IITs and unicorns

Rs 21,000

What is it? The wage ceiling for mandatory Employees’ Provident Fund coverage that the central government is considering. It’s Rs 15,000 at present.

Why is it important?  The move will bring 6 million more employees under the mandatory social security plan which includes PG, pension and insurance, with each employee contributing 12% of salary monthly to the EPF. Those in the organised sector, earning upwards of the salary, can opt in voluntarily. The cost to the Union government would be an extra Rs 1,617 crore at Rs 5,659 crore a year. According to last reported numbers, the PF portion of the corpus was Rs 360,000 crore.

Tell me more: The EPFO had suggested a threshold increase to Rs 25,000 but it would have raised cost to government by Rs 2,708 crore.

 

Rs 6.24 crore

What is it? The total value of fake Indian currencies seized by various law enforcement forces after demonetisation and introduction of new notes in November, 2016.

Why is it important? Following reports of fake currencies flooding the market after demonetisation, some replicating crucial security features on the new Rs 2,000 notes, the government reassured they were still easily identifiable and furnished the seized numbers as proof. The volume of fake notes exceed thousands.

Tell me more: In a Rajya Sabha reply, the home ministry also assured demonetisation of the new currency notes was not on the cards.

 

500,000 tonne

What is it? The volume of raw sugar that was allowed to be imported duty-free.

Why is it important? This is over 3% of the sugar production in the October-February (full year: Oct-Sep) period of 2016-17 marketing year. Sugar cane supply hit by drought in the major producing states of Maharashtra and Karnataka has led to a fall of 19% compared to 2015-16, leading to the import.

Tell me more: The move will raise global sugar prices given India’s status as the second-largest sugar producer and an exporter till last season.

 

12

What is it? The number of unicorns founded by alumni of Indian Institutes of Technology, according to a report by UK software firm, Sage.

Why is it important? That ranks IITs fourth in the list, after Stanford (51 unicorns), Harvard (37) and University of California (18). For long, IITs were criticised for not producing enough entrepreneurs, but that has been changing in the last few years. According to one count, 60% of all startups that have Series A venture funding have founders from IIT/IIM. Set up as engineering training institutes, IITs have been expanding their scope over years, and now plan to offer MBBS courses as well, starting with IIT Kharagpur.

 

Tell me more: Massachusetts Institute of Technology & University of Pennsylvania which follow IITs in the list have lead to nine unicorns each. Unlike others in the list, IITs are a group of institutions, having over 60,000 students all campuses put together. Stanford has about 16,000 students, Harvard, 22000  and MIT 11,000.

 

$3.6 billion

What is it? The investment Indian Railways will need to achieve a solar energy target of 5GW by 2025, according to a study by Council on Energy, Environment and Water.

Why is it important? Railways is a big consumer of electricity, and its move to solar will help India in achieving its larger renewables energy target, besides helping with its INDC commitment of 40% non-fossil fuel installed power capacity. Railways uses close to 2.4% of the country’s total electricity consumption, and it’s growing at 5% a year.

Tell me more: The report estimates that 1.1GW of 5GW would come from rooftop and the rest from utility scale projects. Railways has an installed capacity of 16 MW of solar as of March 2017, and has is in the process of commissioning 255 MW of rooftop solar projects.

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News in Numbers, July 1, 2016: World Bank’s loan to India for solar, Flipkart vs Amazon…

$1 billion

What is it? The amount the World Bank would lend to India for its solar energy programme.

Why is it important? This is the biggest ever loan given by the bank for a solar programme to any country and would help India achieve its ambitious target of installing 100 GW (gigawatts) by 2022. The solar power generation had crossed 19,000 MW (megawatts) in 2015-16 though the Minister for Power, Coal, New and Renewable Energy is looking to achieve this target by the end of 2017 itself.

Tell me more: India wants non-fossil fuel (wind, water, solar and nuclear) to account for 40% of the total installed power capacity by 2030 from 30% currently. The World Bank has lent $4.8 billion to India between 2015 and 2016, making it its biggest client.

Rs 2,28,986 crore

What is it? India’s fiscal deficit (excess of expenditure over receipts) for April and May of 2016.

