News in numbers, Apr 19, 2016: Bullet train’s viability, global switch to a new polio vaccine…

32

What is it? The number of equity investments in private cancer therapeutic companies in the three months ended March 2016.

Why is it important? The investments into these companies – totalling $604 million in three months alone – might bring a cure for cancer closer. There were 8.2 million cancer-related deaths in 2012 and the number of cancer cases are expected to increase from 14 million in 2012 to 22 million within the next 20 years.

Tell me more: Internet billionaire Sean Parker recently announced a $250-million funding to bring together 300 scientists at 40 labs and six institutions to work on a new area of cancer research called immunotherapy. This uses a person’s immune system to fight cancer.

88,000-114,000

What is it? The number of passengers India’s proposed bullet train connecting Mumbai and Ahmedabad should carry to be financially viable, according to an IIM-Ahmedabad report.

Why is it important? Raises questions about its viability. To be viable, the train has to undertake 100 trips daily (50 trips each way), assuming ticket price of Rs 5/km for 300-km distance and an operating cost of 20-40% of the revenues. This also means three trains would be needed every hour each direction.

Tell me more: The government expects to start work on the Rs 98,000-crore project next year.

155

What is it? The number of countries (including India) that will switch to bivalent oral polio vaccine from trivalent polio vaccine between April 17 and May 1.

Why is it important? It reduces the risk of vaccine-derived polio. The bivalent vaccine protects against types 1 and 3 of wild polio strains while trivalent protects against all three strains. Wild polio virus type 2 was confirmed to be eradicated in 2015, and by switching to bivalent vaccines, these countries eliminate the risk of causing vaccine-derived Type 2 polio.

Tell me more: India was declared ‘polio-free’ by the World Health Organization in 2014. The agency’s goal is to stop all three types of polio vaccines by 2020.

$5.07 billion

What is it? India’s trade deficit (excess of imports over exports) in March.

Why is it important? The lowest in five years thanks to 80.5% decline gold imports in March and a 35.3% fall in oil imports (because of low oil prices). Low commodity prices have guarded India from the effects of global economic slowdown, which have caused exports to be the lowest since 2010-11, contracting for the 16th straight month in March.

Tell me more: India’s exports declined 15.9% to $261.1 billion in 2015-16 while imports fell by 15.3% to $379.6 billion in March.

7.1%

What is it? Revenue growth of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), India’s largest software firm, in 2015-16.

Why is it important? While TCS has done well financially (its profits beat forecasts), the company is facing a trial in the US. Last week a US federal court jury imposed a  penalty of $940 million on TCS in an infringement case of intellectual property and trade secrets.

Tell me more: TCS plans to appeal in the higher courts. The company’s net profit grew by 14.8% to $3.69 billion in 2015-16 from a year ago.

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News in numbers, Apr 14, 2016: $250 mn to beat cancer, e-platform for farm produce trading…

1.20 million barrels per day (bpd)

What is it? The expected increase in global demand for oil in 2016, according to 13-member Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Why is it important? This is 500,000 bpd lesser than the previous estimate, raising concerns of crude prices going down again. Oil prices hit a 12-year low of $27 in January this year. A producers’ meet to freeze output at January levels to support prices, which is scheduled for this Sunday in Doha, is keenly awaited though Iran has refused to participate in it.

Tell me more: On February 16, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Russia and Qatar said they would freeze oil production at January levels, if other producers agreed to join in on the plan. This resulted in increase in oil prices by 30% in the subsequent weeks.

$250 million

What is it? Internet billionaire Sean Parker’s funding to set up a non-profit institute to beat cancer.

Why is it important? It brings together over 300 scientists at 40 labs in six institutions to work on a new area of cancer research – immunotherapy – which uses one’s immune system to fight cancer. This seeks to draw in on the advantages of scientists and researchers working together rather than in silos, though this also has the risks of suppressing diverse opinions to think alike.

Tell me more: The Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy would pursue immune therapy patents on behalf of the six institutions and license them, taking a 10-15% cut of the revenue generated by the patents to be put back into the institute. There were 8.2 million cancer-related deaths and around 14 million new cases in 2012, according to the World Health Organization.

21

What is it? The number of local markets to be connected on an e-platform called National Agriculture Market launching today.

Why is it important? The e-platform aims to provide farmers with wider choices of selling their produce at better prices, a move that is likely to help the government fulfill its promise of doubling farm incomes by 2022. Currently, farmers sell their produce to traders at the nearest market. This comes at a time when farmers are reeling under two successive droughts.

Tell me more: The 21 markets are spread across 8 states. The Indian government plans to bring 585 such markets on to the platform by March 2018. However, the government may need to tackle some state laws/rules that may be a hindrance to this national e-marketing platform.

64 lakh litres

What is it? The quantity of water the Bombay High Court has asked the BCCI to supply to drought-hit villages in Maharashtra.

Why is it important? This direction comes along with the order to BCCI to shift all 13 IPL matches, including the finals, to be played in the state after April 30. BCCI had promised it would use treated sewage water for the IPL matches in Mumbai and Pune and the teams from these cities would contribute Rs 5 crore each towards drought relief measures in the state.

Tell me more: The BCCI said though it respects the court’s orders, it is difficult to re-organise the tournament mid-way. The BCCI Secretary said it was unfair to target the league and questioned if the swimming pools in five-star hotels have been shut or if people in the state have stopped watering their gardens.

30

What is it? The number of new fund offers (NFOs) for which mutual fund houses have filed draft papers with the market regulator so far this year.

Why is it important? Indicates that the mutual fund industry would retain or outpace last year’s growth (which saw 191 draft papers of NFOs). In 2015-16, 43 lakh new equity accounts were opened taking the total to 3.6 crore, the fastest addition since the 2008 global financial crisis. However, it is still less than the total of 4.1 crore accounts at the time of the crisis.

Tell me more: Reflecting the increasing demand for mutual fund products from retail investors in what is perceived to be a largely risk-averse market, the investors’ base hit a record high of 4.76 crore at the end of March.

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