News in Numbers, Mar 30, 2017: Bills and losses

14 paise/minute

What is it? The least possible retail price for calls according to leading mobile players Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular.

Why is it important? Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has rejected the claim. This puts a spanner in the works of embattled telecom players. They had rallied around to protest call charges lower than the interconnect charge of 14 paise a minute. This is paid by the operator on whose network a call originates to the recipient network operator. At the centre of the storm is Reliance Jio, whose pricing is being termed as predatory as its ‘free’ consumer offers involves paying other networks the interconnect charge. It has ardently lobbied for dropping of even the interconnect charges to be able to price its products even lower. But it would hit the income of other networks for connecting Jio’s calls.

Tell me more: Trai will present its argument of rejecting interconnect charges as the minimum retail price to the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal this week.

 

213 megawatts

What is it? India’s net exported power in April-February, 2017, turning it into a net exporter for the first time since exports began the mid-80s.

Why is it important? Even as states like Bihar continue to reel from scarce power supply, India turns net exporter, after commissioning new power lines through parts of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Nepal. It exported 5,798 megawatts to Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar, and imported 5,585 megawatts from Bhutan.

Tell me more: India started exporting electricity in the mid-80s but remained a net importer so far. More cross-border linkages with higher voltage will raise the quantity.

 

4

What is it? The number of money bills, part the last GST-related statutes batch, passed by the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, during the ongoing budget session of the Parliament.

Why is it important? The seminal tax reform, Goods and Services Tax, could now see the light of day as early as July 1, across India. GST will create a uniform indirect tax structure and making the states and Centre equal stakeholders in it through the GST council. With the last four bills — central GST bill, the integrated GST bill, the Union Territory GST bill, and the GST (compensation to states) bill — passed by the lower house, the Rajya Sabha has 14 days to make recommendations only on the laws (money bills).

Tell me more: Between April and May, the GST council will have to categorise goods and services in the four taxation slabs for GST — 5%, 12%, 28% and 28%.

 

5

What is it? The number of amendments with which the finance bill was passed in Rajya Sabha.

Why is it important? The amendments included those relating to additional powers to income tax officials and political funding by companies. These moves by the government were not only criticised for giving too much power to tax officials and reducing transparency, they were also criticised for using Finance Bill to pass far reaching reforms. Rajya Sabha has limited power over Money Bill, it can suggest changes, but Lok Sabha need not accept them. BJP has a majority in Lok Sabha.

Tell me more: Three amendments were moved by Digvijaya Singh of Congress and the remaining two by Sitaram Yechury of CPI(M)

 

Rs 12,000 crore

What is it? The projected loss to automobile sector, including manufacturers and dealers, if the sale of BS-III (those complying to Bharat Stage 3 emission norms) vehicles are stopped from April.

Why is it important? Supreme court banned the sales of all the BS-III vehicles effective April, saying emissions from these vehicles impact the health. Manufacturers still have 8.24 vehicles that comply to BS-III norms, and junking them would result in the losses. However, the Supreme Court said the deadline was set 6 years ago, and the industry was given enough time to prepare for the transition. The vehicles in stock include 96,724 commercial vehicles, 6,71,308 two-wheelers, 40,048 three-wheelers and 16,198 cars. They are now rushing to clear these inventories now.

Tell me more: BS III corresponds to Euro III norms. BS IV – corresponding to Euro IV – is slated to be imposed from April 1st 2017, and BS VI, with even higher standards is expected to come into force by 2020.

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News in Numbers, Feb 20, 2017: The cost of a Tirupathi Laddu

Rs 2,500 crore

What is it? The estimated cost of re-verification of existing mobile subscribers through Aadhaar-based electronic know-your-customer process.

Why is it important? The attempt to weed out fake or forged identities used to secure telecom connections, especially wireless ones, will be a costly one. In January, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) proposed the e-KYC for Aadhaar-based ratification of users, and suggested incentives to help it.

Tell me more: In a letter to the Telecom Department, Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) estimates that not just the cost, but the process would also require resources to rope in about 1,000 million subscribers.

 

26

What is it? The number of army personnel that died in the first 50 days of 2017.

Why is it important? The unrest in Kashmir from summer last year continues this year, triggering more counter-insurgency measures that claimed six soldiers in 2017. The rest of the security forces were killed in avalanches in the valley, a result of global warming. These deadly 50 days follow a year with the highest death count of 82 among the J&K forces since 2008.

Tell me more: But the counter-insurgency operations led to the death of 22 militants, the highest since 2010.

 

-$1,020 million

What is it? The difference in income of terror group, Islamic State, between 2014 and 2016.

Why is it important? The effects of political moves against ISIS, such as Operation Tidal Wave II, reduction in cross-border smuggling in Turkish and Kurdish-controlled areas in Iraq etc. and military opposition to its expansion are starting to show. Unlike other terror groups, donors play a negligible part in ISIS’ finances. Its territories yield natural resources, and properties, businesses and people to pillage and tax, for its to extract revenue from. But a shrinking territorial grasp has hit its coffers too.

Tell me more: Its biggest source of money — looting, confiscations and fines — have declined from 52% of its income of $970-1,890 million in 2014 to 22% of its  $520-870 million income in 2016, according to a report by the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence .

 

Rs 140 crore

What is it? The annual loss to Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam, the trust that manages the famous Tirumala temple in Andhra Pradesh, on account of laddus, an offering made to the deity of the temple, and sold at subsidised rates or given away free to the pilgrims.

Why is it important?  It costs Rs 32.50 to make a laddu and it’s sold for Rs 25 for the pilgrims in general, at Rs 10 for those who opt for free entry into the temple, and for free to those who walk up the hill. About 70 lakh people reach the temple every year by foot. About 4 crore to 5 crore people visit the temple annually.

 

Tell me more: TTD earns over Rs 2000 every year, primarily from hundi collection.

 

~ 50%

What is it? The share of coal in total exports of North Korea to China.

Why is it important? China has banned coal imports from North Korea following the country’s claim that it has successfully tested ballistic missiles recently. China also accounts for over two thirds of North Korea’s exports. The move is expected to cause a shock to the struggling North Korean economy under Kim Jong-un and aimed to increase pressure on the country to stop its nuclear programme.

Tell me more: North Korea tested a medium long range ballistic missile on February 12, which landed in the Sea of Japan. China has been reducing trade with North Korea partly due to local economic compulsions and partly because of international pressure to impose trade sanctions on the country.

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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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