News in Numbers, Feb 14, 2017: 😍 Indians 💖 Taxes

60,000

What is it? People who have responded online to Income Tax department’s request for e-verification and explanation of deposits after demonetisation.

Why is it important? As the IT department gears up to mine data gathered after demonetisation with sophisticated data analytics to unearth tax evaders, some from the first wave of online respondents have even agreed to pay tax arrears. The IT department has been trying hard to allay fears of undue persecution by first resorting to online queries for 1.8 million depositors, so that the honest taxpayer can explain deposits without bearing the brunt of an IT notice.

Tell me more: So far 200,000 people who had received the IT clarification request online have logged in. Before demonetisation, the IT department had sent 60,000 notices for large dubious non-Pan card transactions in September even as the – for tax compliance was going on.

 

5

What is it? Number of Grammy awards that British artist Adele won for her album ‘25’ in 2017.

Why is it important? In the world’s most prestigious music awards, the 28-year-old Adele became the first ever to win twice the top three coveted categories of album, record and song of the year, this time for her album and the ballad, “Hello”. She had won in 2012 for her album ‘21’. She also won Best Pop Solo Performance and Pop Vocal Album this year.

Tell me more: She beat Beyonce, who led with nine nominations for her influential album, ‘Lemonade’, on racism and feminism, but acknowledged the artist in her acceptance speech.

 

33,000 feet/10 km

What is it? The depth of the trenches in the Pacific Ocean where organisms were found with high levels of man-made pollutants, according to a report in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.

Why is it important? Man-made pollution has not spared even the deep sea. Shrimp-like tiny amphipods, Hirondellea gigas, were found in two of the ocean’s deepest trenches that were still 7,000-km apart, to contain polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), commonly used as electrical insulators and flame retardants.

 

Tell me more: Pollutants were found in every single sample, regardless of depth, regardless of species, according to the report’s lead author. He likened the contamination levels to that of Japan’s Suruga Bay, one of the most polluted northwest Pacific industrial zones. Given the sampled creatures are voracious scavengers feeding off any debris floating down to the depths, the concentration could be from contaminated fish remains and accumulation on sea-beds.

 

3.17%

What is it? Retail inflation in January 2017.

Why is it important? It is the lowest in the last five years, driven primarily by slowing of rise in food prices. Food inflation was 0.53% in January, compared to 1.37% in December. Core inflation (comprising of non-food, non-fuel items) however was the highest since October 2014, which likely prompted the Reserve Bank to maintain its benchmark interest rates in the recent monetary policy review.

Tell me more: Among the states, Jammu and Kashmir recorded the highest annual inflation for the month at 7.01%, followed by Delhi (6.32%) and Himachal Pradesh (5.92%).

 

2

What is it? The number of judges who will be delivering their judgement on the disproportionate wealth case against VK Sasikala, Tamil Nadu’s ruling party AIADMK’s general secretary.

Why is it important? A split verdict by the Supreme Court would extend the political tension in the state, even as fight the between O Panneerselvam the state’s chief minister and VK Sasikala who wants to occupy that chair intensifies. If the court rules against Sasikala, that is, if declines to uphold the earlier High Court acquittal of AIADMK chief, it would strengthen the hands of Panneerselvam, who by many accounts, has the support of voters, but not (at least, explicit) support of party MLAs.

Tell me more: The two judges P C Ghose and Amitava Roy are expected to deliver separate judgements on Tuesday. If there is a split verdict, the case will move to a third judge.

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News in Numbers, Jan 11, 2017: Make hay while the sun shines…

2,250 MW

What is it? The solar power capacity commissioned by India between April and December 2016.

Why is it important? This is just 18.7% of the solar power target of 12,000 MW for 2016-17. This raises questions about India’s capability to increase its solar power target to 100,000 MW by 2022. Power Minister Piyush Goyal had said in April 2016 that it can achieve this target by the end of 2017 itself. Achieving this target is important for India, which has committed to source 40% of its electricity from non-fossil fuels under the 2015 Paris Agreement. The aim of the agreement is to limit the increase in the earth’s temperature to less than two degree celsius by 2100.