Why is it important? It’s 42.9% of the budget target for this fiscal compared to 37.5% for the same period last year (despite a slowdown in government’s capital expenditure.) This may make it challenging for the Finance Minister to restrict fiscal deficit to Rs 5.33 lakh crore in 2016-17, especially with the implementation of the Seventh Pay Commission that would cost the exchequer over Rs 1 lakh crore.

Tell me more: The government’s capital expenditure was down by nearly 12% to Rs 33,231 crore in the first two months of 2016-17 from Rs 37,743 crore in the same period last year. The revenue expenditure, which would go up further due to the Seventh Pay Commission payout, increased by 17.6% to Rs 2.64 lakh in April and May from a year ago.

 

Rs 8,392 crore

What is it? The amount held by Indians in Swiss banks at the end of 2015, a third lower than the previous year.

Why is it important? This is the lowest amount of funds held by Indians in the Swiss Banking system since the country started making its data public in 1997 and marks the second straight year of decline. This seems to be the impact of clampdown of illicit wealth by countries including India, which is likely to lead to Swiss banks become more transparent than ever. India has sought faster responses to its pending information requests from the Alpine nation and an automatic financial information exchange would begin in 2018.

Tell me more: The funds held by Indians in Swiss banks was at a record high of Rs 23,000 crore at the end of 2006.

 

91

What is it? E-commerce firm Flipkart’s score in the quarter ended March based on metrics including trust in a brand, product assortment and prices, overall buying experience in terms of ease of using its platform and the ease of product cancellations and returns.

Why is it important? Flipkart is still slightly ahead of Amazon India, which entered the country in June 2013 and had a score of 87, though Snapdeal was a distant third at 60. This is yet another sign that Amazon is ahead of Snapdeal and breathing on the neck of Flipkart. With a recent investment announcement of $3 billion in the country, Amazon India has an advantage over both Flipkart and Snapdeal, which has to depend on external investors. A US mutual fund managed by Vanguard Investment marked down the value of its shares in Flipkart by 25%, the sixth such markdown in recent times.

Tell me more: In terms of ‘Most trusted brand’ and ‘Best value proposition’, Flipkart scored higher than Amazon India while the latter beat the former in terms of ‘Great experience’. The analysis is by RedSeer Management Consulting for Mint.

 

683

What is it? The number of invitees to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, of which 46% are women and 41% are minorities.

Why is it important? It will make the voters more diverse. The Academy had recently promised to double it female and minority membership by 2020. The Oscars came in for heavy criticism for having no nominees from minority actors for the second year in a row. However, it has a long way to go because even if all the invitees join, the share of women and minorities would only marginally increase (25% to 27% and 8% to 11% respectively).

Tell me more: If all those who invited were to join, it would increase the academy’s total voters to 6,945, a record in the last few years.

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News in numbers, Jan 20, 2016: VC-backed startups’ funding falls, ad spending in 2016…

 

Rs 4.34 per unit

What is it? The price at which Finland-based Fortum Finnsurya Energy has bid to build a 70-MW solar plant in Rajasthan under NTPC’s Bhadla Solar Park tender.

Why is it important? This is the lowest solar tariff in India, beating the recent bids by SBG Cleantech and Sun Edison at Rs 4.63 per unit. Though such low tariffs raise concerns about the viability of these projects, the government says this has been possible “through transparent auctions with a ready provision of land, transmission and the like”. Lower crude prices tend to be bad for solar energy firms, but India’s energy push is opening up opportunities for some of them.

Tell me more: State-owned NTPC conducted the reverse bidding for 420 MW solar projects to be set up at Bhadla’s Solar Park – Phase II on Monday.

 

35 seconds

What is it? The minimum time it will take to book a train ticket on IRCTC website.

Why is it important? The railway ticket booking website has deliberately kept the booking time to 35 seconds to prevent automated software from exploiting the system. The 35 second wait time was arrived at after considering that it takes at least 35 seconds to fill in the needed information. This is expected to reduce complaints from individual users who end up not being able to book tickets online.

Tell me more: In 2014-15, 18.3 crore tickets were booked on the IRCTC website and 14.9 crore between April-December 2015.

