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What Are Governments Spending Their Budget Money On?

This story was first published on Livemint.

In 2015-16, on an average, 21% of the budgets of the centre and states was set aside for interest payments and pensions—‘bad spending’ that doesn’t yield any return. Chhattisgarh allocated a greater percentage of its budget to agriculture than any other state: two-and-a-half times that of Madhya Pradesh, from which it was carved out in 2000. Goa and Jammu & Kashmir spent close to one-fifth of their budgets on power.

The matrix below shows where the Union government and 31 state governments spent in 2015-16. It shows how a state’s spending on 15 key items broken across three categories compares with peers, with the gradation going from green (relatively better) to red (relatively worse).

 

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Which month of the year has the highest birth rate?

“In Delhi, winter is the season for weddings. Ten months from that time, we can see a clear spike in the number of births in hospitals,” says Evelyn Kannan, general secretary of Trained Nurses’ Association of India, a national organization of nursing professionals. A seasonal spike in births isn’t restricted to Delhi alone, and is seen in other states and union territories also.

The data visualization below traces 21.2 million births in 2015-16—approximately 85% of all births in India—captured by the government’s Health Management Information System on a monthly basis. At an all-India level, more births happen in the second half of the calendar year than the first (53.7% versus 46.3%). The four months from August to November account for about 37% of all births. And more births are registered in September than in any other month (9.35%).

Among states, there are some that show significant monthly variance: for example, in Bihar, the average monthly share of births is 5.9% between April and June, but 10.2% between August and November. Then, there are certain states where the variance, though present, is less: like Karnataka and Maharashtra.

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GST: The population factor

The tug of war over the Goods and Services Tax (GST) between the central government and state governments has raised questions on when this system of taxation—which collapses a multitude of taxes into one—will be implemented. When it does, it will change many things, one of which will be how much a state collects by way of taxing goods and services, something that is especially of concern to states with larger industrial bases but smaller populations.

That’s because the basis of GST is different from the basis of the two main taxes it will replace. The first main tax in the present system is excise levied by the Centre: a tax on production, it benefits states with larger industrial bases. The second is VAT (value added tax): a tax on sales levied by states, it benefits states with larger population and consumption.

However, since a company cannot set off the excise paid by it against VAT, states with a higher share of manufacturing collect and retain more taxes than states with a large population and consumption. Basically, the two taxes don’t talk to each other.

GST will change that as it will be levied at the point of consumption, and not production. Thus, prima facie, it will tilt the balance in favour of states with higher population and consumption, even if they don’t have a large industrial base.

So, with GST, which states stand to gain and which stand to lose? This realignment will play out at two levels. Graph 1 below maps three variables at the state level: population (red line), area (blue circle) and tax revenue (green line). The first two are also determinants to calculate a state’s share in GST.

Thus, at the first level, a downward sloping line is indicative of high population states (Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal), and they are likely to benefit from GST. An upward sloping line is indicative of states with large industrial bases (Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Gujarat), and they could be impacted by the point of sale becoming the point of taxation.

But it’s also true that several states in India with the largest industrial bases (notably, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu) also have a large population and are leaders in per capita income. So, what these states lose in the first-level shift from manufacturing basis to consumption basis might be offset by their own consumption quotient.

The scatter diagram in Graph 2 below plots similar variables as Graph 1 (with the added nuance of tax per capita). So, for example, while a state like Tamil Nadu might lose revenues because of consumption-based taxation, its high tax per capita, an indicator of higher consumption, would offset this.

The net impact of both factors will determine how much a state loses or gains when GST is implemented.

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What’s killing Indians? Depends on where you live…

This piece originally appeared on Livemint.com

 

 

Over 22,000 Indians die every day. In the 60s, communicable diseases were the main cause, accounting for about half the deaths. Since the 90s, it’s non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, respiratory diseases and diabetes. But all-India data doesn’t give the complete picture, as India is a diverse country. Economic and social conditions, and public health infrastructure, differ from state to state, region to region.

Besides, incidence of disease also varies depending on age group and gender. Granular data on the cause of deaths helps design better policies and solutions, and monitor public health.

India has been collecting data on the causes of deaths for over four decades now, following the passage of the Registration of Births and Deaths (RBD) Act in 1969. The Office of the Registrar General recently released a report with data for the year 2013, looking at 928,000 medically-certified deaths (about a fifth of medical deaths). The above data interactive captures the causes of death: by gender and age group, and for different regions and states. By default, the chart represents India numbers. To choose a specific region or state, use the dropdown. For gender-specific results, click on the buttons.

As one might expect, the causes of death differ based on age group. For example, while infections account for 12% of deaths across age groups, it accounts for about 25% of deaths in the 1-4 years age group. As people become older, chances of being claimed by circulatory and cardiovascular diseases go up. The risk of death by external causes—such as injuries or poisoning—is the highest between 15 to 34 years; and men are more likely to victims (8%) than women (6.5%). Cancer, on the other hand, claims more women (5.7%) than men (4.7%).

Even at the state level, there are many such nuances and comparative surprises. For example, Chhattisgarh is most prone to cardiovascular diseases (over 50% of its deaths were caused by diseases of the circulatory system), Uttarakhand the least (13.3%). In Kerala, at 15.2%, cancer as a cause of death is a full 10 percentage points above the national average. Similarly, deaths due to external causes are the highest among all states in Karnataka, followed by Nagaland.

It’s not clear why some states are more prone to certain categories of diseases. The report doesn’t go into those details. However, it could serve as a starting point for further research and appropriate intervention.

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