IITs and unicorns

Rs 21,000

What is it? The wage ceiling for mandatory Employees’ Provident Fund coverage that the central government is considering. It’s Rs 15,000 at present.

Why is it important?  The move will bring 6 million more employees under the mandatory social security plan which includes PG, pension and insurance, with each employee contributing 12% of salary monthly to the EPF. Those in the organised sector, earning upwards of the salary, can opt in voluntarily. The cost to the Union government would be an extra Rs 1,617 crore at Rs 5,659 crore a year. According to last reported numbers, the PF portion of the corpus was Rs 360,000 crore.

Tell me more: The EPFO had suggested a threshold increase to Rs 25,000 but it would have raised cost to government by Rs 2,708 crore.

 

Rs 6.24 crore

What is it? The total value of fake Indian currencies seized by various law enforcement forces after demonetisation and introduction of new notes in November, 2016.

Why is it important? Following reports of fake currencies flooding the market after demonetisation, some replicating crucial security features on the new Rs 2,000 notes, the government reassured they were still easily identifiable and furnished the seized numbers as proof. The volume of fake notes exceed thousands.

Tell me more: In a Rajya Sabha reply, the home ministry also assured demonetisation of the new currency notes was not on the cards.

 

500,000 tonne

What is it? The volume of raw sugar that was allowed to be imported duty-free.

Why is it important? This is over 3% of the sugar production in the October-February (full year: Oct-Sep) period of 2016-17 marketing year. Sugar cane supply hit by drought in the major producing states of Maharashtra and Karnataka has led to a fall of 19% compared to 2015-16, leading to the import.

Tell me more: The move will raise global sugar prices given India’s status as the second-largest sugar producer and an exporter till last season.

 

12

What is it? The number of unicorns founded by alumni of Indian Institutes of Technology, according to a report by UK software firm, Sage.

Why is it important? That ranks IITs fourth in the list, after Stanford (51 unicorns), Harvard (37) and University of California (18). For long, IITs were criticised for not producing enough entrepreneurs, but that has been changing in the last few years. According to one count, 60% of all startups that have Series A venture funding have founders from IIT/IIM. Set up as engineering training institutes, IITs have been expanding their scope over years, and now plan to offer MBBS courses as well, starting with IIT Kharagpur.

 

Tell me more: Massachusetts Institute of Technology & University of Pennsylvania which follow IITs in the list have lead to nine unicorns each. Unlike others in the list, IITs are a group of institutions, having over 60,000 students all campuses put together. Stanford has about 16,000 students, Harvard, 22000  and MIT 11,000.

 

$3.6 billion

What is it? The investment Indian Railways will need to achieve a solar energy target of 5GW by 2025, according to a study by Council on Energy, Environment and Water.

Why is it important? Railways is a big consumer of electricity, and its move to solar will help India in achieving its larger renewables energy target, besides helping with its INDC commitment of 40% non-fossil fuel installed power capacity. Railways uses close to 2.4% of the country’s total electricity consumption, and it’s growing at 5% a year.

Tell me more: The report estimates that 1.1GW of 5GW would come from rooftop and the rest from utility scale projects. Railways has an installed capacity of 16 MW of solar as of March 2017, and has is in the process of commissioning 255 MW of rooftop solar projects.

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News in Numbers, Mar 07, 2017: Landing in a small town ✈

Rs 4,500 crore

What is it? The amount the government plans to spend on developing or upgrading 50 airports which were either underserved or unserved.

Why is it important? The government is going ahead with its plans to equip small regional airports/airstrips to ferry traffic, even as only 13 out of 125 airports under the Airports Authority of India’s (AAI) are profitable. Besides the funding for developing the new airports, the authorities will also spend further on incentivising flight operators with gap-funding. Fifteen more regional airports have to be upgraded besides the 50, according to AAI’s Regional Connectivity Scheme (named UDAN).

Tell me more: Fifteen airports will be refurbished in FY18 and FY19, and 20 more in FY20.

 

2 paise

What is it? The rate for one megabyte (MB) of data over WiFi at local public hotspots, as proposed by Trai, the telecom regulator.

Why is it important? This would help increase the demand and setting up of local public hotspots. With one-sixth of the world’s population, India’s share in WiFi hotspots is less than one-thousandth. By reducing the price of wireless Internet access from the existing 10 paise an MB in mobile telecom services, Trai is looking provide 800,000 additional hotspots to equal the global average of one hotspot for every 150 people.

Tell me more: Trai’s proposed local hotspots could be maintained by small entities, from small businesses, communities, individuals, to application providers. Local players’ involvement would also reduce the load on strained spectrum of established mobile operators.

