News in Numbers, May 23, 2016: Distressed asset sale deals, ISRO’s latest milestone…


What is it? The number of 10 million-people-plus megacities in 2015 compared with 14 in 1995.

Why is it important? Four out of five of them are in developing countries (Asia, Africa and Latin America), indicating that these regions would contribute increasingly to the global economy and attract global businesses. However, this also highlights the challenges these countries would face in tackling urban migration, pressure on infrastructure and the availability of resources.

Tell me more: As many as 49 metropolitan clusters are likely to account for 77% of incremental GDP from 2010 and 2015 in India. The country, which is implementing an ambitious programme to create 100 smart cities by 2022, has just 0.23 urban planners per 100,000 population and the municipal expenditure as a percentage of GDP is just 1.1% (compares very poorly with the other BRICS nations, and OECD countries).



What is it? The average percentage of tickets Jet Airways sold in the highest fare bucket across the 20 busiest domestic routes in April, according to Directorate-General of Civil Aviation’s (DGCA) first monthly report aimed at checking soaring airfare prices.

Why is it important? Its competitors – Indigo, Spicejet and GoAir – did not sell a single ticket in the highest fare bucket in many of the 20 domestic routes. Some Parliamentarians had raised the issue of high airfares despite low fuel prices, and also the surge in prices during certain events (such as the Jat agitation in Haryana) and natural calamities. The first set of data do not support the lawmakers’ concerns on this issue, though it would be monitored every month to see if it justifies to impose a cap on airfares.

Tell me more: The DGCA will hold consultation talks with the airlines to discuss a cap on airfares. The Ministry of Civil Aviation has proposed the levying of a 2% fee on all domestic and international commercial flights in order to cross-subsidise air tickets on non-metro routes and bring it down to around Rs 2,500 per flying hour.



What is it? The number of asset sale deals announced by the top 10 most indebted business houses (as profiled by Credit Suisse last year) since April 2015.

Why is it important? Of these, only six deals have been completed. Of these six, the total value of four deals (for which information is available) is Rs 2,546 crore,  a mere 3% of the total value (Rs 82,343 crore) of the 33 deals. Indicates that companies are struggling to find buyers for their assets. Some may not be willing to mark down the value of their assets to reflect the actual market value, betting that the market may improve, prompting them to either delay the sale of assets or not sell at all.

Tell me more: As many as 14 deals are pending, nine of which account for Rs 48,910 crore. Another 12 are in the proposal stage, of which seven are worth Rs 28,810 crore and one has been withdrawn.



What is it? The number of months the poor families in drought-hit Bundelkhand region will get free rice, wheat and coarse grain starting June 1.

Why is it important? Last week, Uttar Pradesh declared eight districts (seven of them in Bundelkhand) drought-hit – a much-delayed move, according to ruling Samajwadi Party’s political rivals. The region has seen at least 3,000 farmer suicides over the last five years. It also suffered continuous drought between 2003 and 2010, floods in 2011, late and deficit rainfall in 2012 and 2013 and drought in 2014.

Tell me more: The Uttar Pradesh government has sanctioned Rs 145 crore for rejuvenating 100 extinct ponds in the region. The farmers are being encouraged to cultivate oilseeds, especially sesame, and the government has increased subsidy on these crops.


70 km

What is it? The distance India’s indigenous version of a space shuttle travelled today, after which it descended into the Bay of Bengal.

Why is it important? This is the country’s first reusable space shuttle and its first step towards creating a full–fledged reusable rocket, which might take another 10-15 years. The use of a reusable launch vehicle would reduce the cost of space exploration and utilisation, besides providing on-demand space access.

Tell me more: The Indian Space Research Organisation declared the mission a success. It took about 10 minutes from lift-off to splash-down. The 6.5-metre long ‘aeroplane’-like structure weighs 1.75 tonnes and is almost six times smaller than the final version.

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News in numbers, Jan 29, 2016: First batch of India’s smart cities, agromet services’ impact…


Rs 102.7 crore

What is it? Revenue earned by Power Grid Corporation of India from its telecom business in the third quarter ended December. It has seen a jump of 49.2% from the year-ago quarter’s Rs 68.9 crore.

Why is it important? It’s an indicator of 4G investments by Indian telecom companies. Power Grid, which is India’s biggest transmission company, is the only utility firm that has overhead optic fibre network (by using optical ground wire on power transmission lines), which is used by telecom companies to provide their services. Telecom companies have committed to an investment of Rs 1.75 lakh crore, of which Rs 1.15 lakh crore is for 4G spectrum in five auctions.

