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The Case For A Bigger Health Budget

India’s spend on healthcare is abysmally low. This year government is planning to spend more but it is still lower than what was sought last year and low in comparison with its global peers and other developed nations. The lower spending reflects on the poor access to healthcare for people who needs it the most.

 

11%

What is it? The percentage amount by which the Indian government is reportedly planning to increase its public health spending to $8.2 billion in the upcoming annual budget for 2018-19.

Why is it important? This is lower than the $10 billion health budget sought by health minister JP Nadda in a November letter to the finance minister, which would have amounted to a 33% increase in allocation over 2017-18. This raises questions if India would be able to meet its target of increasing its annual health spending to 2.5% of its GDP (gross domestic product) from the current 1.15%. Among 15 countries, India is the second last in terms of expenditure as a share of total government spending (5%) compared to China’s 10.4%.

Tell me more: According to the Global Burden of Disease report, 2015, India ranked a poor 154 out of 195 countries in terms of access of healthcare.

 

5,000 km

What is it? The range of Agni-V, an intercontinental surface-to-surface ballistic missile that India successfully tested on Thursday.

Why is it important? The latest test of this missile, which has been tested five times since 2012, may have been incremental from a technological perspective but it comes amidst India’s strained geopolitical relations with both China and Pakistan. India’s age-old dispute over the Himalayan region of Doklam with Beijing has flared up recently while Pakistan, whose relations with India seems to be worsening with increasing ceasefire violations across the Line of Control and the International Border in Jammu and Kashmir, is building up its nuclear capabilities.

Tell me more: Agni-V was test-fired on Thursday morning from Abdul Kalam Island, off the coast of Odisha, and covered a distance of 4,900 km in 19 minutes.

 

29

What is it? The number of items for which the GST (goods and services tax) Council, headed by finance minister Arun Jaitley, reduced the tax rate on Thursday, in addition to 53 categories of services, effective January 25.

Why is it important? Besides these rate changes, the GST Council also recommended a few policy changes, including modifications to e-way bill rules and late fee payable by registered people to furnish forms GSTR-1, GSTR-5, GSTR-5A and GSTR-6. Transporters will be required to carry an e-way bill when moving goods worth over Rs 50,000 between states, to check tax evasion, from February 1. Armed with details of goods over Rs 50,000, the government would be able to spot a mismatch if either the supplier or buyer does not file returns.

Tell me more: In its next meeting, the Council would consider bringing items such as crude oil, natural gas, petrol, diesel and real estate under GST.

 

20

What is it? The number of A380 ‘superjumbo’ aircraft that Emirates has placed an order for with Airbus, with an option to buy 16 more.

Why is it important? The latest order will bump up the A380 order book, which stood at 222 on December 31, 2017. Post this order, Emirates has ordered 178 A380s, which illustrates the importance of the Dubai-based carrier to the struggling A380 programme. Earlier this week, in an unusual statement, Airbus chief operating officer John Leahy said the France-based aircraft manufacturer would have to terminate the A380 programme unless Emirates ordered more aircraft.

Tell me more: The A380 aircraft is the most expensive plane in the Airbus portfolio, with a list price of $445.6 million. When Airbus introduced it in 2005, it expected to sell about 1,200 planes; it has so far delivered 222.

 

2

What is it? The number of awards that Indian batsman and skipper Virat Kohli won at the ICC awards for 2017.

Why is it important? Kohli was the men’s cricketer of the year and the ODI (one-day international) cricketer of the year. This haul underscores the phenomenal year that Kohli had: between September 21, 2016 and December 31, 2017, the qualification period for the awards, Kohli amassed 4,320 runs across the three formats.

Tell me more: Steve Smith was named the test cricketer of the year. Kohli was named the captain of both the test and ODI teams of the year, both of which featured three Indians each.

 

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