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3.81

What is it? The consumer price inflation (CPI) in March, 2017.

Why is it important? CPI or retail inflation grew fastest in five months, since October. This is in line with RBI’s concern about rising inflation, leading it to hold rates in successive policy reviews. It even raised its rate of borrowing from banks — reverse repo — to constrict liquidity, in the latest review. RBI expects inflation to reach 4.5% in the first half of FY17 and 5% thereafter.

Tell me more: The CPI, often affected by food price inflation, suffered from higher fuel prices, instead in March. Food price inflation (CFPI) was actually less than than in February, at 1.93%.

 

94.9%

What is it? The operating ratio of Indian Railways (IR) in 2016-17.

Why is it important? The ratio is higher than previous years, denoting high expenditure by IR to earn revenue. For every rupee, IR spent 94.9 paise. While the ideal benchmark of 80% or lower is still a distant goal, the ratio was 90.2% in 2012-13.

Tell me more: The increasing operating ratio coupled with low revenue growth in freight, seen in 2015-16, which accounts for the bulk (3/5th) of rail revenue, could strain the highest-ever budgetary allocation. There are certain steps for profitability which IR said it’s taking.

 

Rs 5,000 crore

What is it? The value of the stock of BS-III vehicles which remain unsold, following the Supreme Court’s ban.

Why is it important? It is the value of around 120,000 vehicles, representing 15% of the original stock of BS-III vehicles when the ban was declared. Two-wheeler manufacturers took a hit of Rs 1,200 crore in order to sell their heavily-discounted stock. The scramble to sell got more frenzied as Supreme Court, on March 30, extended the ban to not just stalling  BS-III vehicle manufacturing but also sales from April 1.

Tell me more: The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers says the uncertainty created in the auto sector, as a result of eight-month ban in Delhi on diesel cars and SUVs last year and the present blanket ban on sale of existing stock of BS-III vehicles could affect investments.

 

114%

What is it? Productivity of Lok Sabha during Budget Session 2017, which started on January 31 and ended on April 12..

Why is it important? It is one of the most productive sessions, and also one of the most contentious. Lok Sabha passed 23 bills, Rajya Sabha 14 and both 18. Some far-reaching legislations — including changes in the political funding by companies, and linking of Aadhaar to PAN cards — were passed as Money Bills, on which Rajya Sabha has only the power to suggest changes, but not stall their passage.

Tell me more: Four bills related to Goods and Services Tax (GST) were passed during the session.

 

7 to 10 days

What is it? The likely duration of the Election Commission’s open challenge to hack Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).

Why is it important? This comes amidst accusations by political parties, especially Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party, that EVMs were hacked in favour of the BJP. The Election Commission and its officials, past and present, have vehemently denied it. A widely shared newsitem on tampered EVMs in Madhya Pradesh was found to be false. Now, EC has issued an open challenge to experts, scientists and technologists to try and hack the machines.

Tell me more: In 2010, BBC had a report saying US scientists claimed to have developed a technique to tamper with the machines. “It is not just the machine, but the overall administrative safeguards which we use that make it absolutely impossible for anybody to open the machine,” the Indian Election Commissioner had told BBC then.

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News in Numbers, Nov 16, 2016: Productivity to be hit?

Even as the government announced a few measures to deal with the aftermath of the announcement of the withdrawal of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes, the opposition parties have upped their decibel levels against this move. And, the Winter Session of the Parliament commences today. After a highly productive Monsoon Session, which also saw the passing of the GST Bill, it remains to be seen how the current session is going to pan out. Let’s hope some sense prevails amidst all the noise.

9

What is it? The number of new bills that are in line to be listed, considered and passed during the Winter Session of the Parliament, which begins today.

Why is it important? With opposition parties uniting against the government on its recent demonetisation move, this session could be a disruptive one, impeding productivity. The opposition is likely to demand a discussion on the decision to scrap old currency notes in Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denominations and seek a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into the allegation that some, notably officials of the ruling BJP, knew about the move beforehand.

Tell me more: The nine new bills include three related to the Goods and Services Tax, one that declares the Indian Institutes of Management to be institutions of national importance and another for surrogacy regulation. This session’s agenda also lists 10 bills that have already been introduced, but are yet to be considered and passed.

 

4.2%

What is it? Retail inflation rate in October, down from 4.39% in September.

Why is it important? The rate has eased for the third straight month, to a 14-month low in October, mainly due to smaller increases in food prices. Wholesale price inflation too eased to a four-month low of 3.39% in October, compared to 3.57% in September. This easing increases the chances of the central bank’s monetary policy committee cutting interest rates again next month. The government’s recent demonetisation move is likely to reduce cash transactions, easing inflation further.

