Economy
Indirect tax collection up; but no room to spend extra
For India, the windfall on indirect taxes may be offset by shortfalls on direct taxes and disinvestment, says Nomura
 
During the first five months, April to August of FY2016, the indirect tax collection for the Indian government grew by 36.2% against a budgeted target of around 19%. However, with shortfalls on direct tax collection and disinvestment, the windfall from indirect tax collection will get offset, says Nomura in a research note.
 
"While indirect tax collections have been buoyant, we expect them to largely compensate for the potential shortfalls in direct taxes and disinvestment targets. On Monday, the government also announced that it expects a 5%-7% shortfall in direct tax collections about Rs50,000 crore or 0.4% of GDP. As such, we do not expect any fiscal space to open up to spend above budgeted amounts," Nomura said.
 
During the April-August period, direct tax collection grew 8.5% against the budgeted target of 16.1%. Weak disinvestment receipts of Rs12,800 crore over this period against the budgeted target of Rs69,500 crore for FY16.
 
In addition, government spending has already accelerated (up 8.8% during April-August versus budgeted growth of 8.1%), led by higher public spending on infrastructure, particularly roads, rural and urban development, reflecting the government’s effort to front-load spending to kick-start growth, Nomura said.

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World Happiness Index 2015 – Where does India stand?

India is unique in its composition, unusual in its character, incomparable in its diversity and peerless in its ethos. So much so, this report does not reflect correctly the happiness or unhappiness of our people, which is purely a state of mind based on several social factors that do not get captured into the survey.

 
The World Happiness Report 2015 is published by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, which is a global initiative started in 2012 for United Nations (UN). This contains the world happiness index of 158 countries based on a survey conducted by an American research-based company called Gallup over 2012-2014. 
 
Happiness score or subjective well-being (SWB): 
 
As per the report, the survey measures happiness or subjective well-being of an individual as per the Gallup World Poll, which is arrived based on zero score at the bottom and 10 at the top. The top of the ladder represents the best possible life and the bottom represents the worst possible life. Here is a list of top ten and top bottom countries in the list. 
 
Top 10 – world’s happiest countries with their score in brackets
 
1. Switzerland (7.587)
2. Iceland (7.561)
3. Denmark (7.527)
4. Norway (7.522)
5. Canada (7.427)
6. Finland (7.406)
7. Netherlands (7.378)
8. Sweden (7.364)
9. New Zealand (7.286)
10. Australia (7.284)
 
Bottom 10 - world’s least happy countries with their score in brackets:
 
158. Togo (2.839)
157. Burundi (2.905)
156. Syria (3.006)
155. Benin (3.340)
154. Rwanda (3.465)
153. Afghanistan (3.575)
152. Burkina Faso (3.587)
151. Ivory Coast (3.655)
150. Guinea (3.656)
149. Chad (3.667)
 
What is India’s ranking in this index?
 
India’s ranking is way below the BRICS countries and stands at 117 as under: 
 
16.    Brazil (6.983)
64.    Russia (5.716)
84.    China (5.140)
113.  South Africa (4.642)
117.  India (4.565)
 
The US is ranked 15, followed by UK (21), Singapore (24), Saudi Arabia (35), Japan (46) and China (84). Pakistan is at 81st position with a score of 5.194. 
 
What are the Components of the World Happiness Index?
 
As per the report, happiness or subjective well-being is assessed on the basis of following six parameters considered in the survey: it is the national average response to the question of life evaluations.  
 
GDP per capita: The statistics of GDP per capita in purchasing power parity (PPP) at constant 2011 international dollar prices are from the 6 November 2014 release of the World Development Indicators (WDI).
 
1. Healthy Life Expectancy: The time series of healthy life expectancy at birth are calculated by the authors based on data from the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Development Indicators (WDI), and statistics published in journal articles. 
 
2. Social support: This is having someone to count on in times of trouble and is the national average of the binary responses (either 0 or 1) to the question “If you were in trouble, do you have relatives or friends you can count on to help you whenever you need them, or not?”
 
