of applications has not declined despite US President Donald Trump pledging to crackdown on misuse of H-1B visas, a temporary work permit. At this rate, the full year applications will exceed that of 2016 number of 399,349. However, approvals for current fiscal is sharply lower at 59% as compared to 87% in 2016. This could be because large number of petitions in current year are still pending decisions.

Tell me more: 74% of applications are filed for candidates born in India.



What is it? Nikkei’s Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) in July, a composite indicator of India’s manufacturing activity based on a survey by Markit, a financial information and services company.

Why is it important? This is the lowest since February 2009, the days of the global financial crisis. It slipped below the 50-point mark separating expansion from contraction for the first time this year. Uncertainty and information gaps around goods and services tax that was introduced on July 1st seems to have negatively impacted purchasing decisions.

Tell me more: New orders fell for the first time in the year-to-date and at the fastest pace since early 2009.



What is it? The number of months in which this year’s Earth Overshoot Day has arrived (August 2) this year, according to environmental groups WWF and Global Footprint Network.

Why is it important? Earth Overshoot Day is the date in which the annual demand of humanity on nature exceeds what the planet can regenerate over the year and it is the earliest so far. In other words, humanity is using up planetary resources such as soil, water and air at a faster pace than ever and will live on “credit” for the rest of the year; currently, we are using the resources of 1.7 Earths.

Tell me more: We would be able to return to living within the means of one Earth before 2050 if we moved the Earth Overshoot Day back by 4.5 days every year. Some of the ways in which individuals can help stop and later, reverse the trend is by burning less fuel, cut back on food waste and eating less meat.



What is it? The percentage increase in car sales for Maruti Suzuki, which has more than 50% market share, in July this year.

Why is it important? Car sales has picked up after introduction of the goods and services tax (GST) from July 1st, after contracting by 11% in June. Other car makers, except Hyundai Motor, reported double-digit increase in sales growth.

Tell me more: Shipping of cars from factory gate to dealers is counted as a sale, so the increase could be because of manufacturers pushing the stock to dealers than end-customer demand.



What is it? The increase in the net worth of Mukesh Ambani, chairman of Reliance Industries, in one year.

Why is it important? With a total net worth of $35.2 billion, he has raced ahead of Hong Kong-based Li Ka-Shing to become the second richest Asian after Alibaba’s founder, Jack Ma. Globally, Ambani went up to the 19th position, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. This has been possible partly due to investors rallying behind Reliance Jio that has disrupted the telecom space in the last few months.

Tell me more: A report by Oxfam, which works to eliminate poverty, said India’s 57 billionaires have the same wealth as the bottom 70% of the population, pointing to rising income and wealth inequality in the Asia’s third largest economy.

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News in Numbers, Feb 22, 2017: Jio’s deal 📲

>100 million

What is it? The number of Jio subscribers, according Reliance Jio Infocomm Chairman Mukesh Ambani.

Why is it important? The claimed subscriber base, won through months of no-holds-barred free services, would put Jio at having a 9-10% market share of the wireless base in India, which was 1,099.51 million in November, 2016. It had launched three months earlier in August, 2016.

Tell me more: The free services would end in March this year. But in his speech, Ambani assured unlimited data and voice services at Rs 303 per month for a year for customers who sign up before April, 2017.


13 months

What is it? The additional time in prison AIADMK leader VK Sasikala would have to spend in jail if she does not pay the fine of Rs 10 crore as stipulated by the Supreme Court.

Why is it important? That would mean serving over another year, in addition to her 3.5 months and further delaying her chances of contesting elections. The fine is over 61% of the value of disproportionate assets worth Rs 16.32 crore she has been convicted of amassing.

Tell me more: Prisons Superintendent Krishna Kumar said in his statement that the prisoner was being treated like any other convict and was given no additional privilege.


2.8 million

What is it? The number of point-of-sale (PoS) machines, for card use, installed so far, according to Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant.

Why is it important? The claim would mean a growth of 64% since December, 2016, when 1.7 million such machines were available. During and before demonetisation, PoS machine infrastructure was creaking under the load of growing card transactions, and India was far behind in per capita distribution of PoS terminals.

