News in Numbers, Feb 09, 2017: Indian Unicorns: Softbank sends a message

$475 million

What is it? The amount written off by Softbank in value of its shareholding in Snapdeal and Ola, two Indian unicorns in e-commerce and cab hailing industries respectively.

Why is it important? It’s a sign that investors are adjusting their expectations from home grown tech startups, given the competition from global players such as Amazon and Uber. Besides, as the customer acquisition costs continue to go up, startups and investors are rethinking about the size of addressable market for business models that are imported from abroad.

Tell me more: Softbank, especially under former Softbank president Nikesh Arora, was one of the most active players in Indian startup space a few years ago, and led an investment of $210 million in Ola and $627 million in Snapdeal in 2014.



What is it? The repo rate, or the key policy rate for banks, which the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) held for the second time in a row in its bi-monthly policy reviews.

Why is it important? Amidst popular expectation of a rate cut now that banks are flush with liquidity following nationwide deposits, the RBI left it untouched. It indicates the central bank wants to take its time to assess the impact of demonetisation on macroeconomics. Be it inflation or wages, it is now being said RBI will take a call after April.

Tell me more: RBI reiterated its commitment to bring down headline inflation to 4%, and noted Q4 FY17 it will remain below 5%. It alsorevised its GDP growth forecast from 7.1% to 6.9% in FY17.



What is it? The cases of rape registered with the Delhi police in January, 2017.

Why is it important? Crime against women continue unabated in the capital, despite concrete measures by the Delhi police, including sensitising the force, help desks at police stations and increased patrolling. While 14% of rape complaints remained unsolved in 2016, it was 30% in January.

Tell me more: There were 238 cases of molestation and 51 eve-teasing cases registered in January.



What is it? The proposed annual number legal immigrants allowed into the US, cutting the present quota by half in the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment Act (RAISE Act).

Why is it important? The latest proposal adds another angle to the immigration debate taking the US by storm after Donald Trump’s election. It seeks to limit entry of foreigners without a skills-based visa by cutting the number of green card or legal permanent residency issued annually.

Tell me more: The bill also seeks to cap the refugee programme to 50,000 a year, coming in the wake of a year (fiscal ended September, 2016) that allowed 84,995 refugees in, the highest under the Obama administration.


$ 1 trillion

What is it? Reduction in China’s foreign exchange reserves in the last three years.

Why is it important? At $2.998 trillion, the reserves are the lowest in nearly six years. While nearly $3 trillion is not small by any measure, it comes when China’s economic growth is moderating. Some analysts believe that it could lead China to devalue its currency, if the trend persists.

Tell me more: Chinese government is concerned about the outflow of capital and has tightened rules on forex purchases and cross-border renminbi remittance in the recent past.

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News in Numbers, May 5, 2016: India’s tobacco rules, Flipkart’s valuation marked down…


What is it? The percentage of a cigarette pack’s surface that must be covered with health warnings, up from 20% earlier, as ruled by the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

Why is it important? It could discourage smoking in India, which kills around a million people every year. But it might not have any impact on people buying cigarettes in loose –  pegged at over 80% , even though there have been attempts to ban selling them in loose.

Tell me more: Still, this could make a dent in the revenues of cigarette makers such as ITC and VST Industries. Over two dozen cases have been filed against this move and by Supreme Court’s Wednesday order, would be transferred to the Karnataka High Court, which has to decide on the matter within six weeks. An estimated 45.7 million people including farmers, workers and traders are dependent on this industry.


What is it? The amount a European nation is to pay per refugee if it wants to exempt itself from hosting them, to another country that accommodates them, according to a proposal by European Commission.

Why is it important? This is meant to achieve fair distribution of refugees among its member nations. The continent is battling one of the worst migrant crises where some member nations have seen an influx of people, mainly from West and South Asia and Africa, in a bid to escape violence or conflict in their home countries.

Tell me more: According to the proposal, each country would be assigned a share of the asylum-seekers based on the size of their economy and population and if relocation exceeds 1.5 times the allocated share, then they would be redirected to other member states. These proposals need to be approved by the European Parliament and a majority of the 28-member countries of the European Union.


What is it? The percentage by which US mutual fund Fidelity Rutland Square Trust II, Flipkart’s minority investor, marked down the ecommerce firm’s valuation (as of February this year from August 2015).

Why is it important? With another mutual fund Valic Co 1 also marking down Flipkart’s valuation by 29.4% during the same period, this mirrors the markdowns by Flipkart’s major investors – Morgan Stanley and T Rowe Price. With analyst concerns about rapidly increasing valuations of new-age firms (including Flipkart), they have been struggling to raise funds at their preferred valuations.

Tell me more: Sachin Bansal, Flipkart’s Executive Chairman and co-founder, has brushed this off as a ‘theoretical exercise’.


What is it? The number of acquittals in the 725 cases decided by the Delhi High Court between in 2011.

Why is it important? The 80% acquittal rate raises question about thoroughness of investigations. The court pointed to the shortage of manpower and forensic labs. Three fifth of 14,270 cases decided by the sessions courts in Delhi also resulted in acquittals.

Tell me more: The Delhi Police Force is top-heavy (more officers than sanctioned) while lower positions face shortage. There are only two forensic labs in Delhi with over 8,500 samples pending for testing.


What is it? Uttar Pradesh’s share of educational grants for minorities between 2008-09 and 2013-14 received from Maulana Azad Education Foundation, an organisation to promote education among backward communities.

Why is it important? The Foundation comes under central government, and the concentration of recipients in one state reflects unfair distribution of funds. A report by a report by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences has recommended that the allocations be made on the basis of the share of backward community population in districts/states and in total minority population.

Tell me more: Except for Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra (received 10.9% of the educational grants during this period), the share of most other states are miniscule. The distribution of grants is unequal within states too. For instance, of the top 25 districts that received the highest grant amounts, half of them are from Uttar Pradesh.

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