News in Numbers, July 25, 2016: Search on for AN-32 plane, Kabali’s first day earnings…

3

What is it? The number of Chinese journalists whose visas in India have not been renewed by the government and hence, asked to leave the country.

Why is it important? This comes at a time when relations between India and China are strained after the latter opposed India’s entry into the elite Nuclear Suppliers Group last month. Analysts say this could result in a tit-for-tat approach by the Chinese government who could send back Indian journalists stationed there. There are five Indian journalists who work out of Beijing in addition to a number of them working with China’s English state media.

Tell me more: While the government maintains that the Chinese scribes overstayed their visas in India and would accommodate their replacements, a couple of reports attribute this to the Chinese journalists meeting some Tibetan activists recently and for engaging in activities beyond their journalistic brief, which came under the scrutiny of security agencies.

 

18

What is it? The number of Navy and Coast Guard ships including a submarine in addition to 13 aircraft and four helicopters that are involved in a search operation to find the Indian Air Force’s AN-32 plane that went missing on Friday morning.

Why is it important? There are 29 people on board. Three days of search has yielded no results so far and the search and rescue team is now seeking satellite imagery to find clues about the missing plane that lost contact over the Bay of Bengal. The search is difficult because the the depth is over 3,500 metres and the weather is rough. India’s technical capabilities do not allow it to search beyond 500 metres in the oceans.

Tell me more: In 1968, another Indian Air Force plane carrying 98 defence personnel went missing between Chandigarh and Leh, and after 35 years, a trekking team discovered the remains of a human corpse. This led to the discovery of the remains of the people in the aircraft, which had fallen into a glacier.

 

88.1 billion

What is it? The number of cigarette sticks Indians smoked in 2015, according to a study by Euromonitor.

Why is it important? A decline of 8.2% from 2014 figures, cigarette sales dropped to a 15-year-low last year. One of the main reasons could be an increase in illicit trade volume in cigarettes – India was the fourth largest market in this regard in 2015, which could be a result of steep tax increases on cigarettes.

Tell me more: India has the second highest number of tobacco users in the world and its share in illicit cigarettes increased to 19% in 2014 from 12% in 2006.

 

Rs 80-90 crore

What is it? The estimated earnings of ‘Kabali’ worldwide on Day 1 of its release.

Why is it important? The movie opened amidst crazy fan frenzy (as is the case with any Rajinikanth movie) but drew mixed reviews from various quarters. This may result in a drop in its box office collections in the coming days. In India, the movie earned Rs 48 crore on the opening day, beating Salman Khan’s ‘Sultan’’s day 1 collections of Rs 46.5 crore.

Tell me more: The movie, largely set in Malaysia, portrays the Tamil Superstar as an aged don. In the US also, ‘Kabali’ broke the first day box office record collections of Aamir Khan’s movie ‘PK’ ($1,418,817) and ‘Sultan’ ($784,194) and earned nearly $2 million.

 

20

What is it? The number of islands in the Andaman and Nicobar region, Lakshadweep and the east and west coasts that would be opened up to the public soon.

Why is it important? This gives additional options to tourists who tend to feel restricted while exploring the pristine beaches and trails, as these provide limited access to outsiders and are often the preserve of the natives or tribes. For instance, the Andaman archipelago has 300 islands, of which only a dozen or more are open to the public while the Nicobars is not accessible to tourists at all.

Tell me more: The islands would be given public access once the government prepares a blueprint for the development of these islands and ensures coastal security.

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News in Numbers, June 8, 2016: India closer to its NSG aspirations, Amazon’s India push…

$21.3 billion

What is it? The estimated cost of delay and additional fuel consumption due to freight vehicles being stopped at check posts and/or state borders, long queues at check posts, poor road conditions etc., according to a study.

Why is it important? Underscores the need for Goods and Services Tax – which would bring in a single tax rate in place of the myriad existing ones, and reduce paperwork at checkposts and state borders. This would cut some costs. However, it would also need better infrastructure – wider roads and focus on multi-modal transportation – and action against unnecessary police intervention.

Tell me more: The study by IIM-Calcutta and logistics firm Transport Corporation of India gave the break up of the cost incurred due to delays and cost of fuel consumption due to such delays: $6.6 billion and $14.7 billion respectively.

 

35

What is it? The total number of member-nations of the Missile Technology Control Regime, an international anti-proliferation grouping, with the latest addition being India.

Why is it important? This would help India to buy high-end missile technology and also bring it closer to becoming a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), a body that controls global nuclear trade. Though India has received support from the US for India’s entry into this coveted group, China has been against this and favouring Pakistan’s membership.

Tell me more: India has the capabilities of exporting nuclear fuel such as thorium and supply nuclear technology in the future but it cannot do so until it is a member of the NSG. India’s entry into this group will also give it a strategic victory over Pakistan as it can block it from joining the NSG.

 

6.5%

What is it? The present Repo rate – the rate at which the central bank lends to the banks.  It was kept unchanged by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Tuesday.

Why is it important?  RBI holding the rates was expected, but it comes at time when there is debate – fuelled primarily by Rajya Sabha member Subramanian Swamy – on whether the central bank is too reluctant to bring down rates, which might help small and medium industries.

Tell me more: The RBI has cited concerns about an upside in inflation risks mainly due to increase in international commodity prices, especially oil, and the implementation of the Seventh Central Pay Commission. The central bank may not go for any interest rate cuts this year as RBI’s survey of professional forecasters have assigned the highest probability of 49% for average inflation to be 5-5.9% in 2016-17 against its target of containing it within 5%. The RBI also left the cash reserve ratio, the portion of their deposits that banks have to keep with the central bank, at 4%.

 

Rs 404

What is it? The amount a passenger would have typically got as refund, if they had cancelled a Delhi-Mumbai ticket costing Rs 2,419 (base fare: Rs 1,559) booked on June 7.

Why is it important? Highlights how cancellation charges can sometimes exceed the base fare amount (in this case, it is 1.29 times the base fare). India’s aviation regulator will reportedly announce new rules barring airliners from levying cancellation charges exceeding the base fares.

Tell me more: A couple of months ago, airlines in India offered discounts and brought down airfares but increased the cancellation charges up by 50-100%.

 

$3 billion

What is it? Additional investment commitment by Amazon in India.

Why is it important? This is likely hit Indian e-commerce firms such as Flipkart and Snapdeal, which have been struggling to raise funds to keep up in the race as competition intensifies. It also shows how badly Amazon needs to win in India, after losing out to Alibaba Group Holding in China. In July 2014, the company had announced a $2 billion investment in the country, which it spent in less than two years.

Tell me more: With the additional funds coming in, Amazon’s total pledged amount would exceed $5 billion (over Rs 33,000 crore) in India.

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