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.



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.



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.



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.



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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Virat Kohli Is Up Against History In Matching Sachin Tendulkar’s 100 Hundreds

The way he is batting these days, Virat Kohli makes hundreds for breakfast. On November 20, he became only the eighth batsman in the history of the sport to reach 50 international hundreds. The next two innings he played in the ongoing test series against Sri Lanka, he added two more—that too double hundreds.

He is in imperious form. He is hungry to write and rewrite history. He has the focus. He has the fitness.

Still, the summit of hundreds, on whose perch Sachin Tendulkar sits alone by a long, long way is a long and arduous journey away. And, in order to reach there, Kohli will have to do things that most others who have tried to make that journey have failed to.

It comes down to a tale of two halves. These top centurions were more productive in the first half of their career than their second. All barring one, and we will come to this exception.

The graph below shows the age at which the top three centurions (Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting and Kumar Sangakkara) and two current players (Kohli and Hashim Amla) have scored their centuries.

Look at Tendulkar’s line (colored blue). It starts before everyone else’s: he debuted the youngest. It extends beyond everyone else: he played the longest. It rises the highest: he has the most hundreds. It is always above everyone else’s: at every age, Tendulkar had more hundreds.

Virat Kohli is 29 today. At that age, Tendulkar had 65 hundreds, 15 more than Kohli. Tendulkar played for nine more years, during which he amassed another 35 hundreds—a lower rate of accumulation. Similarly, Ricky Ponting, who finished with 71 hundreds, added 36 hundreds between the age of 29 and 37, when he retired.

The one exception to this was Kumar Sangakkara. He was a rare top batsman who became more prolific with age and went out in considerable style. Sangakkara played till the age of 37. And between 29 years and 37 years, he racked up 43 hundreds.

For Kohli to overhaul Tendulkar’s record of 100 hundreds, he will need to play as long as Tendulkar and do so with the accumulation prowess of a Sangakkara.

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A Big Bang I-T Raid


The government is sitting hawk-eyed on black money peddlers. The IT department unraveled a nexus between doctors and medical labs that was worth a 100 crore rupees. In the tech world, Infosys got its sixth CEO. Virat Kohli is unstoppable, scored another double century yesterday. And Serious Fraud Office is probing companies for suspicious transactions after demonetization.



What is it? Indian IT major Infosys gets its CEO number six in the form of Salil Parekh, with the company making the announcement on Saturday.

Why is it important? In the 37-year history of Infosys, Parekh will only be the second CEO outside the promoter group. He follows Vishal Sikka, who resigned this August after finding himself on the wrong side of some founder-promoters, notably NR Narayana Murthy, over a series of business decisions and approaches. Although these founder-promoters did not have a board presence then, Murthy was particularly vocal in his displeasure, resulting in Sikka quitting.

Tell me more: Parekh, 53, will join Infosys from January 2 on a five-year term. He joins from Capgemini where he was a member of the group executive board, thus ending a three-month search.


Rs 100 crore

What is it? The undisclosed amount detected by the Income Tax (IT) officials after they unearthed a nexus between some doctors and medical centres in Bengaluru.

Why is it important? It highlights the unethical measures adopted by some medical professionals at the cost of patients’ health and money. The IT department conducted a three-day search in two in-vitro fertilisation centres and five diagnostic centres, and found that doctors were being paid a commission to refer their patients to these centres for tests. The Health Ministry has asked all states to adopt and implement the Clinical Establishment Act, 2010, under which action can be taken against medical institutions indulging in unethical practices.

Tell me more: According to the IT department, the commission varied from lab to lab, but the median rate was 35% for MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans and 20% for CT (computed tomography) scans and other tests. These payments to doctors were accounted for under the head of ‘marketing expenses’.



What is it? The number of double centuries scored by Virat Kohli in his test career so far. In the ongoing series against Sri Lanka, Kohli yesterday scored 243 runs, following a 213 in the previous test.

Why is it important? With his latest double hundred, Kohli created or matched a series of records: most double centuries by captains in tests, beating Brian Lara who had five; sixth batsman to score consecutive double hundreds in tests; and fifth captain to hit multiple double tons in a series.

