News in Numbers, July 26, 2016: Yahoo-Verizon $5 billion deal, telcos to install more towers…

$4.83 billion

What is it? The price at which Yahoo has agreed to sell its core internet operations to telecom firm Verizon Communications on Monday.

Why is it important? This brings an end to the iconic brand and company, which was a much talked about startup before Google leaped ahead of it in overall sales in 2005. Yahoo, which was estimated to be valued at $125 billion during the peak of the dot-com boom period (January 2000), has been struggling to compete with rivals Google and Facebook. It would be merged with AOL, the firm which was acquired by Verizon last year, which is likely to help boost its media and advertising businesses. It remains to be seen how Verizon leverages on this deal.

Tell me more: Once the deal is through, Yahoo would change its name and would be left with cash, patents, its stakes in Alibaba Group Holdings and Yahoo Japan – with a total market value of $40 billion.

 

18

What is it? The number of years between Salman Khan’s alleged shooting of endangered blackbucks in Rajasthan and Monday’s High Court judgement on the case. He was acquitted.

Why is it important? This would come as a relief to the actor, who is caught in another high-profile case of drunk-driving and hit-and-run where five men sleeping on a pavement in Mumbai were run over, killing one of them. He was acquitted in this case last year though the Maharashtra government has challenged it in the apex court. Khan’s acquittal has drawn criticism from various quarters with animal rights organisation PETA saying the judgment comes as a “massive shock and disappointment”.

Tell me more: The court said the investigating authorities failed to identify the spot where the animals were allegedly killed by Khan, the carcasses of the animals are yet to be discovered and mainly, there was no evidence that the bullets recovered from the animals were fired from Khan’s licensed gun. The movie star and seven others (some of them Hindi actors) were accused of killing a gazelle and two antelopes over two days during a film shooting.

 

Rs 20,000 crore

What is it? The amount telecom firms have reportedly committed to invest to install 100,000 towers over the next one year to curb call drops.

Why is it important? This is in addition to investing Rs 12,000 crore to erect 60,000 towers over a 100-day period, of which 48,000 have been installed in the last 45 days. This comes at a time when the department of telecom is examining a proposal by the telecom regulator to impose penalty and jail term if telecom firms fail to adhere to prescribed standards. In May, the regulator had published a study that said most firms, other than Reliance Communications (for 2G) and Vodafone India (for 3G), have failed to meet the benchmark for call drops.

Tell me more: The telecom minister who met the chief executive officers of telecom firms on Monday said the government would address the main issues faced by them over the next 2-3 months.

 

53.8%

What is it? The chances of Republican nominee Donald Trump winning the Presidential race this year, according to electoral forecasts by Nate Silver, an American statistician and writer.

Why is it important? When Trump entered the race, not many believed he would even win the Republican nomination but now there is a good chance he might even become the US President. His chances of winning have nearly tripled from 18.8% on June 8 to over 50% now. In contrast, the chances of Hillary Clinton, the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party for President, winning has halved from 81.8% on June 8 to 46.2% now. Silver’s forecasts have been among the most accurate – he correctly predicted results for 49 of 50 states in 2008 Presidential elections and 50 of 50 in the 2012 polls.

Tell me more: In terms of popular vote, it’s a tight race between the two – 45.4% for Clinton and 45.2% for Trump and in terms of electoral votes, Clinton would get 261.1 votes compared to 276.6 for Trump.

 

2

What is it? The number of Rio-bound Indian athletes who have tested positive for banned substances so far.

Why is it important? Just after wrestler Narsingh Yadav failed the dope test, shot putter Inderjeet Singh was caught using a banned steroid and the news comes 10 days ahead of the commencement of Rio Olympics. This casts cloud over the initial euphoria which surrounded the reports of India sending its strongest-ever contingent of 120 athletes with the hope that it would bring back home more medals than the six it won at the 2012 London Olympics.

Tell me more: With this, the total count of Indian men to compete in 2016 Olympics comes down to 64 while the number of Indian women competing is 54.

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News in Numbers, June 9, 2016: The cost of peace, better weather forecasting system soon…

$679.8 billion (Rs 45.3 trillion)

What is it? Estimated spend by India to contain violence in 2015. It’s 9% of India’s GDP (gross domestic product) on a purchasing power parity basis, according to a study.

Why is it important? In 2014, it was 4.7% of India’s GDP, resulting in the decrease in its overall peace score. Though its ranking improved by two spots to 141 of 163 countries, the report suggests India has a long way to go to be as peaceful as Iceland, Denmark and Austria (the top three ranking nations on the peace index).

Tell me more: The index is calculated based on three broad metrics: the level of safety and security in society, the extent of domestic or international conflict, and the degree of militarisation. Global peace declined in 2015 and the economic impact of violence was $13.6 trillion in terms of purchasing power parity basis – approximately, 11 times the size of global foreign direct investment.

 

$60 million

What is it? The amount India’s meteorology office is spending on a new supercomputer to improve India’s forecasting of the monsoon.

Why is it important? The system would be 10 times faster than the current one – and make better weather predictions. This in turn would help farmers in choosing when to sow, irrigate and apply fertilisers and ultimately improve farm output by around 15%. Improved weather monitoring would also help the central and state governments in taking action during delayed or less rains.