3. Perceived freedom to make life choices: Freedom to make life choices is the national average of responses to the question “Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with your freedom to choose what you do with your life”
 
4. Corruption Perception: The measure is the national average of the survey responses to two questions in the Gallup World Poll: “Is corruption widespread throughout the government or not” and “Is corruption widespread within businesses or not?” The overall perception is just the average of the two responses. The corruption perception at the national level is just the average response of the overall perception at the individual level.
 
5. Generosity: This is the residual of regressing national average of response to the question “Have you donated money to a charity in the past month?” on GDP per capita.
 
Why India is at the lower end of the index?
 
The reasons are not far to seek. India is a complex country with diverse faiths, multitude of castes and sub-castes, variety of cultures, innumerable languages, low level of literacy and a large number of people living below the poverty line. The demography of our country is so complex, any survey on parameters mentioned above will not only be grossly inadequate, but also simply inequitable and cannot be a fair comparison with the developed and the less populous nations of the world. Our Country is unique in its composition, unusual in its character, incomparable in its diversity and peerless in its ethos. So much so, this report does not reflect correctly the happiness or unhappiness of our people which is purely a state of mind based on several social factors which do not get captured into the survey. 
 
Therefore, though the index of happiness cannot be taken at face value so far as India is concerned, it does not mean that everything is hunky-dory in our country.  It is a fact of life that there is considerable unhappiness across the country, as evidenced by  media reports, which hit the headlines daily reflecting considerable upheaval in everyday life of our people throughout the length and the breadth of our country.  
 
For instance, recently, there was a shocking revelation that when the Uttar Pradesh government advertised for posts of 368 peons on 11 August 2015, they received more than 23 lakh applications, i.e. over 6,250 applications per post. And the most surprising part is that among the applicants, there were more than 2 lakh graduates with degrees like B. Tech, MSc, and M.Com, and 255 with PhDs. The minimum qualification for the post was Class V pass but only 53,000 applicants had not studied beyond Class V. This is a classic example of the existence of widespread unemployment among the educated class in the most populous state of our country. And in such a society how do you expect people to be happy? 
 
Another media report highlighted the rampant corruption existing in every walk of life in our country, despite all the talk of eradicating corruption though enactments, which have not touched the fringe of the problem. As per the website, ‘Ipaidabribe.com’ (IPAB), an online initiative set up in 2010 by Bengaluru-based NGO to crowd-source corruption reports in India, it recorded over 47,000 reports amounting to Rs280 crore of bribe paid from more than 600 cities in India. This is only a fraction of the bribes paid in India simply because, these relate to petty bribes paid by common people for getting small jobs done through government departments. Besides, very few people are bold enough or even bother to report such payment of bribes either due to fear of backlash or sheer indifference once their job is done. The level of corruption existing both in the public and the private sector cannot be even imagined.
 
Nonetheless, the World Happiness Report says that the well-being and happiness are critical indicators of a nation’s economic and social development and should be a key aim of government policy. It is said that the report gives evidence on how to achieve societal well-being. It is not by money alone, but also by fairness, honesty, trust and good health that happiness of people could be judged. “Increasingly happiness is considered a proper measure of social progress and goal of public policy,” the report said, adding the happiness index describes how measurements of well-being can be used effectively to assess the progress of nations. 
 
However, judging the happiness of people based on the amount of money donated to charity during the previous month is not only myopic, but is also an uncharitable way of judging the happiness of people, especially in a country with diverse population like India. Instead, I would venture to suggest to the authors of the World Happiness Report that a society should be judged by how it treats its least fortunate amongst them, namely the deprived and the disabled. This is because it brings out the test of humanity and its humane approach to life, and this can make all the difference in the life of people.  
 
 
(The author is a financial analyst, and writes for Moneylife under the pen-name ‘Gurpur’.)

