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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India’s big military spends

$55 billion

What is it? The estimated expenditure by India on military resources.

Why is it important? The amount made it the world’s fifth-largest spender on defence, ahead of one-time military heavyweights such as UK, Japan and Germany. China’s spends, at the second spot after the US, was nearly four times of India’s, a key force in Asia’s geopolitics and sharing with India both border issues and friendly trade.

Tell me more: India was the seventh highest spender in 2015, according to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

 

>24

What is it? The number of personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force, the main counter-Naxal task-force, killed in the latest Naxal attack, in Chhattisgarh .

Why is it important? The toll, which might rise, makes the attack one of the deadliest by the Naxals. The encounter between 150 security personnel and 300 Naxal fighters started at noon in the notorious Sukma district.

Tell me more: The battalion was providing security cover for road construction.

 

60%

What is it? The share of the 2,000 notices sent by the Income Tax department which have bounced back.

Why is it important? Following the drive against black money and demonetisation, the IT department had identified nearly 1.8 million people with suspicious cash deposits, or having bought paid for expensive goods with cash. While the goal was to sent notices to all, the large swathe of 1,200 notices, from those already sent, bouncing back reiterates the IT department’s suspicions. It shows people provided fake addresses and email ids to escape detection.

Tell me more: The department has a special team to investigate such cases further.

 

750,000

What is it? The number of children in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi on whom a new malaria vaccine, RTS,S, will be tested.

Why is it important? The vaccine, which prepares the immune system to fight malaria parasite, has the potential to save thousands of lives. Malaria claims 400,000 lives every year globally.

Tell me more: In India, over 1 million people contract malaria every year. 80% of malaria cases are reported in sparsely populated areas that account for less than 20% of the population, underlining the difficulty in treating them.

 

175 kg

What is it? The possible payload weight for India’s proposed Venus mission.

Why is it important? The payload weight is an indicator of the functional ambitions of a space mission. While 175 kg suggests modest goal, the key is the destination. After Mars mission in 2014, this is the second planet ISRO is looking at.

Tell me more: Indian Space Research Organisation has invited proposals for experiments that can be done as a part of the mission.

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News in Numbers, Feb 23, 2017: Earth’s distant cousins 🌏

235

What is it? Total number of cases the Income Tax (IT) department registered till mid-February, since the Benami Transactions Act was enforced in November, 2016.

Why is it important? The IT department has picked up pace in booking people with unaccounted-for assets since the act’s enforcement. From 42 cases on January 31, cases registered in the following 15 days (193) jumped nearly five times. Section 24 of the acthas been invoked and as many as 124 cases have seen assets worth more than Rs 55 crore attached provisionally.

Tell me more: A total of 140 cases with questionable assets of Rs 200 crore have received show cause notices. The act applicable to both movable and immovable property allows the IT department to initiate criminal proceedings against those found depositing unaccounted old currency in someone else’s account, for example.

 

100%

What is it? The cut in salary of Snapdeal’s co-founders Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal, announced by Bahl on Wednesday.

Why is it important? The founders were not only the highest paid among senior executives in all the nine unicorns from India but were also the seventh-highest paid in the country in the 2015 fiscal. But the austerity might have come a bit late for Snapdeal, as 600 layoffs loom large in a simultaneous news.

Tell me more: Valued at $6.5 billion, Bansal admitted to mistakes down the road and said a major rejig will follow to gain profitability. In FY16, it had run up losses worth $14.93 million.

 

~45%

What is it? The estimated percentage of Indians who illegally immigrated to the US and would now be subject to enforcement of stringent deportation guidelines, issued this week.

Why is it important? Indians are among the highest legal as well illegal immigrants (with 500,000 unauthorised immigrants in 2014) in the US. With a new enforcement memo from US’ Department of Homeland Security to find, arrest and deport any illegal immigrant, irrespective of a criminal record, will turn up the heat on 11 million undocumented immigrants.

Tell me more: The memo asks for more jails to be built to detain immigrants. This would be to replace the practice of releasing undocumented immigrants with an order to re-appear for court hearings.

 

7

What is it? The number of Earth-sized planets discovered by astronomers near solar system.

Why is it important? One or more of them may be warm enough to have water on its surface, increasing the possibility of finding life outside solar system. The planets revolve around Trappist-1 a dwarf star, 40 light years away.

