News in Numbers, Dec 16, 2016: Will the lottery system work?

 

Rs 340 crore

What is it? The estimated cost at which Niti Aayog, the government think-tank body, is implementing two schemes (Lucky Grahak Yojana for consumers and Digi-dhan Vyapar Yojana for merchants).

Why is it important? These schemes, probably the first of their kinds announced by the government, are aimed encouraging customers to go for digital payments by incentivising them. Under the first scheme, lucky draws would enable 15,000 winners to get cashback prizes of Rs 1,000 each day for a 100-day period starting December 25 besides weekly awards worth Rs 5,000, Rs 10,000 and Rs 1 lakh. The second scheme would offer weekly prizes worth Rs 2,500, Rs 5,000 and Rs 50,000 for merchants. Currently, an estimated 5% of Indians use digital payment modes and point-of-sale transactions saw an increase of 95% since November 8.

Tell me more: The National Payment Corporation of India will implement these schemes, which will cover transactions between Rs 50 and Rs 3,000 done through UPI, USSD, Aadhaar Enabled Payment System and RuPay Cards. These would not be applicable for transactions done through private credit cards and e-wallets of private companies.

 

Rs 5 lakh crore

What is it? The amount that has been supplied to the market in new currency notes since November 8 (the date when the demonetisation move was announced).

Why is it important? This is about 32.5% of the Rs 15.4 lakh crore that was taken out of circulation when high denomination currency notes (Rs 500 and Rs 1,000) were withdrawn. The government says that by the end of this month, this number would reach at least 50% of the demonetised amount – in new and existing denominations. However, according to a calculation based on India’s printing capacity of currency notes and the need for notes in smaller denominations, it would take up to April 2017 to introduce Rs 9 lakh crore (58.4% of the demonetised amount) – the main problem being the inability of the presses to print Rs 500 notes.

Tell me more: The Reserve Bank of India had said that Rs 12.44 lakh crore has been deposited in banks as of December 10 but the government has expressed doubts about this figure and has asked it to countercheck to weed out discrepancies that might have creeped in due to double counting.

 

Rs 3,000 crore

What is it? The amount sought by Nusli Wadia, an independent director on the boards of three Tata Group companies, in damages. He has filed a defamation suit in the Bombay High Court on Thursday against chairman emeritus Ratan Tata and Tata Sons.

Why is it important? Suggests that the Tata Sons-Cyrus Mistry corporate battle is getting uglier and is showing no signs of abatement. His defamation suit comes after Tata Sons had said that he was working in concert Mistry, the ousted chairman of Tata Sons, and against the interests of the Tata companies and shareholders, and moved a resolution seeking to remove him from the boards of Tata Motors, Tata Steel and Tata Chemicals. Wadia asked the company to prove the charges levelled against him and served three legal notices to Tata Sons in November asking them to withdraw the allegations but the group failed to do so. This has been followed by the Rs 3,000-crore defamation suit.

Tell me more: The High Court is expected to take up the matter on December 19 and Wadia faces a shareholders’ vote on December 23 after the group’s holding company moved the resolution to remove him as an independent director.

 

$13 billion

What is it? India’s trade deficit (excess of imports over exports) in November.

Why is it important? This was the highest in the last 16 months and sharply wider than the $10.41 billion recorded the previous month. Though exports rose for the third straight month in November on a year-on-year basis, it was lower than that in October – a likely impact of demonetisation and US Fed Reserve’s imminent decision to hike interest rates (it did so on Wednesday). The currency reset could have also resulted in a spike in gold imports (a 25.7% increase month-on-month and 23% from a year ago), which in turn, pushed up the trade deficit.

Tell me more: Of the 30 major product groups, 20 registered positive growth in November.

 

$14.6 billion

What is it? The amount media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox has agreed to pay to gain full control over London-based Sky Plc.

Why is it important? This is Murdoch’s second attempt at gaining control after his previous bid was thwarted in 2011 over a phone-hacking scandal at his UK newspapers. However, this takeover attempt may not be a smooth one as minority shareholders have expressed concern at how the pay-TV company’s independent directors accepted the offer at seemingly low share price levels. Besides, there are also fears that this acquisition would threaten media plurality in the UK.

