Insights Daily Current Events, 23 July 2015
RS panel backs majority of GST Bill proposals
With the Rajya Sabha Select Committee endorsing almost all provisions in the GST Bill, the chances of the Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill, meant to introduce the Goods and Services Tax (GST), clearing Parliament in the current session has brightened.
- The committee was headed by Bhupender Yadav of the BJp. The committee recently submitted its report to the Parliament.
Recommendations made by the committee:
- The GST rate should not go beyond 20% as standard rate and 14% as reduced rate.
- Full compensation from the Centre for any revenue loss to the States during the transition.
- The provision in the Bill that the Centre “may” compensate the States for up to five years for any revenue loss be replaced with a commitment of compensation for five years.
Status of the Bill:
- The Lok Sabha has already approved the Bill. It will now have to be taken up for passage in the Rajya Sabha.
- As it is a Constitution amendment Bill, it will have to be approved by two-thirds of the members in the Upper House, where the ruling BJP does not enjoy a majority. The government will have to depend upon the support of regional parties and allies.
Various demands by the opposition parties:
- Cap GST at 18% to avoid imposing unfair tax burden on consumers.
- Exclude petroleum from the ambit of GST.
- Reduce centre’s say in GST council.
Areas of conflicts:
- Some see this bill as pro-corporates. They say this bill aims at promoting the interests of corporates who want a free flow of goods and services.
- The GST Council, as a constitutional body, would impinge on the legislative sovereignty of both Parliament and the State legislature and would jeopardise the autonomy of the States in fiscal matters.
- The GST Bill seeks to establish a GST Council tasked with optimising tax collection for goods and services by the State and Centre.
- Composition: The Council will consist of the Union Finance Minister (as Chairman), the Union Minister of State in charge of revenue or Finance, and the Minister in charge of Finance or Taxation or any other, nominated by each State government.
- The GST Council will be the body that decides which taxes levied by the Centre, States and local bodies will go into the GST; which goods and services will be subjected to GST; and the basis and the rates at which GST will be applied.
Sources: The Hindu, prsindia.
Privacy not a right, Aadhaar legit: Centre
The Centre has told the Supreme Court that Right to Privacy is not a fundamental right under the Constitution, adding it cannot be invoked to scrap the Aadhar scheme. it has further said that “Right to Privacy is not absolute and is subject to restrictions.”
The centre’s reply came in response to petitions which contended that the scheme of Aadhar based on collecting personal data violates the citizens right to privacy.
What petitioners say?
- Petitioners feel iris scans and fingerprinting arean invasion of privacy.
- Such personal information would help the State possess unbridled powers over its citizens and provide an easy opportunity to snoop on their private lives.
- Petioners also point out that nowhere in the Aadhaar scheme is the word ‘biometrics’ used; yet there are iris scans being done in the camps. Even the enrolment form does not use the word ‘bio-metrics’.
On a September 23, 2013 order, the court had directed that “no person should suffer for not getting the Aadhaar card.” In March this year, the Supreme Court had confirmed that the Aadhaar number was not compulsory, and further, officials who insisted on them would be taken to task.
Sources: The Hindu, ET.
No dual citizenship for Devyani’s children
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has rejected IFS officer Devyani Khobragade’s plea for dual citizenship for her two daughters who are U.S. nationals, saying Indian law does not allow this.
Khobragade had approached the Home Ministry officials recently and requested them to consider her plea.
What has the Home Ministry said?
Khobragade’s children are not eligible for dual citizenship. Her daughters were born in India but took U.S. citizenship as Ms. Khobragade’s husband is an American national.
- Her children had Indian passports too. The IFS officer is accused of suppressing this fact from her employer (Ministry of External Affairs).
- After coming to know that the children were having U.S. passports, the MEA revoked their Indian passports and this was challenged in the Delhi High Court.
- The government took the action as dual citizenship is granted only to those children who were born outside India.
- The Ministry had said that Devyani Khobragade’s submission that the US passports were only used for travel to USA does not in any way dilute the gravity and seriousness of her misdemeanour and are blatant violations of Indian Passports Act.
Children of foreign diplomats, who are born in India, are also given dual citizenship till the period of their parents’ service in India.
Sources: The Hindu, ET.
Himachal HC bans buffalo, bull fights
The Himachal Pradesh High Court has imposed a complete ban on all types of buffalo and bull fights in the State, stating that it is against the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960.
- The court has termed them a severe brutality against the animals.
The court order said that all animal fights, involving bulls or buffaloes, birds, roosters or dogs are against the Act.
- This decision came based on a PIL petition, moved by People for Animals NGO in Kasauli in 2013, seeking implementation of the Supreme Court judgment prohibiting bull fights in Tamil Nadu.
- The petitioner had sought to do away with the century-old practice during the village fairs in Himachal Pradesh as cruelty could not be justified in the name of religious practices and traditions or for the sake of entertainment as it violates the provisions of the PCA Act.
In May of 2014, the Supreme Court had banned jallikattu and bullock cart racing in Tamil Nadu, citing animal welfare issues.
- Jallikattu is a bull taming sport played in Tamil Nadu as a part of Pongal celebrations on Mattu Pongal day.
