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

50%

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.

 

60,000

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.

 

24

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, August 1, 2018: IIT-Kgp’s new scheme, 90% of cases against Patidars dropped…

Rs 700 crore

What is it? The total worth of assets of liquor baron Vijay Mallya that would be auctioned next month. These assets include the erstwhile headquarter of Kingfisher Airlines, his personal jet, Kingfisher Villa in Goa, brands, trademarks, cars and office furniture.

Why is it important? This is the second attempt by tax authorities and lenders to recover his outstanding dues of around Rs 9,000 crore. The first attempt to sell each of these assets was a failure – either no bidders turned up or they quoted much below the reserve price. The base price of almost all the properties have been reduced from that fixed the first time and it remains to be seen if this helps them recover at least a part of their dues.

Tell me more: Kingfisher Airlines, which was once India’s second biggest airline stopped flying in 2012 after it ran out of cash.

 

10,000

What is it? The number of Indian workers India would bring back from Saudi Arabia as they face a food crisis there.

Why is it important? This is an impact of low oil prices on Saudi Arabia’s economy, which earns 70% of its revenues from this commodity and is a major source of employment. Due to cuts in government spending, many migrant workers have been laid off and have been left with no money to return to their home countries or even for food. Many of them have not been paid wages for a few months. The Consulate General of India in Jeddah on Saturday said it had distributed 15,475 kg of food and 1,850 packets of readymade food to workers in association with the Indian community.

Tell me more: The minister of external affairs Sushma Swaraj has appealed to the 30-lakh strong Indian community in Saudi Arabia to reach out and help those in need. The Saudi authorities have assured that the exit visas of the affected Indian workers would be processed and their wage claims will be looked into.

 

Rs 10,000

What is it? The amount IIT-Kharagpur hopes to get from its alumni per student per year to fund its scholarship programme.

Why is it important? Unlike the elite western institutions such as the Harvard which earn a substantial portion of their revenues from alumni funding, their Indian equivalents don’t. This gains importance at a time when the central government has reduced funding for Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and the Minister of Human Resource and Development Prakash Javadekar suggested they set up a roadmap to become independent by 2030. The IIT-Kharagpur director reasons that even if 30,000 alumni students pay Rs 10,000 each, it can raise Rs 30 crore.

Tell me more: The 2014-15 batch of IIT-Kharagpur students got an average salary of Rs 9-12 lakh per annum. The annual fee for undergraduate courses at IITs have been more than doubled from Rs 90,000 to Rs 2 lakh from the 2016-17 academic session.

 

Rs 919 crore

What is it? The total amount received in the fourth tranche of the Sovereign Gold Bond Scheme, launched last November.

Why is it important? This is around 41% of the total amount netted under the scheme, indicating that it has gathered pace from the initial months. The scheme was launched with an aim to reduce demand for physical gold, reduce imports and thereby, bring down the country’s fiscal deficit but it has a long way to go before that can happen. The cumulative worth of the applications for gold bonds under all four tranches is just around 2% of the total gold imports during the same period.

Tell me more: Under the fourth tranche of the scheme, the minimum subscription limit was decreased from 2 gm to 1 gm and the trading of gold bonds was implemented in this phase. The government also exempted the redemption of the bonds from capital gains tax, which was extended to the previous three tranches too.

 

182

What is it? The number of additional cases filed against the Patidars during the quota agitation last year that the Gujarat government has withdrawn now, taking the total number of cases withdrawn against the Patidar community members to 391.

Why is it important? This is nearly 90% of the total number of cases filed against them. These cases reportedly relate to stone-pelting and vandalism while the serious cases of violence would remain. There are chances that this issue coupled with that of the ongoing Dalit protests in the state is likely to affect BJP’s chances of winning in the assembly elections next year.

Tell me more: A year ago, the Patidars had staged protests across Gujarat (which turned violent) demanding that their community be given the Other Backward Class status. The government, in response, announced scholarship for students and age limit relaxation for government jobs for the economically weaker sections irrespective of their caste.

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