India's public debt is so large that it could buy every Indian a Pixel 2

Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs, Arun Jaitley addresses a Press Conference in National Media Centre in New Delhi on Tuesday.Photo by Subhav Shukla
At the end of last year, India’s total government debt rose to INR 66.61 lakh crores, from INR 61.84 lakh crores at the end of December 2016, according to data from the Finance ministry. 93.1% of this is internal debt, or the debt owed by the government to domestic creditors

Since one lakh equals 100,000 and a crore is 10 million, this is the equivalent of saying “India’s total government debt rose to INR 66.61 one hundred thousand ten millions.” Isn't it easier to just say, “INR 66.61 trillion?” Either way, this is such a large number that it is hard to conceptualise. Here are some comparisons to help make it more real:

The Vietnam War

America’s Department for Defence reportedly spent about 168 billion dollars on military operations and economic aid in Vietnam between 1965 and 1975. After adjusting for inflation on US Inflation Calculator, that amounts to around 1 trillion dollars in 2018. This excludes the cost of veteran benefits and grants.

16,650 Gulfstream G550 private jets


To quote a BI correspondent who flew on one, “ there are private jets and then there are Gulfstreams”. If about 5,000 flights take off in India every day and we magically turned every airplane that took off into a brand new Gulfstream, you could buy every plane that takes off in India for three days.

1/9th of all the gold in the world (21,500 tonnes of gold)

The World Gold Council estimates that around 190,400 tonnes of gold have been mined to date. At the latest spot price of US$1319 per ounce, that amounts to a total value of 8.86 trillion dollars.

The entire market capitalisation of Apple Inc and Reliance Industries

With a total market cap of over 900 billion dollars, Apple is the world’s largest company by market value while Reliance has a market cap of INR 5.7 lakh crores, making it India’s most valuable company.

569,000 apartments in Hong Kong

The average cost of a new housing unit in Hong Kong, the world’s most expensive property market relative to income, is estimated to be around 1.8 million dollars.

Vaccinating every child on Earth four times over

According to Rick Lesaar, who runs the blog Health and Communications, it would cost around 250 billion dollars to vaccinate every child between the age of 0 and 19 in the world against 15 diseases.

2560 original paintings by Leonardo Da Vinci


The Italian artist’s Salvator Mundi was sold for US$400m at an auction in November last year, making it the world’s most expensive painting.

A 50% stake in Saudi Arabia’s national oil producer

The government-owned Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest producer of oil and gas and unofficially the world’s largest company by revenue, is preparing for an initial public offering of a 5% stake. The share sale is expected to raise 100 billion dollars, giving the company a valuation of 2 trillion dollars.

A flagship smartphone for every Indian

Every single member of India’s 1.35 billion-strong population would be able to get a higher-end smartphone like a Google Pixel 2, assuming an average price of just under 50,000.
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