News in Numbers, August 4, 2016: Rajya Sabha passes GST bill, Centre to import more pulses…

203

What is it? The number of Rajya Sabha members who voted in favour of the Constitution Amendment Bill to implement Goods and Services Tax (GST) in India. None voted against the bill, with AIADMK abstaining.

Why is it important? This is the crucial step before implementing GST that will replace various indirect taxes collected by the centre and the states, with one tax and one rate across India. Near unanimous vote in favour of the bill was possible after central government acceded to one of the key demand of the Congress party to scrap 1% inter-state tax on movement of goods.  

Tell me more: At present, the central government has powers to tax production (excise duty) and services (service tax), and the states have power to tax consumption (VAT). Under GST, all the three will be merged as one tax, GST, and both the states and the central government can tax them. To do this, the constitution has to be amended and any amendment to the constitution has to be accompanied by a two-third majority voting.

 

30,000 tonnes

What is it? The additional quantity of tur and urad dal that the Indian government is to import.

Why is it important? This will help check their prices. The production of pulses is estimated to have dipped in 2015-16 and average prices have increased by nearly 30% last year. However, states are to partially responsible for the high prices of pulses as they have been reluctant to lift pulses allocated to them by the central government for retail sale at subsidised prices. Of the 29,100 tonnes allocated to 11 states, three states have lifted just a little over 16% of the pulses.

Tell me more: There is a buffer stock of 1.75 lakh tonnes of pulses so far. The central government sells tuvar dal at Rs 67 per kg and urad dal at Rs 82 per kg.


4.7 crore

What is it? The number of customers telecom firm Vodafone has gained through mobile number portability (MNP), which was fully implemented in June 2015.

Why is it important? This makes Vodafone the highest gainer of customers through this medium, followed by Bharti Airtel and Idea, which added 3.82 crore and 1.8 crore users respectively. Besides these three, other telecom service providers were net losers of customers through MNP, with Reliance Communications losing the maximum customers (1.18 crore).

Tell me more: All the telecom players, however, were found to be guilty of hampering the process of their customers shifting to other service providers and were fined a cumulative Rs 9.45 crore for not abiding by the MNP rules. Bharti Airtel attracted half of the fine followed by Aircel (Rs 1.58 crore), Vodafone (Rs 1.22 crore), BSNL (Rs 1 crore) with the penalties on other players ranging between less than a lakh to a few lakh rupees.

 

Rs 10,000

What is it? The proposed penalty for drunken driving (up from Rs 2,000), as per the Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill 2016, which was approved by the Union Cabinet on Wednesday.

Why is it important? The bill, which has increased penalties for various traffic violations by 2-10 times, if passed, is likely to help in the government’s target of curbing road accidents and fatalities by 50% in five years. In 2015, 1.46 lakh people were killed in road accidents while the number of injured was over 5 lakh. According to a 2011 study by the United Nations, India has the highest number of road deaths in the world.

Tell me more: The proposed increases in penalties include: Rs 5,000 for driving without a license and racing (from Rs 500), Rs 1,000 for driving without a seat belt (from Rs 100), Rs 2,000 for driving without an insurance (from Rs 1,000), Rs 5,000 for dangerous driving (from Rs 1,000), Rs 1,000 and disqualification of license for three months for driving without a helmet (from Rs 100) and Rs 10,000 for not giving way for emergency vehicles.

 


~30

What is it? The number of startups Ratan Tata has invested in over the last two years

Why is it important? That makes him one of the most active investors in the country and in fact he was ranked the top angel investor last year. Now, Mr Tata is setting up full fledged a venture capital fund in partnership with University of California and with a corpus of $100 million to $150 million.

Tell me more: Ratan Tata’s investments include Snapdeal, Urban Ladder, Ola and Zivame.

Read More

News in Numbers, June 16, 2016: India’s first civil aviation policy, coffee not cancer-causing…

$7 billion

What is it? The amount Didi Chuxing has raised recently.

Why is it important? This is double of what Uber had raised about a fortnight ago, leaving the Chinese company flush with $10 billion in cash – signalling intensifying competition in China. This may force Uber, which spent $1 billion this year to grow its share in China, to increase its focus on India that only makes it a tougher battle for Ola Cabs in India.

Tell me more: Uber, which received $3.5 billion funding from Saudi Arabia’s wealth fund a few days ago, is looking at the leveraged-loan market to raise as much as $2 billion. Didi has a pact with US’ Lyft, India’s Ola and Grab in Southeast Asia – to take on Uber- to use each other’s apps when customers travel to other markets in their network.

 

Rs 2,500

What is it? The maximum airlines can charge per hour of flying on regional routes, as per India’s first National Civil Aviation Policy.