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COMMENTS

MG Warrier

1 year ago

An excellent analysis of the survey. The observation “The demography of our country is so complex, any survey on parameters mentioned above will not only be grossly inadequate, but also simply inequitable and cannot be a fair comparison with the developed and the less populous nations of the world. Our Country is unique in its composition, unusual in its character, incomparable in its diversity and peerless in its ethos. So much so, this report does not reflect correctly the happiness or unhappiness of our people which is purely a state of mind based on several social factors which do not get captured into the survey.” says it all, if you need any comment on India’s poor show in most of the international assessments. Though for ‘my own readers’ this will be repetition, one has to concede that the comparisons made in such surveys do not make any sense for a country like India. The ranking of countries like India and China with huge population and several country-specific reasons for their present status using the same parameters used for Singapore and U A E which have different development backgrounds do not make much sense. Perhaps, the rankings will get realistic, if Indian states or cities with higher population than the countries included for survey are assessed separately!
M G Warrier

Mukund Rajamannar

1 year ago

Thank you for not blindly spreading the wrong results of a survey that doesn't directly apply to our nation.

Good article!

A free OPD for spinal cord injury completes a century!
India ranks second in the number of spinal cord injury patients with over 20,000 fresh cases every year. Yet, there are only 28 rehabilitation centres with just 900 beds across the country. 
 
A frail, malnourished, bony Gulab Pawar with a smile on his face and stooped posture arrived at Nina Foundation (An NGO for rehabilitation of friends with Spinal Cord Injury) on 5 March 2014. The location was Community Hall, which doubles up as a Balwadi, dance class and clinics belonging to AIWC (Santacruz East) branch, near VN Desai Hospital. Pawar’s wife and daughter both tired after a three-hour road journey from Kashimira, near Bhayander, were dejected when the sole earning member of their family fell from a tree from about 10 feet high. Gulab Pawar is a tribal from Varsova village in Thane district. Volunteers from the Swadhyay Parivar met Pawar during their visits to the village and contacted Nina Foundation. Pawar had fractured his spine at D10-11 level, which resulted in paraplegia. He was completely bed-ridden and dependent on his family (wife and three school-going kids). He was also depressed. He had not seen any medical doctor or therapist since his spine surgery and did not have any clue about bladder care, exercises and sores. An efficient medical team created by Nina Foundation assessed, counselled, guided and treated him - all under one roof at one time. The team comprised of a spine surgeon, urologist, physiotherapist, homeopath, social worker and peer counsellor. During his assessment, Pawar barely spoke. The senior physiotherapist advised use of callipers and walker to help him stand and also taught him exercises to do every day to strengthen his muscles. After a few weeks, the senior physiotherapist Dr Dhruv Mehta and the orthotist visited him for follow-up and fitting of the callipers. Nina Foundation also arranged for parallel bars on rent for Pawar at his home to help him regain mobility, strength, balance and range of motion. 
 
Smita Varikh came to the OPD in July 2014. A little more than a year before that, she was a resident of a village in Ratnagiri district. While drawing water from the well outside her house, a tree fell on her, fracturing her spine at the neck. A fortnight after this incident she was brought to KEM Hospital, where a surgery was done to stabilise her neck and spine. The accident left her bedridden and paralysed neck-down (quadriplegic). After the surgery, the family relocated to Nallasopara. At the OPD, complete assessment, counselling and examination showed that she needed further hospital care. So, Nina Foundation got her admitted in the nearby VN Desai Hospital under Dr SY Bhojraj (also a trustee of Nina Foundation) for a complete evaluation. 
 
A spinal cord injury patient would have spent over Rs20,000 as consultations only, plus almost a month for appointments, cost of travel, foregoing a day’s salary by the family member plus all the effort. At the Nina Foundation OPD, they are assessed by the entire team under one roof in a single visit.
 
For the past fifteen years, Nina Foundation has worked relentlessly to spread hope and optimism amongst the spinal cord injured. Nina Foundation’s ethos is to 'give the Best to the poorest' - be it highly expensive and qualified doctors, counselling or treatment! Its latest innovation is a free non-residential once-a-week outpatient department (OPD), which was launched on 5 March 2014. The Santacruz East branch of All India Women’s Conference (AIWC) very magnanimously offered their community hall to conduct the OPD. Through this venture, Nina Foundation’s ace multi-disciplinary team assess, counsel and treat friends with spinal injury – all under one roof, in a single visit. They also help with diagnostics, transport, assistive technology, home modifications and home physiotherapy. 
 
