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2.18%

What is it? The retail price inflation in May, 2017.

Why is it important? The consumer price inflation growth was the lowest since India started publishing it in 2012. This might increase the pressure on the central bank to cut the key rate of repo, on hold since October, 2016, at 6.25%. Rate cuts, however, depend on how RBI sees inflation moving in the quarters ahead.

Tell me more: Food prices in retail markets decreased by 1.05% in May, leading to the low overall price rise. Another government indicator, the quick estimate of industrial production, showed a positive trend of 3.1% growth in April, higher than in February and March, 2017.

 

28.6%

What is it? The percentage of tobacco users (in all forms) in India in 2016-17, according to World Health Organisation’s Global Adult Tobacco Survey.

Why is it important? The prevalence of tobacco users has gone down by 6 percentage points from 34.6% in the same study in 2009, a positive outcome as tobacco contributes to poverty. It translates to a reduction of 8.1 million less tobacco users in the country, which is the second-largest consumer of tobacco products in the world.

Tell me more: Between 54-62% of smokers of bidis and cigarettes have thought about quitting on seeing the warning labels on the packets, while it was 30-38% in 2009.

 

$25 million

What is it? The investment Tata Motors’ Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) will make in the US ride services company, Lyft, to develop self-driving cars.

Why is it important? The mobility services arm of JLR, InMotion, will make the investment as other automakers such as General Motors, Ford, Tesla, Mercedes, BMW and tech companies such as Alphabet and Intel are scrambling to help get the first self-driving prototype out in the market. Car-sharing and hiring apps like Lyft and Uber, too, are conducting their own R&D.

Tell me more: JLR will provide its cars to Lyft for the research and development. Self-driving cars, which saw increased focus from 2016 onwards, is expected to change the way customers buy cars and reduce cost of ride services as well.

 

10%

What is it? The percentage by which pharmaceutical companies can increase the price of non-scheduled drugs every year, according to Drug Price Control Order (DPCO) 2013.

Why is it important? The companies want the cap to be increased to counter the increase in taxation with 12% from 9% for 80% (non-essential) of drugs, under the imminent Goods and Services Tax (GST) system.

Tell me more: Life-saving or essential drugs will have a tax rate of 5% under GST.

 

11,761

What is it? The shortage in Delhi police staff in the lower-middle ranks.

Why is it important? Delhi Police has been plagued by a top-heavy structure, with more senior staff than sanctioned strength but with most of the lower positions remaining unfilled. When nearly 26,000 constables and assistant sub-inspectors were promoted last year, it left a lacuna in the lower ranks. The current requirement is for over 14,000 personnel, from around 81,000.

Tell me more: Last November, there were 76,237 policemen and women in Delhi, against the sanctioned 82,378 posts. The working strength came down from 77,117 the year before, an RTI revealed.

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Three to Zika

3

What is it? The number of cases with confirmed Zika infection, reported by the health ministry.

Why is it important? The mosquito-borne viral disease can lead to neurological malfunction. The World Health Organisation (WHO) says the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare-Government of India has confirmed three such cases from Ahmedabad. It reports the ministry as having confirmed two cases in February and November, 2016, in addition to the one in January, 2017.

Tell me more: The health agency also said the findings indicate low level transmission and did not revise its global risk assessment due to India.

 

1.03%

What is it? The drop in pass percentage points in the CBSE Class XII exams this year, from 83% who cleared the exam in 2016.

Why is it important? The drop in pass percentage comes in a year when the central school board was made to reinstate its grace-marks rule.  Its practice of granting extra marks (upto 15%), to pass students or peg their results at a higher percentile became an issue ahead of the results.

Tell me more: Last month, it decided to scrap the moderation policy from this year. The Delhi High Court ordered it to reinstate the rule. CBSE says it followed the high court’s orders. Count of students in the 95-100% category increased from 9,351 to 10,091 while in the 90-95% category, the count decreased from 54,036 to 53,156.

 

4

What is it? The number of countries Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit on his multi-nation tour.

Why is it important? Modi will be visiting Germany, Spain, Russia and France to discuss trade and security issues. On the table could be the European Union-India free trade agreement, which could help India counter China’s One Belt One Road initiative. The four-nation trip is his second travel abroad this year, after a trip to Sri Lanka.

Tell me more: PM Modi made 56 foreign trips since May, 26 in 2014 till April 2017. The duration of stay dropped from 55 days in 2014-15 to 24 days in 2016-17. Cost of foreign visits has come down too.

 

10

What is it? The number of airports which restrict passengers from carrying large electronic devices in cabins in the flights to the United States since March this year.

Why is it important? US is now considering a move to ban laptops in all flights into and out of the country for better security. Airlines are worried it might impact customer demand.

Tell me more: The ten airports which restrict laptops in cabins include United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Turkey. UK has a similar policy applying to six countries.

 

151

What is it? Death toll due to landslides and floods in Sri Lanka.

Why is it important? Sri Lanka is facing one of its worst disasters since tsunami in 2004, and its worst torrential rains since 2003. Over 500,000 people have been affected and over 100 are still missing.

Tell me more: India has sent three Navy ships with supplies and other aid. Sri Lanka has sought international help to manage the disaster.

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News in Numbers, Mar 31, 2017: Seats of learning in darkness 💡😥🎓✏📚

Rs 2465.21 crore

What is it? The amount of equity infusion in Air India during financial year ending today.