Why is it important? This, along with other rules, are aimed to encouraging more people to take up air travel and boost economic growth. The policy is aimed at helping the government achieve its target of growing domestic passengers from 80 million to 300 million by 2022. India’s annual trips per capita is just 0.04 compared to 0.3 in China.

Tell me more: The other decisions include: allowing all airlines to fly international routes but they need to deploy 20 aircraft or 20% of their total capacity (whichever is higher) for domestic operations, development of ‘no-frills’ airport at an indicative cost of Rs 50-100 crore and stricter rules for making airlines fly on underserved routes.

 

1,000

What is it? The number of studies on humans and animals reviewed by an international working group of 23 scientists, after which they concluded that there is inadequate evidence to show that drinking coffee causes cancer.

Why is it important? This surely brings cheer to the millions of coffee-lovers across the world, who may or may not have known that the World Health Organization (WHO) had listed the beverage as a “possibly carcinogenic” agent for nearly 25 years. While coffee drinking has been observed to have reduce the risks of liver and uterine cancers, the evidence was inconclusive for 20 other types of cancer.

Tell me more: The scientists, however, found positive associations between drinking very hot beverages (65 degree Celsius or more) and cancer of the esophagus and it is now classified as “possibly carcinogenic”.

 

0.79%

What is it? The year-on-year decline in exports in May to $22.17 billion.

Why is it important? This is the slowest pace of contraction in 18 months, driven by exports of gems and jewellery, chemicals and engineering goods. Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that the decline in exports has bottomed-out though the pick-up may be slow. The Federation of Indian Export Organisations expects double-digit growth in exports from October onwards, which could help in achieving $300 billion in exports in 2016-17.

Tell me more: Imports declined 13.16% in May to $28.44 billion, leaving a trade deficit of $6.27 billion.

 

1.15 lakh tonnes

What is it? The quantity of pulses procured by the Indian government during the kharif and rabi seasons for buffer stock creation, against the target of 1.5 lakh tonnes this year.

Why is it important? Despite this, a sudden shortage in stocks has pushed the prices of pulses to as much as Rs 170 per kg. To bring down the prices of pulses, the government has increased the buffer stock of pulses to 8 lakh tonnes for this year and the Cabinet has okayed imports of pulses from Myanmar and some African countries.

Tell me more: The food ministry has asked private agencies that import pulses to dispose off the stocks within 45 days to ensure proper supply in markets and the state governments to take action against the hoarders.

Read More

News in numbers, Dec 15, 2015: November inflation numbers, iPhone sales estimates…

 

5.41%

 

What is it? Increase in consumer price index (or growth retail inflation) in November.

 

Why is it important? This is the highest in 14 months. The increase is mainly due rise in food prices, especially that of pulses, which rose 46.1% in November on a year-on-year basis. High inflation rates suggest the effects of deficient monsoon in two consecutive years have begun to show on the rural economy. This also shows the challenge the Reserve Bank of India in containing retail inflation under 6% in January 2016.

 

Tell me more: Overall wholesale prices fell by 1.99% in November, the 13th consecutive monthly fall and the highest since January. Wholesale food prices increased 5.20% in November compared to 2.44% rise in October.

 

130

 

What is it? India’s rank among 188 countries in the Human Development Index (HDI) in 2014 according to the Human Development Report 2015 released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The HDI looks at three factors – longevity, education and income.

 

Why is it important? It has shown a slight improvement from last year – up by one spot. India’s HDI has marginally gone up from 0.604 in 2013 to 0.609 in 2014. This puts India in the “medium human development” category where its HDI is lower than the average HDI of countries (0.630) in this section. India’s poor ranking in the human development index is mainly due to high inequality and low education levels. The index is widely followed, even it’s considered to be a “somewhat crude measure” of human development.

 

Tell me more: India ranks the lowest among BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). Norway, Australia and Switzerland rank the top three in the HDI, falling under the “Very High Human Development” category along with 46 other countries.

 

6%

 

What is it? Estimated drop in iPhone unit sales in 2015-16, according to Morgan Stanley.

 

Why is it important? If the estimates turn out to be right, it could well be that the sales of the most successful tech product in the recent years has peaked. Apple earns most of its revenue from iPhones and in the three months ending September this year, iPhone sales accounted for nearly two-thirds of the company’s revenue.

 

Tell me more: Other analysts such as JP Morgan Chase & Co, Drexel Hamilton and Credit Suisse have similar predictions for Apple. For instance, JP Morgan Chase has lowered its Iphone sales’ prediction for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2016 – it says sales of iPhone units are likely to come down to 75-77 million, down from an earlier prediction of 75-80 million units.

