News in Numbers, Nov 11, 2016: Flush with funds…

$7.1 billion

What is it? The amount of dry powder (cash reserves or liquid assets) available with India-based private equity (PE) and venture capital (VC) funds, according to private deal tracker Preqin.

Why is it important? This is close to a six-year high, which indicates positive sentiment around the Indian economy even though startups and small and medium enterprises have been facing a slowdown in funding. VC deals recorded a dip of 39% in terms of number of deals and 58% in terms of deal value for the nine months ended September 30. The increased availability of funds could be good news for startups but the recent crunch faced by them was not on account of non-availability of funds but to do more with investors’ cautiousness about their valuations and unclear business models.

Tell me more: Nearly 80% of the dry powder are with established funds and close to 40% of this is with the top five funds.



What is it? Passenger vehicle sales in October, up 4.48% on a year-on-year basis.

Why is it important? This comes after passenger vehicles sales increased by 21% year-on-year in September, the highest monthly sales to be recorded in over four years. The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) has termed the October sales a “one-off dip” due to the attempt to clear stocks built up ahead of the festival season. The industry body said it is confident that passenger vehicle sales would touch the 3 million mark in 2016-17, a record for India.

Tell me more: Domestic car sales showed a marginal increase to 195,036 units in October from 194,158 a year ago in the same period.



What is it? The premium gold dealers reportedly charged per ounce (28.35 gm) over official domestic prices on Thursday.

Why is it important? This compares with a discount of $3 per ounce they gave last week. India’s announcement of scrapping old notes in Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denominations on Tuesday is likely to result in a dip in gold smuggling. This is because smugglers offer huge discounts undercutting banks and refiners to increase their market share. They offered discounts up to $100 per ounce in July, which led to a decline of 84% in imports of doré (a semi-pure alloy of gold and silver) to 11.1 tonnes in the July-September quarter from a year ago.

Tell me more: This could, however, result in a dip in overall gold imports by 100-150 tonnes in 2017 from a yearly average of 800 tonnes, according to Surendra Mehta, secretary of the India Bullion and Jewellers Association. The World Gold Council said earlier this week that India’s gold demand could dip as much as 24% in 2016, the lowest in seven years, due to higher prices and increase in smuggling.



What is it? India’s ranking among 205 countries with the largest pictorial warnings on the packs of tobacco products, according to a report.

Why is it important? India has made a huge leap from the 136th position in 2014 and 123rd in 2012. Such pictorial warnings are believed to be the most cost-effective tool in creating awareness among smokers about the health risks of tobacco use and pictorial warnings are said to be superior over text-only messages, according to the World Health Organization. Such warnings are also considered to be an important means of conveying health information among populations with low literacy rates and low- and middle-income countries.

Tell me more: Nepal, which has pictorial warnings covering 90% of the front and back of tobacco packs, is ranked first followed by Vanuatu, which will implement 90% pictorial warnings on the packs in 2017.


$5 billion

What is it? E-commerce firm Alibaba’s sales in the first hour on China’s Singles Day, the world’s largest online shopping event.

Why is it important? Though this included pre-orders by customers, the firm hit this figure in 90 minutes during this event in 2015 when the day’s total sales was $14.3 billion. The day, which traditionally celebrated the country’s single people has been transformed into an online shopping festival by Alibaba and is kind of considered to be an indication of consumer sentiment.

Tell me more: Though analysts have predicted that the e-commerce giant would exceed its last year’s sales, growth in the value of goods sold on the company’s platforms has been slackening. The trend is similar in the number of Internet users in the country and the number of individuals and companies opening stores on Alibaba’s sales platforms.

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News in Numbers, Nov 7, 2016: When ‘snooze’ is no longer an option…

How many times are we allowed to hit the ‘snooze’ button before we finally decide to wake up and smell the coffee? (or in this case, inhale poisonous air, the effects of which do not need any outlining) With respect to Delhi, sadly, not only have we hit the ‘snooze’ button way too many times but also, ignored or done little about the constantly-ringing alarm bells. Though the Delhi government has announced a few short-term measures, it is imperative for the central government and the state government to work in tandem to ensure effective implementation of long-term policies to tackle the worsening air pollution problem in the capital city. And, also ensure that other major urban/semi-urban areas do not end up mirroring Delhi’s situation. What can the governments and individuals do to curb pollution? Do share your ideas with us.



