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9 PM Daily NEWS Brief

9 PM Daily Brief – 6th October 2016

 


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NATIONAL

 

[1]. Bill to protect HIV community from bias gets approval

 The Hindu

 Context

The Union Cabinet has approved the long-awaited amendments to the HIV Bill, granting stronger protection to the country’s HIV community.

Situation in India

There are approximately 21 lakh persons estimated to be living with HIV in India and the percentage of patients receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) treatment currently stands at a mere 25.82% as against the global percentage of 41%, according to the 2015 Global Burden of Diseases (GBD)

The Union Cabinet has given its approval to introduce official amendments to the HIV

  • “The Bill seeks to prevent stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV.
  • These amendments will allow families that have faced discrimination to go to court against institutions or persons being unfair.
  • With the amendments, establishments keeping records of information of PLHIV have been asked to adopt data protection measures as the Bill requires that “no person shall be compelled to disclose his HIV status except with his informed consent, and if required by a court order.”
  • The “HIV and AIDS Bill, 2014” will bring legal accountability and establish a formal mechanism to probe discrimination complaints against those who discriminate against such people.

The Bill lists various grounds on which discrimination against HIV-positive persons and those living with them is prohibited.

These include

  1. the denial,
  2. termination,
  3. discontinuation or unfair treatment with regard to employment,
  4. educational establishments,
  5. health care services,
  6. residing or renting property,
  7. standing for public or private office, and
  8. Provision of insurance (unless based on actuarial studies).

Further, requirement for HIV testing as a pre-requisite for obtaining employment or accessing health care or education is also prohibited.

 

[2]. UN court rejects disarmament case against India

 The Hindu

Context

The International Court of Justice rejected nuclear disarmament cases filed by the Pacific nation of the Marshall Islands against Britain, India and Pakistan, as the case was out of its jurisdiction.

Background

On April 24, 2014, the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) filed applications in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to hold the nine nuclear-armed states accountable for violations of international law with respect to their nuclear disarmament obligations under the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and customary international law.

  • The nine states possessing nuclear arsenals are the United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea, and Israel.

Acceptance of jurisdiction

India, Pakistan, and the United Kingdom, having made declarations to accept the ICJ’s compulsory jurisdiction under article 36, paragraph 2 of the court’s statute, are obliged to participate in the case. (The other six countries that the Marshall Islands has filed cases against have not made similar declarations.)

Marshall islands (source: worldatlas.com) 

ICJ’s ruling

The International Court of Justice ruled that the Marshall Islands had failed to prove that a legal dispute over disarmament existed between it and the three nuclear powers before the case was filed in 2014, and that “consequently the court lacks jurisdiction”.

 

ECONOMY

 

[1]. Indo-Pak chill won’t impact S.Asia

The Hindu

Context

Standoff between New Delhi and Islamabad will not impact the growth prospects of the South Asian region including India, the Geneva-based ‘World Economic Forum’ has said.

Ahead of the WEF-Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) ‘India Economic Summit’ Director-general of CII said that the economy and business in India and South Asia would not get affected due to the tension at the India-Pakistan border.

Summit’s focus

Summit’s focus is on matters like digital economy, travel & tourism, energy, entrepreneurship, infrastructure, start-ups, skill development, gender equity, urbanisation, boosting manufacturing and urbanisation.

 

[2]. Automation threatens 69% jobs in India: World Bank

 The Hindu

Context

According to a World Bank research technology could fundamentally disrupt the pattern of traditional economic path in developing countries.

Pattern disruption

The traditional economic path from increasing productivity of agriculture to light manufacturing and then to full-scale industrialization may not be possible for all developing countries. In large parts of Africa, it is likely that technology could fundamentally disrupt this pattern.

Automation threats to Jobs

Research based on World Bank data has predicted that the proportion of jobs threatened by automation

  • In India 69 per cent
  • in China it is 77 per cent
  • in Ethiopia 85 per cent

If these countries are going to lose these many jobs, we then have to understand what paths to economic growth will be available for these countries and then adapt our approach to infrastructure accordingly.

