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The Week That Was:

From: Vartaa Editorial Team on Aug 8, 2016

PM Modi breaks his silence

Runaway cow vigilantism that is threatening the BJP's electoral prospects with the Dalits in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh finally led to the PM breaking his silence and denounce it in strong terms. The PM was speaking at a town hall style interaction in Delhi and said that cows are more threatened by plastic than butchers. He urged the people to expose the pseudo cow protectors and called upon state governments to take action against them. Not everyone was convinced though, particularly the opposition parties, who called it a belated attempt to address this issue only to preserve crucial Dalit votes in upcoming elections.

New CM for Gujarat

Vijay Rupani has been sworn in as new CM of Gujarat after ex-CM Anandiben Patel was forced to quit amidst the Patel agitation and Dalit violence incidents. The new CM though has his hands full as the BJP is on the political backfoot in the state and needs to make up favorability numbers again with the Patel and Dalit communities to retain power in the 2017 assembly elections.

GST Bill clears Rajya Sabha

After many frustrating hurdle, the government finally managed to get the GST Bill passed in the Rajya Sabha this past week. The Bill now goes to the Lok Sabha where both the PM and the Congress seem set to support its passage making the new tax a reality. The GST regime is expected to commence from 1st April 2017 after the bill is ratified by all states.

Rio Olympics and Indian hopes

The 2016 Olympics began this past week with a grand opening ceremony and shooter Abhinav Bindra leading the Indian contingent. While hopes are high that the Indians would better their tally of 6 medals from the previous games in London, the start was not so auspicious with Jitu Rai and Soumyajit Ghosh being knocked out in first rounds in their shooting and TT events. The tennis doubles duo of Leander Paes and Rohan Bopanna too crashed out in the first round. The hockey team however was off to a winning start, the first time since 2004 that they won a game at the Olympics.

Opinions you must read:

  • The Mint lauds the passage of the GST Bill but reminds readers that much needs to be done to administer the tax smoothly.
  • Do political dynasties hurt or aid democracies? Read on here.
  • The Indian Express calls out the Supreme Court for a narrow interpretation in its ruling that upheld the primacy of Delhi's LG over its elected government.

Chart of the Week

The US has been the favorite international destination for Indian students. Their numbers in the US have steadily been rising. In fact, in the last 9 years, the number of Indian students studying in the US has increased 75%. According to the Institute of International Education, there were 132,000 Indian students studying in the US as of 2015. Over a similar period, the number of Chinese students however has increased by 400%! This increase has been particularly noteworthy since 2009. In 2009, Indian and Chinese student numbers were comparable at around 100,000. This was the aftermath of the great recession in the US but the Chinese economy was at its strongest around this time.

The growing numbers of Indian students in the US means more Indians have access to quality higher education. A lot of credit goes to Indian banks which have made educational loans accessible to these students. On the flip side, this has also meant that finding a job in the US for these students has become a competitive affair. This is the case not only because the pool of qualified international applicants has grown considerably and number of opportunities have not grown as fast but also because of the limited number of work visas. The number of work visas called the H1B visa is limited to 85,000. The number of students graduating far exceeds this number which means a lot Indian students have to return to India after wrapping up the education.

This is actually good news for the India economy. A trained, highly-skilled cohort of Indians with international experience and a fresh perspective is now contributing to the Indian economy. Snapdeal cofounder Kunal Bahl and Naveen Tiwari of InMobi are poster children of this cohort.