- Jallikattu is a Tamil tradition called ‘Yeru thazhuvuthal’ in Sangam literature(meaning, to embrace bulls), popular amongst warriors during the Tamil classical period.
- According to legend, in olden days the game was used by women to choose their husbands. Successful “matadors” were chosen as grooms.
- Jallikattu is based on the concept of “flight or fight”. All castes participate in the event. The majority of jallikattu bulls belong to the pulikulam breed of cattle.
Controversy surrounding Jallikattu:
- Injuries and even deaths occur in jallikattu.
- Two hundred have died over the past two decades. Unlike in Spanish bullfighting, the bull is not killed. There are rarely any casualties suffered by the bulls.
- Jallikattu is loaded against the matadors, unlike in Spain bullfighting. For instance, the bull’s horns are sharpened and the matador cannot use any weapons.
- The Animal Welfare Board of India took the case to the Supreme Court. The SC banned the game in May 2014 because of the cruelty to animals and the threat to public safety involved. Villagers throw themselves on top of the terrified animals in an effort to “tame” them and claim the prize. This is opposed by animal advocates.
- SC’s observation: Forcing a bull and keeping it in the waiting area for hours and subjecting it to the scorching sun is not for the animal’s well-being. Forcing and pulling the bull by a nose rope into the narrow, closed enclosure or ‘vadi vassal’ (entry point), subjecting it to all forms of torture, fear, pain and suffering by forcing it to go the arena and also over-powering it in the arena by bull tamers, are not for the well-being of the animal.
Sources: The Hindu, IE, ET.
TRAI names firms faulting on call drop service norms
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has named Vodafone, Idea, Reliance and Airtel among the cell phone service providers failing to meet the quality of service norms in Delhi or Mumbai, especially on mobile call drops.
- The audit, done by an independent agency in the two metros, on behalf of the regulator, found that Tata (CDMA) in Delhi and Bharti Airtel in Mumbai are the only service providers meeting the benchmark of less than 2% call drops.
- The drive was conducted by TRAI in view of complaints on call drops and other network issues on June 23 and June 24 in Mumbai and July 9 to 11 in Delhi.
- The number of call drop complaints by mobile phone subscribers has been on the rise, especially in metros. However, operators, on their part, have cited lack of spectrum and delay in its allocation as one of the reasons for network-related issues along with hurdles in installing mobile towers due to radiation issues.
What is a Call Drop?
- There is no standard definition of a dropped call. In telecommunications, it referes to the telephone calls which, due to technical reasons, were cut off before the speaking parties had finished their conversation and before one of them had hung up (dropped calls).
- There are many reasons why a call drops, including network infrastructure, spectrum allocation, traffic, as well as the handsets that consumers use.
- It is the independent regulator of the telecommunications business in India.
- It was established in 1997 by an Act of Parliament to regulate telecom services and tariffs in India.
- In January 2000, TRAI was amended to establish the Telecom Disputes Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) to take over the adjudicatory functions of the TRAI. The TDSAT was set up to resolve any dispute between a licencor and a licensee, between two or more service providers, between a service provider and a group of consumers. In addition, any direction, TRAI orders or decisions can be challenged by appealing to TDSAT.
Sources: The Hindu, ET, TRAI.
Expansion of Vanbandhu Kalyan Yojna
Union Minister of State for Tribal Affairs Shri Mansukhbhai Dhanjibhai recently said that the Vanbandhu Kalyan Yojana will gradually be expanded.
About Vanbandhu Kalyan Yojana:
The Scheme “Vanbandhu Kalyan Yojana (VKY)” was included as a Central Sector Scheme in the Annual Plan of Ministry of Tribal Affairs with an initial allocation of Rs. 100.00 Crore for 2014-15.
Aim of the scheme: The VKY is broadly a process, aiming at overall development of tribal people with an outcome-base approach, which would ensure that all the intended benefits goods and services to the tribal people through various programmes/schemes of Central and State Governments covered under the respective Tribal Sub-Plans actually reach them by way of appropriate convergence.
Through VKY, it is envisaged to develop the backward blocks in the Schedule V States as model Blocks with visible infrastructural facilities to further the mission development while ensuring the following:
- Qualitative and sustainable employment.
- Emphasis on quality education & higher education.
- Accelerated economic development of tribal areas.
- Health for all.
- Housing for all.
- Safe drinking water for all at doorsteps.
- Irrigation facilities suited to the terrain.
- All weather roads with connectivity to the nearby town/cities.
- Universal availability of electricity.
- Urban development.
- Robust institutional mechanism to roll the vehicle of development with sustainability.
- Promotion and conservation of Tribal Cultural Heritage.
- Promotion of Sports in Tribal Areas.
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The Constitution 122nd Amendment Bill is related to:Correct
Consider the following statements regarding the GST council, proposed to be set up under the provisions of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill:
- Union Finance Minister will act as the chairman of the council.
- The council will replace the Finance Commission of India.
- The GST Council will decide which taxes levied by the Centre, States and local bodies will go into the GST.
Which of the above statements is/are correct?Correct
Which of the following is/are correctly matched?
- INS Sardar Patel: Mangalore.
- INS Mandovi: Goa
- INS Kadamba: Karwar
- INS Dwarka: Vishakapattanam
Choose the correct answer using the codes given below:Correct