SECURE SYNOPSIS: 16 June 2017
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General Studies – 1;
Topic: Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues
Sati Pratha or tradition of widow burning at the funeral pyre of her husband has been a shameful social evil and an age old practice in Indian society. A widow was burned either with her tacit consent or most of the times forcefully by her in-laws after the death of her husband. The practice of Sati or self-immolation by the widow was associated with a kind of virtue. The ‘virtue’ of this practice was defined by a religious logic that it was inauspicious for widow to live after the death of her husband. A widow who agreed to self-immolate herself at the funeral pyre of her husband was considered to be very virtuous and attained to the status of Sati Mata or Sati Goddess.
However culmination of different factors and circumstances helped British administration to end the practice in 1829.
Factors that led to abolition of Sati system in British India-
- Role of Christian missionaries-
The abolition of sati in 1829 owes much to the efforts of the Christian missionaries. They worked against the British government, which was hesitant to take any action against this custom. They sent investigators collected data, compiled statistics of the victims, and they preached and published books and pamphlets against the rite, and thus helped to create in Britain an anti-sati public opinion.
- Role of Enlightened Indians-
Early reformers like Raja Ram Mohan Roy led a crusade against the evil practice of Sati. He and his followers preached against the Sati, persuaded relatives of the widow to not to let her immolate, kept watch on the river banks etc. He gave references of ancient Hindu texts to the conservatives to disown the practice in letter and spirit. He actively worked with the government to ban the practice.
- Spread of modern thoughts and awareness-
The efforts of reformers like Raja Ram Mohan Roy and Christian missionaries helped to create awareness about the evil practice of Sati and to penetrate the modern thoughts in Indian society particularly to the middle class.
- Role of GG William Bentinck-
William Bentinck marshaled the courage to take firm step in abolishing the practice of Sati and issued regulation in 1829 to ban the sati practice.
Role of Hindi community and British in abolition of Sati system-
- Though the Hindus like Raja Ram Mohan Roy and his followers were in support of abolition of sati practice, they formed the minority group within the Hindu community. Large numbers of Hindu conservatives zealously supported the practice.
- In 1817, the universally respected chief pandit at the supreme court, Mrityunjaya Vidyalankar Chattopadhyaya, was officially asked to give a vyavastha (ruling) on sati. After consulting some 30 texts belonging to various schools, he concluded that though burning was termed optional, it was still not to be recommended. Vidyalankar’s tract became the unacknowledged starting point for Ram Mohan Roy in his anti-sati campaign.
- To build his case, Roy had to selectively enlist the support of ancient rishis like Manu and Yajnavalkya, while condemning authorities such as Gotama. Till this time, the anti-sati campaign was exclusively all-European involving missionaries, government and British public opinion.
- With Roy, sati became a topic of debate among Hindus. Had Bengal’s Hindu leadership rallied behind Roy, the colonial administration would have had no difficulty in banning sati immediately. But it was not Hindus versus sati, but conservative Hindus versus Roy and his supporters, backed by Christian missionaries.
- The British recognized sati as a barbarian practice, but were aware that it had been in vogue since ancient times and enjoyed scriptural support.
- The colonial administration took 40 years to make up its mind. As early as 1789, it instructed its officials in the mofussil not to use official power to prevent sati on the grounds that it was “authorized by the tenets of the religion of the Hindus”. In 1813, guided by court pandits, the government decided to regulate the practice, thus unwittingly encouraging it.
- Finally after the support from Indians like Ram Mohan Roy, the firm decision was taken by Governor General William Bentinck to ban the practice by issuing the regulation of 1829.
Thus there was great divide among the Hindus about the practice of sati. Majority of Hindus still then supported the practice. It was result of the minority Hindu block led by Raja Ram Mohan Roy and Christian missionaries that British government could overcome the hesitance to abolish the Sati practice.
General Studies – 2
Topic: Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
2) In a welcome move this week, India has ratified two key global conventions meant to keep children away from work, decades since they were originally adopted by the International Labour Organisation. What’s the significance of this ratification? Do you think this ratification would benefit all stakeholders? Critically comment. (200 Words)
Indian government has ratified two fundamental conventions of International Labour Organization (ILO) to address concerns related to child labour. The two conventions are — Minimum Age Convention (No 138) concerns minimum age for admission to employment and Worst Form of Child Labour Convention (No 182) concerns prohibition and immediate action for elimination of the worst form of Child labour.