Tell me more: The deal values Sky at and Fox, which is the founding shareholder of Sky, currently owns 39.1% of the company’s shares.$23.4 billion.

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News in Numbers, Nov 3, 2016: Whose job is it?

300

What is it? The approximate number of school students who would be cleaning railway platforms and station premises each Sunday.

Why is it important? The success of the government’s Swachh Bharat Mission depends on public awareness and participation and such a step is likely to help students understand the importance of sanitation and hygiene besides nudging the general public to be more conscious about cleanliness, starting from family members and friends. The Indian Railways has tied up with Sulabh International, a non-profit voluntary social organisation to create 164 student clubs across 20 states for this initiative. The organisation plans to cover all the 7,000-odd stations in the country.

Tell me more: According to a survey conducted at 407 railway stations based on passenger feedback, five of the top 10 cleanest stations are in Gujarat while the dirtiest were found to be in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

 

5.5 million

What is it? The estimated number of women who are likely to die from cancer annually by 2030, according to a report by the American Cancer Society (ACS).

Why is it important? This is an increase of 60% in 20 years with the highest toll to be among women in poor and middle-income countries. The four deadliest cancers (breast, colorectal, lung and cervical) are largely preventable or can be detected early and much of the estimated deaths (by 2030) fall in this category. There were 3.5 million cancer deaths among women in 2012 and the number of new cancer cases are expected to increase from 6.7 million in 2012 to 9.9 million in 2030.

Tell me more: Another report published in the Lancet medical journal said the number of women diagnosed with breast cancer is likely to double from 1.7 million in 2015 to 3.2 million a year by 2030. One out of every seven women in the world die due to cancer, which is the second highest cause after cardiovascular disease, according to ACS.

 

54,546 million metric tons

What is it? The amount of carbon stored in community lands managed by indigenous people, according to a study, which is based on satellite surveys of 37 tropical countries.

Why is it important? These lands are held collectively by communities more by custom, than by law officially recognized by the governments. Because of this status the communities can potentially lose their land to private parties. If that happens, there is a risk of carbon getting released into atmosphere, worsening the climate change. The carbon contained in these lands is equivalent to four times the global carbon emissions in 2014. The study suggests the indigenous communities be given a bigger role in climate stabilisation, which is also a cost-effective way of preventing further emissions due to forest loss.

Tell me more: A tenth of the total carbon contained above the ground in tropical forests is in areas that are managed by native communities. Just 21 of the 188 countries recognise indigenous land rights and have included forest people in their national plans for reducing carbon emissions under the Paris Agreement.

 

10%

What is it? The percentage of ATMs (automated teller machines) that should dispense Rs 100 notes exclusively within the next fortnight, according to a notification by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

Why is it important? This comes after the apex bank conducted a review of the steps banks have taken to install ATMs that dispense lower denomination banknotes and found that only a few banks had done so. This is to help meet the general public’s requirements of lower denomination notes. The banks have been advised to share their feedback on the pilot project after two months.

Tell me more: The RBI had introduced a scheme called the Currency Distribution and Exchange Scheme under which it said it would incentivize banks for installing ATMs dispensing notes of denominations up to Rs 100 – reimbursement of 50% of the actual cost of the ATM machine or Rs 2 lakh (whichever is lower) for urban areas and 60% of the actual cost of the machine or Rs 2.5 lakh (whichever is lower) for semi-urban and rural areas.

 

Rs 1,124 crore

What is it? The value of orders bagged by the Shapoorji Pallonji Group (SPG) from the Tata Group in 2012-13.

Why is it important? This reduced to nil in 2015-16. Within a year of being appointed as the chairman of Tata Sons in 2012, Mistry disallowed the Tata Group of companies from awarding new contracts to SPG as long as he headed the group. Mistry said in a 2013 letter to the CEOs of the Tata Group companies said this was to avoid any conflict of interest. SPG is headed by his elder brother Shapoor P Mistry.