Tell me more: India’s cumulative solar energy capacity stands at 9,012.66 MW, as per the government data.

 

Rs 3,400 crore

What is it? The amount Tamil Nadu government has said it will spend for desilting reservoirs and channels and restoration of lakes, according to chief minister O Panneerselvam.

Why is it important? This is one of the measures announced by the government as it declared the state to be drought-hit. As many as 144 farmers have reportedly committed suicide between October and December 2016 and the northeast monsoon, which hits Tamil Nadu during this period, has been the worst in 2016 over the last 140 years. The northeast monsoon is responsible for the state’s main rainy season and accounts for nearly half (48%) of its rainfall.

Tell me more: Tamil Nadu has announced measures including conversion of crop loans to medium-term loans, increasing the number of days of work under the national rural employment guarantee scheme to 150 from 100 and allocation of funds to improve drinking water resources. The state will send a petition to the central government asking for drought relief.

 

16.05 million

What is it? The number of people who have reportedly enrolled for Aadhaar in December 2016.

Why is it important? This was the highest enrollment in a month for the 12-digit unique identity number in a month last year. This comes after the government decided to withdraw high-value currency notes from November 9 and the its subsequent push to encourage Aadhaar-enabled financial transactions in a bid to create a less-cash economy. The first week of January 2017 saw 3.63 million people enrolling for Aadhaar, which takes the total number of Aadhaar enrolments to 1.1 billion, covering about 98% of India’s adult population.

Tell me more: The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology is planning to coordinate with the Finance Ministry to draw up a plan to enable financial transactions using Aadhaar (and without the need for mobile phones) at places including petrol pumps and common service centres. Of the 112 crore bank accounts, 40 crore are already linked to Aadhaar.

 

1.2 million

What is it? The number of automobiles sold in the domestic market in December, 2016.

Why is it important? The decline is at a 16-year-low. Overall automobile sales fell by 18.6% year-on-year, not seen since December 2000’s drop of 21.8%. Automobile sales is a measure of consumer sentiments, especially their capacity for discretionary spends, and it has taken a beating after demonetisation as consumers still turn to cash for buying vehicles or restrict non-cash purchases because of negative sentiments.

Tell me more: Retail segments such as passenger cars and two-wheelers registered sharp drops at 8% and 22% respectively. Siam, the industry body releasing the data, says it is a temporary lull. Automobile sales had registered 23.7%, 20%, and 8% rise in August, September, and October, before sliding in November by 5.4%.

 

Rs 4,350 crore

What is it? The contract value won by ABB India to build a power transmission link for Power Grid Corporation of India, the national power grid operator.

Why is it important? This will be one of the longest systems in the world. The two-way link spanning 1,830-km will connect thermal and wind energy plants to high-consumption urban centres, from Chhattisgarh to Tamil Nadu. It will have a capacity of 6,000-megawatts, and once complete, supply electricity to 80 million people by 2019. The win saw ABB India’s stock rise 13% on Tuesday.

Tell me more: ABB India is tasked with installing an ultra-high-voltage 800-kilovolt system for the link. While ABB won the major chunk of the Rs 5,700-crore project, state-run Bharat Heavy Electricals won the remaining mandate.

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Get Smart Fast | Cauvery Dispute

Here’s a short video of protests this week in Karnataka over Cauvery water.

So, what’s going on?

The dispute relates to sharing of Cauvery river water among four southern states – Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Pondicherry. The river originates in Karnataka, and the state can regulate water flows to downstream states like Tamil Nadu.

The dispute has been there for more than a century. In 2007, the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal gave its final verdict determining how the water will be shared. This came 16 years after the tribunal was established and 570 days of sitting.

 

What did the order say?

The tribunal estimated quantum of water available for sharing as 740 thousand million cubic feet or TMC. (If you’re stumped by what these units are, don’t worry. We have a small note on what they mean). Then it determined how this water will be shared among the four states:

Tamil Nadu – 419 TMC
Karnataka – 270 TMC
Kerala – 30 TMC
Pondicherry – 7 TMC

Further it gave a month-wise release of water from Karnataka to Tamil Nadu, the two major states in the dispute.