Tell me more: Power Grid’s revenue from its core business (transmission services) increased by nearly 23% to Rs 5,142.8 crore.  The company plans to raise Rs 2,000 crore through domestic bonds in February to meet its capital requirements to execute the ongoing projects.


3.54 crore

What is it? Number of people in 20 ‘smart’ cities.

Why it is important? These people would soon see their cities getting a makeover under the government’s ‘Smart Cities’ programme: citizen-friendly governance, promotion of a variety of transport options, uninterrupted power and water supplies, provision of housing and integration of urban planning with the smart city mission to address issues such as infrastructure, land use planning, urban design and architecture. The cities would receive an investment of Rs 50,802 crore over a five-year period.

Tell me more: The 20 cities, which include Bhubaneswar (Odisha), Pune (Maharashtra), Jaipur (Rajasthan), Surat (Gujarat) and Kochi (Kerala) were chosen out of 98 based on the proposals submitted by them. The government plans to create 100 smart cities by 2022.


4 million

What is it? Estimated number of people who could get infected by the Zika virus, a mosquito-borne disease, in the Americas region (North and South America), according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Why is it important? Zika might turn into an epidemic, With cases being reported in 23 countries in the region and the virus “now spreading explosively”. The virus has been linked to severe birth defects in babies born in Brazil, though it has not yet been proved. There is no cure or vaccine for the virus and clinical trials for two potential candidates in the United may begin by the end of this year, meaning we are still years away from a possible cure/vaccine. The most common symptoms of zika virus disease are fever, rashes, joint pain and conjunctivitis or red eyes. The WHO, which came under fire for its slow response time when Ebola broke out in West Africa in 2014, has promised a quicker turnaround time to tackle the spread of zika virus.

Tell me more: Closer home, though there have been no cases reported in Singapore, the authorities are preparing for the worst, because it could be imported into the country by tourists, and it’s a tropical country, prone to mosquito-borne diseases.



What is it? Maximum number of tickets one can book per month on the IRCTC website, effective February 15.

Why is it important? Presently one can book 10 tickets a month. Railways says the change is to prevent misuse of the online ticketing system by touts. According to an analysis, 90% of the users booked up to six tickets a month online. This will affect certain passengers who travel by train frequently for work or other purposes.

Tell me more: Other checks put in place by the IRCTC are: one can book only two tickets using his/her user-id in a day for advance reservation booking from 8-10 am, an individual can book only two tickets per day per user-id under the ‘Tatkal’ option from 10 am to noon.


Rs 50,000 crore

What is it? Economic benefit of providing agro-meteorological (agromet) advisory services to farmers in 550 districts in 2015. These include weather updates and information on crop-weather relationships.

Why is it important? This provides some cushioning against the vagaries of the weather and also, helpful to most Indian farmers who rely on the monsoon for agricultural production. Rain-fed agriculture accounts for over two-thirds of India’s cropped area, which provides livelihoods to 48 crore people. If all the farmers are provided with the agromet services, the potential economic benefit is estimated to be Rs 2.11 lakh crore.

Tell me more: Agromet services are also being provided through text and voice messages on mobile phones to over 2 million farmers currently.

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News in numbers, Nov 5, 2015: All-time low solar tariff, human trafficking from Nepal to India…

Rs 4.63

What is it? Price at which US-based SunEdison will sell solar power per kilowatt-hour in India.

Why is it important? This is an all-time low solar tariff in India and gives a boost to the Indian government’s ambitious target of installing 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022. Of this, 100 GW would be comprised of solar energy. India’s solar generation capacity is 2,900 MW now. This would also help India’s plans of providing solar power at Rs 4.75 per unit to state electricity boards, which are struggling with mounting debts and losses and reluctant to buy power.

Tell me more: SunEdison won the auction for a 500 megawatt project in Andhra Pradesh. The previous low tariff was Rs 5.05 per kilowatt-hour for Canadian company SkyPower’s project in Madhya Pradesh.


5 to 9

What is it? Multiple by which nitrogen oxide emissions were higher in a sample of 11 vehicles manufactured by Volkswagen Group in India – compared to levels tested during the approval stage, according to the Automotive Research Association of India.

Why is it important? Indicates that despite tough laws, some companies are able to get through the approval process without playing by the rule book. It remains to be seen if it’s a one-off or an industry-wide phenomenon. For VW, it is more bad news as its emission scandal gets murkier. According to the ARAI, VW India has informed them that 314,000 cars (across Volkswagen, Skoda and Audi models) have been fitted with engines from the E 189 diesel engine family, which have been used to fool emission tests in the US and Europe.