 

€25.3 million (around Rs.186.7 crore)

 

What is it? The amount Mahindra and Mahindra and affiliate Tech Mahindra would pay to purchase 76.06% stake in Italian car designer Pininfarina SpA, through a special purpose vehicle (SPV).

 

Why is it important? Shows Indian companies’ drive to expand their design capabilities – and their global footprint. Pininfarina has designed cars for Ferrari, Maserati, Rolls-Royce and Cadillac. Mahindra group had acquired controlling stakes in South Korea-based Ssangyong in 2011 and PSA Peugeot Citroen’s motorcycle unit this year. As for Pininfarina, it has been unprofitable for the last decade and struggling with high debt levels.

 

Tell me more: The SPV would make an open offer to public shareholders of Pininfarina for the balance 23.94% stake. Mahindra and Tech Mahindra would fund the acquisition in the ratio of 40% and 60% respectively.

 

10%

What is it? The data point that Maggi noodles removed from its masala noodles package. Prior to the ban, the package cited this number as percentage of recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of protein that a 70g packet of Maggi noodles had.

Why is it important? Could be seen as an indicator that food regulators are getting increasingly strict about labelling. Or it could be just that Nestle India, which makes Maggi noodles, is trying to be more cautious after the ban. Maggi noodles was banned for a few weeks due to higher than permissible lead content. It’s woes are far from over as the Supreme Court recently issued a notice to the company after the food regulator appealed against the lifting of ban on Maggi Noodles.

Tell me more: The pack now also doesn’t have the following: “Maggi masala noodles is a source of protein and calcium: essential nutrients for you at all stages of life”. And, this has been replaced with “Consume along with fruit and milk”.

Read More

News in numbers, Oct 15, 2015: Pharmacy stores’ protest, wholesale inflation of pulses…

~ 800,000

What is it? The estimated number of Pharmacy stores that closed their operations for a day protesting against online sale of drugs.

Why is it important? The All India Organization of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD),which represents the offline pharmacy stores, claims their business is affected 50% since online sales of drugs. Snapdeal.com, Zigy and 1mg are among the several startups backed by investors like Intel Capital, Omidyar Network, and Sequoia Capital that sell drugs online.

Tell me more: The protests by AIOCD is a broad reflection of conflict between brick and mortar retailers and online portals. Last week, a traders body complained to the Commerce Ministry that online retailers like Flipkart, Snapdeal, and Amazon India are violating India’s foreign investment rules.

 

7%

What is it? Price cut on soaps and detergents sold by Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL), India’s largest fast moving consumer goods firm, to boost sales in three months ended September 2015.

Why is it important? HUL’s sales is a proxy of consumer demand, especially in rural market because of its extensive network. Price deflation because of poor rural demand and lower commodity prices is a validation of the Reserve Bank of India’s outlook that inflation has moderated.

Tell me more: Soaps and detergents account for nearly half of HUL’s revenue of Rs 30,791 crore. This is a better reflector of rural demand compared to personal products or beverages.

 

Rs 249 crore

What is it? The amount Corporate India donated to Swachh Bharat Kosh, a fund created to get contributions from individuals and companies, towards government’s pet project, ‘Swachh Bharat’ (Clean India).

Why is it important? Swachh Bharat had set an ambitious target of building 25 lakh individual toilets in urban areas, and achieve 100% collection of solid waste in 1,000 cities and towns in current fiscal. In the first year, this report says, only 25% of targets were met in urban areas.

Tell me more: Larsen & Toubro, a conglomerate with interests in engineering, construction and financial services, donated the maximum with Rs 60 crore.

 

38.56%

What is it? Wholesale inflation of pulses in September this year, as consecutive deficit monsoon rain has hit domestic production.

Why is it important? Pulses is a major source of protein for Indians. India consumes 22 million tonnes of pulses annually, and domestic output is not enough to meet the demand. A further fall in production will mean increased prices.

Tell me more: A fall in domestic production of pulses is a boon for Canadian farmers, who are getting 50% more prices for their red lentils and yellow peas.

 

8 years

What is it? The duration for which Nissan will be the global partner to cricket’s governing body. The Japanese car manufacturer will sponsor all multilateral events of the International Cricket Council, including the 2019 World Cup. The deal size was not announced.

Why is it important? While it has sponsored other sporting events, this is the first time Nissan, which is owned by French company Renault, is padding up for cricket. It’s part of its international push, especially India, where it started selling in 2010 and has managed a market share of 2% so far. It is now targeting 5% by 2020.

Tell me more: The previous global partner of ICC was South Korea’s Hyundai, one of the three global car manufacturers whose India ride has not been bumpy.

 

Read More