Tell me more: Around two-thirds of India’s population depend on agriculture as their main source of income, which in turn, is heavily reliant on the rains. Annual monsoon rains hit the Kerala coast on Wednesday, easing concerns after two years of successive droughts in the country.

 

5

What is it? The number of locations (of a total of six) at which dummy terrorists reportedly managed to ‘infiltrate’ Mumbai during ‘Operation Sagar Kavach’, a mock exercise to test Indian forces’ preparedness against terror attacks from the sea.

Why is it important? Highlights the difficulties of keeping India secure, and might send the message that people in general should be more alert to the danger. The biannual exercise was started after the deadly 2008 Mumbai attacks where terrorists entered the city through the sea and killed 164 people and wounded 308.

Tell me more: The Indian Coastal Guard personnel reportedly posed as terrorists and they were to transport boxes containing ‘explosives’ and ‘arms’ into Mumbai without being noticed by the coastal wing of the Mumbai police. However, five of the six Coast Guard officials managed to dodge the coastal police.

 

5,000

What is it? The number of people in India who manage to get a kidney transplant, of the 1-2 lakh people who need it every year.

Why is it important? India is one of top kidney exporters in South Asia, the leading transplant tourism hub globally, according to the World Health Organization. About 2,000 Indians are estimated to be selling their kidneys every year, many of them exported.

Tell me more:  The recent arrest of the suspected leader of an illegal kidney trading gang in one of India’s leading private hospitals (Apollo Hospitals) in Delhi brought to the fore the practices of the lucrative black market trade in the country. The hospital has claimed it was cheated by fake identification papers that passed off the victims as the relatives of the organ recipients. Eight people, including five of the hospital employees, have been arrested in this case.

Rs 10 crore

What is it? The penalty that the telecom regulator wants to impose on mobile operators besides a jail term of up to two years for their executives for any violation of regulations.

Why is it important? This comes after the Supreme Court quashed an order by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) that had asked operators to compensate subscribers for call drops (Re 1 for every call dropped with a cap of Rs 3 per day). The regulator says this would give it greater powers in protecting consumers’ interests, grievance redressal and better enforcement of its rules.

Tell me more: In case the violation continues, TRAI has asked for the provision to impose an additional fine of up to Rs 15 lakh per day till the default continues. Currently, the regulator can impose a fine of up to Rs 2 lakh for a violation.

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News in Numbers, June 2, 2016: Call drop data in 11 cities, India’s first rail university…

11

What is it? The number of cities that will get access to call drop data in the next 15 days.

Why is it important? The naming and shaming strategy is expected to push telcos to improve their service quality, and keep the drops below 2%. Earlier, the Supreme Court struck down the telecom regulator’s recommendation of imposing penalty on telcos. Now, it is reportedly seeking the authority to do so from the government.

Tell me more: On Wednesday, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India released the call drop data for Delhi. Airtel’s 2G and 3G call drop rates have deteriorated in May when compared to those last September while Vodafone’s 2G call drop rates improved (though still above the permitted 2% limit) and on its 3G network, it remained constant at 1.4%.

 

46.43%

What is it? Percentage of loans given by public sector banks (excluding the State Bank of India and its associates) of the total as of March 2016.

Why is it important? It’s down from 50.06% in March 2015 and the lowest in over 12 years. The shrinking market share is likely to expedite consolidation in Indian banking industry. Recently, the Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha said India would have 8-10 competitive public sector banks “when the dust settles”.  

Tell me more: This is an effect of the central bank’s mandate asking lenders to clean up their balance sheets by March 2017, which led to categorising more loans as bad, increase in provisions and net losses, and deterioration in capitalisation levels. In terms of deposits too, public sector banks lost their market share – from 50.95% in March 2015 to 48.32% in March 2016.

 

Rs 865 crore

What is it? The cost of setting up India’s first railway university in Vadodara, excluding land costs.

Why is it important? The railway university, which would offer MBA, B.Tech, M.Tech degrees, and diplomas is aimed at transforming India into a global centre for research and development in railway engineering and management. Indian Railways is the largest rail network in Asia and the world’s second largest under a single management.

Tell me more: An internal report by the Railway Board last year had suggested the setting up of rail research centres and introducing railway-related subjects in existing universities instead of setting up new ones. The National Academy of Indian Railways in Vadodara is the apex training institute for all Railway officers.

 

Rs 20,000 crore

What is it? The cost of building a common Secretariat on Lodhi Road in Delhi to house various ministries (excluding a few key ones) and departments.

Why is it important? This move is likely to make inter-communication between ministries and departments easier and quicker and would also help the government in tackling shortage of office space, which often pushes them towards high rentals.

Tell me more: The proposal by the Central Public Works Department would be presented to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his approval. This includes razing down of residential complexes of 4,000 families who will be provided with alternate housing.

 

8,000

What is it? The number of Delhi University (DU) teachers who have been protesting against some recent changes in University of Grants Commission (UGC) rules since May 24.

Why is it important? This affects the evaluation of answer sheets of around 1.3 lakh undergraduate students. They are protesting against the increase in number of working hours, difficulty in getting promotions, especially for Assistant Professors, and the likely loss of jobs for approximately 5,000 teachers, especially those in ad hoc positions.

Tell me more: The UGC has called for a meeting of all stakeholders on June 6 to discuss issues including the basis on which teachers are promoted and their workload and if the issues are not resolved then, it could lead to a delay in DU results and sessions.

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