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The Lowest Wheat Output In Three Years

5 years

What is it? The jail term for former Bangladesh Prime Minister Khaleda Zia after being found guilty in a corruption case.

Why is it important? Zia heads the main opposition party, which has bitter rivalry with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, and there are fears violence might return to Bangladesh. Political demonstrations by Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party and her islamist allies in 2014 and 2015 left 200 people dead.

Tell me more: Human Rights Watch (HRW), a not-for-profit group, called for an end of arbitrary arrests of opposition party members who are protesting against the verdict. “The Bangladesh government’s claims to be open and democratic ring hollow as it cracks down on political dissent,” HRW said.

 

Rs136 crore

What is it? The amount of fine imposed against Google by India’s antitrust body for skewing search results in favour of its travel search engine.

Why is it important? This could provide level playing field for companies that operate in one area like travel against Google’s own offering (Google Flights). Competition Commission of India announced the decision on Thursday, with 4 members supporting the order and two writing a dissent note. 

Tell me more: European Union had imposed a record $2.7 billion fine against Google for similar practices – demoting rival’s and promoting its own product in search results – in June last year.

 

Rs250 crore

What is it? A company with turnover up to Rs250 crore is eligible to classified as medium-sized enterprise, as per new definition for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME).

Why is it important? It is likely to bring many enterprises under the definition of MSME. At present, enterprises self-declare whether they are a MSME based on investments made. For example, investments up to Rs 10 crore in manufacturing sector (Rs 5 crore in services sector) is considered a medium enterprise. Now the classification will be based on turnover, which can be cross-verified from the Goods and Services Tax filings.

Tell me more:  Enterprises with turnover up to Rs5 crore and between Rs5 and Rs75 crore  will be classified as micro and small enterprises.

 

Rs24,000 crore

What is it? The fair value of Bhushan Power and Steel Ltd as estimated by the resolution professional.

Why is it important? Bhushan Steel is one of the 12 large bad loans referred under India’s new bankruptcy code for faster resolution. The unlisted company owes Rs37,000 crore to lenders. India’s top two steel makers, Tata Steel and JSW Steel, have submitted their bids to buy Bhushan Steel. The bid amount was not known.

Tell me more: The bids will be evaluated by lenders and the amount of loss incurred by banks will be closely watched to see how the new bankruptcy code is working.

 

92 million tonnes

What is it? Estimated wheat output for the year 2017-18.

Why is it important?  It will be lowest wheat output in three years, if estimate matches actual output, and it could it increase imports by 40%. Inconsistent and low rainfall, combined with a lower acreage under wheat, down to 30.1 hectares from 30.8 million hectares are reasons for low output.

Tell me more: India is second largest wheat producer after China, but the Asia’s third largest economy has been a wheat importing nation, importing wheat ever year since 1960.

 

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News in numbers, Apr 26, 2016: The water wasters, India’s malaria elimination plans…

1.32

What is it? The number of times Punjab’s water footprint exceeds world average for growing wheat.

Why is it important? It’s an indicator of inefficient water usage across the country. For example, UP’s water footprint for wheat is 2.27% and Madhya Pradesh’s is 0.93%. With the drought affecting several parts of the country, this indicates the need for taking a fresh approach towards the crops India grows and how efficiently it grows them.  

Tell me more: The government procurement also seems to be tilted towards water inefficient states. For example, Rajasthan, the highest wheat producing state in 2014-15 and which has a low water footprint of 0.69 has a procurement share of just 4.6%.

Rs 22,085 crore

What is it? Government subsidy for petroleum products such as LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) and kerosene in the first nine months of 2015-16, 71% lower than the subsidies in 2014-15.

Why is it important? While reduction can be attributed to low crude oil prices, it also shows market reforms are working. The government had linked diesel and petrol prices to market and introduced direct benefit transfer scheme. India, which imports 80% of its oil needs, can use this saving along with the amount gained due to lower oil import bills, to spend on other purposes such as education and health.

Tell me more: India’s crude oil import bill is expected to almost reduce by half (45%) to $62 billion in 2015-16 from $113 billion the previous year.

3

What is it? The number of students who have been rusticated by Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) for allegedly raising anti-national slogans at an event organised in support of Afzal Guru, a convicted terrorist.

Why is it important? JNU can be expected to sizzle for some more time. Kumar said he rejects the punishment as it is biased and that the students “will fight back and will win”.