 

$2.3 billion

What is it? The value of the sale of General Motors’ Opel/Vauxhall unit and its European financial arm to Peugeot-maker PSA Group.

Why is it important? It shows one of the largest car manufacturers in the world is changing lanes from a widespread but unprofitable presence to a less-global, but profitable one. A few years ago, the top three — Volkswagen, Toyota and GM — would eye the world-leader crown every year with units of cars sold. Selling its Europe unit would increase the gap between GM and the other two, but it would also free it of an arm that has incurred losses since 1999.

Tell me more: The Opel/Vauxhall brand contributed 11% of GM’s total revenue in 2016. After bankruptcy in 2009, GM’s home market in North America has done well.

 

Rs 259.8 per hour

What is it? The median gross hourly salary of women in India in 2016, according to the Monster Salary Index.

Why is it important? That is about 25% less than what men earned at Rs 345.8 per hour. While the gap has come down marginally compared to a year before, it highlights the ground that needs to be covered before India has fair and non-discriminatory workplace.

Tell me more: The gender gap is just one of the many indicators of gender inequality in the country. Infant mortality rate for female is higher, the expected years of schooling is lower, unemployment rates are higher, access to finance in terms of loans and deposits are lower.

 

$2.46 billion

What is it? Value of investments in Indian startups by private equity and venture capital firms in 2016, according to Grant Thornton.

Why is it important? This is down by about half from $4.97 billion in 2015, and indicates that investors are more cautious about the expectations of growth in the market. It also reflects the valuation markdowns that unicorns such as Flipkart faced in the recent months.

Tell me more: Overall investments by PE and VC investors dropped in 2016, with $14 billion invested across in 971 deals in 2016, from $16 billion invested in 1,045 deals a year before.

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News in Numbers, Feb 23, 2017: Earth’s distant cousins 🌏

235

What is it? Total number of cases the Income Tax (IT) department registered till mid-February, since the Benami Transactions Act was enforced in November, 2016.

Why is it important? The IT department has picked up pace in booking people with unaccounted-for assets since the act’s enforcement. From 42 cases on January 31, cases registered in the following 15 days (193) jumped nearly five times. Section 24 of the acthas been invoked and as many as 124 cases have seen assets worth more than Rs 55 crore attached provisionally.

Tell me more: A total of 140 cases with questionable assets of Rs 200 crore have received show cause notices. The act applicable to both movable and immovable property allows the IT department to initiate criminal proceedings against those found depositing unaccounted old currency in someone else’s account, for example.

 

100%

What is it? The cut in salary of Snapdeal’s co-founders Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal, announced by Bahl on Wednesday.

Why is it important? The founders were not only the highest paid among senior executives in all the nine unicorns from India but were also the seventh-highest paid in the country in the 2015 fiscal. But the austerity might have come a bit late for Snapdeal, as 600 layoffs loom large in a simultaneous news.

Tell me more: Valued at $6.5 billion, Bansal admitted to mistakes down the road and said a major rejig will follow to gain profitability. In FY16, it had run up losses worth $14.93 million.

 

~45%

What is it? The estimated percentage of Indians who illegally immigrated to the US and would now be subject to enforcement of stringent deportation guidelines, issued this week.

Why is it important? Indians are among the highest legal as well illegal immigrants (with 500,000 unauthorised immigrants in 2014) in the US. With a new enforcement memo from US’ Department of Homeland Security to find, arrest and deport any illegal immigrant, irrespective of a criminal record, will turn up the heat on 11 million undocumented immigrants.

Tell me more: The memo asks for more jails to be built to detain immigrants. This would be to replace the practice of releasing undocumented immigrants with an order to re-appear for court hearings.

 

7

What is it? The number of Earth-sized planets discovered by astronomers near solar system.

Why is it important? One or more of them may be warm enough to have water on its surface, increasing the possibility of finding life outside solar system. The planets revolve around Trappist-1 a dwarf star, 40 light years away.

Tell me more: The planets around Trappist-1 were discovered by NASA and its partners around the world. The star is smaller (it’s as big as a golf ball, if the Sun is as big as a basketball), its planets are closer, and revolve around it faster. Its nearest planet takes 1.5 days to revolve around it, and the farthest, 20 days.

 

6.6%

What is it? The projected GDP growth rate of India in 2016-17, according to International Monetary Fund.

Why is it important? It is 1 percentage point lower than 7.6% growth India saw in 2015-16, and higher than some estimates by observers who saw demonetisation impacting the economy more severely. Ambit Capital, for example, expected it to slow down to 5.8%.

