Mission: Eliminate Tuberculosis



What is it? The number of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel killed after Maoists blew up their mine-protected vehicle at Sukma in Chhattisgarh on Tuesday.

Why is it important? This is reportedly a revenge attack after a joint operation by the police of Telangana and Chhattisgarh resulted in the deaths of 10 suspected Maoists on March 2. Over 1,900 security personnel have been killed in Maoist violence between 2005 and 2018 (up to March 11).

Tell me more: In March and April last year, Maoists had killed 12 and 25 CRPF men in ambush attacks, which are counted among the biggest in the last few years.



What is it? The number of leaders of opposition parties that UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi had invited for dinner at her residence on Tuesday.

Why is it important? This comes at a time when Congress has been losing a string of elections, the latest being in the northeast region (Tripura, Meghalaya and Nagaland). The meet is likely to be an attempt at stitching an alliance to defeat the NDA (National Democratic Alliance) led by BJP, which now covers 71% of India’s population in 20 states, in the 2019 General Elections.

Tell me more: Those who have not been invited include the Telangana Rashtra Samithi, Biju Janata Dal and Telugu Desam Party, which pulled out its ministers in the central government but continues to be part of the NDA alliance.



What is it? The percent by which the Indian government has cut Monsanto’s royalties on Tuesday.

Why is it important? This could trigger another row similar to the one in 2016 when the government had cut royalties that local firms pay Monsanto for its genetically (Bt) modified seeds by 70% and the latter had threatened to quit India. Monsanto says its royalties currently account for less than 0.5% of the cultivation cost, which would be further reduced due to the latest order.

Tell me more: The government also reduced the prices of GM cotton seeds by 7.5% to Rs 740 for a packet of 450 gms to help farmers whose crops have been affected by pest infestations.


Rs5,000 crore

What is it? The amount of pension liabilities under-reported by the Indian Railways during 2016-17.

Why is it important? This artificially boosted the operating ratio – the percentage of working expenses to traffic earnings – to 96.5%, as compared to 99.54%. Had the true amount of pension liabilities were accounted, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India – the national auditor- said the pension fund would show a negative balance, with no surplus available to service debt fund.

Tell me more: Operating ratio is an indicator of operational efficiency. A lower ratio is needed to generate surplus to buy new assets or have adequate funds for safety operations. At 99.5%, the operating ratio is the lowest since 2000-01.



What is it? The year by which India is planning to eliminate Tuberculosis (TB), five years ahead of the global target.

Why is it important? India has the highest number of TB infection and TB death rates. 28 million new cases were detected in 2016, with 400,000 deaths arising out of TB infection. The number of TB deaths is 2.6 times the number of people killed from road accidents. Advancing of target would save that many lives each year.

Tell me more: The World Health Organisation’s ‘End TB Strategy’ aims to reduce TB deaths and new cases by 80% and 90% respectively by 2030. TB is one of the top 10 causes of deaths, and 1.7 million people died worldwide in 2016.


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News in Numbers, Mar 24, 2017: Be afraid. Do something. 🏥

$6.5 billion

What is it? Snapdeal’s last known valuation, done in 2016.

Why is it important? The valuation, at which the e-commerce company raised $200 million funding in February, 2016, is likely to take a hit. Since then, it has been dogged by failed funding search and sale, as its sales trail its main competitors in India. A report two days back, later refuted by the company, put tentative sale price at $1.5-1.8 billion, almost at a third. Another report yesterday said Snapdeal was unable to rope in investors such as Alibaba Group and existing investor Softbank for fresh funding.

Tell me more: Snapdeal’s made a loss of Rs 29.6 billion rupees in FY16.


~Rs 1,600 crore

What is it? The estimated price Bharti Airtel will pay for Tikona Digital Networks Pvt. Ltd’s 4G network.

Why is it important? The deal, giving Bharti Airtel access to Tikona’s broadband wireless spectrum and 350 cellular sites in five circles, will expand the former’s reach, particularly in cities where it lacks strong presence in 4G services. It has already lined up high-speed 4G services for these circles, even as it locks horns with Reliance Jio.

Tell me more: The overall deal value might be a little more at Rs 1,700 crore s Bharti Airtel as to take on debt on Tikona’s books. Recently, Airtel also announced acquisition of Norway’s Telenor’s India operations, with 44 million subscribers.


13 degrees

What is it? The rise in the Celsius scale in Delhi in the span of 10 days.

