News in Numbers, July 1, 2016: World Bank’s loan to India for solar, Flipkart vs Amazon…

$1 billion

What is it? The amount the World Bank would lend to India for its solar energy programme.

Why is it important? This is the biggest ever loan given by the bank for a solar programme to any country and would help India achieve its ambitious target of installing 100 GW (gigawatts) by 2022. The solar power generation had crossed 19,000 MW (megawatts) in 2015-16 though the Minister for Power, Coal, New and Renewable Energy is looking to achieve this target by the end of 2017 itself.

Tell me more: India wants non-fossil fuel (wind, water, solar and nuclear) to account for 40% of the total installed power capacity by 2030 from 30% currently. The World Bank has lent $4.8 billion to India between 2015 and 2016, making it its biggest client.

Rs 2,28,986 crore

What is it? India’s fiscal deficit (excess of expenditure over receipts) for April and May of 2016.

Why is it important? It’s 42.9% of the budget target for this fiscal compared to 37.5% for the same period last year (despite a slowdown in government’s capital expenditure.) This may make it challenging for the Finance Minister to restrict fiscal deficit to Rs 5.33 lakh crore in 2016-17, especially with the implementation of the Seventh Pay Commission that would cost the exchequer over Rs 1 lakh crore.

Tell me more: The government’s capital expenditure was down by nearly 12% to Rs 33,231 crore in the first two months of 2016-17 from Rs 37,743 crore in the same period last year. The revenue expenditure, which would go up further due to the Seventh Pay Commission payout, increased by 17.6% to Rs 2.64 lakh in April and May from a year ago.


Rs 8,392 crore

What is it? The amount held by Indians in Swiss banks at the end of 2015, a third lower than the previous year.

Why is it important? This is the lowest amount of funds held by Indians in the Swiss Banking system since the country started making its data public in 1997 and marks the second straight year of decline. This seems to be the impact of clampdown of illicit wealth by countries including India, which is likely to lead to Swiss banks become more transparent than ever. India has sought faster responses to its pending information requests from the Alpine nation and an automatic financial information exchange would begin in 2018.

Tell me more: The funds held by Indians in Swiss banks was at a record high of Rs 23,000 crore at the end of 2006.



What is it? E-commerce firm Flipkart’s score in the quarter ended March based on metrics including trust in a brand, product assortment and prices, overall buying experience in terms of ease of using its platform and the ease of product cancellations and returns.

Why is it important? Flipkart is still slightly ahead of Amazon India, which entered the country in June 2013 and had a score of 87, though Snapdeal was a distant third at 60. This is yet another sign that Amazon is ahead of Snapdeal and breathing on the neck of Flipkart. With a recent investment announcement of $3 billion in the country, Amazon India has an advantage over both Flipkart and Snapdeal, which has to depend on external investors. A US mutual fund managed by Vanguard Investment marked down the value of its shares in Flipkart by 25%, the sixth such markdown in recent times.

Tell me more: In terms of ‘Most trusted brand’ and ‘Best value proposition’, Flipkart scored higher than Amazon India while the latter beat the former in terms of ‘Great experience’. The analysis is by RedSeer Management Consulting for Mint.



What is it? The number of invitees to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, of which 46% are women and 41% are minorities.

Why is it important? It will make the voters more diverse. The Academy had recently promised to double it female and minority membership by 2020. The Oscars came in for heavy criticism for having no nominees from minority actors for the second year in a row. However, it has a long way to go because even if all the invitees join, the share of women and minorities would only marginally increase (25% to 27% and 8% to 11% respectively).

Tell me more: If all those who invited were to join, it would increase the academy’s total voters to 6,945, a record in the last few years.

Read More

News in Numbers, June 17, 2016: Tax on sugar exports, Amazon decreases commission rates…


What is it? The tax imposed by the Indian government on sugar exports.

Why is it important? This move, which comes after sugar prices increased from Rs 30 per kg to Rs 40 a kg in six months, is expected to boost domestic supplies. Due to drought in major sugar-growing areas, India’s sugar production is estimated to decline to 25 million tonnes in 2015-16 from 28.3 million tonnes in 2014-15.

