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

7.7%

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.

43%

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.

50

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.

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