Tell me more: The planets around Trappist-1 were discovered by NASA and its partners around the world. The star is smaller (it’s as big as a golf ball, if the Sun is as big as a basketball), its planets are closer, and revolve around it faster. Its nearest planet takes 1.5 days to revolve around it, and the farthest, 20 days.

 

6.6%

What is it? The projected GDP growth rate of India in 2016-17, according to International Monetary Fund.

Why is it important? It is 1 percentage point lower than 7.6% growth India saw in 2015-16, and higher than some estimates by observers who saw demonetisation impacting the economy more severely. Ambit Capital, for example, expected it to slow down to 5.8%.

Tell me more: The Washington DC-based international body sees GDP growth rate picking up to over 8% in the next few years, post adoption of Goods and Services Tax. In 2017-18, it expects India’s GDP to grow by 7.2% driven by private consumption.

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News in Numbers, Feb 14, 2017: 😍 Indians 💖 Taxes

60,000

What is it? People who have responded online to Income Tax department’s request for e-verification and explanation of deposits after demonetisation.

Why is it important? As the IT department gears up to mine data gathered after demonetisation with sophisticated data analytics to unearth tax evaders, some from the first wave of online respondents have even agreed to pay tax arrears. The IT department has been trying hard to allay fears of undue persecution by first resorting to online queries for 1.8 million depositors, so that the honest taxpayer can explain deposits without bearing the brunt of an IT notice.

Tell me more: So far 200,000 people who had received the IT clarification request online have logged in. Before demonetisation, the IT department had sent 60,000 notices for large dubious non-Pan card transactions in September even as the – for tax compliance was going on.

 

5

What is it? Number of Grammy awards that British artist Adele won for her album ‘25’ in 2017.

Why is it important? In the world’s most prestigious music awards, the 28-year-old Adele became the first ever to win twice the top three coveted categories of album, record and song of the year, this time for her album and the ballad, “Hello”. She had won in 2012 for her album ‘21’. She also won Best Pop Solo Performance and Pop Vocal Album this year.

Tell me more: She beat Beyonce, who led with nine nominations for her influential album, ‘Lemonade’, on racism and feminism, but acknowledged the artist in her acceptance speech.

 

33,000 feet/10 km

What is it? The depth of the trenches in the Pacific Ocean where organisms were found with high levels of man-made pollutants, according to a report in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.

Why is it important? Man-made pollution has not spared even the deep sea. Shrimp-like tiny amphipods, Hirondellea gigas, were found in two of the ocean’s deepest trenches that were still 7,000-km apart, to contain polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), commonly used as electrical insulators and flame retardants.

 

Tell me more: Pollutants were found in every single sample, regardless of depth, regardless of species, according to the report’s lead author. He likened the contamination levels to that of Japan’s Suruga Bay, one of the most polluted northwest Pacific industrial zones. Given the sampled creatures are voracious scavengers feeding off any debris floating down to the depths, the concentration could be from contaminated fish remains and accumulation on sea-beds.

 

3.17%

What is it? Retail inflation in January 2017.

Why is it important? It is the lowest in the last five years, driven primarily by slowing of rise in food prices. Food inflation was 0.53% in January, compared to 1.37% in December. Core inflation (comprising of non-food, non-fuel items) however was the highest since October 2014, which likely prompted the Reserve Bank to maintain its benchmark interest rates in the recent monetary policy review.

Tell me more: Among the states, Jammu and Kashmir recorded the highest annual inflation for the month at 7.01%, followed by Delhi (6.32%) and Himachal Pradesh (5.92%).

 

2

What is it? The number of judges who will be delivering their judgement on the disproportionate wealth case against VK Sasikala, Tamil Nadu’s ruling party AIADMK’s general secretary.

Why is it important? A split verdict by the Supreme Court would extend the political tension in the state, even as fight the between O Panneerselvam the state’s chief minister and VK Sasikala who wants to occupy that chair intensifies. If the court rules against Sasikala, that is, if declines to uphold the earlier High Court acquittal of AIADMK chief, it would strengthen the hands of Panneerselvam, who by many accounts, has the support of voters, but not (at least, explicit) support of party MLAs.

Tell me more: The two judges P C Ghose and Amitava Roy are expected to deliver separate judgements on Tuesday. If there is a split verdict, the case will move to a third judge.

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