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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News in numbers, Apr 25, 2016: Mixed signs of economic recovery, judge-population ratio…

13.8%

What is it? The year-on-year net profit growth of 60 companies in the January-March 2016.

Why is it important? This is the lowest in four quarters, though it is better than the 10.6% growth a year ago. The analysis of companies that have declared their fourth quarter results so far indicates mixed signs of economic recovery. The net profit growth numbers disappointed observers, but the combined revenue growth at 0.6% the highest in seven quarters provided some cheer.

Tell me more: A better picture would emerge after key manufacturing and infrastructure companies declare their results. This sample of companies analysed includes some of the biggest companies in India – Reliance Industries, Infosys, HDFC Bank, Wipro – which account for a majority of the combined net profit and revenues in the three months to March 2016.

15

What is it? The number of judges for every 10 lakh population in India.

Why is it important? Lack of judges is one of the main factors for India’s slow justice system. It has serious economic costs too. A survey by Bengaluru-based NGO Daksh estimated that the loss of wages and business for litigants attending lower court hearings, in addition to legal fees and other costs works out to be over Rs 80,000 crore a year, 0.7% of India’s GDP in 2015-16.

Tell me more: The Supreme Court has six vacancies while as of February 29, the High Courts had 464 vacancies of judges. This has resulted in high pendency of cases – as of February 19, 59,468 cases were pending before the apex court; around 45 lakh cases pending before all 24 high courts and 2.75 crore cases before the trial courts as reported in early January.

750

What is it? The number of complaints against private universities received by the Indian government and University Grants Commission (UGC) in the last three years.

Why is it important? The government and UGC have stepped up their scrutiny of private universities, which are loosely regulated and enjoy a great amount of freedom in their operations. The challenge for India is to improve the quality of higher education even as it aims to increase gross enrolment ratio to 30% by 2020 from 23.6% in 2014-15.

Tell me more: The complaints – including on fake degrees and irregularities in finance – have seen a threefold increase in the last couple of years.

~ $1 billion

What is it? The value of offshore loans, which SSG Capital Management, a Hong Kong-based distressed-asset investor, is reportedly interested in buying from Standard Chartered’s India portfolio. It’s the only firm that has shown interest so far.

Why is it important? Indicates tepid response to the sale of distressed assets in India as banks scramble to clean their balance sheets before the March 2017 deadline set by the central bank.

Tell me more: Standard Chartered’s sale of India loans was reported about a fortnight ago. The Hong Kong-based firm is also seeking a 30% discount on the value of the assets.

2

What is it? The number of people killed in a gun battle between two rival groups at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) during the weekend.

Why is it important? AMU is ranked among the top 10 universities in India, and it comes on the back of unrest at Jawharlal Nehru University and Hyderabad University. The AMU incident was said to be due to groupism, which also resulted in the destruction of 28,000 students records in fire.

Tell me more: Reports say that trouble began when a hostel student was assaulted and an attempt was made to set his room afire. Following the student’s complaint to the proctor against this, a rival gang arrived with weapons and both the groups resorted to firing at each other.

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An agenda for Smriti Irani: Five issues that need immediate attention

This piece originally appeared on Livemint.com

 

In the backdrop of a scathing critique of her performance and style of functioning by University Grants Commission (UGC) member M.M. Ansari, minister of human resource development Smriti Irani has promised that the government will consult a wide cross-section of society when it begins work on a new education policy next year. Here are five pressing issues in the Indian education system the government needs to tackle.

Stem the school dropout rate

More children are joining school, but are dropping out at every stage. Just 20.8% of boys and 17.9% of girls go on to pursue higher education. This figure is lower for children belonging to scheduled castes (13.5%) and even lower for those from scheduled tribes (11.2%).

 

smriti-irani-1

 

Lift teaching standards

Many schoolchildren are lagging behind in basic reading and arithmetic, their education compromised by the lack of good teachers, paucity of funds and inadequate infrastructure. Several metrics that measure the quality of education are dropping further. For instance, the percentage of Class III children in government schools who can subtract has fallen from 33% in 2010 to 19% in 2013.

 

smriti-irani-3

 

Level the gender gap

The gap between the literacy rates of males and females is still high. That difference was 18.3 percentage points in 1951 and rose to 26.6 percentage points in 1981. In 2011, it was 16.3 percentage points—a marginal improvement on 1951.

 

smriti-irani-2

 

Draw more students into higher education

As shown by gross enrolment figures earlier, only about 20% of youth pursue higher education. The drop from graduate to postgraduate is also steep: only 13.8% of those taking up some form of undergraduate course study further.

 

smriti-irani-4

 

Make them more employable

A trained labour force is a prerequisite for India to achieve higher growth rates and also to generate higher incomes for workers. But colleges churn out unemployable candidates, making hiring an expensive process (due to increase in training costs) for companies, who also have to deal with a paucity of talent.

 

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