 

6%

What is it? The rate at which print advertising is estimated to grow in 2016 in India, according to a report by media agency GroupM.

Why is it important? However, print’s share in ad spending is estimated to decrease from 32.4% to 29.7% in 2016. Share of digital and television advertising are expected to increase to 12.7% and 47.1% this year. The growth in print sector is to be driven by auto, banking and finance and the government, besides regional advertising of telecom and consumer product brands in vernacular papers.

Tell me more: Total ad spending is estimated to grow 15.5% in 2016 to Rs 57,486 crore. Digital spending is likely to grow the fastest at 47.5% while growth rates of television and radio advertising are likely to slow down from 2015.

 

$1.5 billion

What is it? Amount venture capital-backed startups raised on 114 deals in the October-December quarter of 2015, according to a report by CB Insights and KPMG.

Why is it important? This is a decline of 46% in funding and 18% in number of deals in the last quarter of 2015 compared to the previous quarter. In Q3 of 2015, VC-backed startups raised $2.8 billion on 139 deals. An indicator that startups may not enjoy the same steady flow of VC money as in the previous quarters. India recently announced setting up a fund of funds with a $1.5 billion corpus to spent over four years.

Tell me more: At a global level too, there was a 30% drop in funding to $27.2 billion invested across 1,742 deals, marking the “lowest quarterly deal activity since Q1 2013”.

 

6.9%

What is it? China’s economic growth rate in 2015.

Why is it important? It is the slowest in 25 years. A slowdown in China, which is the second largest economy and the second largest importer of goods and services, is bound to affect the global economy. Concerns over China’s slowdown and a slump in commodity prices have prompted the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to cut its global economic growth forecast to 3.4% in 2016 from its October projection of 3.6%. It has kept China’s growth projection unchanged at 6.3% this year. China’s release of its weak economic growth prompted speculation that the government might announce some stimulus package, causing global stocks to rise.

Tell me more: China’s economic slowdown in the last two years comes as its government is trying to transition to an economy that is led by consumption and services rather than exports and investments.

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News In Numbers – July 20


News In Numbers: July 20

 

70%

Of the officers who joined the Indian Police Service (IPS) between 2011 and 2013, 70% come from non-traditional backgrounds for civil services such as medicine, engineering, arts and management. The Bureau of Police Research and Development is picking up some of the innovative policing initiatives of such officers for its national ‘SMART’ policing programme. The Indian government is planning to set up a ‘SMART’ police station in each state soon. India is facing a shortage of IPS officers: 23% of the authorised IPS officer strength was vacant, as on January 1, 2013.

 

3 years

The lock-in period of promoters’ pre-listing capital on the Bombay Stock Exchange’s SME (small and medium enterprises) platform, as proposed by taxation consultancy PwC. This includes preferential allotments as well and is intended to check tax evasion and other fraudulent activities. A total of 100 firms are on the BSE SME platform. The capital market regulator recently banned four companies and 235 entities (including individuals) for misusing the platform to make illegal gains of Rs 614 crore through suspected money laundering and tax evasion activities. The SMEs listed on this platform have raised over Rs 750 crore as on July 17, 2015.

 

15,000 mw

India plans to award solar contracts for the supply of 15,000 MW this year. The government has set a target of installing 100,000 MW of solar power by 2022, which would entail a capital investment of about $200 billion. In 2014-15, the cumulative solar power capacity in India was about 3,744 MW, accounting for about 10.5% of the total renewable energy generated in the country.

 

23

The number of people in Tamil Nadu who committed suicides in 2014 because of “ideological causes or hero worship”. The southern state, which witnesses fans offering milk, coconuts, fruits and flowers (as a form of worship) to the banners of their favourite actors, accounts for the highest number of deaths among all states due to hero worship. Tamil Nadu also accounts for over 500 suicides due to “love failures”, the second highest in the country. Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal accounted for over a third of the total number suicides in India in 2014.

 

10 million

The Central Board of Direct Taxes has issued an order to its regional offices to bring in an additional 10 million people under the tax net within this financial year. In the region-wise list, Pune region has the highest target of bringing in over 10% of the total number of to-be-assessees. As of now, about 35 million, or about 3% of the Indian population, pays taxes.

 

 

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