News in Numbers, Jan 19, 2017: Regional routes take flight

45

 

What is it? Number of initial proposals for operating flights with fares capped at Rs 2,500 for an hour under the Airports Authority of India’s Regional Connectivity Scheme (named UDAN)

Why is it important? The bidders propose to operate from 65 airports, out of which 52 are not served by any airlines, boosting regional air connectivity. But operating on the 200 regional routeswould also mean low pre-mandated airfares, for example, a fare of Rs 2,500 for an hour’s journey of 500-km. Central and state governments will then help operators with viability gap funding, partly funded bythe Rs 8,500-levy on each departing flight on major routes.

Tell me more: The initial quotes are subject to counter quotes, with the lowest requirement for VGF winning the bid. Groundwork by the Ministry of Civil Aviation with AAI, State Governments, DGCA and Bureau of Civil Aviation Security have begun.

 

Rs 9.2 trillion

 

What is it? The value of new currency notes injected by the Reserve Bank of India to replace old banned notes.
Why is it important? Despite RBI pumping in nearly 60% of the amount removed (Rs 15.44 trillion) from circulation following demonetisation, there is no sight of the end to cash-withdrawal restrictions. RBI governor, Urjit Patel, facing a parliamentary panel on finance, did not elaborate on either the easing of the cash crunch or the amount of banned notes deposited.

Tell me more: Patel assured the panel that RBI would provide details of deposits of banned notes on a later date.

 

47.8%

 

What is it? The percentage of rural school students in class 5 who are able to read a book prescribed for class 2 learning.

Why is it important? The learning level in schools in rural India remains dismal as less than half of class 5 students can read books meant for three standards lower (class 2). The proportion has deteriorated from 2014’s 48% and 2010’s 53.7% of students, despite 97% enrollment in schools.

Tell me more: Class 5 students in private rural schools fared better with 62.9% of them above to read class 2 books, while only 41.6% from government schools made the cut in 2016. The findings are from the 11th Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), conducted in 589 districts, and previously published in 2014.

 

0.94 degree-Celsius

 

What is it? The above-normal deviation in average land and ocean temperature in the whole of 2016.

Why is it important? It establishes 2016 as the hottest year so far, a dire reminder of climate change that is plaguing the planet. Temperatures spiked to new national highs in India, Kuwait and Iran and Arctic ice melted faster than ever as a result of the global warming.

Tell me more: The year broke the record for the hottest ever, third year in a row since records were kept from 1880.

 

7.05 million

 

What is it? Netflix’s net subscriber addition in the fourth quarter of 2016 (ended December 31).

Why is it important? The robust growth in subscribers signal Netflix’s ambitious global expansion is bearing fruit, as Internet TV catches on. Nearly 73% (5.12 million) of the additions came from markets outside the US. Netflix which made a big-bang launch in 130 countries simultaneously in January, 2016, saw its shares rise up by 8 per cent after its results.

Tell me more: Competition is snapping at Netflix’s heels as Amazon.com unveils its Amazon Prime Video service worldwide.

Read More

News in Numbers, Oct 5, 2016: Children in extreme poverty…

25 basis points

What is it? The reduction in repo rate, the rate at which the central bank lends to the banks, by Reserve Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee. It is 6.25% now from 6.5% earlier.

Why is it important? This is the lowest since November 2010 and has been done based on the scenario that inflation would ease in the coming months. The daily prices of pulses and vegetables reported by various markets in the country are indicative of this trend. This signals a shift in the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) stance, which looks to support growth as inflation promises to be moderate due to a normal monsoon and government measures. It remains to be seen if this results in meaningful transmission by the banks to the borrowers.

Tell me more: This is the first policy review presided by governor Urjit Patel, who was appointed a month ago. This was also the first time the newly constituted, six-member monetary policy committee decided on interest rates – all six members voted in favour of a rate cut.

 

16,600

What is it? The number of flights domestic carriers will operate per week in the winter schedule effective October 30.

Why is it important? This is an increase of 20.8% over those operated in the winter schedule of 2015 (13,744), which is likely due to domestic air traffic’s double-digit growth. It has been growing at 10% annually for the last two years while in August, it grew at 24% compared to a year ago. However, despite the government’s push for regional connectivity, airlines plan to operate flights to 75 destinations this winter compared to 81 in the same period last year.

Tell me more: Indigo (InterGlobe Aviation) would see the highest jump in domestic flights (42%) this winter while the comparative figures for Air India and Jet Airways are 7.48% and 1.76% respectively.

 

385 million

What is it? The estimated number of children living in extreme poverty globally in 2013, according to a report. Extreme poverty is defined as welfare less than $1.9 per day per person.