Tell me more: After Mistry was sacked as the chairman of Tata Sons a few days ago, both the Tata Group and Mistry have reportedly put in place public relations teams to fight one of the biggest corporate spats in India.

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News in Numbers, Oct 28, 2016: Powerful yet weakening…

58%

What is it? The decline in global populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles between 1970 and 2012, according to a report by the WWF and the Zoological Society of London.

Why is it important? If the trend continues, global wildlife population could see a potential decline could reach two-thirds by 2020. And, the top threats to species are linked to human activities, which include habitat loss, degradation and overexploitation of wildlife. Biodiversity is the foundation of healthy forests, rivers and oceans and with a decline in wildlife, this is likely to result in ecosystems collapsing – this includes clean water, air, food and climate services.

Tell me more: In India, about 41% of mammals, 46% of reptiles, 57% of amphibians, 7% of birds and 70% of freshwater fish are threatened with extinction while four of the 386 species of mammals analysed are already extinct.

 

61

What is it? The number of individuals and entities in India charged by the US Justice Department for their alleged involvement in a scam where at least five Indian call centres based in Ahmedabad are suspected to be involved.

Why is it important? In this massive scam, which has been in operation since 2013, 15,000 people have been cheated of more than $250 million. Callers from India posed as Internal Revenue Service and Department of Homeland Security officials and asked victims in the US to pay up to clear up tax dues or debt and threatened them with imprisonment, arrest, deportation or fines if they failed to do so. Their co-conspirators would then collect the funds from the victims, launder and transfer them to India.

Tell me more: The three-year-investigation by the US authorities is reportedly the largest law enforcement action ever against a telephone scam. US would be seeking extradition of those based in India.

 

$3.1 billion

What is it? The total value of private equity exits in the quarter ended September, up 29% from a year-ago period, according to a report.

Why is it important? Indicates the attractiveness of India as an investment destination. However, in the last quarter, deal value of private equity and venture capital investments declined by 45% to $8.2 billion on a year-on-year basis while deal volume fell by 24% to 287 transactions. Private equity firms preferred to exit through public market sales and strategic sales.

Tell me more: Sectors including telecom, information technology and healthcare witnessed an increase in strategic sales that drove the increase in number of PE exits in the quarter, according to the report by consulting firm Bain and Co.

 

18%

What is it? The stake held by the Shapoorji Pallonji Group (SPG) in Tata Sons, the holding company of the Tata group of companies.

Why is it important? The Tata family trusts are reportedly reaching out to sovereign wealth funds and other long-term investors to buy out the stake held by the SPG in the Tata group’s holding company if it became available for purchase. This is the result of a fallout between the Tatas and Cyrus Mistry (son of Pallonji Mistry, chairman of SPG) when the latter was ousted at a board meeting of Tata Sons on Monday. The spat turned uglier after Mistry listed a number of allegations against the group, which hinted at possible breach of corporate governance norms. The Tata group has hit back at Mistry saying his allegations are malicious and his claims unsubstantiated.

Tell me more: Meanwhile, a committee has been constituted to look for the next chairman and reportedly, the shortlisted candidates are N Chandrasekaran (CEO of Tata Consultancy Services), Ralf Speth (chief of Jaguar Land Rover) and Noel Tata (chairman of Trent Ltd who is also a member of the founding family and Mistry’s brother-in-law).

 

350

What is it? The approximate number of employees Twitter will layoff, representing about 9% of its staff strength.

Why is it important? The social networking firm had laid off a similar number of employees (up to 336) last year, which was about 8.2% of its workforce. This is part of its efforts to cut costs (and post profits in 2017) even as its recent attempts at selling the company failed. The firm expects to book $10-20 million in workforce restructuring charges. Having struggled to keep pace with the likes of Facebook and Snapchat, Twitter also announced it would shut down Vine video app, which it acquired for $30 million in 2012.

Tell me more: Twitter’s revenue rose 8.2% to $616 million while its user base increased by 3% to 317 million average monthly users during its fiscal 2016 third quarter ended September 30.