Why is it important? In line with warnings of extreme climate and unpredictable weather changes due to global warming, spring bid adieu to the capital city quicker than usual. Thursday’s temperature of 37.4 degree-C was seven degrees above normal and the highest in March since 2010.

Tell me more: The heat onset is despite the recent spate of rain and snow in the hills. The capital is now buffeted by hot summer’s wind patterns, says Ravinder Vishen, head of IMD’s Regional Weather Forecasting Centre.


$70 million

What is it? The amount raised by Soundcloud, a music streaming firm based in Berlin.

Why is it important? It came in form of debt, while most tech startups tend to go for equity. There is an intense debate on which form of capital is better for a high growth company (Soundcloud said it wants to grow 2.5 times in 2017). Debt could be useful for a company if it believes it is not getting a fair valuation from equity investors, but there are risks, as one of the early backers of Soundcloud argued in a post recently.

Tell me more: Soundcloud, which faces increasing competition from Apple Music, Pandora and Spotify, tried to raise $100 million in equity recently, but didn’t succeed.



What is it? India’s share in global tuberculosis cases, according to a new study by  Centre for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy

Why is it important? India has the most number of TB cases in the world. Indian government’s ability to counter the crisis has come into question. An added level of danger and complexity is the growing number of multi-drug resistant TB cases. In Mumbai such cases grew by 21% in 2015-16.

Tell me more: Multi-drug resistant TB tends to be fatal, with 40% of the patients succumbing to the disease. India lacks tools that can detect such cases.

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News in Numbers, Oct 14, 2016: The Times They Are a-Changin’…

Bob Dylan winning the Nobel Prize for Literature got mixed reactions: some totally excited, some surprised while others critical. One of the numbers in today’s edition is interesting as it indicates the kind of influence he wielded through his songs. To those questioning the decision to award him this honour, ‘How many songs must he sing for you before you call him worthy of this?’ ‘The answer my friend is blowin’ in the wind’!

Just kiddin’!

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What is it? The number of references to American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan’s lyrics in medical papers, according to a study.

Why is it important? It is an indicator of his influence. His songs not only reflected American culture but also helped shape it. According to a 2012 study, Dylan has been cited the most by judges at all levels in the country’s judicial system. He is the first singer-songwriter to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. Some have questioned the decision.

Tell me more: Some of his songs include: “Blowing’ in the Wind”, “Subterranean Homesick Blues”, “Like a Rolling Stone” and “The Times They Are a-Changin’”.


What is it? Retail inflation rate in September, down from 5.05% in August.

Why is it important? This is the lowest in 13 months. This is due to a sharp fall in food prices (vegetables, fruits and pulses) – food inflation fell to 3.88% in September from 5.91% in the previous month. With strong crop sowing due to good rains, food prices are expected to be moderate in the coming months and it remains to be seen if this prompts the apex bank’s recently constituted monetary policy committee to go for another rate cut this financial year.

Tell me more: The committee cut repo rate (the rate at which the central bank lends to other banks) by 25 basis points (one-hundredth of a percentage point) to 6.25% earlier this month.


$1.05 billion

What is it? The investment into venture-backed capital companies in India in the July-September quarter this year, according to a report.

Why is it important? This is 69% lower than the investments recorded in the same period a year ago – $3.41 billion across 156 deals. However, the investments in the September quarter were nearly double than those in the previous quarter ($584 million). Though investments have declined compared to a year ago, investors have focused on companies with “clear business models” and “greater profitability potential”, according to the report.

Tell me more: Globally, venture-backed capital companies raised$24.1 billion across 1,983 deals, which was at a two-year low, as per the report by KPMG International and CB Insights. Compared to 25 companies that were valued at a billion dollars (popularly known as unicorns) between July and September 2015, just eight companies touched or crossed that level in the last quarter.


Rs 19,379.1 crore

What is it? The amount 21 companies have raised via initial public offerings (IPOs) in the January-September period of this year.

Why is it important? This is the highest amount raised during this period since 2007 when companies raised Rs 28,993.65 crore across 81 IPOs. The positive sentiment seems to be a result of a good monsoon after two years of successive drought, slowing inflation rates, expected boost to consumption demand due to pay and pension hikesto former and current government employees and the possibility of a faster economic growth than the 7.6% (which was at a 5-year high) recorded in the previous financial year.

Tell me more: The amount raised in the first nine months of 2016 is about triple the amount (Rs 6,346.01 crore) raised by 15 companies in 2015 and nearly 23 times that raised (Rs 850.51 crore) by four companies in 2014.


