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, June 17, 2016: Tax on sugar exports, Amazon decreases commission rates…

20%

What is it? The tax imposed by the Indian government on sugar exports.

Why is it important? This move, which comes after sugar prices increased from Rs 30 per kg to Rs 40 a kg in six months, is expected to boost domestic supplies. Due to drought in major sugar-growing areas, India’s sugar production is estimated to decline to 25 million tonnes in 2015-16 from 28.3 million tonnes in 2014-15.

Tell me more: Of the 366 sugar mills in the country, only about 60% were operating as on March 31.

 

34.05%

What is it? Percentage of women in rural areas who were open to living with their daughters in old age, according to a 2011-12 survey.

Why is it important? This was just 24.6% as per the 2004-05 survey, reflecting the changing norm of relying only on their sons in old age. People living in the urban areas also show a similar trend: it’s now 38.94% from 28.9% in 2004-05.

Tell me more: In terms of receiving financial support from daughters in old age, the trend is similar: 41.45% of women in rural areas (versus 30.48% per 2004-05 survey) and 44.75% of women in urban areas (versus 32.87% per 2004-05 survey) were okay with the idea, as per the 2011-12 survey.

 

$24 million

What is it? The amount New-York based company Andela has raised, led by the Chan Zuckerberg initiative (CZI).

Why is it important? This is CZI’s first private-sector investment and it is leading a financing round for the first time since Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan launched their charitable foundation last December. The initiative drew criticism as it was incorporated as a limited liability company, which is not governed by the rules for a non-profit organisation.

Tell me more: Andela trains software coders in Kenya and Nigeria to help them get jobs at large technology firms. Others who participated in the funding include: GV (formerly, Google Ventures), Spark Capital, Omidyar Network, Learn Capital and CRE Ventures.

 

3.5%

What is it? The new commission rate sellers of mobile devices and tablets will pay Amazon India effective today, down from about 5.5% earlier.

Why is it important? The move could help sellers to offer products at a lower cost by bypassing foreign direct investment rules that do not allow online marketplaces to influence product prices. This is in contrast to its rival Flipkart which recently decided to increase seller commissions by 5-6% from June 20, even as it struggles to raise funds.  

Tell me more: Amazon India has reduced the commission rates for sellers on certain categories including desktops, laptops, electronic devices, movies and educational software. This comes after Amazon reportedly increased its commission rates up to 9% on various categories a couple of months ago.

 

17,540

What is it? The number of Pakistani citizens whose visas were rejected by the Indian government between January 1 to May 31 this year.

Why is it important? This is around 50% of those who applied for visa to visit India, which is significantly higher than the rejection rate of 22.2% in 2015 and 17% in 2014. This is reportedly due to increased security concerns after the attack on the Pathankot Air Force base by Pakistani terrorists in January this year.

Tell me more: The Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan has written a letter to the Union Home Secretary asking for the reasons behind the high rejection rates.

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