Tell me more: Last month, the monetary policy committee cut the repo rate (the rate at which the central bank lends to banks) by 25 basis points to 6.25%, which was near a six-year low.

 

2.41

What is it? The debt-equity ratio of the smallest firms (by market capitalisation) among 305 non-financial BSE-500 companies in 2015-16.

Why is it important? The debt-equity ratio is a measure of a company’s financial leverage. This study, which divided the 305 companies into four quartiles, showed this ratio was the highest (2.41) for the bottom quartile (77 firms with the smallest market cap) and lowest (0.83) for the top quartile (76 firms with the highest market cap). This goes against the popular perception that debt problems plague larger firms only. In another indicator that points to this, the average debt of the least-valuable firms is 2.3 times their market cap, against 0.32 for the most-valuable ones.

Tell me more: For both sets, their ability to meet interest expenses hit a 10-year low in 2015-16. For the least-valuable firms, the interest coverage ratio fell below 1, indicating their operating income was insufficient to meet interest costs.

 

10%

What is it? The projected salary hike to be offered by Indian companies to employees in 2017, according to Willis Towers Watson, an advisory, broking and business solutions company.

Why is it important? This is the highest among key emerging and developed markets in Asia. However, the expected rise in 2017 is marginally lower than the projected salary growth of 10.8% each in 2015 and 2016. Also, in the last two years, the actual salary growth has been below the projected figures: 10.45% in 2015 and 10% in 2016.

Tell me more: The Willis Towers Watson report says about 38% of the budget earmarked for salary increases is for top performers, against 34% for above-average and 28% for average performers.

 

20

What is it? The number of countries that have signed a framework agreement on the International Solar Alliance (ISA), a coalition-in-making of solar-resource rich countries.

Why is it important? The initiative, launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at COP21, Paris Climate Summit last year, has taken its first major step forward. More countries are expected to join the ISA in the coming weeks and the agreement will come into force when at least 15 nations ratify it. The ISA seeks to boost global demand for solar energy to reduce solar energy deployment prices, standardise processes and equipment for solar generation to lower hardware costs, and promote research and development.

Tell me more: The ISA would be headquartered in India, which has promised to contribute $27 million towards creating infrastructure and recurring expenditure over five years.

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News in Numbers, July 20, 2016: Global warming and reduced productivity, Uber’s 2 billion rides…

Rs 76,685 crore

What is it? The amount 8,167 wilful defaulters owe banks in 2015-16, according to the government. Wilful defaulters are those who have the ability to repay loans but do not do so or have siphoned them off for a purpose other than the original one.

Why is it important? This is around 12.9% of the total gross bad loans in the Indian banking system, which is difficult to recover as such cases have seen a conviction rate of just 1.14% in 2015-16. A total of 1,724 FIRs (first information reports) have been filed in the same year.

Tell me more: The extent of bad loans and consequently, the losses posted by the banks have jumped up in the last few quarters, after central bank’s directed them to clean up their balance sheets by March 2017.

 

$2 trillion

What is it? The potential cost to world economy in lost productivity due to global warming by 2030, according to the United Nations.

Why is it important? This is mainly because the hot weather would make it difficult or unbearable to work. Due to the reduced productivity, 43 countries including India, China and Indonesia would see a decline in their gross domestic product by 3.2%, 0.8% and 6% respectively. According to the researchers, up to 20% of annual work hours is already being lost in jobs due to exposure to extreme heat and this is likely to double by 2050.

Tell me more: Researchers have warned that those engaged in low-paid occupations such as agriculture, heavy labour and manufacturing are at a high risk of exposure to extreme heat. This is likely to deepen their poverty levels and even put their lives in danger.

 

2 billion

What is it? The total number of rides taxi-hailing firm Uber has completed on June 18.

Why is it important? The company, which completed its first billion rides in six years, took just six months for another billion. Indicates the rapid pace of expansion of Uber, a potential threat to its global rivals including Ola in India, Lyft in the US and Didi Chuxing in China. However, going by its 2014 and 2015 (first half) figures, Uber’s rapid pace of growth is at a huge cost: incentives to drivers and riders, promotions, price cuts, and fast growth in increase in sales, marketing and research costs, which is mainly due to funding by investors and it remains to be seen how long the company can sustain this.

Tell me more: Uber raised $3.5 billion from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund in June, which took the total valuation of the company to $62.5 billion. This was followed by the company securing a $1.15 billion leveraged loan earlier this month.

 

14,222

What is it? The number of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) barred from receiving funds between 2012 and 2015.

Why is it important? Of this, over 70% were barred last year. The government says that action has been initiated against those NGOs that violate the provisions of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Rules Act, 2011 (FCRA). Critics have argued that this is a move by the government to suppress those who against the government’s economic policies.

