News in Numbers, Mar 13, 2017: Overruns ⚠


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.



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.



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.



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.



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.

Read More

News in Numbers, Jan 5, 2017: What’s in your drink?


What is it? The number of impurities that a nanotechnology-based ‘dip-strip’ developed by a group of Indian researchers can detect in milk.

Why is it important? The test, which can be performed by anybody, is more affordable (mass production cost of each strip would be nearly 25 paise) and less time-consuming, and said to be a better alternative to the other tests such as infrared-based and chromatographic methods. Last year, the Supreme Court pulled up the food regulator for not taking enough action to prevent adulteration in milk and said that the government must revisit the Food Safety and Standards Act to revise the punishment so that it can act as a better deterrent.

Tell me more: A nationwide survey conducted by the food regulator in 2011 revealed that over two-thirds of the samples were found to be nonconforming to the prescribed standards and it was alleged that in some states, up to 100% of the milk samples were adulterated. The technology that has been developed can detect impurities such as urea, detergent, maltodextrin, sodium carbonate and hydrogen peroxide.



What is it? The number of observers the Election Commission (EC) will deploy in five poll-bound states – Uttar Pradesh, Manipur, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Goa.

Why is it important? These observers, drawn from the Income Tax (IT) department of the Indian Revenue Service or IRS (200), the Central Excise and Customs Department of the IRS (150) and other central services, are to check the use of black money and other illegal inducements during the polls. The tax authorities have also been asked to strengthen their Air Intelligence Units to check the flow of illegal cash and other items. The Financial Intelligence Unit has also been directed to inform the EC and the IT department of any suspicious deposits of cash in these states.

Tell me more: The EC announced the campaign election expenses limit per candidate for the five states on Wednesday – Rs 20 lakh Goa and Manipur and Rs 28 lakh in Punjab, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh. Elections in Uttar Pradesh will be held in seven phases between February 11 and March 8, Punjab and Goa will go for polls on February 4, Uttarakhand on February 15 and Manipur in two phases on March 4 and March 8.


Rs 14.97 lakh crore

What is it? The amount the banks have reportedly received in high-value currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 as of December 30, the last day for depositing the banned notes.

Why is it important? This is nearly 97% of the total value of money (Rs 15.44 lakh crore) withdrawn from November 9, raising questions about the usefulness of the exercise of demonetisation. One of the major criticisms of the government’s move to withdraw these high-value currency notes has been that it would not help fight the black money battle. This could also mean that people have found ways to channel their money into the banking system though the Income Tax department has been conducting a nationwide drive against black money hoarders. Some have argued that money coming into the system is not a bad thing, because it’s now accounted for.

Tell me more: As of January 1, the department had reportedly detected undisclosed income of Rs 4,663 crore and seized Rs 562 crore (this included Rs 110 crore in new notes). This was a result of 556 surveys, 253 searches and 289 cases of seizures besides issuing 5,062 notices to entities for tax evasion and hawala-like dealings.



What is it? The number of one day international (ODI) matches cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni has captained, of which he won 110 – a win percentage of 59.57%.

Why is it important? On Wednesday, the skipper announced his decision to step down as the ODI and T20 captain of the Indian cricket team, a move that took many by surprise. He has captained India in 72 T20 matches, winning 41 of these. Popularly known as ‘Captain Cool’, he holds the record for most matches (331 across all formats) as captain of an international side and is the only captain to have won International Cricket Council trophies – ODI World Cup, World Twenty20 and Champions Trophy.

Tell me more: The 35-year-old batsman-wicketkeeper, who hails from Ranchi in Jharkhand, had made a similar shocking announcement to quit Test captaincy in 2014 midway through a tour of Australia. Test captain Virat Kohli is highly likely to be named to lead the Indian cricket team in other formats as well.



What is it? The number of human organs including the most recent discovery – mesentery, which has existed in the digestive system for centuries.

Why is it important? Although its function is not clear yet, with further research, it could help in the understanding and treatment of abdominal and digestive diseases. The findings say that it is also unclear if mesentery should be viewed as part of the intestinal, vascular (circulatory system), endocrine (collection of glands that produce hormones to control certain functions), cardiovascular or immunological systems because it has important roles in all of them.

Tell me more: The new organ, a fold of the peritoneum that connects the intestine to the abdomen, was earlier thought to be made up of separate parts. The discovery that mesentery is a single structure was made by Irish researcher J Calvin Coffey in 2012 and along with his team, he studied the part to prove that it should be classified as an organ.


Read More

News in Numbers, Oct 24, 2016: The power of Five


This February is likely to see a lot of action: the Union Budget is expected to be announced and five states likely to go for polls. The situation in each of the five states seems interesting: in Punjab, the ruling BJP-SAD alliance is looking to retain power even as Congress and new entrant AAP are looking to dethrone the alliance after two successive terms. Goa has a similar situation: BJP wanting to be back in power and up against the same two parties. In Uttarakhand, the Congress, which reclaimed power after a brief President’s rule, is all set to battle it out with the BJP. In Manipur, BJP is looking to strengthen its northeastern presence while the Congress is trying to hold on to its authority. The battle in Uttar Pradesh is getting more and more interesting by the day: the BJP is trying to re-create the magic it weaved during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections (it won 71 of the 80 seats), SP is dealing with its own set of problems while BSP is trying to get the better of both. Here’s to interesting times ahead.