Tell me more: The Washington DC-based international body sees GDP growth rate picking up to over 8% in the next few years, post adoption of Goods and Services Tax. In 2017-18, it expects India’s GDP to grow by 7.2% driven by private consumption.

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News in Numbers, Jan 04, 2017: Unicorns’ babies…

700

What is it? The number of startups spawned by India’s 12 unicorns (with $1 billion plus valuations), according to startup and venture capital tracker Tracxn.

Why is it important? Indicates the kind of contribution such unicorns make towards the startup ecosystem – could be in terms of experience, exposure to the startup culture, financial security orsupport from the unicorn. However, just like any other startup, these also face trouble in terms of sustainability and scaling up and raising resources. For instance, less than one of every 10 startups are able to get funding from an institutional investor and less than 3% are able to get Series B stage funding, according to Abhishek Goyal, co-founder of Tracxn.

Tell me more: This is similar to the host of entrepreneurs created by Infosys and Wipro, whose ex-employees have gone on to set up 867 and 685 companies so far.

 

Rs 23,528.73 crore

What is it? The amount the government has raised via disinvestment in the first eight months of 2016-17.

Why is it important? This is 41.6% of the disinvestment target of Rs 56,500 crore set for 2016-17, better than the previous fiscal’s 36.4%. To accelerate disinvestment process, the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management has replaced annual plans with rolling ones, fast tracked approval process and reserved 20% of shares on public sector units’ offer for sale (OFS) transactions for retail investors.

Tell me more: The government has focussed more on share buybacks(cash-rich public sector units buying the government’s stake in companies) this year rather than raise money from the equity market through the OFS route. Of the total amount raised through this route until November, about 91% (or Rs 21,432.38 crore) has been through minority stake sale in 14 central public sector enterprises and the rest (Rs 2,096.35 crore) through strategic disinvestment.

 

12 nautical miles

What is it? The offshore distance up to which some coastal states wants to levy goods and services tax.

Why is it important? The demand by states such as Kerala, Karnataka and West Bengal could delay GST rollout. Besides, some states also asked for increasing the number of items on which cess would be levied to compensate for the loss in revenues (after the rollout of GST) by up to 40% due to demonetisation. The government was initially aiming for an April 1 rollout but it may reportedly be done by June or July 1, within the mandatory deadline of September.

Tell me more: The earlier proposal was a Rs 55,000 crore GST compensation fund in the first year by levying cess on luxury items and demerit or sin goods over and above the highest tax slab of 28% but now, states expect this to go up to Rs 90,000 crore.

 

Rs 3,500 crore

What is it? The estimated annual fiscal impact of the measures announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the New Year’s eve, according to a report by the State Bank of India research team.

Why is it important? The report has termed this cost to the Indian economy as “minimal” given the “social and economic benefits” of the schemes announced. It has suggested a tweak to the scheme announced for senior citizens: to decrease the lock-in period to five years from 10 and that the maximum deposit limit should be Rs 15 lakh instead of the proposed Rs 7.5 lakh. Under the scheme, senior citizens are to receive a fixed interest rate of 8% for 10 years on deposits up to Rs 7.5 lakh where the interest can be paid monthly.

Tell me more: The Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (a housing scheme) is available for those belonging to the Economically Weaker Section (households with annual income up to Rs 3 lakh) and Low Income Group (households with annual income between Rs 3 lakh and Rs 6 lakh). As a rule of thumb, a person with annual income of Rs 6 lakh is eligible for a housing loan of Rs 24 lakh and if this is the case, then the revised scheme announced recently could be a “game changer” as nearly two-thirds of housing loans of 26 public sector banks are in the category of less than Rs 25 lakh.

 

88 million

What is it? The number of cows and buffaloes that would get a 12-digit unique identification number this year.

Why is it important? The idea is to tag and track cattle in order to vaccinate them regularly and to use scientific interventions for better breeding and improve milk production. The government has earmarked Rs 148 crore for the procurement of tags, tag applicators, health cards and tablets. In 2014-15 and 2015-16, milk production has increased by around 6.2-6.3% on a year-on-year basis. India ranks number one in milk production, accounting for nearly a fifth (18.5%) of the global production.

Tell me more: About a lakh technicians with 50,000 tablets have set out this year to affix a tamper-proof polyurethane tag inside the ears of the cattle. After assigning the tag, the technician would enter the number in an online database and provide an animal health card to the cattle owner, which would contain the unique identification number, details of the owner, breeding details, status of deworming and vaccinations.

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