News in Numbers, Dec 6, 2016: Deified and demonised in equal measure…


What is it? The crime rate against women (number of crimes registered per 100,000 people) in Tamil Nadu, according to the National Crime Records Bureau 2015.

Why is it important? This is the lowest among all Indian states and is one of the many social, crime and industrial indicators in which Tamil Nadu ranks among the top five. A five-time chief minister, J Jayalalithaa who breathed her last on December 5 in Chennai, played a key role in the development of the southern state. One of the decisions that made her extremely popular (and attracted a great deal of criticism too) was the record number of ‘freebies’ and welfare schemes that she doled out in the state. She was convicted in a disproportionate assets case by a special court in 2014, which was overturned by the Karnataka High Court a year later. She was acquitted of all charges. Her death now raises questions about the future of AIADMK and how this would change the dynamics of Tamil Nadu politics.

Tell me more: A former actor, she starred in over 140 films since the 1960s and was paired with the leading heroes of all South Indian languages. Popularly known as ‘Amma’ or ‘Puratchi Thalaivi’ (revolutionary leader), she was one of the longest serving women politicians and enjoyed a cult status among many Tamilians. Jayalalithaa was hospitalised on September 22 and just when the hospital authorities and her party members assured people that she would return to normal life, she suffered a cardiac arrest on Sunday and was declared dead on Monday.



What is it? The reduction in India’s emission intensity of gross domestic product (GDP) between 2005 and 2010. Emission intensity is the volume of emissions per unit of GDP.

Why is it important? Indicates India is likely on track to keep up its promise of reducing emissions intensity of its GDP by 33-35% by 2030 from 2005 levels as part of an action plan submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Tell me more: The data is from India’s first biennial update report submitted to UNFCCC recently. India had committed to reduce the emission intensity of its GDP by 20-25% by 2020 from the 2005 levels under the UNFCCC though it is not bound by any obligations.



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

Why is it important? It has declined from 54.5 in October, which marked the first time the index fell below the 50 mark (separates growth and contraction) since June 2015. It was also the first time that the biggest decline was recorded since November 2008 after the global financial crisis hit the world economy. This is attributed to the government’s withdrawal of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes from circulation effective November 9 and is the among the first signs of indication of the impact of demonetisation on the Indian economy.

Tell me more: Sectors including financial services, hotels, restaurants, renting and business activities were hit due to the cash crunch. India’s services sector, which contributes about 60% of the country’s economy, is likely to affect its economic growth rate in the second half of the current fiscal. India’s private sector activity fell to 49.1 in November from 55.4 in October, which was close to a four-year high.


Rs 5,000

What is it? The minimum order value above which the finance ministry has mandated the government departments to make electronic payments to suppliers, contractors or grantee and loanee institutions with immediate effect. The earlier threshold was Rs 10,000.

Why is it important? This is one of the steps taken by the government recently to promote digital transactions, aimed at bringing more transparency and accountability, leaving a better money trail. The other steps include all toll plazas in national highways to accept payments through debit or credit cards and e-wallets (apart from accepting old notes until December 15), encouraging shop owners to use debit cards and asking government employees to use debit cards for transactions and become ambassadors for promoting digital payments.

Tell me more: Last month, the government asked all automobile manufacturers to provide a digital identity tag in all vehicles for e-payments at toll plazas and check posts and ensure their seamless movement.


$22.2 billion

What is it? The aid appealed for by the United Nations in 2017 for people hit by conflicts and disasters globally.

Why is it important? This is a record high, up from $20.1 billion requested in December 2015 for this year, which was later increased to $22.1 billion. However, donors managed only over half of this amount this year, raising questions about how much next year would bring in. This is the largest funding gap ever. Indicates that the extent of humanitarian crises is rapidly increasing and probably, lasting longer; the situation is only likely to worsen with climate change and natural disasters predicted to become more frequent and severe.

Tell me more: The amount requested for next year is to help 93 million people who are the most vulnerable across 33 countries. There are over 128 people who are affected by natural disasters, conflict and displacement. Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan, three war-torn countries alone account for a third of all the people in need of help.

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News in numbers, Feb 4, 2016: Two possible zika vaccines from India, annual cost of OROP…



What is it? Number of possible vaccines Bharat Biotech, an Indian biotechnology company is working on to fight zika virus.

Why is it important? There is currently no cure or treatment for the virus declared as a global health emergency by the World Health Organisation, and linked to birth defects. France-based Sanofi and Japan’s Takeda Pharmaceutical have recently announced they are working on developing a vaccine for the disease.

Tell me more: The virus spreading in Americas can also hit Africa and Asia, according to WHO. The Indian Council of Medical Research, the apex body for biomedical research, has assembled a team of experts to validate Bharat Biotech’s findings. The company says they are probably the first ones in the world to file for global patents for zika vaccine candidates.



What is it? Nikkei’s Services Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) in January, a composite indicator of India’s services based on a survey by Markit, a financial information and services company. It increased from 53.6 in December.

Why is it important? This is the highest in 19 months. However, it’s below the levels before the 2008-09 global financial crisis, indicating India’s vulnerability in the wake of economic slowdown in Asian and emerging markets.

Tell me more: The growth in new business was at a 11-month high of 54.1 in January from 53.8 in the previous month.



What is it? Number of physical bookstores Amazon plans to open, according to a US mall operator.

Why is it important? Amazon has been the predominant force behind putting physical bookstores out of business.

Tell me more: Traditional bookstores’ online ventures have proven to be no match for Amazon so far. It remains to be seen if Amazon can do well in a segment that it helped destroy. It opened its first store in Seattle last November and stacks books based on customer ratings and popularity on its website. At that time, the company had said it had used its 20 years of bookselling experience to “build a store that integrates the benefits of offline and online book shopping”. Barnes & Noble, one of the few biggest chains of bookstores in the US, has 640 retail outlets.


50 years

What is it? The age below which women are advised not to go for mammography (specialised imaging system to examine breasts), according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

Why is it important? Mammography tends to cause harm due to false positive results, overdiagnosis and possibly radiation-induced cancer. But evidence show it is effective in reducing breast cancer mortality in women aged 50-69 years and not in the younger age band of 40-49 years. The benefit of reduced mortality extends for women aged 70-74.

Tell me more: Women in the lower age group could continue to do breast self-examination and an annual clinical examination but there is no proof that these had helped in reducing breast cancer mortality, according to Dr Surendra Shastri, who heads the WHO Collaborating Division for Cancer Prevention.


Rs 7,500 crore

What is it? Annual cost of implementing the one rank, one pension scheme (OROP), according to the government.

Why is it important? Earlier it was estimated by the government to cost Rs 8,300 crore. Analyst estimates in September last year were even higher – HSBC (Rs 16,000 crore) and Nomura (Rs 10,000 crore). Both had said the OROP scheme would add to India’s fiscal burden, while the Indian government has maintained that it will not have a huge cost burden. Analysts will pore over the documents to see how the present estimates are lower.

Tell me more: The government has said it will pay arrears from July 2014 as against April 2014 (as demanded by the ex-servicemen) and this adds up to Rs 10,900 crore until December 2015.

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