Tell me more: Of the 366 sugar mills in the country, only about 60% were operating as on March 31.



What is it? Percentage of women in rural areas who were open to living with their daughters in old age, according to a 2011-12 survey.

Why is it important? This was just 24.6% as per the 2004-05 survey, reflecting the changing norm of relying only on their sons in old age. People living in the urban areas also show a similar trend: it’s now 38.94% from 28.9% in 2004-05.

Tell me more: In terms of receiving financial support from daughters in old age, the trend is similar: 41.45% of women in rural areas (versus 30.48% per 2004-05 survey) and 44.75% of women in urban areas (versus 32.87% per 2004-05 survey) were okay with the idea, as per the 2011-12 survey.


$24 million

What is it? The amount New-York based company Andela has raised, led by the Chan Zuckerberg initiative (CZI).

Why is it important? This is CZI’s first private-sector investment and it is leading a financing round for the first time since Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan launched their charitable foundation last December. The initiative drew criticism as it was incorporated as a limited liability company, which is not governed by the rules for a non-profit organisation.

Tell me more: Andela trains software coders in Kenya and Nigeria to help them get jobs at large technology firms. Others who participated in the funding include: GV (formerly, Google Ventures), Spark Capital, Omidyar Network, Learn Capital and CRE Ventures.



What is it? The new commission rate sellers of mobile devices and tablets will pay Amazon India effective today, down from about 5.5% earlier.

Why is it important? The move could help sellers to offer products at a lower cost by bypassing foreign direct investment rules that do not allow online marketplaces to influence product prices. This is in contrast to its rival Flipkart which recently decided to increase seller commissions by 5-6% from June 20, even as it struggles to raise funds.  

Tell me more: Amazon India has reduced the commission rates for sellers on certain categories including desktops, laptops, electronic devices, movies and educational software. This comes after Amazon reportedly increased its commission rates up to 9% on various categories a couple of months ago.



What is it? The number of Pakistani citizens whose visas were rejected by the Indian government between January 1 to May 31 this year.

Why is it important? This is around 50% of those who applied for visa to visit India, which is significantly higher than the rejection rate of 22.2% in 2015 and 17% in 2014. This is reportedly due to increased security concerns after the attack on the Pathankot Air Force base by Pakistani terrorists in January this year.

Tell me more: The Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan has written a letter to the Union Home Secretary asking for the reasons behind the high rejection rates.

Read More

News in numbers, Mar 8, 2016: India’s growth forecast, Indian Railways’ likely cost savings…


What is it? India’s estimated economic growth in 2016-17, according to Fitch Ratings. It has kept its forecast of 7.5% growth for the current fiscal unchanged.

Why is it important? This is lower than its December forecast of 8% growth, which was done based on the Indian government’s increased capital expenditure and implementation of reforms. A gradual economic recovery in 2016-17 and 2017-18 would be due to higher disposable income (assuming a normal monsoon after two years of drought) and the implementation of the Seventh Pay Commission payout for central government employees, Fitch said in its latest report.

Tell me more: The ratings firm observed that the government has been finding it difficult to pass legislative reforms due to its weak strength in the Rajya Sabha and that it has continued to implement executive reforms.


What is it? Share of women in the working-age group that do domestic work in India, according to a report by research and advocacy organisation, Centre for Equity Studies.

Why is it important? Domestic work is considered to be unproductive, which does not have monetary benefits and is excluded from government policies. The report says due to social status and poverty, women from traditionally marginalised groups fall prey to exploitative labour arrangements to provide cheap labour. The previous government under UPA was considering a proposal to make it mandatory for men to compensate their wives for housework, which was heavily debated.

Tell me more: The proportion of women in formal labour workforce is around 27%, less than half of that in developed countries such as the United States and Britain.

~ $1.076 trillion

What is it? Amount countries spent on importing food in 2015, according to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Why is it important? This is 20% lower than $1.345 trillion recorded in 2014, the first drop in five years and marginally (0.8%) less than FAO’s forecast in October. The twin reasons of bumper harvests and low oil prices (resulting in lower transportation costs) are the main factors behind the drop. Analysts say lower food costs would help large importers in the Middle East and Africa regions but a depreciation of their local currencies against the US dollar could offset the gains.