588 µg/m³

What is it? The levels of particulate matter (PM) 2.5 in Delhi at around 8.00 am today, according to the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) of the Union Ministry of Earth Science.

Why is it important? This is 9.8 times the safe limit of 60 µg/m³and falls under the ‘severe’ (the worst) category. The levels of PM 10 in the capital city was said to be 844, nearly 8.5 times the safe limit of 100 µg/m³, again in the ‘severe’ category. These particulates are considered deadly for their ability to penetrate deep into the lungs and blood streams unfiltered, which can cause respiratory problems, lung cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

Tell me more: Particulate matter pollution has been categorised as carcinogenic to humans and is considered to be a leading environmental cause of cancer deaths, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer. SAFAR’s forecast for PM 2.5 and 10 for Delhi tomorrow is worse than today’s levels: 613 µg/m³ and 860 µg/m³ respectively.



What is it? The fall in the number of startups that have reportedly registered with the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) for recruitment this year.

Why is it important? Indicates that startups’ hiring activity has slowed down amidst reports that investors have become increasingly cautious about loosening their purse strings in the recent quarters. Earlier this year, IITs had banned 31 startups including Grofers, Hopscotch, StayZilla and Portea Medical from participating in their placement drives as they had delayed joining dates, changed their offers in the last minute or revoked some of the students’ offer letters. 135 students were affected by such actions, according to the All IIT Placement Committee.

Tell me more: However, pre-placement offers are up by 25-30% this year. Some IITs are conducting screenings of some startups based on their funding, cash flow and stability before allowing them visit their campuses for hiring.



What is it? India’s ranking in a global index of business optimism in the July-September quarter of 2016, according to a survey.

Why is it important? The country has improved its position by moving up one slot from the previous quarter after being ranked on top in the previous two quarters. The latest ranking is due to the Indian government’s reform measures, its efforts to improve the ease of doing business in the country and on the back of expectations that the Goods and Services Tax would become a reality soon, according to the report. Though India is still ranked among the top five nations where red tapism and regulations are considered an impediment to growth, its ranking on this aspect has dropped to second from fourth.

Tell me more: This comes a few days after India was listed at the 130th position (of 190 nations) on the World Bank’s ease of doing business, where the report’s authors acknowledge that not all the measures taken by India in improving its business environment have been taken into account.



What is it? The percentage of the American electorate which is undecided or likely to vote for a third-party candidate.

Why is it important? This indicates the high levels of uncertainty in the outcome and that the results could swing in favour of either of the US Presidential candidates in the 2016 elections: Donald Trump, the Republican Party nominee or Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party nominee. There are reportedly about 12 states, which form 155 votes in the electoral college (of the 538), that do not favour any party and could hold the key to who becomes the 45th US President.

Tell me more: The US citizens across 50 states would vote to elect 538 members of the electoral college, who in turn, would vote for the President. Of the 50 states, 12 are in favour of the Democrats and six leaning towards them and Clinton is predicted to have 219 safe votes. As many as 20 states are for the Republicans, one leaning towards them, predicting 164 safe votes for Trump. The winning candidate would require 270 votes.


1.1 lakh

What is it? The number of ideas received by the Indian Railways from its employees as of November 1 in response to the question: What if you were India’s Railway Minister?

Why is it important? This is the first time that such a brainstorming exercise has been conducted at the Indian Railways where crowdsourcing of ideas (contrary to the top-down approach at the organisation) has been encouraged to generate more revenue and margins and become more efficient. A panel of seven joint secretary officers have shortlisted 1,400 of these ideas. This would be further filtered to get the 15 best ideas and then, converted into business plans to be showcased to Prime Minister Narendra Modi later this month. He is likely to then spell out a five-year vision for the Railways and may roll out a campaign akin to the ‘Make in India’ or ‘Digital India’ campaigns, according to news reports.

Tell me more: Some of the ideas include: implementation of smart cards, which can generate additional revenues of Rs 400 crore, development of heritage tourism, large-scale solar energy development on land owned by the Railways around stations and offering surplus and vacant land on rent to private individuals.

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Chart of the Day | Unicorns by Sector

India added one more member to its Unicorn list recently, after messenger app Hike said it has raised $175 million mostly from China’s Tencent and Taiwan’s Foxconn at a valuation of $1.4 billion. With Hike India has 10 unicorns, or startups with over $1 billion in valuation – if we include InMobi (Singapore) and Mu Sigma (US) to the list. It’s important also to note that unicorns (across the world) are “paper unicorns” – private companies that have not yet tested their valuations at ‘liquidity events’ such as a purchase, merger or an initial public offering.