Tell me more: A university committee set up to probe the incident found the students guilty on various charges such as not following university procedures, providing misinformation, instigating communal violence, participating in sloganeering, indiscipline, misconduct, and creating discord among students. Reportedly, financial penalty has been imposed on 14 students including student leader Kanhaiya Kumar. Some of the students including Kumar were arrested on sedition charges and are currently, out on bail.

200,000

What is it? The number of households in Mandla district in Madhya Pradesh where a malaria elimination project will be implemented by the Indian Council for Medical Research and Sun Pharma over the next 3-5 years. Mandla is one of the most malaria-endemic districts in the state.

Why is it important? This is India’s first public-private-partnership for research and innovation in preventive health care. This is likely to help India in its goal of eliminating malaria by 2030. According to official estimates, there were 561 deaths due to malaria in 2014 though this is much lesser than WHO’s estimates of 15,000 deaths a year and an independent research, which claims malaria kills over 200,000 people a year in India.

Tell me more: The project would include measures such as strengthening existing health systems, development and testing of medical products and disease surveillance and the learnings would be used to draw strategies for malaria elimination in other parts of the country.

458

What is it? The number of examiners the Indian government has hired for clearing applications for patents, designs and trademarks.

Why is it important? This increases the examiner strength by over 3.5 times, which would help in bringing down the time taken to process applications to 18 months by March 2018 from the current 5-7 years. As many as 237,000 patents and 544,000 trademarks registrations are pending approval.

Tell me more: Another 263 examiners would be hired on a contract basis to help clear the backlog.

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News in Numbers – June 29, 2015

That’s the total number of people linked to the “Vyapam Scam” who have died “under mysterious circumstances” till date. One of the biggest scams in Madhya Pradesh, this relates to an admission and recruitment scam involving politicians, bureaucrats and officials where over 300 “ineligible” students managed to find their names in the merit list of the entrance test for the MBBS course. Vyapam, a self-financed autonomous body under the Directorate of Technical Education of the MP government, also conducts tests for various government posts. About 3,000 people have been accused of various irregularities in the conduct of examinations, of which nearly two-thirds are in jail.

4.1%

Profit margins of Indian companies are under pressure due to raising debt and depreciation costs. Measured as a percentage of GDP, the ratio has declined for the fifth consecutive year to 4.1%, much lower than what is prevalent in developed countries and 10-year average of 5.3%. This is another data point that is contrary to GDP growth numbers projected by the Statistics ministry. Growth estimate of Asia’s third largest economy for 2014-15 was revised upwards to 6.9% from 4.7%, and rising corporate profits was cited as one of the reasons for doing so.

24 million tonnes

Relaxed procurement norms for wheat last year has created a problem for Food Corporation of India, a state-run agency which buys food grains at government mandated price. Quality standards for wheat procurement was lowered to help farmers compensate for the damage caused in March this year. 90% or 24 million tonnes of wheat procured last year was of inferior quality and had to be used within the next 10 months, or else it would be deemed unfit for consumption. But India’s public distribution system would require only 20 million tonnes of wheat every year. The rest – around 4 million – can’t be sold in open market as import prices are lower than government-fixed procurement price. The only solution: sell at lower than procurement cost.

Rs 15,600 crore

Deal-making in start-ups is moving at a rapid pace in India. Venture capital (VC) funds have invested Rs 15,600 crore ($2.46 billion) in start-ups in the first six months (up till June 26) this year. And, that has surpassed the total VC inflows into start-ups (Rs 14,850 crore or $2.34 billion) in all of 2014. Interestingly, the number of deals in 2014 was 1.5 times more than that recorded in the first half of this year, indicating a higher average deal size in 2015. The total angel investment funding in the first six months this year also marginally crossed the previous year’s total funding. Taxi aggregator raised $400 million in April this year, the biggest deal in 2015 so far. Recently, market regulator SEBI relaxed the listing norms for Indian start-ups making it easier for them to take the IPO route and also, giving an additional exit route to investors.

43

The Indian government is taking action against 43 officials in Indian diplomatic missions in 17 countries. Complaints against these officials, which also include low-ranking officials and locally hired staff, range from corruption to dereliction of duty. The number of complaints this year seems quite high when compared to those recorded in the last three years: six in 2012, 10 in 2013 and 27 in 2014.

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