When the Earth isn’t enough 🌏

336,107

What is it? The number of H-1B visa applications filed by employers between October 2016 and June 2017.

Why is it important? The number of applications has not declined despite US President Donald Trump pledging to crackdown on misuse of H-1B visas, a temporary work permit. At this rate, the full year applications will exceed that of 2016 number of 399,349. However, approvals for current fiscal is sharply lower at 59% as compared to 87% in 2016. This could be because large number of petitions in current year are still pending decisions.

Tell me more: 74% of applications are filed for candidates born in India.

 

47.9

What is it? Nikkei’s Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) in July, a composite indicator of India’s manufacturing activity based on a survey by Markit, a financial information and services company.

Why is it important? This is the lowest since February 2009, the days of the global financial crisis. It slipped below the 50-point mark separating expansion from contraction for the first time this year. Uncertainty and information gaps around goods and services tax that was introduced on July 1st seems to have negatively impacted purchasing decisions.

Tell me more: New orders fell for the first time in the year-to-date and at the fastest pace since early 2009.

 

7

What is it? The number of months in which this year’s Earth Overshoot Day has arrived (August 2) this year, according to environmental groups WWF and Global Footprint Network.

Why is it important? Earth Overshoot Day is the date in which the annual demand of humanity on nature exceeds what the planet can regenerate over the year and it is the earliest so far. In other words, humanity is using up planetary resources such as soil, water and air at a faster pace than ever and will live on “credit” for the rest of the year; currently, we are using the resources of 1.7 Earths.

Tell me more: We would be able to return to living within the means of one Earth before 2050 if we moved the Earth Overshoot Day back by 4.5 days every year. Some of the ways in which individuals can help stop and later, reverse the trend is by burning less fuel, cut back on food waste and eating less meat.

 

22.4%

What is it? The percentage increase in car sales for Maruti Suzuki, which has more than 50% market share, in July this year.

Why is it important? Car sales has picked up after introduction of the goods and services tax (GST) from July 1st, after contracting by 11% in June. Other car makers, except Hyundai Motor, reported double-digit increase in sales growth.

Tell me more: Shipping of cars from factory gate to dealers is counted as a sale, so the increase could be because of manufacturers pushing the stock to dealers than end-customer demand.

 

61.5%

What is it? The increase in the net worth of Mukesh Ambani, chairman of Reliance Industries, in one year.

Why is it important? With a total net worth of $35.2 billion, he has raced ahead of Hong Kong-based Li Ka-Shing to become the second richest Asian after Alibaba’s founder, Jack Ma. Globally, Ambani went up to the 19th position, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. This has been possible partly due to investors rallying behind Reliance Jio that has disrupted the telecom space in the last few months.

Tell me more: A report by Oxfam, which works to eliminate poverty, said India’s 57 billionaires have the same wealth as the bottom 70% of the population, pointing to rising income and wealth inequality in the Asia’s third largest economy.

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Enroute larger tax base

7.95 million

What is it? The number of applicants to register under the goods and services tax (GST) as of mid-Friday.

Why is it important? Registered taxpayers under GST is now 50,000 short of 8 million tax base of value added tax, excise duty and service tax. With registration open until tomorrow, the tax base under GST is expected to exceed the previous regime. Meanwhile, government has extended last date for small businesses (with revenue of Rs 75 lakh) to register under composition scheme where traders will pay lower tax rates.

Tell me more: Widening of tax base will help government to collect more taxes, and could lead to reduction in tax rates. India’s tax revenue to gross domestic product is 17%, as compared to 25.4% in US.

 

Rs 9,509 crore

What is it? The unspent funds with Health Societies in 27 states (from Rs 7,375 crore in 2011-12) under the National Rural Health Mission, according to a report filed by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) on Friday.

Why is it important? The amount increased while in six states, Rs 36.31 crore has been diverted to other schemes. The CAG observed the shortfall in availability in physical infrastructure such as primary health centres to be between 24-38% in 28 states, instances of non-availability of essential drugs in 24 states, and medicines issued to patients without prescribed quality checks in 14 states. The average shortage of five types of specialists (general surgeon/physician, obstetrician/gynaecologist, paediatrician and anaesthetist) ranged between 77-87% in select community healthcare centres in 27 states.

Tell me more: About 13,000 facilities did not report data on Health Management Information System, a web-based interface, in 2015-16 due to which the overall position on health indicators has not been ascertainable.

 

Rs 71,941 crore

What is it? The total amount of undisclosed income detected by way of searches, seizures and surveys by the Income Tax department between April 1, 2014 and February 28, 2017, as per information submitted by the government to the Supreme Court.

Why is it important? This is after government’s effort to curb black money generation. Among the steps taken by the government to flush out black money, it recently cancelled the registration of one lakh firms while it is probing 37,000 shell companies for funnelling black money and another 3 lakh for suspicious transactions.