What is it? The number of states – Uttar Pradesh, Goa, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Punjab – likely to go on polls simultaneously in February-March.

Why is it important? The results in the five states would be an indicator of BJP’s popularity (which swept the 2014 Lok Sabha elections) and how people perceive its performance at the Centre whereas for the Congress, it would be a way to gauge if the party can see a revival as just 6% of India’s population live in Congress-ruled states – the lowest since Independence. For Aam Aadmi Party, it would indicate the progress it has made outside Delhi even as it nurtures ambitions to grow into a national party.

Tell me more: The Indian government has reportedly approached the Election Commission to seek its permission to present the General Budget in the Lok Sabha on February 1 in order to avoid violating themodel code of conduct that would kick in from the day the election schedule is announced until the results are declared.


Rs 1.25-1.5 lakh crore

What is it? The quantum of stressed assets Indian banks are reportedly looking to recover in the next few months.

Why is it important? After having identified the extent of bad loans and having provided capital for them, banks are now progressing to the next step of recovery. Last week, Essar Group sold 98% stake in its oil unit and other assets (largest debt reduction exercise by an Indian business) and three banks – ICICI Bank, Axis Bank and StanChart – got back an estimated $2.5 billion (around Rs 16,750 crore) as part of the first payment for their loans to the group. This is expected to give a boost to the recovery process initiated by the banks.

Tell me more: The lenders are hoping to recover the loans through resolution methods such as sale of assets, transfer to asset reconstruction companies and strategic debt restructuring (allows creditors to convert debt into equity and take over the management of defaulting companies).


Rs 3,050 crore

What is it? The penalty recommended to be imposed by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular for not providing sufficient interconnect points to Reliance Jio.

Why is it important? This brings an end to the three-month long dispute between the three incumbents and the new entrant Reliance Jio. The telecom regulator ruled that the three firms deliberately blocked the calls made from Reliance Jio’s network, a move considered to have been done with the intention of stifling competition. This was in response to Reliance Jio’s complaint that 75% of the calls made on its network were failing as the incumbents were not providing it with adequate points of interconnection necessary to complete the calls.

Tell me more: For Airtel and Vodafone, the regulator has recommended a penalty of Rs 50 crore per circle for 21 service areas while for Idea Cellular, it is Rs 50 crore for 19 service areas. The regulator has floated a consultation paper that aims to review the existing provisions for interconnection. Interconnection is thearrangement under which telecom firms connect their networks, equipment and services to enable their subscribers to get access to the subscribers, services and networks of other telecom firms


$85.4 billion

What is it? The deal size of US telecom giant AT&T buying out entertainment group Time Warner.

Why is it important? If approved by the regulators, this would be the biggest deal in the world this year. The deal would help the third largest cable TV provider in the US (owns mobile phone, broadband and cable TV networks) to transform itself into a full service media provider – owning content would help provide a competitive advantage over the others. This is likely to spark industry consolidation and bring in changes in the way people consume content.

Tell me more: However, it remains to be seen if the deal is allowed to happen as US lawmakers and both the presidential candidates have raised questions about it – the acquisition is considered to be anti-competitive by some. A Senate sub-committee, which is responsible for competition, will hold a hearing in November.


$1.7 billion

What is it? The amount Chinese consumers spent on Apple-sanctioned apps in the July-September quarter this year, according to a report.

Why is it important? With this, they have exceeded the spend by Americans (nearly $1.45 billion) by 15% in this period. Chinese consumers spent five times more on Apple apps in the third quarter of 2016 than what they spent two years ago. The report noted that China is likely to drive the largest absolute revenue growth for any country by 2020. Apple recently announced the opening of its research and development centre in China even as it saw its year-on-year revenues fall by 33% in Greater China in its fiscal third quarter.

Tell me more: In terms of market share, domestic firms – Huawei, Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi – command a 56% market share in China, pushing Apple to the fifth position (8% market share), according to research firm IDC.

Read More

What’s the profile of your to-be MLA?

Counting of votes is on in five states: West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Assam and Puducherry. Taking the feed from the Election Commission and mapping it with Census 2011 and data, How India Lives created data interactives for Mint. Check it out here (click on each state to get interesting insights by constituency and candidate).

We took a few metrics that you could look at while having your afternoon tea/coffee.

And, as you pick up that extra biscuit, some inferences from the chart.

  • Kerala might be 100% literate, but West Bengal and Assam voted a higher percentage of graduates and above.
  • Southern states are the most tolerant of candidates with serious crimes.
  • Super-rich candidates have had the best luck in Tamil Nadu so far.
  • West Bengal and Kerala seem to be favouring super-rich candidates less.


Read More