Significance of this step-
- With India ratifying the two conventions, Convention 182 will cover more than 99% of the world’s children and the coverage of Convention 138 will leap from approximately 60 percent to almost 80%.
- The ratification of the Convention No 138 and 182 would move a step ahead in the direction of achieving the goal of eradication of child labour from the country as it would be legally binding to comply with the provisions of the Conventions.
- India would join majority of countries who have adopted the legislation to prohibit and place severe restrictions on the employment and work of children.
- The step would act as big boost in attaining the Sustainable Development Goals like Good Health and Well-being (goal no 3) and Quality Education (goal no 4).
- Government has recently enacted Child labour (Prohibition and Prevention) amendment Act, 2016 – banning employment of child labour below 14 years of age in all occupations and processes. It further prohibits employment of adolescents (14-18 years of age) in hazardous occupations. The ratified ILO conventions run supplementary to this act and would create healthy environment for the well-being of the children.
- Countries that ratify these ILO conventions have to go through a periodical reporting system every 4 years. Thus government would be under the international pressure to implement the conventions in its true spirit.
Would this ratification benefit the stakeholders?
- The stakeholders like Children and poor sections of society would be the greatest beneficiaries of this ratification.
- As mentioned above, government would be under the legal liability to eradicate the child labor. Child labor constitutes around 13% of the total workforce in India. These 10.1 million children are the potential beneficiary of the move.
- At the same time poor and marginalized sections of the society who could not afford educations and other facilities for their children will have great hopes from the move.
- This move would also benefit the NGOs working for eradicating the child labor as their efforts would be strengthened and supplemented by government.
Industries and businesses particularly those in informal sector would come under strict regulation by government to check any violation of the provisions of the Indian law and ILO conventions.
The ratification of the ILO conventions reflects India’s resolve to reduce and eliminate the child labor and to give children their due rights of childhood. However just ratifying conventions would not make much difference until and unless government takes firm steps for their implementations.
General Studies – 3
Topic: Indian economy – growth and development
The global economy has been recovering from the recession of 2009 at a tepid rate (at approximately 2.5 per cent per annum). The main causes of the current slow global growth are declining populations, protectionism, de-leveraging and no major productivity-enhancing revolution. While for a majority of countries, a high or higher growth rate would be elusive, India has a great opportunity before it.
Why is domestic consumption important for Indian economy at present?
- With roughly 59 per cent share in India’s GDP, household consumption spending has been the major driver of economic growth and has, on many occasions, acted as a protective shield to global demand shocks.
- India’s vibrant domestic market can make up the losses incurred in the decline in export due to slowing of economies in the western world.
- India also has low reliance on external savings to fund its growth. As per S&P Ratings, the banks are mainly deposit-funded and don’t rely on wholesale funding to grow their loan books.
- Population growth boosts economic growth through an increase in the workforce, aided by an increase in productivity. India is in the throes of a demographic dividend which would be an impetus to growth, if the new entrants to the work force are productively employed.
- Also thriving domestic market is in better position to attract the investments from the foreign players which in turn would give impetus to the economic growth.
- With the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana that has led to opening of millions of new bank accounts, and thereby more savings, banking sector in India would play important role in sustaining economic growth by disbursing more credit to individuals and businesses.
- The present government’s encouragements to cooperative and competitive federalism, states in India are becoming major drivers of economy in India’s growth.
- Recent economic and tax reforms like GST, increase in FDI limits, single window clearance system etc coupled with increasing digitalization offers India unique opportunity in terms of creating more resources, rationalizing expenditure and creating inclusive economic growth.
As is the rule, there will be gainers and losers in a changing world. The gainers are likely to be countries less reliant on global trade, domestic consumption-driven, with an increasing population, a scope for productivity improvement and a low per capita base. It would be fair to conclude that India’s GDP growth rate of 7.5 per cent is good and sustainable: So also is the potential target of 8 per cent plus.