Tell me more: Until a couple of months after the demonetisation move, another attempt against those hoarding money illegally, the total undisclosed amount admitted was over Rs 5,400 crore while the total quantity of gold seized was over 300 kg.

 

Rs 1.5 lakh

What is it? Amount payable to members of central bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) for each meeting.

Why is it important? Apart from paying a sitting fee to MPC members, the central bank also codified conduct involving conflict of interest, confidentiality and silent period. For example, members are required to maintain a seven-day silent period seven days before and after the meeting. This will generate greater confidence in decision making of MPC.

Tell me more: MPC’s mandate is to guide monetary policy to achieve a targetted inflation rate of 4% through adjustments in lending rates and provisioning norms by the central bank.

 

31

What is it? The number of people arrested by the Rajasthan police for stealing crude oil from India’s biggest onshore oilfield owned by Cairn India

Why is it important? The crime went undetected for six years, and 50 million litres of crude oil worth $ 7.75 million was stolen. Drivers and contractors working in the oilfield were part of the network that stole crude oil.

Tell me more: Trucks carrying water – a byproduct of oil exploration – out of the oilfield were carrying crude oil, and was sold to two factories nearby with storage capacity. These factories then sold to clients across India.

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How did GST change your shopping bill? Here’s a tracker

What impact has the goods and services tax (GST), the new system of taxation that consolidates a multitude of Central and state taxes in one place, had on the urban household shopping budget?

In order to answer this question, we collated prices of goods that make up an average middle-class shopping cart.

The exercise was carried out thrice: once on 30th June before GST came into effect, on 2nd July after GST came into effect and lastly on 13th July, a week since the new GST regime.

We sourced prices from the Big Basket website for 71 items covering 18 categories of the Consumer Price Index (CPI), of which GST was applicable on 47 items, for the five main metros.

While the early net impact post-GST was a mixed bag, with some gains and losses, a week into the new GST regime, your household bill is set to get dearer by around 2%.

On the actual selling price, which factors in the discounts given by a retailer, the total cost of our basket of 47 items increased in all five cities, with Bengaluru recording the maximum increase (of 2.67%).

Find our story on Livemint.

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Monsoon cracks on ☔

6%

What is it? The percentage above normal registered by monsoon rainfall till July 2.

Why is it important? The monsoon, which accounts for over 70% of India’s annual rainfall, is the primary source of irrigation for half of the country’s cropland and refills over 80 nationally-monitored water reservoirs (important for drinking purposes, power and irrigation).

Tell me more: The monsoon is expected to cover the country by July 15, on schedule. The onset of the southwest monsoon has led farmers to plant 19% more hectare with rain-dependent kharif crops than last year (22.2 million hectare over 18.7 million hectare).

 

8%

What is it? The hike in Bharti Airtel Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal’s annual pay in 2016-17.

Why is it important? Mittal’s pay increased despite India’s largest telecom operator  suffering a sharp decline in annual consolidated profit this year due to intense competition. In 2016-17, Bharti Airtel’s consolidated net profit was Rs 3,799 crore, registering a fall of 37.5%. Mittal’s income rose from Rs 27.8 crore to Rs 30.1 crore in the same year.

Tell me more: Bharti Airtel Managing Director and CEO (India and South Asia) Gopal Vittal earned nearly 50% more than last year, as well. It is unlike the trend in another sector: chiefs in the IT industry such as Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka and Wipro Chairman Azim Premji have taken cuts in their pay, in line with performance goals.

 

28%

What is it? The percentage of women students who secured admission to the post graduate programme in management at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIMA) – the premier business school.

Why is it important? This was achieved without giving extra marks or gender-specific quotas. IIMA decided to give lower weightage to the score from the Common Admission Test, an entrance exam for getting admission to business schools, and invite candidates from non-engineering background for the interviews.

Tell me more: Around 85% of students in IIM, Bangalore are from engineering background, and within that 50% are from Indian Institute of Technology and National Institute of Technology.

 

33.6 million

What is it? The number of youth in the 18-19 age group who remain unregistered on the voters’ list.

Why is it important? This number is 60% of eligible voters in the age group of 18-19 years. However, the number of eligible voters not enrolled has come down from 90% six years back. Indian citizens are allowed to vote after reaching 18 years.

Tell me more: The Election Commission of India is running a month-long drive in July to persuade them to register. For the generation hooked on social media, EC has tied up with Facebook to host a special button for registration.

 

Upto Rs 32

What is it? The hike in the cost of an LPG or cooking gas cylinder.

Why is it important? Household LPG cylinders are set to become costlier because under GST it is under the slab of 5% taxation, higher than the VAT levied earlier by some states at 2-4%. Further cuts in subsidy of LPG connections in June will compound the price rise, and go up to Rs 32 extra for each cylinder in some states.

Tell me more: The last subsidy cut was in May of around Rs 2, implementing the government’s target of eliminating it through small increases.

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