 

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News in Numbers, Oct 25, 2016: The mysterious coup…

66%

What is it? The collective stake held by two trusts – Sir Dorabji Tata Trust and Sir Ratan Tata Trust – (both chaired by Ratan Tata) in Tata Sons, the holding company of the $100-billion Tata Group.

Why is it important? These two trusts have the powers to appoint or remove the chairman and it was their decision that led to the sudden sacking of Cyrus Mistry, who was at the helm of the Tata Group for nearly four years. Ratan Tata has taken over the reins of the group temporarily even as a selection committee has been tasked to find a successor in four months. While the reasons for this abrupt decision is unclear, in a statement, the group has said it was on the “recommendation of the principal shareholder (Tata Sons)”.

Tell me more: Of the nine board members, six voted to remove Mistry as chairman while two abstained. He is Pallonji Mistry’s son, who heads Shapoorji and Palonji Group, which owns 18.5% in Tata Sons. The Shapoorji and Palonji Group has said it would contest the move.

 

Rs 91.46 crore

What is it? The net profit of Idea Cellular, India’s third largest telecom player, in the quarter ended September 30.

Why is it important? This is around 88% lower than that posted in the comparable period a year ago (Rs 757.8 crore). This is an effect of intensifying competition due to Reliance Jio’s entry – Idea Cellular showed a decline in voice minutes and fall in mobile voice and data segment. Along with other incumbents, the company reduced data tariffs by as much as 67% and it spent Rs 12,798 crore in the recently-concluded spectrum auction to retain customers.

Tell me more: The company plans to expand its 4G services to 20 service areas from the current 11 and 3G services to 15 service areas from the present 13 by March 2017.

 

4

What is it? The number of weeks the trust governing Haji Ali Dargah, a famous mosque in Mumbai, in which it would implement the Supreme Court’s order of allowing women into the sanctum sanctorum.

Why is it important? This is being considered as a step towards equality and justice by the petitioners (who fought against the ban against women’s entry into the sanctum sanctorum) and their supporters though women won’t be allowed to touch the grave as it is that of a man (a saint). This would also help Muslim women in their fight against triple ‘talaaq’ (divorce), according to the petitioners. It remains to be seen the impact of this event on other religious placesthat have gender restrictions.

Tell me more: The Haji Ali trust had challenged the Bombay High Court’s order lifting the ban that restricted women’s entry into the dargah’s sanctum sanctorum. Two women, Zakia Soman and Noorjehan Niaz from a non-governmental organisation called Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan had filed a public interest litigation in the High Court challenging the trust’s restrictions on women.

 

Rs 35,000-40,000 crore

What is it? The estimated amount that can be saved annually by 2025 under the Indian government’s Sagarmala project, which aims at promote port-led development, according to a study.

Why is it important? The project would reduce the cost of domestic and export-import cargo as the movement of the goods via coastal shipping and inland waterways is expected to be 60-80% cheaper than road and rail transport. Under this project, the government aims to increase the share of inland waterways and coastal shipping in the modal mix from 6% to 12%. It is looking to increase coal movement through the coastal route by nearly five times to 129 million tonnes per annum by 2025 and also, reduce the cost of power generation by 50 paise per unit.

Tell me more: In India, logistics cost as a percentage of gross domestic product is 19% (compared to 12.5% in China, 15.72% in Indonesia and 13.43% in the UK), is among the highest in the world.

 

150 million

What is it? The number of Indians aged 18 years and above that suffer from mental health issues, according to the National Mental Health Survey.

Why is it important? Just one of every five of those suffering from mental health issues gets treatment, reflecting the fact that it’s a less-talked about problem and one that has the burden of social stigma attached to it. One in every 20 people in India suffer from depression and one in 40 has dealt with this problem in the past. Substance use disorder was found to be prevalent in 22.4% of the population aged 18 years and above.

Tell me more: The survey, commissioned by the Indian government and implemented/coordinated by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, covered 34,802 people (18 years and above) in 12 states.

 

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