Why is it important? This is 8% of the total equity of Rs 30,231 crore planned till 2021 by the government as part of Air India’s turnaround plan. Public money keeping the airlines afloat has been a bone of contention as Air India recently came under the Comptroller and Auditor General scanner, which accused it of understating losses as recently as 2014-15 (Rs 1,992.77 crore).

Tell me more: The government carrier has been getting government funds regularly and so far received nearly 82% of the proposed bailout.

 

300 million

What is it? The number of people living with depression worldwide.

Why is it important? The number has grown by over 18% between 2005 and 2015, but healthcare spends to combat depression is low. The World Health Organisation says global average is 3% of healthcare spends but low-income countries see only 1% of total spends. But high-income countries with 5% health expenditure do not necessarily fare better in treating depression, as nearly 50% go untreated in such countries.

Tell me more: Stigma and lack of support for people with mental disorders aggravate the loss of productivity and quality of life due to depression, one of the more prevalent mental afflictions.

 

1 GB a second

What is it? The speed of Internet through wired broadband services provided by ACT Fibernet in Hyderabad.

Why is it important? This puts Hyderabad in a club of a handful cities with such internet speed, which includes Seoul (South Korea), Hong Kong, Singapore, Kansas (US). Even though it is being seen as a large stride towards the Telangana government’s aim to connect its 23 million citizens to the Internet by 2018, the delivery mode might prove a hurdle. The enviable speed might be thwarted by the low adoption of wired delivery of broadband services. Of the 236 million broadband subscribers in December, 2016, wired connections accounted for around 7% (8% if fixed wireless was considered).

Tell me more: The Giga speed is expected to enable Internet downloads faster than transferring data from a USB drive.

 

78%

What is it? The percentage of primary and upper primary schools in Odisha that doesn’t have power connectivity.

Why is it important? With temperature already touching 43 degrees Celsius in some parts of the state, the lack of electricity in 40,087 of the 51,094 primary and upper primary schools indicate serious lack of basic infrastructure for students. In 20 of the 30 districts in the state, each school have at least 1,000 students.

Tell me more: In another instance, 60% of the 2,739 schools in Vizianagaram district in Andhra Pradesh have no overhead tanks with running water facility.

 

31

What is it? The number of new cities that will have air connectivity via the government’s UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Naagrik or ‘Let the common man fly’) scheme. A total of 128 routes covering 71 cities were announced on Thursday.

Why is it important? This will bring more air passengers from smaller cities at affordable prices. Under UDAN, half the seats will be capped at Rs 2,500 for flight journeys that take up to an hour. Eighty per cent of the loss from this price ceiling will be funded by levying cess on non-regional routes, and rest by state governments.

Tell me more: Around 1.3 million new seats will be created from these 128 routes, with a subsidy bill of Rs 200 crore each year.

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News in Numbers, Mar 02, 2017: Hiring to strain finances 💰😓

Rs 295-299

What is it? The price band of shares of Avenue Supermarts, owner of the profitable supermarket chain, D-Mart, that would be sold in its initial public offering starting March 8.

Why is it important? The upcoming IPO, worth Rs 1,870 crore, has evinced interest as it is one of the few organised retail chains, especially in grocery segment, which makes a profit. In 2015-16, it made a profit of Rs 321 crore on a revenue of Rs 8,605 crore.

Tell me more: While Maharashtra and Gujarat contribute over 81% of its revenue, D-Mart also has footprint in Telangana, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh.

 

4-52%

What is it? The sales growth range of passenger cars across seven manufacturers in February, 2017.

Why is it important? Passenger car sales are picking up after being hit in the last two months of calendar 2016, following the cash crunch. A measure of consumer discretionary spending, the growth was fuelled by higher shipments to dealers and new models for some manufacturers.

Tell me more: Growth for Ford India was the highest at 52%, albeit on a small base of 8,338 cars. Maruti Suzuki, selling 120,735 cars, managed to grow in double-digits over 2016. Mahindra and Mahindra was the only company to report a decline of 13% owing to demonetisation.

 

56.67 million

What is it? The number of Indians suffering from depression, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Why is it important? India has only 0.3 psychiatrists per 100,000 population, whereas incidence of depression is 4.5% of the population. Lack of mental health facilities, and concentration of doctors and hospitals in urban areas, mean a large number of people with mental health issues will go untreated for a long time.

Tell me more: The total estimated number of people living with depression increased by 18.4% between 2005 and 2015, according to the ‘Depression and Other Common Mental Disorders — Global Health Estimates’ report.

 

2.8 lakh

What is it? The number of hiring by central government in next financial year starting April 2017.

Why is it important? This will bloat government expenses and potentially suck money away from developmental schemes, unless tax revenues match the increased outgo. Salaries (excluding defence personnel) and pension payment totals Rs 317,529 lakh crore, or 25% of tax collections in 2017-18.

Tell me more: Current size of central government employees is 3.53 million.

 

Rs 2,500 crore

What is it? The amount of black money declared so far under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY). The last date under this scheme is March 31, 2017.

Why is it important? Tax authorities have identified 1.8 million taxpayers who have deposited more than Rs 5 lakh in cash during the two months’ period in November and December when old high value notes were replaced with new ones. Tepid response to the scheme could be an indicator these taxpayers are confident of explaining their sources of income, or waiting till the end of this month.

Tell me more: A flat tax rate of 50% would be levied on income declared under the PMGKY, and another 25% will be parked in an interest-free deposit for four years.

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