News in Numbers, Nov 15, 2016: In pursuit of black money abroad…


What is it? The number of Indians under scrutiny as part of the Panama Papers investigation. The Panama Papers is a global investigation into alleged flouting of rules (to facilitate tax evasion, arms deals, bribery, financial fraud and drug trafficking) by the setting up of offshore entities.

Why is it important? This investigation, which is probing Indians named in the leaked files, is one of the largest offshore inquiries initiated in the country. The Foreign Tax and Tax Research division of the Finance Ministry has sent 198 references to 13 jurisdictions seeking financial and investment details of Indians who have incorporated offshore entities in their territories. The number of references sent by the division has more than doubled since July (when 91 references had been sent) while the number of Indians under the scanner has also increased from 297 in July to 415 now.

Tell me more: Of the 415 Indians, members of a multi-agency taskforce led by the Central Board of Direct Taxes are probing 71 non-resident Indians, 184 have admitted that they have incorporated the offshore entities provided in the lists and 70 are said to be “untraceable”. The Income Tax (Investigation) wing has carried out searches at the premises of nine people and surveys in the case of 14 individuals.



What is it? The margin by which global temperatures for January to September 2016 were above pre-industrial levels, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

Why is it important? The United Nations’ agency in its provisional statement on the status of the global climate has said that 2016 is “very likely” to be the hottest year on record and also, the third straight year to set a new high. This is because temperatures increased in the first few months of the year due to El Niño (occasional warming of waters in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean) though the biggest factor is the greenhouse gas emissions from human activities.

Tell me more: At least half of the extreme weather events in the recent years have been due to human-induced global warming. Extreme weather and climate-related events impacted farming and food security in 2015/16, which affected 60 million people globally.



What is it? The number of Indian students studying in the US in 2015-16, according to a report.

Why is it important? This is the highest ever number of Indian students in the US, 25% higher than the previous year’s figure. India was the second-leading country of origin among international students after China, which sent almost twice the number of students as India. The number of international students in US colleges and universities surpassed the million-mark for the first time during the academic year of 2015-16. However, there are fears that President-elect Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant stance may result in stricter visa and immigration rules, making it difficult for international students to pursue their higher education and find jobs in the US.

Tell me more: China, India and Saudi Arabia together accounted for over half (53%) of the international students in the US last year. Nearly three-fourths of the international students received a majority of their funding support from outside of the US, mainly from family and personal sources as well as their home country governments or universities.


1 hectare

What is it? The maximum forest land that can be diverted for community toilets (in each case) under the Swachh Bharat Mission, as per a general approval by the central government.

Why is it important? This has been in response to Maharashtra government’s request to allow them to construct community toilets on forest land under the programme, which has set a target of India achieving the open defecation free status by 2019 and building toilets is an important component in this. Under the approval, government agencies need not wait for permission for the use of forest land for building toilets though this is subject to approval from gram panchayats in rural areas and local bodies in urban areas. Construction of community toilets would not alter the current legal status of the land.

Tell me more: The Divisional Forest Officer would check the requirements of the forest land for this project and will also certify it. The general approval is conditional, which includes not cutting more than 50 trees per hectare, user agency has to plant and maintain twice the number of trees felled and only indigenous tree species should be planted.


Rs 21,870 crore

What is it? The amount sought from the government by the directors of the seven older Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) to improve the institutes’ global rankings.

Why is it important? The estimated amount to be invested over five years is to improve their research output and international outlook besides strengthening faculty and infrastructure. About three months ago, the IIT Council approved Project Vishwajeet, which is aimed at improving the seven IITs positions in global rankings by a number of measures including boosting international faculty strength, have a better faculty-student ratio, increasing share of international students and allowing off-campus PhD students.

Tell me more: Despite having one of the world’s toughest entrance examinations and having churned out some of the best minds across various industries globally, IITs have lagged behind in global rankings. For instance, in the recently introduced QS World University Rankings 2016-17, none of the IITs figure in the top 150 and the highest slot occupied by any IIT was at 185.

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News in Numbers, July 8, 2016: Demand notices to 6 telecom firms, sale of bad loans in 2015-16…

Rs 12,488.93 crore

What is it? The amount in demand notices likely to be issued by the Department of Telecommunications to six telecom operators for having under-reported their adjusted gross revenues of Rs 46,045.75 crore between 2006-07 and 2009-10. This was pointed out by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) in March.