2.8 million

What is it? The number of new tuberculosis (TB) patients in India in 2015, higher than 2.2 million in 2014, according to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Why is it important? This is higher than any other country and accounts for over a fourth of the global estimates. The WHO increased India’s estimates from 1.7 million and 1.6 million new and relapse cases in 2015 and 2014 respectively. The change in estimates reflect the difficulty in getting accurate numbers. India is planning to conduct a prevalence study over the next three years to get a better picture. It is looking to provide free medicines and diagnostic tools to patients under private medical care just as it does for patients getting assistance from government-run programmes.

Tell me more: India’s estimates, which have been revised, have impacted the global figures: there were estimated 10.4 million new TB patients in 2015. The low estimates in India seems to be due to underreporting of cases in the private sector. The disease, which has been curable for decades, claimed the lives of an estimated 1.4 millionin 2015.

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News in Numbers, Aug 29, 2016: Under-reporting of TB cases, ISRO’s scramjet engine test…

22 lakh

What is it? The number of patients that sought treatment from private doctors for tuberculosis in 2014, according to a study. Reporting TB cases by private doctors to the government is mandatory.

Why is it important? This indicates under-reporting by private doctors to the government about the number of TB cases. Private doctors reported just over a lakh of TB cases to the government in 2014. The patients who sought private care spent Rs 395 crore on drugs alone whereas the government offers free treatment in state-run hospitals.

Tell me more: The study was published in Lancet Infectious Diseases Journal. The government’s National Strategic Plan (201-17) aims for a TB-free India. Its had targeted to include early detection and diagnosis of at least 90% of the estimated TB cases by 2015. In addition, it had also aimed to extend the state-run Revised National TB Control Program to those diagnosed and treated in the private sector.



What is it? The number of scramjet engines that were tested at the launch of ISRO’s Advanced Technology Vehicle from Sriharikota on Sunday.

Why is it important? The technology used in this launch could bring down launch costs by up to 10-fold. Generally, rockets carry both fuel and oxidiser for combustion but in this case, the scramjet engines used oxygen from the atmosphere for combustion, which decreases their weight and increases their efficiency. India is the fourth countryto demonstrate the scramjet engines’ flight.

Tell me more: In addition to another current project that focuses ondevelopment of a reusable launch vehicle, this would help position ISRO as one of low-cost space transportation and exploration service providers.



What is it? The percentage of police officers in India that face mild to severe fatigue due to occupational hazards, according to a study.

Why is it important? This leads to poor concentration and judgment, reduced vigilance, eye-hand coordination and visual perception, impaired recollection of events and slow reaction times. The alarming percentage suggests that this could be one of the main but often-ignored reasons for the inefficient law enforcement system in the country. India ranked 59 among 102 countries on the World Justice Project Rule of Law Index 2015. In terms of order and security(includes threats such as conventional crime, political violence, violence used as a means to redress personal grievances), it ranks 90 in the list.

Tell me more: The reasons for a majority of the police officers experiencing fatigue include irregular working hours, lack of proper sleep, inadequate or untimely food, inability to meet family members even after work hours, alcohol use, smoking and the non-availability of basic facilities (even bathing), according to the study sponsored by theBureau of Police Research and Development.


Rs 30 crore

What is it? The amount the Sports Ministry spent on athletes in the last eight months before the Rio Olympics.

Why is it important? This was a classic case of too little, too late. Sports training requires vigorous and long years of training. The ministry launched the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) only in February 2015. Besides, there needs to be a better mechanism to spot talent: of the 109 athletes supported by the ministry, less than a third (27.5%) qualified for Rio Olympics while over two-thirds of those funded under TOPS qualified them to compete in the Games.

Tell me more: India spends Rs 3,200 crore on youth affairs and sports (according to an analysis of sports budgets of six large states), a third of what the UK spends annually on sports training and infrastructure (Rs 9,000 crore).



What is it? Japan’s Alzheimer’s disease rate in 2008, up from 1% in 1985 due to the country moving from its traditional to the Western diet, according to a study.

Why is it important? The study, published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, says that consumption of traditional foods of countries such as Japan, India and Nigeria lowers the risk of the disease when compared to consumption of a Western diet, which has higher meat content, sweets and high-fat dairy items. Globally, there are 47 million people who have dementia, of which there are 4.1 million people in India, according to a 2015 report.

Tell me more: Consumption of fish, vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, low-fat dairy products are linked to reduced risks of this disease.

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