News in Numbers, Dec 1, 2016: Can we replace the king?

Cash transactions rule in India. Over two-thirds of the transactions in India are done by cash, as per a report by CLSA. The government’s recent moves seem to be nudging people towards non-cash transactions. And, not all Indians are under the formal financial net yet. On Wednesday, the government appointed a panel to steer the country towards digitalisation. Will Indians be ready to embrace cashless transactions? How quickly can we do that? What about the security concerns? 


13

What is it? The number of members in a panel set up by government think-tank Niti Aayog to promote the use of digital payments.

Why is it important? It’s a part of the government’s efforts to make use of the cash crunch to turn people towards cashless payment options. Digital payments system comes with the advantages of transparency, traceability and accountability besides being faster, less inexpensive and more convenient. However, this also means battling security issues and easing concerns of consumers who may not be comfortable with the new medium. The panel consists of members from different parties, indicating that the government seeks to generate a political consensus in its push for digitalisation of the economy.

Tell me more: Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naiduis the convenor of the panel, which includes Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik (Biju Janata Dal), Puducherry CM V Narayanasamy (Congress), Sikkim CM Pawan Kumar Chamling (Sikkim Democratic Front), Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis (both from the ruling BJP). Other panel members include NITI Aayog vice-chairman (Arvind Panagariya) and CEO (Amitabh Kant) and five special invitees including Nandan Nilekani, former chairman of the Unique Identity Authority of India.

40

What is it? The number of locations at which the Enforcement Directorate (ED) conducted searches on Wednesday to check black money held with currency exchanges, hawala dealers and others.

Why is it important? Indicates the government is pushing for a well-rounded attack on tracking down illegal hoarders of cash and suggests that there are ways in which some circumvent the laws, highlighting the need for their stricter enforcement. The authorities seized Rs 1.2 crore cash. The ED, which is responsible for enforcing the Foreign Exchange Management Act and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, attached assets worth over Rs 9,000 crore for hawala and money laundering crimes in 2014-15, which is likely to go up this fiscal. However, the high pendency – 4,776 cases pending in terms of number of investigations initiated as on March 31, 2015 – is a cause of concern.

Tell me more: As many as 100 investigators along with police personnel have undertaken the searches across the country.

7.3%

What is it? India’s economic growth rate in the July-September quarter of 2016-17.

Why is it important? This is marginally higher than the rate recorded in the June ended quarter (7.1%) though slower than the 7.6% growth in the second quarter of 2015-16. It also fell short of 7.5% forecast by a Reuters poll of economists. The increase in acceleration in the second quarter this fiscal over the first was led by agriculture (compared to 1.8% in the first quarter) while manufacturing grew by 7.1% (compared to 9.1% in the previous quarter). Consumer spending, which accounts for 56% of India’s $2 trillion economy, is likely to be hit due to the recent demonetisation announcement and it remains to be seen how this affects India’s economic growth rates in the next few quarters.

Tell me more: India retains the tag of the fastest growing major economy as per the second quarter data. China recorded a growth rate of 6.7% in the quarter ended September.

32.5 million

What is it? The number of barrels of oil the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) would produce per day from January 1. OPEC is a group of 14 major oil-exporting nations that account for a third of global production.

Why is it important? This is a cut by 1.2 million barrels per day, representing about 1% of global production and the first joint decision to reduce production since 2008. The agreement to cut production is to prop up oil prices. Due to an oversupply of oil, prices plunged from about $100 per barrel in 2014 to less than $40 per barrel this year, affecting oil-dependent economies such as Saudi Arabia. OPEC members have said they are looking at levels of $55-60 per barrel; a failure to clinch the deal may have sent oil prices down to $30 per barrel, according to analysts.

Tell me more: After the announcement, Brent crude futures, the global benchmark for oil prices, increased by 10%.

1 million

What is it? The number of Google accounts whose security has been breached since August by a new variant of Android malware, according to a report by security firm Check Point Software Services.

Why is it important? This is likely the biggest single theft of Google accounts. The malicious software called Gooligan is disguised as legitimate apps to steal authentication tokens that can be used to access data from Google Play, Gmail, Google photos, Google docs, Google Drive among others. The malware attacks 13,000 devices every day, potentially affecting those on Android 4 (Jelly Bean and KitKat) and Android 5 (Lollipop) – this represents nearly three-fourths of the Android devices in use today. About 57% of such devices are located in Asia, 19% in the Americas, 15% in Africa and 9% in Europe.

Tell me more: A device is infected when the user downloads and installs a Gooligan-infected app (from third-party app stores or malicious links), after which data about the device is sent to the campaign’s Command and Control server. This is followed by the malicious software rooting the device (unlocking the operating system) after which it downloads a module that allows Gooligan to steal information, install apps from Google Play and rate them and install adware to generate revenue.

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News in numbers, Dec 8, 2015: Donations to political parties, falling crude oil prices…

 

$1 billion

 

What is it? The amount infrastructure company GMR Group is looking to raise in the next two years by selling stakes in its airports and energy businesses.