Why is it important? The telecom industry is already reeling under debts of Rs 4 lakh crore (as of March 31) and the notices come ahead of the expensive spectrum auction scheduled for mid-July. The demand from DoT is unlikely to be resolved soon. The telecom companies had contested this earlier saying the definition of adjusted gross revenue for calculating license fee is under litigation in various courts, which calls for clearer rules and policies.

Tell me more: The CAG had pointed out various instances of under-reporting of revenue, which the telcos had contested and said those issues have either been settled or stayed by various courts.



What is it? The percentage of Indian banks’ bad loans that were sold to asset reconstruction companies (ARCs) in 2015-16, according to a report. An ARC buys bad loans from banks, explores ways of making the asset attractive and then sells it.

Why is it important? Highlights the need for more tools for bad loans recovery. The percentage of non performing assets (NPAs) sold to ARCs decreased from 5% in 2014-15 to 2% in 2015-16 even as the NPAs pile up. Banks put up bad loans worth Rs 1.3 lakh crore for sale in 2015-16, of which only Rs 20,000 crore got sold.

Tell me more: Gross NPA increased from 4.6% of total advances in 2014-15 to 7.6% in 2015-16 (highest in 12 years) and could rise to 8.5% by March 2017.



What is it? The number of words reportedly copied by the Indian environment ministry from the 3,850-word Supplemental Environmental Projects Policy draft adopted by the US government.

Why is it important? Besides plagiarism, the proposal that those who go ahead with projects without prior clearance under the Environment Impact Assessment Notification must remediate the damage and provide compensation, has raised concerns. At present, starting an environmental project without the government consent is a crime and can lead to imprisonment under Indian laws. Experts say this is a misuse of executive powers to dilute laws made by the legislature.

Tell me more: In the US, environmental violations are civil offences. The joint secretary who issued the draft notification on May 10 (open for comments for two months) has denied copying the content from the US policy and has said that the idea has been borrowed.



What is it? Uttarakhand’s score in the provisional ease of doing business rankings among states. The score and rankings could change based on more data that the states might submit till end of this month.

Why is it important? The state, which was ranked 23 last year, has jumped to the first position as of this morning. Gujarat, which was on top of the rankings last year, has fallen to the 11th position. Shows intense competition among states with some of the most industrialised ones such as Maharashtra and Karnataka dropping out of the top 10. Such competition might help India improve its ranking in the ease of doing business globally, which is at 130, according to the 2016 report.

Tell me more: The final rankings would be released by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion in August after verification of the submissions made by the states.



What is it? The number of people who have been shot and killed by the police in the US in 2016 so far, according to data compiled by the Washington Post.

Why is it important? Such police action – directed disproportionately at the blacks –  has come to global attention after two black men were killed by the police in Louisiana and Minnesota on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively. US President Barack Obama called for changes to the criminal justice system and said such incidents reflect racial biases in the criminal justice system and that African-Americans and Latinos are more likely to be questioned by the police than the whites.

Tell me more: The Post has collated the numbers based on news reports, public records, social media and other sources. At this rate, 2016 might equal or surpass the number of people killed by the policemen in 2015- 990.

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News in Numbers, Jun 7, 2016: Wipro’s automation move, India gets back 200 artifacts…


What is it? The number of computer engineers who will be freed up this year due to Wipro’s use of its artificial intelligence platform Holmes. The platform Holmes would be used to automate some tasks of fixed-price projects.

Why is it important? An early indicator of how automation can impact jobs in one of the highest paying sectors in the country. For the companies it can cut down labour costs – the move will save Wipro up to $46.5 million. Other IT firms TCS and Infosys are also working with their artificial intelligence systems to boost revenue per employee and profitability figures.

Tell me more: Wipro plans to sell the platform to existing and new clients to earn about $60-70 million.  



What is it? Median monthly generic drug price in India, according to a study of cancer drug prices in seven countries.

Why is it important? While this is among the lowest in the world, in terms of affordability, it is among the most expensive. The cost of generics as a percentage of domestic product per capita at purchasing power parity is 33% in India. Cancer drug prices are the highest in the US where the median monthly price for generics is $654 or 14% of wealth adjusted for cost of living.

Tell me more: In case of branded drugs, the situation is even worse in India. The median monthly price of branded drugs is $1,515 , which is 313% of domestic product per capita at purchasing power parity.


Rs 30,000 crore

What is it? State owned NTPC Ltd’s proposed investment in 2016-17, part of which would go towards stepping up its renewable energy generation.

Why is it important? It is likely to help the country achieve its target of meeting 40% of its energy demands from non-fossil fuels (such as nuclear, wind, water and solar) by 2030. NTPC is reviewing its long-term plans of achieving 128 GW of capacity by 2032, of which over a tenth is to be accounted for by renewable energy.

