On Monday, the Rajya Sabha passed The Mental Health Care Bill, 2013 which effectively nullified an earlier law (IPC Section 309) that made suicide attempts punishable. It’s doubtful if the law against attempted suicides had any impact at all. India had the highest number of suicides across the world in 2012, according to World Health Organisation (pdf). Admittedly, the absolute numbers reflect the billion plus population. But even as a ratio, with 21.1 suicides per 100,000 people in 2012, India is among the most suicide prone countries. The chart below gives a break up of suicide rates across age groups and gender. Except in the age group of 15-29, suicide rates among men are much higher than among women.
News In Numbers: July 23
A Rajya Sabha panel has recommended capping the proposed Goods and Services Tax (GST) at 20%. If accepted, this is good news for consumers because an earlier panel of state finance ministers had recommended a higher rate of 27%. However, the Rajya Sabha panel kept intact the inter-state levy of 1% on goods. A product from Tamil Nadu to Assam will attract 5% extra tax, as each of the five states will levy a tax of 1% on goods being moved. GST was supposed to merge all state and central taxes into one-single tax rate, so as to create a single all-India market. Inter-state levy would go against this concept.
The proportion of 333 women-student respondents in a 2013 gender relations survey conducted at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, who reported they had experienced sexual harassment “once in a while”; another 26% of respondents answered “often (weekly)”. However, only 34 complaints were filed by them, underscoring the societal and systemic difficulties faced by women in India in speaking out or following through. On Wednesday, the government stated that 75 cases of sexual harassment against women educators and research scholars were reported by 84 Indian universities in 2014-15.
Rs 41,000 crore
India’s oil import dues to Iran. Amidst concerns that India might have to clear this due immediately after Iran signed a deal with six world powers about a week ago to curb its nuclear programme in return for lifting of international sanctions, the middle-eastern country has proposed it can invest a part of the corpus in Indian projects. India was unable to pay fully for its oil imports in the past two years, as US and Europe have banned financial institutions from doing business with Iran. Imports from Iran accounted for 7.3% of India’s total oil purchases in 2014, making it the seventh-biggest oil supplier to India; India’s total oil import bill for 2014-15 was Rs 7.9 lakh crore.
The suicide rate of women in Indian paramilitary forces per lakh population. This rate for men in central armed police forces, which include the BSF, CISF and CRPF, is 11.2 per lakh population. Women constitute a little less than 2% of all paramilitary force personnel but account for over 40% of suicides. Just four states account for all female suicides in these forces: Madhya Pradesh, Telengana, Bihar and Jammu & Kashmir. In March this year, Home Minister Rajnath Singh had announced that 33% in central paramilitary forces would be reserved for women. The overall incidence of suicides per one lakh population in India for 2014 was 10.6.
As many as 41 BSE-listed companies have pledged 100% of their stake to raise money, an indication of stressed corporate finances, even as India makes an attempt to recover from an economic slowdown. On the other hand, promoters of 3,240 companies have not pledged any of their shares. Lenders demand extra collateral when value of shares held as pledge go down or when borrowers ask for extra credit. The outstanding corporate debt of Indian companies is over a third of India’s GDP: 34% in 2013-14.
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