 

Why is it important? It will help cut down its debt levels (Rs 410 billion net debt at present) and repay investors in its airport business. Over one-third (37%) of its group debt has been downgraded to ‘default’, which means the company’s likelihood of meeting these debt obligations on time are the least, according to a recent report by Credit Suisse.

 

Tell me more: Infrastructure companies borrowed heavily anticipating economic growth but ended up facing a range of roadblocks, including downturn, delay in getting coals for their plants and government approvals.

 

Rs 139 crore

 

What is it? Total amount received by the Indian National Congress party in the form of donations (above Rs 20,000) in 2014-15 for which it has not declared the mode of contribution.

 

Why is it important? That’s 98% of total donations above Rs 20,000 in 2014-15. Without the mode of contribution, it would be difficult to link the donors against their donations and trace the money trail. This goes against a September 2013 Supreme Court order that has stipulated that none of the columns in the forms to declare donations above Rs 20,000 should be left blank. Transparency in donations to political parties is necessary to allow public scrutiny for strengthening democracy.

 

Tell me more: The Bharatiya Janata Party, the top recipient of donations above Rs 20,000, declared an amount of Rs 83.9 lakhs from 20 donors where it has not provided PAN details, address and mode of contribution. BJP, CPM and CPI have received a total of Rs 303.4 crore in which they have not filled in the ‘address’ column of the donors.

 

66%

 

What is it? Year-on-year growth in monthly sales of Myntra, an online fashion retailer owned by Flipkart, in October 2015.

 

Why is it important? Myntra moved to app-only platform in May this year. Its growth since then appears to have slowed down (from 100-200% growth earlier), even accounting for the higher base. But, for Myntra, it could be a part of long term strategy. Myntra says the customer experience is better on apps.

 

Tell me more: Myntra says it has an annualized gross sales of $500 million as of October, as against $400 million in May when it decided to go app only.

 

150

 

What is it? Number of workers – machine operators, floor supervisors, security personnel and peons – at a 300-people strong aluminium foils factory in Sanand, Gujarat, with more than Rs 1 crore in their bank accounts, according to a Times of India report.

 

Why is it important? An example of the impact of Gujarat government buying 4,000 hectares of land over the last seven years in the automobile hub. For the factory it means the human resource challenge of dealing with crorepati employees – and retaining them as these jobs are no longer their primary source of income.

 

Tell me more: After Tata Motors relocated it’s Nano factory from West Bengal to Sanand in Gujarat, the area has seen rapid industrialisation.

 

$37.8

 

What is it? Price of US crude oil per barrel at 0300 GMT on Tuesday.

 

Why is it important? This is close to seven-year-lows. An indicator of discord among 13 member Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, which failed to arrive at an oil production ceiling last week. Oil companies stocks have taken a beating. Lower oil prices however will help net oil importers control inflation better.

 

Tell me more: OPEC countries’ production of over 30 million barrels per day has pushed production 0.5 million to 2 million barrels per day beyond demand.

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News In Numbers – July 27

News In Numbers: July 27

 

23%

The percentage of people injured in a road accident in India in 2014 who died. As many as 21 states and union territories register a number higher than the all-India average, with the worst being Punjab (52.8%), UP (49.7%) and Bihar (41.5%). On Sunday, addressing the nation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the government was working on a scheme to provide cashless and automatic medical treatment to victims for the first 50 hours of an accident.

 

0.18%

The decline in oil production recorded by state-owned ONGC from its own operations (excluding its joint ventures) in 2014-15, over 2013-14. Its gas production also fell, by 5.4%. With its aging oil and gas fields showing stagnant or declining production for some years now, India’s largest oil and gas producer needs its new fields to start delivering. An unnamed senior official of ONGC was recently quoted as saying that the company would invest $8.8 billion (about Rs 55,000 crore) to operationalise its discoveries in the Krishna-Godavari basin by 2018-19.

 

Rs 1,600 cr

The amount the government is expected to raise by selling 5% of its shareholding in Power Finance Corporation, the auction for which is being conducted today at a base price of Rs 254 per share. The government has set a target of mopping up Rs 69,500 crore in 2015-16 from the sale of its shares in public sector undertakings. This is more than twice of what it realized in 2014-15 and is about 4% of its overall revenues in 2014-15.

 

95%

Percentage of engineers in the batch of 2014 of Indian Institute of Management Kolkata. Similar dominance of engineering students in MBA programmes is reported in other IIMs also. In order to address criticism that the multiple-choice question format of the entrance exam to IIMs favoured engineers, and to add diversity to the student profile, the Common Admission Test (CAT) will see descriptive questions being added to the test this year.

 

2

Number of women in the list of 20 most marketable sportpersons in the world, according to the London School of Marketing. The two women are tennis players Maria Sharapova (rank 12) and Serena Williams (rank 20). Cricketer MS Dhoni was the only Indian in the list, at number 9. But having retired from test cricket late last year and with the team he leads in the Indian Premier League banned for two years, even this position for Dhoni might be under threat.

 

 

 

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