Tell me more: Indigenous digital payments app, Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM), has been downloaded 17 million times since launch in December, according to Kant.



What is it? Voter turnout in Mumbai municipal elections.

Why is it important? It’s the highest in 25 years, and surpassed the voter turnout in the latest assembly and parliamentary elections. It’s a sign of growing interest in local administration by general public, and could result in better governance where it matters most to people.

Tell me more: Nine other municipal corporation elections took placeon Wednesday in Maharashtra. The average voter turnout across the 10 municipal corporations was 56.30%.



What is it? The number of new coastal radar stations approved by defense ministry. In addition, it plans to have four mobile coastal radars.

Why is it important? These additional stations – which will take the total number more than 80 – will help improve India’s coastal security. It’s a part of measures India decided to undertake after the terrorist attacks in Mumbai in November 2008.

Tell me more: These stations will be set up by Bharat Electronics at a cost of Rs 800 crore.

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News in Numbers, Aug 5, 2016: Gujarat’s ordinance quashed, April 2017 target for GST…


What is it? The maximum reservation a state can set aside for economically and socially backward groups, per Supreme Court order in 1963.

Why is it important? This has come in the way of Gujarat government’s ordinance to provide 10% reservation in educational institutions and government jobs for the economically backward among the unreserved category – a move which was seen as a way to pacify the Patidar community that organised a statewide agitation demanding the Other Backward Class (OBC) status. The High Court quashed the ordinance and held that it to be inappropriate and unconstitutional as the Constitution allows reservations to be given only for the socially backward and the Scheduled Castes/Tribes and not on the basis of economic criteria.

Tell me more: The BJP government has said it would challenge the High Court decision. On the other hand, Hardik Patel, the leader of the Patidar agitation welcomed the order and said that they would continue their demands to be included under the OBC category.



What is it? The number of revenue officials to be trained on rules related to Goods and Services Tax and IT infrastructure framework by April 2017.

Why is it important? This will help meet the Indian government’s target of rolling out GST, which would replace the existing indirect taxes and be implemented as a single tax rate, by April 1, 2017. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has said they would work quickly and try and meet the deadline. A total of 16 states (BJP is in power in 13) need to ratify the bill and they have been asked to do so within 30 days of the President’s assent of the legislation.

Tell me more: The government hopes that all the necessary bills related to the GST would be passed in the Winter Session of the Parliament and that the back-end and front-end IT systems required for the rollout would be ready by the end of the year.


Rs 15 crore

What is it? The pay package of Mukesh Ambani, chairman and managing director of Reliance Industries in 2015-16.

Why is it important? The richest man in India has not taken a pay hike for the last eight years – a voluntary move by the elder Ambani brother. The other senior management personnel, however, got remuneration hikes. In the same period, Reliance Industries’ net profit nearly doubled from Rs 15,296 crore in 2008-09 to Rs 27,630 crore in 2015-16. In 2014-15, Ambani’s salary was 205 times that of the median employee remuneration.

Tell me more: The Reliance Industries chairman was ranked as the 36th richest man in the world with a total net worth of $19.3 billion by Forbes annual ranking for 2016. Until 2007-08, Ambani was the highest paid executive in the country with a pay package of Rs 44 crore per annum.


Rs 384 crore

What is it? The amount taxi-hailing app Ola, run by ANI Technologies, had raised in December from Vanguard Group, a US-based investment management firm, as per the company’s recent disclosure.

Why is it important? The investment by the Pennsylvania firm will draw further attention to Ola’s valuation (was around $5 billion last November) as it has to disclose the status of its portfolio to the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Vanguard has also invested in some of the bigger technology firms such as Facebook, Alphabet, Amazon.com and Flipkart. It was in news in India after Flipkart’s valuation was marked down by Vanguard and its peers from around $15 billion last July to about $10 billion now.

Tell me more: India’s third most valuable startup is reportedly in talks existing and new investors to raise more funds as it looks to compete with cash-rich Uber in India’s cab-hailing market.