Tell me more: In October, FAO had said that lower commodity prices could affect farmers’ profits leading to lesser investment in agriculture.

Rs 10,000 crore

What is it? Indian Railways’ likely cost savings in 2015-16, according to Railway Board’s Financial Commissioner S Mookerjee.

Why is it important? This is about 15% higher than the expected cost savings announced in this year’s Budget. Mookerjee said the loss-making Indian Railways plans to implement various initiatives to cut costs over the next five years. This includes importing crude oil and taking on lease refining capacity from oil marketing costs to cut down on diesel inventories. Indian Railways spends about 18% of its net ordinary working expenses on diesel consumption.

Tell me more: Another measure is exploring the opportunity of exporting 10% of rolling stock production (freight wagons, locomotives) to be exported to make its production facilities self-sustainable.


What is it? Number of women employees at ICICI Bank who are part of its pilot programme called iWork@Home project, which allows them to work from remote locations.

Why is it important? Following an internal survey at the country’s largest private sector bank, MD and CEO Chanda Kochhar says they found out that women quit their jobs to take care of their children or due to long commutes. This initiative, which uses face recognition technology and extended secure networks, allows employees access to the core banking servers from their laptops.

Tell me more: The bank expects around 500 women to be working from home soon and has already received 125 requests. Less than a third of ICICI Bank’s 73,000 employees are women.

Read More

News in numbers, Nov 24, 2015: Bupa increasing stake in Max Bupa, Qatar’s penalty waiver…

Rs 191 crore

What is it? Amount paid by UK-based Bupa Plc. to raise its stake in Max Bupa Health Insurance Co Ltd, India’s seventh largest health insurance firm, from 26% to 49%.

Why is it important? This is the first deal after the government increased foreign direct investment limit to 49% in domestic insurance firms earlier this year.  Indian partner, Max India, will hold 51% and also management control.

Tell me more: Max India, which sold 23% stake for an all-cash deal, will use the money to buy majority stake in Delhi-based hospital, Saket City Hospitals Pvt. Ltd.

Rs 15,000 crore

What is it? Gammon India’s debt that has been converted into equity by its lenders.

Why is it important? Creditors will now hold majority stake in Gammon India.  The exercise is part of a new strategy – called, strategic debt restructuring – to manage bad loans where debt is converted into equity. In the second step, a new investor and management is brought in to manage the company.  

Tell me more: Gammon India is the sixth company where lenders have acquired majority stake by converting debt into equity.    

$ 1 billion

What is it? Penalty waived off by Qatar after Petronet LNG, India’s largest importer of liquefied natural gas, reneged on its 25-year contract with the gulf nation. As a part of the deal, benchmark price was also revised. It will now be based on three-month average of Brent crude as compared to 60-month average of Japanese crude oil price.

Why is it important? Downward revision of prices will lower cost of LNG to $7-8 per million British thermal unit as against current price of $ 12-13. If passed on, customers will benefit from lower cooking and fuel gas prices.   

Tell me more: Slump in global gas prices – almost 50% in last one year – prompted buyers to prefer spot markets where cost was lower.

22 million

What is it? The number of women with only one child who is a girl, according to the latest census data.

Why is it important? It’s significantly lower than the number of women with single child, who is a boy, which is, 28.5 million. Confirms the continuity of prevalence of male child preference and prenatal sex determination. The gap – 6.5 million – represents the missing girl child.

Tell me more: The skewed sex ratio continues for women who had two and three children.  


What is it? LME (London Metal Exchange) Metal Index, which consists of six primary metals including copper, aluminium, lead, tin, zinc and nickel.

Why is it important? It’s 6-year low for the index and comes on the back of weak economic data from China. Raw material intensive sectors like auto and auto components, and power equipment would benefit from lower metal prices, while metal producers will be hit.

Tell me more: Operating profit margins of 142 manufacturing firms rose to the highest level since June 2014 because of decline in commodity prices.


Read More