News in numbers, Oct 19, 2015: Reliance’s e-commerce plans, MFIs’ lending in rural areas…


What is it? The number of sellers Reliance Industries plan to enroll by March 2016 for its proposed e-commerce site.    

Why is it important? Alters Indian e-commerce industry dynamics substantially. The strategy to compete directly with existing online marketplace sites like Flipkart, Snapdeal and Amazon could lead to more competition in an environment where current players are losing money on daily basis to boost their sales. Bringing 150,000 vendors under its fold is also huge, given the fact Snapdeal and Amazon has got 200,000 and 50,000 sellers respectively.     

Tell me more: As on September, Reliance Industries has cash or cash equivalents of Rs 85,720 crore (or $ 13.1 billion), a luxury not many of its online competitors don’t have. 



What is it? The number of coal allocations cancelled by the Rajasthan government after opposition parties alleged irregularities.

Why is it important? Public pressure works. The mines were allocated without any competition under ‘first-come-first-serve’ basis, leading to a loss of Rs 45,000 crore, the opposition Congress party claimed. Only last year, the Supreme Court cancelled allocation of 218 coal blocks by the centre citing the opaqueness of the whole process. This led to government giving out coal blocks under open tender.   

Tell me more: After the Supreme Court cancelled coal allocation, Union government auctioned coal blocks under three rounds. This, the government claimed, would fetch more than Rs 2 lakh crore in terms of up-front payments and royalties – spread over two rounds.



What is it? The number of domestic airlines that would be listed on the stock market next year if GoAir goes public, as it intends to do March 2016.

Why is it important? Most domestic airlines need more capital to improve their financial position and to expand operations. GoAir needs capital to buy more planes to start flying abroad, as well as shore up its falling domestic share, which has dropped from 8.9% in January to 8.1% in August.

Tell me more? SpiceJet and Jet Airways are the two domestic airlines that are listed. Market leader IndiGo is looking to list this month.


What is it? Percentage of lending by India’s Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) in rural areas.

Why is it important? It has fallen below 50% mark for the first time in its 25-year history.  MFIs, which had a star status when SKS Microfinance raised money from the public, were seen as a successful business model of reaching rural customers who borrowed in small amounts. Over the last few years, MFIs have shrunk their rural loan portfolio to contain operational cost. It was 70% in 2012.   

Tell me more: Urban focus has also increased the average loan size to Rs 13,162 in March 2015, as compared to Rs 10,079 in previous fiscal.

17 days

What is it? The number of days spent in non-academic work by primary teachers in urban areas. In percentage terms, it works out to 8% of academic year consisted of 224 days in 2014-15.

Why is it important? A Supreme Court verdict had prohibited engaging school teachers from doing non-academic work like election duty or Census data collection. Only non-teaching staff were to be deployed. This study show disregard for the verdict in almost all states with varying degrees.   

Tell me more: In rural areas, only 9 days were spent by teachers in non-teaching work.     

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News In Numbers – August 17

News In Numbers: August 14



Rs 118 crore

The margin by which Reliance Industries was pipped to the post by state-run Indian Oil Corporation for the tag of the most profitable company in the country. This is the second time the Mukesh Ambani-led firm has lost this tag in recent times: in the December quarter of FY15, IT major TCS beat RIL in profitability by Rs 77 crore, ending RIL’s reign of 23 years as the most profitable company in India. The company recorded a 23% decline in turnover in the June quarter of 2015-16 compared to the same period a year ago, mainly due to a fall in crude oil prices. However, its gross refining margin, or the profit it makes from each barrel of oil refined, was at a six-year high during this quarter. The equivalent figure for IOC was slightly higher in the same quarter.



The increase in the amount budgeted by the Central government towards payment of military pensions if the ‘one rank one pension’ norm was implemented today. Currently, retired military personnel get half the salary they last received, as pension. Due to successive pay revisions in the armed forces, this led to military personnel of the same rank, who retired in later years, getting much higher pensions than those who retired earlier. The ‘OROP’ demand is that these pensions should be equal for the same rank, irrespective of the date of retirement. Currently, the government budgets roughly Rs 54,500 crore for defence pensions; the implementation of OROP would lead to a rise in pensions cost of Rs 18,000-20,000 crore annually.



The number of banks in India whose gross non-performing assets (NPAs), or bad loans, are more than 5% of their gross advances. Of these, 15 are public sector banks. Higher NPAs have dragged down the profits of banks: nearly half of the 39 listed banks have reported a decline in profits in the June-ended quarter of FY16. United Bank of India, Indian Overseas Bank and Dhanlaxmi Bank are the banks with the highest NPAs. The gross NPAs for public sector banks rose to 4.45% at the end of March 2015, from 4.1% in March 2014. RBI Deputy Governor SS Mundra recently said that banks must develop better strategies to deal with bad loans, and that hiding or postponing the problem was not the solution.



The average rainfall in India was 17% below normal in the first half of August, which could lead to a second successive drought year. The most stressed regions, which are displaying signs of possible droughts, are Marathwada, with a rain deficit of 48% between June 1 and August 16, Karnataka (45%) and Rayalaseema (38%). In Marathwada in Maharashtra, about 200 farmers had committed suicide between January 1 and May 10. In Karnataka, 182 farmers ended their lives in July alone.


