Sugar? Yes Please!

India’s sugar output in last three months was better than the produce in the same period of the previous year. So much so, that sugar association (ISMA) is now estimating that output for the entire year may be at its highest since 2014-15.


$500 million

What is it? The size of the deal that India had placed with Israel’s state-owned defence contractor Rafael to buy Spike anti-tank guided missiles. It has now cancelled the order.

Why is it important? This is reportedly due to reservations on the part of the Israeli firm to fully transfer the technology as per the ‘Make in India’ provisions and the Indian defence ministry reportedly deciding to back state-owned Defence Research and Development Organisation, which has said it will develop a world-class missile within four years. Till then, Pakistani foot soldiers are likely to have an advantage over India’s as they possess portable anti-tank missiles that can strike Indian bunkers and tanks at a distance of 3-4 km, while India’s equivalent missile tanks have a range of 2 km.

Tell me more: The order cancellation could be taken up for discussion during Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to India in a couple of weeks.



What is it? The number of people who were detained across Mumbai on Wednesday due to a bandh called by Dalit groups in Maharashtra.

Why is it important? Normal life was disrupted in India’s financial capital: schools and colleges remained shut, Internet services were down, and attendance was poor in offices. With protestors squatting on railway tracks, rail services were stalled, roads were blocked and shops shut. Although Dalit leader Prakash Ambedkar called off the bandh on Wednesday evening, tension simmered in the state. A 16-year-old student was killed in a road-block agitation in Nanded.

Tell me more: The protests began on Monday after a 28-year-old man was killed when the Dalit community was celebrating the 200th anniversary of a battle won by a backward community called Mahars (who fought alongside the Britishers) to overthrow the upper caste Peshwas.


$0.9 billion

What is it? The expected consolidated free cash flow of Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) in 2017-18, according to international brokerage firm CLSA.

Why is it important? If RIL meets the forecast, it would mean the end of a four-year run of negative cash flows, which is a measure of a company’s overall financial health and performance. This is likely to put India’s biggest firm by market capitalisation on a strong footing as projects worth $40 billion would begin to deliver as capital expenditure declines. Recently, RIL chairman Mukesh Ambani said the firm aims to be among the top 20 companies in the world.

Tell me more: The brokerage said the monetisation of refinery off-gas cracker and petcoke gasification plant would boost the operating income of RIL. In telecom, it expects the firm to monetise Reliance Jio Infocomm’s customers in addition to its industry-leading capacities.



What is it? The number of locomotives in India that will be installed with a GPS tracking device under the first phase of the Real-Time Train Information System (RTIS), a move that will enable passengers to track trains on a real-time basis.

Why is it important? This Indian Railways initiative, in collaboration with Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), comes in the backdrop of piling complaints of train delays and accidents. The new GPS-enabled trains would replace the existing national train enquiry system (NTES), which has a train controller who updates the train status manually.

Tell me more: So far, trials on GPS-enabled locomotives have been done on six electric locomotives on the New Delhi-Guwahati and New Delhi-Mumbai Rajdhani routes. The first phase is scheduled to be completed by December 2018.



What is it? The year-on-year growth in India’s sugar production during the three-month period from October to December, according to industry association Indian Sugar Manufacturers Association (ISMA).

Why is it important? In these three months of 2017, production stood at 103.3 lakh tonnes, against 81.9 lakh tonnes in the corresponding period of 2016, mainly due to improved outputs from Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh. This augurs well for the 2017-18 sugar year (October to September), which could register its highest production since 2014-15, when India produced 283 lakh tonnes. ISMA has estimated 2017-18 production at 251 lakh tonnes.

Tell me more: Earlier, the government had been considering removing stock limits on sugar  to curb the fall in prices resulting from a bumper harvest.

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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.



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, Nov 18, 2015: Tiger Global raises stake in Amazon, people living with HIV…


What is it? The percentage of fines imposed by India’s competition regulator of India that it managed to collect, as per its annual report of 2013-14. In absolute terms, the Competition Commission of India imposed fines of Rs 9,886 crore, of which it recovered Rs 72 crore. The remainder is either stuck in appeals or has been stayed.

Why is it important? The regulator, in its six years of existence, has initiated action against prominent names in several sectors. In its latest action on Tuesday, the CCI fined three airlines — Jet, IndiGo and SpiceJet — for colluding to fix fuel surcharge in cargo transport. But seeing the cases through and collecting the amount fined has proven to be elusive.

Tell me more: Some of the other major CCI fines have been against real estate company DLF (Rs 630 crore), against 14 car manufacturers (Rs 2,545 crore) and 11 cement majors (Rs 6,200 crore).




36.9 million

What is it? The number of people worldwide who were living with HIV, of which, 2.6 million were children below the age of 15 years. India had 2.1 million cases in 2013.

Why is it important? On Tuesday, American actor Charlie Sheen, best known for his roles in Wall Street and Two and a Half Men, said in a television interview to NBC that he had been diagnosed HIV-positive four years ago. He also said he had been sexually active after the diagnosis, while maintaining he had disclosed his condition to his partners.

Tell me more: At least 33 states in the US have laws that mandate people infected with HIV to disclose that fact to their sexual partners.



What is it? The approximate stake bought by US investment fund Tiger Global in global online retailer Amazon in the September quarter.

Why is it important? Tiger Global, one of the most aggressive investors in Internet businesses in India, is the largest investor in Indian retailer Flipkart. In India, Amazon and Flipkart are rivals, and the common presence of Tiger Global will be a source of conversation, possibly consternation. Back in 2014, Myntra was merged into Flipkart at the behest of common investors, one of them being Tiger Global.

Tell me more: As many as 1,284 institutions and mutual funds hold 68% of the shares of Jeff Bezos-controlled Amazon.



What is it? Share of mobile phone in the Internet traffic of India, which is thrice the corresponding figure for the US, according to a May 2015 report by venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB).

Why is it important? It is a measure of where the growth in Internet adoption and usage is coming from in India, and reaffirms why a high Internet penetration number in this decade might be in the realm of the possible. Another report by Internet and Mobile Association of India and IMRB International, released on Tuesday, tipped India to hit 402 million Internet users by December and leapfrog the US as the country with the second-largest Internet user base, after China.

Tell me more: According to the second report, men account for 71% of Internet users in India and women 29%, and that 69% of users were using  



What is it? The number of sugar stocks that hit the upper price band in trading on Tuesday on the Bombay Stock Exchange, suggesting some sort of a turnaround for a sector reeling under a cash crisis and dues to farmers.

Why is it important? The wide expectation is that sugar production in 2015-16 will be lower than in 2014-15, which will hold prices of this essential commodity, even fuel them. Credit ratings agency ICRA has projected a 4.6% drop in production to 26.8 million tonnes in 2014-15.

Tell me more: In October, the Central government announced a string of measures to help companies and release arrears to farmers.

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