Topic: Resource mobilization
Introduction :- Goods & Services Tax (GST) is an indirect tax throughout India to replace taxes levied by the central and state governments. It is introduced as The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty Second Amendment) Act 2017, following the passage of Constitution 122nd Amendment Bill. The GST is governed by GST Council and its Chairman is Finance Minister of India. Under GST, goods and services will be taxed at the following rates, 0%, 5%, 12%, 18%, 28%. There is a special rate of 0.25% on rough precious and semi-precious stones and 3% on gold.
GST is set to launch from 1July 2017 midnight.
The reform process in indirect tax regime of India was started in 1986 by Vishwanath Pratap Singh by introduction of Modified Value Added Tax (MODVAT).
Goods and services tax (GST) taxes including central excise duty, services tax, additional customs duty, surcharges, state-level value added tax and Octroi. Other levies which are currently applicable on inter-state transportation of goods are also likely to be done away with in GST regime.
The following taxes will be bound together by the GST:
- Central Excise Duty
- Commercial Tax
- Value Added Tax (VAT)
- Food Tax
- Central Sales Tax (CST)
- Entertainment Tax
- Entry Tax
- Purchase Tax
- Luxury Tax
- Advertisement tax
GST will be levied on all transactions such as sale, transfer, purchase, barter, lease, or import of goods and/or services. India will adopt a dual GST model, meaning that taxation is administered by both the Union and State Governments. Transactions made within a single state will be levied with Central GST (CGST) by the Central Government and State GST (SGST) by the government of that state. For inter-state transactions and imported goods or services, an Integrated GST (IGST) is levied by the Central Government. GST is a consumption based tax, therefore, taxes are paid to the state where the goods or services are consumed not the state in which they were produced. IGST complicates tax collection for State Governments by disabling them to collect the tax owed to them directly from the Central Government. Under the previous system, a state would have to only deal with a single government in order to collect tax revenue.
Uncertainties still remaining after implementation of GST :-
- Effective working of the GST Network (GSTN), the IT backbone of the new tax regime, is critical for successful roll-out of GST.
- Another administrative uncertainty is about the consequences of the messy overlapping jurisdiction of multiple tax authorities. All except the smallest taxpayers will be under dual control of both the state and Central tax authorities. Moreover, suppliers operating in multiple states are required to register in every state where they operate. In other words, taxpayers will be in the administrative jurisdiction of all these tax authorities at the same time and could be audited by any of them. This imposes a huge compliance burden on the taxpayer and opens the door wide for selective rent-seeking.
- The revenue impact is a third area of uncertainty. The GST was intended to be revenue neutral, but that seems unlikely. GST being a consumption tax, producing states are likely to lose revenue. Also, tax rates for most items, barring a few, have been fixed close to or below the prevailing rates. Hence, after netting input tax credits and the elimination of cascading, i.e., tax on tax, indirect tax revenue is bound to fall. The states needn’t worry about this since the Central government is committed to compensating their losses for the next five years. But who will compensate the Centre?
- Closely related to the issue of revenue impact is the question of tax evasion. One of the claimed advantages of a value-added tax like GST is that the input tax credit system creates a paper trail of transactions and an incentive for those outside the tax net to be brought into it, reducing tax evasion.
- The impact of GST on resource allocation is yet another uncertainty. When commodities, including services, are taxed at different rates that changes relative prices. Commodities taxed at higher rates become more expensive relative to those taxed at lower rates. If demand is price sensitive, it shifts away from items that have become relatively more expensive.
- There is uncertainty also about the creation of a national common market. The potential gains in logistics efficiency from a common market with no artificial barriers between states are enormous. It could significantly reduce costs across the board, with consequent gains in India’s competitive strength in international markets. How much of this potential will be realized remains a question. The requirement that suppliers operating in multiple states must register in each state is already an artificial barrier to inter-state trade.
Conclusion :- These many uncertainties notwithstanding, the GST will prove to be a major step forward in tax reform. Undoubtedly the GST, as it has been designed, and the related administrative arrangements are flawed in many ways. But these defects can be reduced over time if not altogether eliminated. Gradual but sustained improvement, with reversals from time to time, has been the hallmark of tax reform in India during the past 40 years or so. In time, India’s GST system will come to be recognized as the best practice in designing a value-added tax for complex federal systems with overlapping tax jurisdictions like ours.