Rs 9,000

The minimum salary a highly-skilled, full-time domestic worker could be paid, if the draft of ‘National Policy for Domestic Workers’ is approved by the Union Cabinet. This policy recommends 15 days compulsory paid leave in a year, as well as maternity leave benefits. It also includes mandatory contribution from the employer towards social security of domestic workers. The policy has provisions against sexual harassment and bonded labour too. There were 3,564 cases of alleged violence against domestic workers reported in 2012. is a search engine for public data


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News in Numbers – July 6, 2015



The number of times the median pay of ITC employees the company’s chairman YC Deveshwar earns in a year, probably among the highest in Indian companies. And, in the case of India’s richest person, Mukesh Ambani (chairman of Reliance Industries), this ratio is 205:1. These disclosures follow the new Companies Law and the Corporate Governance Code, which mandate listed companies to disclose the pay structure of top management personnel and average employee. Salary multiples of Indian CEOs are similar to those of CEOs in the US: in 2013, CEO of healthcare company CVS Caremark and Goodyear Tires earned 422 and 323 times the median employee pay respectively.



The death of India Today TV journalist, Akshay Singh while working on the Madhya Pradesh recruitment scam has brought to focus the safety of journalists in the country. The world’s largest democracy is also the eighth deadliest country for journalists. Since 1992, 35 journalists have been killed in India while on assignment, which is more than Mexico and Afghanistan. If a motive is established in Akshay Singh’s case, he would be the 36th such fatality.


Rs 7

The loss the Department of Posts incurs on each postcard. Put another way, what the department earns from a postcard, it incurs a cost of 15 times that. For an inland letter, that multiple is 2.8 times. For speed post, it is 1.4. Only three out of 18 postal services offered by the state-run entity make a profit: letter, book post (other periodicals) and competition postcard.



Over 65,000 people in around 125 villages have been affected as the flood situation worsens in Assam. Nearly 99% of them are from two districts: Bongaigaon and Dhemaji. Less than 4,000 hectares of crop areas were under water. So far this year, five people in Assam, at least 70 people in Gujarat and over 40 people in Jammu and Kashmir (cause of deaths also includes landslides) have been killed due to incessant rains.



Of the 15.3 crore cooking gas consumers, just 7.57 lakh or 0.5% of the total have voluntarily surrendered their LPG subsidy. The government claims that it is able to save Rs 253 crore per annum. The oil marketing companies lost Rs 36,500 crore in 2014-15 on the sale of subsidised cooking gas cylinders. Each consumer is entitled to receive 12 cylinders a year at subsidised rates.


2 of 3

Every two of three rural households own a mobile phone but only one out of ten have a salaried job. Uttar Pradesh has the highest percentage of rural households owning only a mobile phone. Chhattisgarh’s villages are the least connected with 71% of the rural households with no phone, most likely linked to the Naxal violence in the state.


Twitter: @Howindialives

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News in Numbers – June 15, 2015


40,000 tonnes

This number denotes the quantity of foodgrains damaged at the godowns of the Food Corporation of India (FCI) in the last two years. In 2014-15, Odisha saw the highest quantity of foodgrains destroyed (mainly due to cyclone Phailin), followed by Jammu and Kashmir (because of the floods in September 2014). Under the National Security Food Act, 2013, each beneficiary of the public distribution system is entitled to 5 kg of cereals per month. Going by that, the quantity of foodgrains wasted in two years could have benefited around 80 lakh people in one month (4,00,00,000 / 5).


India has received 5% more rainfall than the normal level so far from June 1 but this is not exactly good news because this is mainly because eastern and north-eastern parts of the country received an excess of 22% rainfall. The other regions- northwest, central and southern India received less than normal rainfall – a deficit of 10%, 6% and 4% respectively. This is significant because over 60% of agricultural land in India are dependent on the rains for irrigation. The All-India Daily Mean Rainfall forecast made on June 14, 2015 for the following week shows the rainfall received would be around 23% lower than the observed normal except on June 21, 2015, when it is expected to cross it by a margin.

Rs 75,000 crore

Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), owned by the richest Indian Mukesh Ambani, has big-bang plans of launching 4G telecom services, expand its network of retail stores to 900 cities this year and build an e-commerce platform. This involves an investment of about Rs 80,000 crore in the next 15 months. It would be interesting to see how it manages its financials when it already has a debt of Rs 75,000 crore (as on March 31, 2015) – quite an increase if you consider its previously debt-free status.

Rs 17.77 lakh crore

That’s how much the Indian government is likely to spend in the current financial year. The Finance Ministry has asked the ministries to start spending, the only condition being that the focus should be on capital expenditure in areas including roads, shipping, rural development and agriculture. A pickup in indirect tax revenue has given the finance ministry better room for spending. The government has already spent 8.7% of FY15 budget allocation in April (the highest in two decades). The corresponding figures for the previous two financial years were 6.8% (first year of NDA government) and 6.1% (last year of UPA-II government).


That is the number of gold smuggling cases registered in India in 2014-15 – about 4,480 kg of gold worth Rs 1,120 crore were seized in these cases and over 250 people arrested. This is about 1.6 times the number of gold smuggling cases registered in 2013-14 (2,700 cases where 2,760 kg of gold worth Rs 690 crore was seized). In 2012-13, there were 870 such cases, about five times lesser than those registered last year. The World Gold Council estimates the annual smuggling volumes to be around 175 tonnes in 2014, which is about 39 times the gold seized by the Indian authorities in 2014-15.


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