Why is it important? This report indicates that children are twice as likely as adults to live in extreme poverty. Children in the two age groups – 0-4 years and 5-9 years – each accounted for 15.9% and 15.4% (respectively) of those living in extreme poverty (adults included). Though children made up for a third of the sample population, over half of them were affected by extreme poverty.

Tell me more: Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest share of children living in extreme poverty (over 50%) followed by South Asia (36%), with over 30% extremely poor children living in India alone. The report by the World Bank Group and Unicef has arrived at these estimates based on data from 89 countries, which represent over 84% of the developing world’s population.

 

Rs 60,969 crore

What is it? The total value of bids for telecom spectrum at the end of the third day of auctions.

Why is it important? This is only a third of the amount the government hoped to raise in this auction, and indicates that telecom players consider the reserve price to be too high. No one has bid for the premium 700-MHz band – worth Rs 4 lakh crore at base price –  so far. The auctions are expected to end this week.

Tell me more: The government was hoping to raise at least Rs 5.6 trillion through this auction, but at the current rate, might end up with even less than Rs 1.1 trillion it raised in 2015.

 

27.5%

What is it? The percentage of men in Rajasthan who got married before they reached 21 years of age, according to a survey for the year 2012-13. Among women in the state, the under age marriage percentage is lower at 14.3%

Why is it important? This higher percentage of under-age marriages among men could be an indicator that the age difference between husband and wife is coming down. (The legal marriageable age for women is 18). The survey covered nine states, among which Rajasthan emerged as the one with highest percentage of early marriages. Uttarakhand, the lowest.

Tell me more: In 2008, a panel recommended making the lower age limit for marriage (18) the same for both men and women.

 

Read More

News in Numbers, Oct 4, 2016: Firing and shelling from across the border…

52.1

What is it? India’s Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) in September, a composite indicator of India’s manufacturing activity based on a survey by Markit, a financial information and services company.

Why is it important? Though it expanded for the ninth straight month due to increase in new orders and purchasing activity, the rate has slowed down from 52.6 in August (which was at a 20-month high). This was due to inflationary pressures, though this is still lower than historical standards and that the central bank may cut interest rates in 2016. The next monetary policy review is today.

Tell me more: Companies saw new export orders expand at the fastest pace in 14 months.

 

4

What is it? The number of times Pakistani troops violated ceasefire on Monday, targeting Indian Army posts and civilian areas along the Line of Control (LoC).

Why is it important? Five civilians have been injured leaving several shops ablaze. The Indian Army retaliated and said that a Pakistani post Twiven1 was destroyed. There have been 10 ceasefire violations since the surgical strikes by India on the night of September 28/early morning the next day. As many as 405 cross-border firing incidents by Pakistan have been recorded last year where 17 civilians lost their lives, leaving 71 injured.

Tell me more: On Sunday night, fidayeen (belonging to a suicide squad) militants launched an attack on a 46 Rashtriya Rifles army camp in Baramulla. Though it was foiled, two Border Security Forces troopers were injured, one of whom died later.

 

178

What is it? The number of runs by which India defeated New Zealand in the second test match on Monday at Eden Gardens, Kolkata.

Why is it important? With this, India has reclaimed the top position in the ICC Test Rankings from Pakistan. This is irrespective of how India performs at the third and final test match to be held in Indore starting October 8. India was behind Pakistan by a single pointand needed to win the series to get to number one position. This would be the fourth time that India would reclaim the top position since the current rankings system was introduced in 2003.

Tell me more: After India and Pakistan, Australia, England and South Africa round up the top five ranks. India has been ranked number one between November 2009 and August 2011, January-February 2016 and in August 2016.

 

6

What is it? The number of Japanese Nobel prize winners in medicine.

Why is it important? The latest to win the Nobel is Tokyo Institute of Technology biologist Yoshinori Ohsumi. He won the 2016 prize for his work on the mechanics behind autophagy, a basic cellular function in which cells break down parts of themselves for reuse. Ohsumi showed this process helps also helps in fighting off infections with bacteria and viruses, and in generating energy under stressful situations.

Tell me more: Ohsumi is the 23rd Nobel Laureate to be born in Japan. This is the third consecutive medicine Nobel win for Japan.

 

377

What is it? The rise in Sensex, India’s benchmark equity index, on Monday a day ahead of monetary policy announcement by the new Reserve Bank governor and monetary policy committee.

Why is it important? The 1.35% rise in Monday is seen as a reflection of market expectation that the interest rate will be cut down. Equities tend to go up when interest rates go down. It remains to be seen if Urjit Patel takes a hawkish stance against inflation like his predecessor Raghuram Rajan and keep it steady to tame inflation, or if he (and the committee members) would go with the demand of the industry and politicians and cut the rate.

Tell me more: The easing of tension between India and Pakistan could also have helped in the market move on Monday. Sensex dropped by over 450 points last Thursday on the news that India carried out surgical strikes on terrorist launch pads across the line of control.

Read More