Tell me more: The Indian government has issued a show cause notice to VW asking it to explain its position on these findings and disclose if it has used an emission defeat device in India. The company has confirmed that it has received the show cause notice from the government-owned agency, Automotive Research Association of India, and would respond to it by the end of this month.



What is it? Share of devices connected on mobile networks in India that are 3G-enabled, according to a survey by Nokia Networks.

Why is it important? Of this, only 45% are used for 3G services – pointing to an opportunity for telecom companies to tap into. The survey shows that of the sample size of 650 million subscribers, just 2.3% have 4G-enabled devices. Given the likelihood of prices of 4G devices coming down in the near future, there is a possibility of 4G overtaking 3G in terms of subscription, Nokia Networks said.

Tell me more: Mumbai, Delhi, Kerala, Punjab and Kolkata are the top five cities in terms of 3G device penetration. 



What is it? The percentage increase in human trafficking from Nepal to India in 2015 (with two months to spare) compared to 2014.

Why is it important? The human trafficking from Nepal has seen a threefold increase after a massive earthquake devastated large parts of the country this April. Shows the levels of poverty that people have been subjected to, after the quake and their desperation to escape it all.  

Tell me more: Till this September, the Sahastra Seema Bal, one of India’s Central Armed Police Forces, has rescued 206 victims, of which 159 were rescued after the quake. In 2014, 33 victims were rescued.


€2 billion (over Rs 14,000 crore)

What is it? France’s committed investment for India’s Smart Cities Mission.

Why is it important? Despite the various challenges that the Indian economy faces, particularly the infrastructure sector, this indicates international interest in India’s long term growth story. But, there are serious concerns about how such ambitious urban projects would get funded.

Tell me more: The Western European nation is also investing 200 million (over Rs 1,400 crore) for the extension of the Bangalore metro network.

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News in numbers – August 28


Three states – Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh – accounted for more than a third of cities selected under the Rs 48,000 crore Smart Cities project. These three states account for 35% of India’s urban population, and 31% of India’s Gross Domestic Product. 98 cities were selected under the project. Cities such as Mumbai, Patna and Bengaluru do not figure in the list and the names of two cities are yet to be finalised. Urban population is projected to touch 600 million by 2031, as against 377 million in 2011. To meet the growing population, an investment of Rs 39.2 lakh crore is needed to develop urban infrastructure.


2 tonnes

For the second consecutive time, Indian Space Research Organization successfully placed a two tonne satellite in the geosynchronous orbit using its indigenously developed cryogenic engine. This orbit is used for placing communication satellites, which are heavier. With this success, the space agency is planning to double the payload to four tonne in six years time. This will eventually help India achieve its mission of placing a man in space.


500 years

The number of years it would take for India to become a Muslim-majority nation, based on past data. India added about 125 million Muslims between 1961 and 2011 and the number of Hindus added was 4.8 times of that. According to the latest data released by the Indian government on population by religion, Islam was the fastest growing at 24.6% between 2001 and 2011 while the growth rate for Hindus was 16.8%. Certain right-wingers have warned that the Hindu majority in the country could be threatened with the rise of the minority religions. According to a Pew Research report, Muslim population will grow twice as fast as the total world population between 2010 and 2050 and are likely to overtake Christians as the world’s largest religion group.


Rs 2,500 crore

Yoga guru Baba Ramdev’s company has higher turnover than companies like Jyothy Laboratories and Emami. A research report by CLSA says Patanjali Ayurved reported a profit of Rs 300 crore on a turnover of Rs 2,500. if compared with listed fast moving consumer goods firms, Baba Ramdev’s firm would be valued at Rs 14,000 crore. The 10-year-old firm sells products across a range of categories including nutrition and supplements, grocery, medicinal items, home care, personal care and healthcare. The company, which hardly does any promoting or marketing, is planning to launch ready-to-eat products at prices 10-14% cheaper than the multinational brands in India.



The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) says the real activity indicators are likely to back its projection of 7.6% gross domestic product (GDP) in the current financial year. The three “work in progress’ tasks of the central bank outlined in its annual report for 2014-15 include the economic growth below levels that India is capable of, inflation projections for January 2016 and the reluctance of banks to cut base rates. The country’s consumer price index (CPI) was down to 3.78% in July, way below RBI’s target of 6% by January 2016. For January 2017 and 2018, its target is to bring down the CPI to 5% and 4% respectively. Besides this, RBI said it would focus on stressed bank assets as total stressed advances at scheduled commercial banks in India rose to 11.1% of total advances in March 2015, up from 10.7% in September 2014.

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