News in Numbers, Mar 13, 2017: Overruns ⚠

287

What is it? Number of infrastructure projects worth Rs 150 crore and above which saw a cost overrun of Rs 1.66 lakh-crore, out of a total 1,186 projects.

Why is it important? Over 24% of December, 2016’s high-value infrastructure projects suffered from cost overruns. Delays and cost overruns in infrastructure projects are often a source of budget crises for state and Union governments. They also erode the benefits initially expected from such projects. The projects with cost overrun will now be 11.39% costlier than originally estimated at Rs 14.6 lakh-crore.

Tell me more: Around 326 projects got delayed for various reasons, including land acquisition, funds constraints.

 

4:1

What is it? The tally of state election wins of BJP vs Congress.

Why is it important? After decisive victories in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, BJP since Sunday has staked claims to two other states —Manipur and Goa — which had no clear victors. The party rallied regional parties to support it and gathered the required numbers to form governments in these two states.

Tell me more: In Manipur, BJP presented a list of 32 MLAs (BJP won just 21), a lead of two, and in Goa, it has shown support of eight more MLAs besides the 13 seats it won.

 

15%

What is it? The share of social bots of active Twitter accounts.

Why is it important? While Twitter comes under regular fire for being happy hunting grounds for trolls, research estimates at least 48 million accounts on the social network platform are bots. These automatic programmes/robots interacting with others on Twitter can have malicious applications too. It beats Twitter’s own estimates of 8.5% bot accounts.

Tell me more: Two US universities who conducted the research say 15% is a conservative estimate of Twitter’s total 319 million active monthly users. These can fake support for political/terrorist propaganda and even help in terrorist recruitment.

 

350

What is it? The number of archeological remains unearthed by researchers in Madhya Pradesh

Why is it important? They are claimed be 50,000 years old, and could potentially offer clues about the ancient history of human beings and other members of animal kingdom. In 2009, pieces of 42,000 year old ostrich eggs were discovered in the same site.

Tell me more: A team of researchers have been working on the excavation since the second week of February in Narmada valley at Mehtakhedi village of Khargone district.

 

57%

What is it? The percentage of respondents of a survey who thought service charge was levied by the government.

Why is it important? It’s in fact levied by commercial establishments, and earlier this  year the government said that customers can opt not to pay for service charges in hotels and restaurants. Responses to other questions asked in the survey also indicated a lack of awareness about charges in bill, and underlined the low standards of consumer rights in India.

Tell me more: The survey was a part of a research paper, ‘Critique of service charges in hotels and restaurants’, by students of the National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bangalore.

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News in Numbers, Jan 3, 2017: Wéi!

51%

What is it? The market share of Chinese phone companies in the smartphone segment in November, according to analysts.

Why is it important? For the first time ever, Chinese brands hold a dominant position in the smartphone segment in India at the cost of the market share held by Indian companies and the bigger players such as Samsung and Apple. The share of Indian brands fell from a peak of over 40% recorded earlier in 2016 to 18% in October and November whereas that of Samsung and Apple fell by 3% month-on-month to land at 32% in November. Interestingly, Indian and Chinese players had an equal share (34% each) as of September.

Tell me more: As many as 32.3 million smartphones were shipped in the July-September quarter of 2016, continuing to clock double-digit growth, according to research firm International Data Corporation. Chinese players including Lenovo, Xiaomi, Vivo and Oppo are looking to gain a stronghold in India following the saturation in Chinese mobile phone market.

 

5-20%

What is it? The service charges levied by hotels and restaurants, in lieu of tips.

Why is it important? The Department of Consumer Affairs issued a notification on Monday clarifying that it is not mandatory for the customers to pay the service charge that is added to the bills. This comes after customers complaining that they are forced to pay the service charge irrespective of the kind of service they are offered. This is likely to force hotels/restaurants to provide better services and/or increase the prices of the items on their menu cards.

Tell me more: After seeking a clarification from the Hotel Association of India, the Department of Consumer Affairs has asked the state governments to make hotels and restaurants aware of this rule and also direct hotels to put up notices to inform their customers that the payment of service charge is discretionary.

 

4.9%

What is it? The growth rate of India’s eight infrastructure sectors – coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, fertilisers, steel, cement and electricity – in November on a year-on-year basis.

Why is it important? Though it is higher than 0.6% recorded in November 2015, it is slower than the rates registered in September and October 2016 – 5% and 6.6% respectively. The slowdown is likely due to the currency reset move by the government in November, which also led to Nikkei’s Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index, a composite indicator of the country’s manufacturing activity based on a survey, to decline to 49.6 in December (from 52.3 in November) – the biggest month-on-month decline since November 2008 and the first contraction (below the 50-mark) in this year.

Tell me more: Among the eight core sectors, coal production, petroleum refinery production, fertiliser production, steel production, cement production and electricity generation registered increases in November compared to a year ago while crude oil and natural gas recorded decreases during the same period.

 

> 12,000 km

What is it? The distance China’s first freight train to London, which was flagged off on Sunday.

Why is it important? The train, which will reach London in about 18 days, is part of China’s efforts to strengthen its ties with Britain, better serve its Belt and Road Initiative and boost its weak exports and economic growth, which was the slowest in 25 years in 2015. At the end of June 2016, there were 1,881 China-Europe cargo trains in service, which imported and exported goods worth $17 billion. An estimated 5,000 cargo trains will run between China and Europe per year by 2020, according to the former’s top economic planning body.

Tell me more: China’s freight train to London, which primarily carried household items, garments, cloth, bags and suitcases, would pass through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Belgium and France.

 

< 3 cents

What is it? Solar energy prices per kilowatt-hour in countries such as Chile and the United Arab Emirates in 2016.

Why is it important? This is about half the average global cost of coal power and could become the cheapest source of power by 2025, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Prices of solar, which is greener than burning fossil fuels, have fallen by 62% since 2009 mainly due to increase in volumes and lower margins. In India too, solar power tariff fell to a record low of Rs 3 per unit in November 2016, which was as high as Rs 12 per unit six years ago.

Tell me more: India is looking to achieve its target of 100 gigawatts of solar capacity generation by the end of 2017 itself, much ahead of its original deadline of 2022. The country’s solar power generation crossed 19,000 megawatts in 2015-16.

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