Still, it’s interesting to compare the sectoral distribution of Indian unicorns with global unicorns to get a sense of the markets that still hold promise of great rewards. The numbers show there are relatively fewer of unicorns in the following areas: internet software, big data, healthcare, on demand, social and cybersecurity.

Check out the charts below, and do a mouseover to get the absolute number of unicorns in different sectors. All numbers are sourced from CB Insight’s Unicorn List

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News in Numbers, August 4, 2016: Rajya Sabha passes GST bill, Centre to import more pulses…


What is it? The number of Rajya Sabha members who voted in favour of the Constitution Amendment Bill to implement Goods and Services Tax (GST) in India. None voted against the bill, with AIADMK abstaining.

Why is it important? This is the crucial step before implementing GST that will replace various indirect taxes collected by the centre and the states, with one tax and one rate across India. Near unanimous vote in favour of the bill was possible after central government acceded to one of the key demand of the Congress party to scrap 1% inter-state tax on movement of goods.  

Tell me more: At present, the central government has powers to tax production (excise duty) and services (service tax), and the states have power to tax consumption (VAT). Under GST, all the three will be merged as one tax, GST, and both the states and the central government can tax them. To do this, the constitution has to be amended and any amendment to the constitution has to be accompanied by a two-third majority voting.


30,000 tonnes

What is it? The additional quantity of tur and urad dal that the Indian government is to import.

Why is it important? This will help check their prices. The production of pulses is estimated to have dipped in 2015-16 and average prices have increased by nearly 30% last year. However, states are to partially responsible for the high prices of pulses as they have been reluctant to lift pulses allocated to them by the central government for retail sale at subsidised prices. Of the 29,100 tonnes allocated to 11 states, three states have lifted just a little over 16% of the pulses.

Tell me more: There is a buffer stock of 1.75 lakh tonnes of pulses so far. The central government sells tuvar dal at Rs 67 per kg and urad dal at Rs 82 per kg.

4.7 crore

What is it? The number of customers telecom firm Vodafone has gained through mobile number portability (MNP), which was fully implemented in June 2015.

Why is it important? This makes Vodafone the highest gainer of customers through this medium, followed by Bharti Airtel and Idea, which added 3.82 crore and 1.8 crore users respectively. Besides these three, other telecom service providers were net losers of customers through MNP, with Reliance Communications losing the maximum customers (1.18 crore).

Tell me more: All the telecom players, however, were found to be guilty of hampering the process of their customers shifting to other service providers and were fined a cumulative Rs 9.45 crore for not abiding by the MNP rules. Bharti Airtel attracted half of the fine followed by Aircel (Rs 1.58 crore), Vodafone (Rs 1.22 crore), BSNL (Rs 1 crore) with the penalties on other players ranging between less than a lakh to a few lakh rupees.


Rs 10,000

What is it? The proposed penalty for drunken driving (up from Rs 2,000), as per the Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill 2016, which was approved by the Union Cabinet on Wednesday.

Why is it important? The bill, which has increased penalties for various traffic violations by 2-10 times, if passed, is likely to help in the government’s target of curbing road accidents and fatalities by 50% in five years. In 2015, 1.46 lakh people were killed in road accidents while the number of injured was over 5 lakh. According to a 2011 study by the United Nations, India has the highest number of road deaths in the world.

Tell me more: The proposed increases in penalties include: Rs 5,000 for driving without a license and racing (from Rs 500), Rs 1,000 for driving without a seat belt (from Rs 100), Rs 2,000 for driving without an insurance (from Rs 1,000), Rs 5,000 for dangerous driving (from Rs 1,000), Rs 1,000 and disqualification of license for three months for driving without a helmet (from Rs 100) and Rs 10,000 for not giving way for emergency vehicles.



What is it? The number of startups Ratan Tata has invested in over the last two years

Why is it important? That makes him one of the most active investors in the country and in fact he was ranked the top angel investor last year. Now, Mr Tata is setting up full fledged a venture capital fund in partnership with University of California and with a corpus of $100 million to $150 million.

Tell me more: Ratan Tata’s investments include Snapdeal, Urban Ladder, Ola and Zivame.

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