What is it? The number of flights Air Costa, a regional airline, had suspended on Thursday due to problems with its aircraft lessors. It said it would resume operations as scheduled from today.

Why is it important? This comes a few days after another regional airline Air Pegasus suspended its operations (on July 27) after its lessors repossessed its aircraft due to non-payment of dues. This raises questions about the viability of the business models of regional carriers at a time when the government has unveiled the new civil aviation policy, which aims to boost regional connectivity and attract first-time flyers from small towns.

Tell me more: The government says it would help both the airlines, if feasible and if they approach them for help. The flight route of Air Costa includes cities such as Vijayawada, Bengaluru, Chennai, Tirupati, Coimbatore and Jaipur.

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News in numbers, Mar 9, 2016: Brands quick to drop Sharapova, Mukesh Ambani’s TV push…


Rs 1,165 crore

What is it? The amount the Indian government is looking to raise by selling 5% of its stake in state-run Container Corporation on Wednesday.

Why is it important? Represents progress in disinvestment. This follows its mopping up of Rs 5,000 crore from divestment in NTPC (the second biggest in six months) about a fortnight ago. The government has raised Rs 18,300 crore so far this fiscal by selling its stakes in six public sector units, which is about a quarter of its disinvestment target of Rs 68,500 crore by the end of this month. The government is likely to miss its target for the sixth straight year this fiscal.

Tell me more: The government owns 61.8% in Container Corporation is selling up to 9.75 million shares at a floor price of Rs 1,195 per share.


$29.7 million

What is it? Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova’s earnings from prize money, endorsements, appearances and royalties in 2015, according to Forbes.

Why is it important? Sharapova, who revealed she failed a drugs test at this year’s Australian Open, was the highest paid female athlete for the 11th consecutive year in 2015. On Monday, she admitted she tested positive for meldonium, which she said she was taking for diabetes and low magnesium for the last 10 years. Major brands including TAG Heuer, Nike and Porsche ended up severing ties with the five-time Grand Slam champion.

Tell me more: The World Anti-Doping Agency had included meldonium in the banned list last September, which came into effect from January 1, 2016. The player, who currently ranks seventh in the world, said she had not read the email informing her about the ban of this drug.

Rs 1,000 crore

What is it? The size of the alleged scam at Syndicate Bank.

Why is it important? The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is investigating the case based on a complaint from the bank, has registered cases against four businessmen and five bank officials. Despite strict laws and rules such as the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, and Know Your Customer norms, it is believed that the suspects had opened 386 accounts in three branches in Rajasthan. They were allegedly involved in discounting fake cheques and bills against fake letters of credit and arranged overdraft limits against nonexistent life insurance policies between 2011-16.

Tell me more: The CBI said it was conducting searches in 10 locations across three cities – New Delhi, Jaipur and Udaipur.

$2 billion

What is it? The amount Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries plans to spend on cable and satellite television businesses over the next three years, according to anonymous sources.

Why is it important? Reliance Industries’ target is to get 1 million subscribers in six months, which would increase to 20 million in three years. This is equivalent to the number of Indian homes that have a broadband or any other internet connection. Such targets in the television space, along with Reliance’s push in the telecom sector (via RJio), are likely to affect smaller players in the space including his brother Anil Ambani’s Reliance Communications (RCom). It remains to be seen if this renews the rivalry between the two brothers.

Tell me more: Reliance Industries has spent at least $18 billion for its 4G telecom business, which it plans to launch later this year.

Rs 5,000 crore

What is it? Indian Railways’ advertisement revenue target over the next few years.

Why is it important? Currently, the Indian Railways earns less than 5% of its revenue from non-tariff sources, which compares poorly with global railway systems in Japan and European countries that generate 15-30% of their revenues from such sources. The Indian Railways has appointed Ernst and Young to help them in this initiative. The utility is considering various measures to cut costs and increase sources of revenues as it looks to offset an increase in its wage bill and also, stick to its modernisation plans.

Tell me more: The ‘Sundry Earnings’ of the Railways was Rs 6,229 crore this year and the target for 2016-17 has been increased by over 50% to Rs 9,590 crore.

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