Tell me more: Just one NGO has been barred from receiving overseas funds so far this year. The organisations are given opportunities to submit additional information, allow their records to be inspected, issuance of show-cause notices and personal appearances, if required, before cancelling their FCRA registrations, according to the Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju.

 

Rs 2,000 crore

What is it? The assets belonging to the former Financial Technologies (FTIL) reportedly seized by Mumbai’s Economic Offences Wing.

Why is it important? This brings the investigation a step closer to closure, a likely relief for investors who lost money in the 2013 scam. It comes a week after FTIL’s founder Jignesh Shah was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate, which claims it has got evidence of money laundering against him. Shah is being probed in connection with the Rs 5,575.35 crore money laundering fraud at National Spot Exchange Ltd, 99.9% owned by FTIL.

Tell me more: FTIL assets including its Mumbai headquarters, banks’ fixed deposits and accounts have been attached. The company has confirmed the same but has said it would move the court as it claims there is no legal basis for the action by the Economic Offences Wing.

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News in Numbers, May 9, 2016: Unequal access to education, Haryana’s land allotment case…

23%

What is it? The percentage of the poorest (the bottom 20%) who go to higher secondary schools in urban areas, compared with 66% for the richest fifth of the population.

Why is it important? An indicator of unequal access to education and increase in disparities between rich and power as we go higher up the ladder of education. Underlines the need for better-focussed government spending in education. India spent 3.8% of its GDP (gross domestic product) in 2012, which is lower than the spend (as a percentage of GDP) in some poorer countries such as Nepal (4.7% in 2014) and Vietnam (6.3% in 2012).

Tell me more: This percentage is expressed as net attendance ratio – the number of students attending a particular class-group divided by the total number of people in that age group.

 

~ $500 million

What is it? Restaurants listings company Zomato Media’s valuation, according to brokerage HSBC Securities and Capital Markets India – slashed by half since its last round of funding in September.

Why is it important? Though the reduction is not by its investors, it keeps alive the concerns about overvaluation of Indian unicorns (startups valued at over $1 billion). Flipkart’s major investors – Morgan Stanley and T Rowe Price – cut the value of their stakes by 27% and 15% respectively while two minor investors slashed it by around 30-40%.

Tell me more: HSBC’s reasons for the marking down include: Zomato being non-profitable in any of the 23 markets it operates in, increasing competition and the firm’s heavy reliance on advertisements as an intrinsic part of its business model.  Zomato, which has raised $224 million since its inception in 2008, has disagreed with HSBC’s estimates terming them “valuations markdown speculations of third parties” and said it is on course to becoming profitable soon. Zomato laid off 10% of its 3,000-strong workforce last year.

 

121%

What is it? Lok Sabha’s productivity in the second half of the ongoing budget session (up to May 5) while that of Rajya Sabha is 98%.

Why is it important? This is despite the NDA and Congress training their guns on each other with issues (especially in the Rajya Sabha) such as Uttarakhand political crisis, Panama Papers and the AgustaWestland deal. The Lok Sabha has passed six bills while the Upper House has passed seven.

Tell me more: The ones passed by the Lok Sabha include: the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill, 2015 and the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2015 while those passed by the Rajya Sabha include: The Industries (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2015 and the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order (Amendment) Bill 2016.

 

10%

What is it? The share of women candidates contesting in four state elections – West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Assam.

Why is it important? Except for Tamil Nadu, which has seen an almost doubling of share of women contestants since 2011, the share has remained almost the same in the other three states. Only 9% of the seats won in these four states in 2011 were by women. A women’s reservation bill that would set aside 33% of seats in the Parliament and state assemblies is pending.

Tell me more: The national average of women legislators in state assemblies is just 9% with states such as Bihar, Haryana and Rajasthan having 14% representation while some other states such as Nagaland and Puducherry have no women MLAs. In the Lok Sabha, just 12% of the members are women.

 

Rs 62 lakh

What is it? The alleged loss to Haryana state government in a land allotment case connected to National Herald.

Why is it important? This is the first FIR filed in the land deal and is likely to have a bearing on the case filed by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy against Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and others for allegedly acquiring AJL (Associated Journals Limited promoters of National Herald) and its assets reportedly worth Rs 5,000 crore through a private firm. This adds further trouble to Congress, which finds itself embroiled in the AgustaWestland scam, as it readies to face elections in five states/UTs this year.

Tell me more: Haryana State Vigilance Bureau has filed a case against former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, senior Haryana Urban Development Authority officials and trustees and directors of AJL, on charges of criminal breach of trust, cheating, conspiracy and violation of the Prevention of Corruption Act. The officials reportedly re-allotted the plot measuring 3,360 square metres to AJL at 1982 rates instead of selling it through an open auction. The current market value of the plot is estimated to be about Rs 100 crore.

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