Tell me more: NTPC, which accounts for a sixth of India’s power capacity, plans to add 1,000 MW of wind power in the current fiscal and to produce 10% of India’s target of installing 100 GW of solar capacity by 2022. NTPC will raise Rs 20,000 crore in debt, of which Rs 7,000 crore would be from overseas lenders.


2.18 acres

What is it? The area of land Indian government has allotted for the development of a naval detachment on Bitra island in Lakshadweep.

Why is it important? It will help government increase its military presence on the eastern and western coasts as it jostles with China to exert greater influence over the important Indian Ocean region and protect its maritime interests. Both the countries are improving their infrastructure and bettering their relations with smaller countries such as Bangladesh, Maldives and Sri Lanka, which also have strategic interests in the region.

Tell me more:  It is also establishing/upgrading its naval detachments on remote islands such as Kavaratti, Minicoy and Agatti and setting up military bases at Tuticorin (Tamil Nadu) and Paradip (Odisha).



What is it? Number of stolen artifacts the US returned to the Indian government on Monday.

Why is it important? Most of them were recovered from a decade-old ‘Operation Hidden Idol’, which led to the arrest of six people and recoveries of items worth $100 million. The artifacts, some of them that date back to 2,000 years, were stolen from India’s most valued religious sites.

Tell me more: The US has returned over 7,500 artifacts to different countries in the last 10 years.

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News in Numbers, June 3, 2016: Uber’s raises $3.5 billion, India’s internet users…


What is it? The number of people convicted of murder and other charges in the 2002 post-Godhra Gulberg society massacre by a special designated court on Thursday.

Why is it important? This brings justice to one of the series of riots that broke out in Gujarat in 2002. In this attack, which came a day after 60 Hindu pilgrims were killed in a train-burning incident, 69 Muslims were murdered.

Tell me more: Of those convicted, 11 were found to be guilty of murder while the rest for lesser charges. The court acquitted 36 defendants while four of the accused died while on trial.


$3.5 billion

What is it? The amount taxi hailing app Uber has raised from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund.

 Why is it important? This is the company’s single biggest investment and the largest single investment in a startup. The San Francisco-based company now has $11 billion on its balance sheet to take on its rivals- Lyft in the US, Ola in India and Didi Kuaidi in China (it is also close to raising $3.5 billion). Meanwhile, Ola has raised $1.18 billion so far with the latest funding of $500 million in November 2015. Uber, which could have raised a similar amount via a public listing, has been criticised for raising money from a wealth fund of a politically repressive regime.

Tell me more: With this, Uber has raised $13.5 billion (including convertible debt) so far and Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund gets a 5% stake in the company. This also indicates how Saudi Arabia plans to reduce its dependence on oil for revenues.


277 million

What is it? The number of internet users in India in 2015, a 40% growth from the previous year, according to Mary Meeker 2016 Internet Trends report.

Why is it important? India overtaken the US to become the second largest country in the world in terms of internet users (after China) and it is the only country where the growth rate of the number of internet users was higher than the previous year (33%). However, tech startups are still struggling to make money, indicating that the users are still not ready to spend much money on the web.

Tell me more: Online retail sales in April were lower than that in December 2015, a first-time occurrence in many years. New rules by the Indian government prohibiting online marketplaces from influencing the prices of products online could have had an effect on e-commerce companies.


$2.4 billion

What is it? Revenue of terror group ISIS in 2015 – a drop of $500 million from the previous year’s estimate, according to the Center for the Analysis of Terrorism.

Why is it important? ISIS retains the tag of being the richest terrorist organisation in the world, despite US bombing of its oil fields. The group compensated for the loss in revenue from oil by increasing tax rates for the 8 million people it controls. The share of oil revenue fell from 38% to 25% in 2015 while that of taxes went up from 12% to 33% last year.

Tell me more: Terrorism expert Jean Charles-Brisard, one of the authors of the report, has expressed surprise at the fact that the UN Security Council has not laid a formal embargo that would punish countries that continue to buy goods including cement, oil and wheat from ISIS territory.



What is it? Percentage of e.coli-infected ice cubes in Mumbai hotels, eateries and juice centres found in the samples examined by Mumbai’s governing civic body.

Why is it important? The bacteria can cause health problems including severe gastroenteritis (inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract), diarrhoea, vomiting and food poisoning.

Tell me more: The survey included 552 shops and 2,995 street vendors. Around 7,500 people died from consuming contaminated food in 2014.



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