 

If the order has clearly detailed how to share water, where is the problem?
The final order only defined ‘normal year’ when the total available water in the cauvery basin is 740 TMC. But there was no such estimate when the water availability falls due to poor monsoon. The verdict only states, “….in a distress year, the allocated shares shall be proportionately reduced among the states….”

Karnataka now claims it has very low level of water in the reservoir because of poor rains, and refused to release water.

 

Now Supreme Court asked Karnataka to release 15,000 cusecs of water for 10 days. How much is that?

Cusec is the short form for cubic foot per second or the flow of water per second. One cusec is 28.317 litres of water. TMC is thousand million cubic feet.

If 11,000 cusecs of water is released for a day, then the total quantum of water is 1 TMC. So for 15,000 cusec, it is equivalent to 1.36 TMC.

If 15,000 cusecs of water is released for next 10 days, the total quantum is 13.63 TMC of water. That’s equivalent to filling 1.55 lakh olympic size swimming pools.

In comparison, Tamil Nadu is entitled to 40 TMC of water in September as per final order of the tribunal.

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News in Numbers – September 7

rj45-1139366

Rs 249

What is it? The monthly price at which state-owned BSNL is offering unlimited usage broadband connection on a landline.

Why is it important? BSNL’s offer comes in the wake of Reliance Jio shaking up the Internet access segment, offering 4G wireless services free till December and subsequently at an effective cost of Rs 50 per GB. As of April, BSNL was number one in broadband in the landline segment (9.9 million subscribers) and number five in mobile broadband (10.6 million).

Tell me more: BSNL will offer a speed of 2Mbps for 1 GB of data and 1 Mbps subsequently. This offer is for six months, after which subscribers will move to a BSNL plan with less generous terms.

8

What is it? Number of additional teams that Gianni Infantino, president of the world soccer governing body, is pitching for in the 2026 FIFA World Cup—from the current 32 to 40.

Why is it important? More teams means greater viewer interest—and commercial value—in the event around the world. But it can also entail a format rejig, potentially translating into a longer tournament and even fewer matchups between top teams.

Tell me more: After staying constant at 16 for nearly five decades, the number of teams in the World Cup increased to 24 in 1982 and then to 32 in 1998.

15,000 cusecs 

What is it? The amount of water to be released by Karnataka per day for the next 10 days to Tamil Nadu, per Supreme Court order on Tuesday.

Why is it important? Violent protests erupted in Karnataka almost immediately after the Supreme Court delivered its verdict. This adversely impacted the inter-state movement of people as Tamil Nadu registered buses were stopped from crossing the border fearing safety of passengers and buses.

Tell me more: As per the final verdict of Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal, Karnataka has to release 192 thousands million cubic feet of water to Tamil Nadu. It specified how much should be released each month. The problem arises when monsoon is deficit like this year so far. The tribunal only stated water share should be proportionately reduced, but did not spell out a formula.

6

What is it? The number of Karnataka-based schools that lost their CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education) affiliation because they produced fake minority certificates to circumvent Right to Education Act provisions.

Why is it important? RTE Act stipulates that 25% of the seats be reserved for economically backward and disadvantaged sections of the society. While it highlights CBSE’s tough stance, the incident also reflects the extent to which educational institutions flout rules. It comes a day after an UNESCO report warned that India will be late by 50 years in achieving its education goals.

Tell me more: The six schools – five based in Bangalore and one in Mysore – belong to National Public Schools group.

$65 billion

What is it? German pharma and crop chemical giant Bayer’s bid for agro-biotech major Monsanto

Why is it important? If it goes through, it will be the biggest ever corporate takeover in cash. The deal would also reflect the consolidation taking place in farm supplies sector. Bloomberg points out  China National Chemical Corp agreed to buy Swiss seed company Syngenta, and  DuPont and Dow Chemical plan a crop-science unit post merger. Monsanto tried buying Syngenta earlier, and was in talks with BASF, world’s largest chemical producer to buy its agro chemicals unit.

Tell me more: Bayer offered to pay $122 a share in May, increased it to $125/share in July. Now it stands at $127.50/share (i.e $65 billion overall) and some analysts expect it to go even higher.

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