Tell me more: Kohli’s 243 against Sri Lanka is his career best. This is the 14th time he has bettered his highest score—the maximum number of times any player has done so. He now matches Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag in double hundreds.



What is it?  The number of companies the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) will probe for alleged suspicious transactions involving large sums of money during demonetisation.

Why is it important?  News of this probe follows a series of government steps aimed at checking black money in the Indian economy. The government had recently removed the names of approximately 2.24 lakh companies for being dormant for a long time and removed 2 lakh directors of such companies.

Tell me more: In its preliminary enquiry, the government was focusing on 35,000 companies involving 58,000 bank accounts where an amount of about Rs 17,000 crore was deposited and withdrawn post-demonetisation.


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Virat’s Road To Fifty 100s


Government is striving to meet its disinvestment target. In the cricketing world, Virat Kohli has shown his best game and has been consistent in doing so. India’s coal imports have risen as states become environment-conscious. Sanjay leela Bhansali’s film Padmavati’s destiny hangs in balance as certification board takes it own sweet time.  And, Uber is planning to build its own fleet of cars. Self Driving Cars. 


Rs 14,500 crore

What is it? The amount the Indian government has raised through the Bharat 22 exchange traded fund (ETF), which attracted bids worth Rs 32,000 crore.

Why is it important? With this, the government has raised Rs 52,500 crore through disinvestment in 2017-18, which is 72% of its disinvestment target for the current fiscal. Since the time the idea of disinvestment came into being in 1992-93, respective governments have met their stated disinvestment targets just thrice in 16 years.

Tell me more: The Bharat 22 ETF, which tracks the S&P BSE Bharat 22 Index, comprising of 22 stocks is an alternative mechanism to divest its stake in central public sector enterprises. This is the second such ETF, with the first one being launched in March 2014.



What is it? The number of international centuries that Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli has scored in all three formats of the game.

Why is it important? Kohli notched up his 18th test century against Sri Lanka yesterday. In the list of top 10 batsmen with the most international hundreds, which is led by Sachin Tendulkar (100 centuries) and contains three Indians, Kohli is ranked eighth. He also equalled South Africa’s Hashim Amla’s record of fewest innings to 50 international hundreds.

Tell me more: Despite being affected by rain, the first test match ended in a thrilling stalemate as India fought back with both bat and ball.


2.1 million tonnes

What is it? The volume of India’s coal imports from the US in October.

Why is it important? This is the highest since at least January 2015. Some Indian states have banned the use of petroleum coke, which is better-burning but also more polluting than coal. This could partly be the reason for the increase in India’s coal imports from the US. With environmentalists urging other states to ban petroleum coke, this trend might continue. The increase in imports also indicates there might be a shortage in domestic coal supply, forcing the industry to step up imports.

Tell me more: India has imported 1.5 million tonnes of North American coal in November so far, which is 71% of the previous month’s purchase.



What is it? The number of self-driving cars that Uber plans to buy from Volvo over three years, starting 2019.

Why is it important? If the sale goes through, it would be Volvo’s largest order and the biggest sale in the autonomous vehicle industry. For Uber, this would mark a major transition in the company’s profile: from being an app used to hail a cab to becoming the owner and operator of a fleet of cars. Although this is likely to give a boost to Uber’s ambitions of perfecting its self-driving systems, there are doubts about how it would pan out as no country has any framework or laws to allow this currently.

Tell me more: The firm is locked in a legal dispute with Waymo, a self-drive business owned by Alphabet, which is seeking $1.9 billion in damages for alleged theft of some of its trade secrets by Uber.


68 days

What is it? The maximum duration set by India’s Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to certify a film, in a seven-part process.

Why is it important? On Monday, CBFC chief Prasoon Joshi cited this window to take its time to arrive at a decision on certifying the Sanjay Leela Bhansali film Padmavati, which is mired in a controversy with religious and political overtones. Last week, the CBFC returned the film’s application citing “technical issues” and the film’s producers deferred its released date. Also, yesterday, the Supreme Court refused to wade into the issue, saying it would wait for CBFC’s certification.

Tell me more: The CBFC’s latest annual report shows it ‘initially refused’ 79 feature films in 2014-15 and 94 in 2015-16.


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