Nina Foundation’s vision of giving hope to our friends with spinal cord injury is achieved at the OPD through personal one-to-one attention and time investment by top class doctors. The team of experts at the OPD also includes Peer Counsellors – friends with spinal cord injury, who have struggled and learnt how to face life at home, at workplace and in society. They interact with the patient and offer solutions, which are doable and unique thus improving their quality of life! However, the edge and the key difference at this OPD is homoeopathy consulting.
 
Many patients coming to the OPD are from an economically challenged background. Some of them have not seen a doctor for years due to financial and accessibility issues. The family members / care-givers tend to overprotect the patient. They are also at the receiving end of the anger and frustrations of the patient and need guidance and counselling. 
 
Why Spinal Cord Injury OPD in Mumbai?
 
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared spinal cord injury as the most devastating injury in the world (2012). According to International Statistics, India stands second with the number of Spinal cord injury patients. The total number of spinal cord injury patients is about 1.5 million. Fresh cases every year are almost over 20,000. There are only 28 Rehabilitation Centres in the entire country with a provision of 900 beds only. In India there are only two world-class rehabilitation centres-Indian Spinal Injuries Centre (ISIC), New Delhi and Christian Medical College (CMC), Vellore.
 
The main cause for Spinal cord injury may be an accident, fall from height, bullet injury, adventure sports like paragliding, scuba diving, rock climbing, and river rafting. Other reasons may be diseases like tuberculosis or tumour in the spine and others.  The spine affects functioning of the entire body. In Spinal cord injury, generally the patient loses control over body movement and, most likely, has medical complications such as chronic pain, bladder and bowel dysfunction and increased susceptibility to respiratory and heart problems.  They become Quadriplegic (paralysis neck down) or Paraplegic (paralysis waist down). This significantly changes every aspect of life.
Mumbai is still awaiting a world class Rehabilitation centre, which should have all the facilities for diagnosis of Spinal Cord Injury. It comprises of diagnostic facility of all tests under one roof, pathology, uro-dynamics, physiotherapists, recreation space and more. 
 
Nina Foundation had exhibited a scientific poster about the weekly OPD at the Annual Conference of Association of Spine Surgeons of India (ASSICON) in 2014.
 
The free OPD offers:-
 
1) Hope Kit – It contains essential items for a better quality of life like macintosh, urine bag, Lox 2% gel, Dettol soap, cotton swab, cotton roll, paper soap, coconut oil, bournvita satchet, small mirror and Romson catheter.
 
 
2)  Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) in 3 languages: Hindi, Marathi and English. FAQ’s covers answers to all the common questions, which a friend with spinal cord injury would hesitate to ask. 
 
3) Assistive Technology-
Appropriate Wheelchairs, Callipers, Catheters, Medicines and home modification.
 
           
4) Homeopathy medicines couriered periodically.
 
5) Free transportation is arranged for some patients, who cannot afford to travel to and fro the OPD. 
 
6) Nina Foundation has a specially fabricated ramp at the OPD for a dignified entry and exit without any hassles.
 
Nina Foundation served its 100th Friend with Spinal Cord Injury in the OPD on 2 September 2015. Alka Nigam who came from Badlapur with her elderly mother was helped with travelling cost and all the assessment and counselling. Her chief complaints were bed sores, Urinary Tract Infection and piles.              
              
Nina Foundation urges hospitals, spine/orthopaedic and neuro surgeons, physiotherapists, urologists to connect their old and acute patients to the Nina Foundation OPD such that they can also get superior rehabilitation guidance to lead a better quality of life.
 
 
(Dr Ketna L Mehta is an educationist, editor, author and Founder Trustee of Nina Foundation that works for the rehabilitation of economically and socially disadvantaged people with spinal injuries. Her PhD Thesis was “Market Potential Study for a World Class Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Centre in Mumbai”. She is also Editor and Associate Dean Research, WeSchool. Ms Anupama Ganesh is Trustee of Nina Foundation. She launched the free Spinal Cord Injury OPD in 2014. Email- [email protected]. www.ninafoundation.org
 

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