Data recap: India most populous nation, WPI inflation, and more

Bloomberg
Bloomberg

Summary

  • The ministry of road transport and highways is aiming to lay 45 km of highways a day in the current fiscal year

Every Friday, Plain Facts publishes a compilation of data-based insights, complete with easy-to-read charts, to help you delve deeper into the stories reported by Mint in the week gone by. Apple Inc. opened its first two retail stores in India this week, marking its 25th year in the country. Wholesale price index (WPI)-based inflation continued to slow in March, dropping to its lowest level since October 2020. Domestic air traffic surged to a record high last month.

Cooling Down

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WPI-based inflation rate fell to a 29-month low of 1.34% in March as global oil prices fell. However, food prices surged for the third month in a row to 5.48% amid concerns that heat waves may take prices further up. Last year, damage to vegetable and wheat crops due to heat waves had driven prices up. Milk prices also remained high amid rising fodder costs and as demand exceeded production. Also, inflation in the fuel and power baskets cooled to 8.96% from 14.82% in February.

Highway Speed

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The ministry of road transport and highways is aiming to lay 45 km of highways a day in the current fiscal year, Mint reported, citing persons in the know. It will be the highest-ever pace of highway construction in a year, if achieved. Data available till February 2023 shows the Centre built 24 km of daily road network in FY23, resulting in 8,064 km of highway construction. In the pre-pandemic year of FY20, over 10,000 km of highways were constructed at a daily rate of 28.1 km.

Apple in India

22,000 sq ft: This is the area of Apple’s first store in India opened at the Bandra Kurla Complex in Mumbai on Tuesday. Spread over two levels in the Jio World Drive Mall, the store uses a dedicated solar array and has zero reliance on fossil fuel. In a conversation with Mint, chief executive officer (CEO) Tim Cook said India could become one of Apple’s biggest markets one day. The company launched a second store on Thursday, in Delhi.

Trade Report

 

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India's merchandise exports expanded by 6% in FY23 to hit a record of $447.4 billion, data released by the ministry of commerce showed. However, exports have contracted in three of the last four months. In March, India exported $38.4 billion worth of goods, down 14% year-on-year. Meanwhile, merchandise imports jumped 16.5% to touch $714.24 billion in the year. Imports from Russia surged 370% as India bought cheaper crude oil from the sanctions-hit country.

Taking Flight

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Domestic air traffic jumped by 7% from levels achieved in February to hit a record 13 million passengers in March, data released by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation showed. Air travel demand has been rising steadily since August 2022, showing signs of higher air travel penetration as well as rapid post-covid recovery. IndiGo continued to be the market leader in India with a share of 56.8%, while Vistara and Air India held 8.9% and 8.8% market share, respectively.

Onion Prices

1,001: This is the average price per quintal of onion in Nashik, a key region growing the crop in Maharashtra, Mint reported. Onion prices started falling again as rain and hailstorms in the said region damaged thousands of tonnes of crops. Alarmed farmers are trying to sell their produce at the earliest to agricultural produce and livestock market committees (APMCs). This has pushed up onion stocks in the markets, resulting in a drop in prices.

Coal Rules

 

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India is expected to add 14.56 GW capacity for coal-fuelled power this financial year as part of the Centre’s plan to add 27 GW of such projects for 1.89 trillion, Mint reported. Power generation companies run by the Centre and state governments are to execute the projects. As on 31 March, India’s total power generation capacity stood at 416 GW, coal power comprising more than half of it. The Central Electricity Authority expects daily peak power demand to touch 229 GW this summer.

Chart of the Week: Youth Power

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Data from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has estimated India’s population at 1,428.6 million by 1 July, surpassing China for the first time as the world’s most populous country. India’s high share of working-age population is set to aid economic growth in the years to come.

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