News in numbers | Telcos can now offer one-year validity on data packs
What is it? The number of months by which the Indian government is considering advancing the presentation of the Union budget.
Why is it important? If done, this would help complete the budget exercise before the fiscal year closes and eliminate the two-stage process it goes through. The two Houses of Parliament pass the Appropriation Bill (to withdraw funds for expenditure in advance) and the Finance Bill (for tax changes) in the second half of the budget session (sometime in May). This means government departments can start spending the money allocated to them from the beginning of the fiscal year instead of awaiting the passage of the budget in Parliament. The government hopes this would help in mobilizing resources better.
Tell me more: Analysts say this move could help individuals and companies by giving them at least two months’ time for their accounts and tax planning. This could also mean that the budget session, which usually runs from the last week of February until mid-May, may have to be advanced.
13.6 million hectares
Why is it important? The sowing of pulses is at a record high and the area sown with pulses is 25% more than the five-year average of 10.8 million hectares. The increased production may lead to a softening in the prices of pulses, which have been reigning high for the last few months. The effect of rains on pulses’ prices is already evident: the prices of pulses have come down by 15% in the last few weeks, according to the vice-president of the Indian Pulses and Grains Association.
Tell me more: However, the price of chana dal (Bengal gram), which is grown during the rabi season (between November and April/May), is likely to remain under pressure, according to an expert. The government expects the production of pulses to increase to 20 million tonnes in 2016-17, over 21% more than the estimated production in the previous year.
What is it? The validity (in terms of number of days) that telecom companies can now offer on their data packs, up from a maximum of 90 days, as per the telecom regulator.
Why is it important? This is likely to help attract first-time mobile Internet users and also bring down the price per megabyte for those who consume less data. The un-utilized volume of data usually lapses at the end of the validity period of the data packs. This also means that mobile data users would be able to keep their SIM (subscriber identity module) cards active for a year now. Currently, a mobile number ceases to exist if it is not in use continuously for 90 days.
Tell me more: The number of mobile Internet users was expected to touch 371 million by June this year from 306 million at the end of December 2015, according to a report by the Internet and Mobile Association of India and IMRB International.
What is it? The number of countries that can send their students to appear for the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE Advanced) directly by skipping the JEE (Main) test that Indian students are supposed to take.
Why is it important? This is reportedly to help boost the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) in international rankings. One of the parameters on which IITs lose out in such rankings is in the enrolment of foreign students. IITs, despite having the world’s toughest entrance examination and some of the world’s top executives in their alumni list, rank poorly globally. For instance, it was only last year that two Indian institutes (of which one was IIT Delhi) made it to the top 200 universities (per the QS World University Rankings 2015) in the world for the first time.
Tell me more: The nine countries that are allowed this relaxation are: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives, Singapore, the UAE and Ethiopia.
What is it? The number of Reserve Bank of India deputy governors who have gone on to become the governors so far. Urjit Patel will be the eighth when he assumes charge in September.
Why is it important? With this announcement, the government hopes to lend continuity to monetary policy making, especially with respect to containing inflation . Both the wholesale price inflation and consumer price inflation accelerated to their 23-month highs in July. The RBI has set a target of reigning in consumer price inflation at 5% by March 2017 .
Tell me more: 52-year-old Patel has been appointed for a tenure of three years and would take charge after Raghuram Rajan demits office on 4 September. He would be the 24th governor of the RBI.
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