 

[3]. Steel imports dip, Centre retains minimum price

The Hindu

 Context

The government has announced the continuation of minimum import price (MIP) on 66 steel items.

What is MIP?

It is a trade remedial measure. MIP (Minimum Import Price) is the minimum price per tonne that Indian firms have to pay while importing products into India.

Why government is in favour of continuation of MIP on steel items?

MIP will aid in strengthening India’s domestic steel market and reducing the distress of companies through introduction of fair play in competition.

  • Boost to steel industries: Declining imports along with growth in user industries such as automobiles, electrical appliances and infrastructure sector are expected to lend a boost to steel companies. Domestic steel demand is likely to grow 5.3 per cent this fiscal to reach 85.8 million tonnes

 

EDITORIAL

 

[1]. India will need freer trade’

The Hindu

Context

Singapore Prime Minister Lee HsienLoongis on a 5 day visit to India. He explains as to why he hopes that New Delhi will take a more liberal approach on freeing up trade and promoting regional integration

Singapore’s stand on LoC operation

We stand stoutly against all forms of terrorism and cross-border terror is a particular problem that India has. Singapore has a problem with cross-border terror too, because we are a very small country and it is quite possible for an attack to be mounted on Singapore from beyond our shores. So we absolutely understand the seriousness with which India takes this problem. I think these are problems India has to manage over a long term and you need a tactical response,

On RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership)

We hope that in RCEP negotiations India will take a more liberal approach on freeing up trade and promoting regional integration. Because as India needs to promote “Make in India” and exports to grow, it will need freer trade, not more protective trade.

In what way can India be more open to trade?

India’s approach has hitherto been one of self-sufficiency and trade was a very small proportion of GDP. India started to shift that with Dr. Manmohan Singh through the 1990s and when he became Prime Minister.

  • India’s growth rate increased because India was prepared to open up the economy, loosen government control, enable investments and free up the “animal spirits”. So Tata, Infosys, Mahindra went all over the world. But India have to allow other countries to operate inside its territory too. It cannot be a one-way exercise. The process of changing the environment and reimagining where India stands in the global environment still needs to be done.

Where does Singapore face the biggest bottlenecks in its economic relationship with India?

India’s rules are the consideration. You have multi-levels of government, you have a State government, a local government and many rules, and not all of them are consistent. Land acquisition is another thing investors are concerned about.

 

[2]. Amnesty by another name

 Indian express

Context

Article talks about VDS and IDS

A brief Comparison of the 1997 Voluntary Disclosure of Income Scheme and 2016 Income Declaration Scheme (IDS)

VDIS

  • The 1997 scheme was called an amnesty scheme because of the low tax that had to be paid.
  • Under it Rs 33,000 crore was declared and tax of about Rs 10,000 crore was collected.
  • Number of declarations in 1997 was over four lakh

IDS

  • Not names as amnesty but it also lowered the rated to be paid on declaration of black money.
  • Amount of Rs 65,250 crore is declared This is the largest amount declared as black money in the history of Indian taxation.  This is the largest amount declared as black money in the history of Indian taxation.
  • Number of declaration 64,275

 No more amnesty schemes

The government had also given an undertaking to the Supreme Court in 1997 that it would not initiate any more amnesty schemes.

Reason: The reason being that an amnesty scheme is unfair to the honest tax payers while those evading taxation get a concession for declaring their past income.

IDS is also an amnesty scheme

But the IDS is also an amnesty scheme because the penalty charged under it is less than what was being charged for tax evasion before the scheme was launched.

  • Before June 2016, if a person’s income was found to be black, the penalty was 100 per cent to 300 per cent of the tax evaded. Since the tax rate is 30 per cent, the penalty worked out to 30 per cent to 90 per cent of the income evaded; under the IDS, the penalty is 15 per cent of the income. In this sense, the IDS runs counter to the government’s commitment to the Supreme Court in 1997

Comparison

This author estimates the current size of the black economy at 60 per cent of the GDP; at current prices, it would be Rs 90 lakh crore in 2016-17. Thus, what has been declared is roughly 0.7 per cent of the black income generated this year.

VDS: The declarations under the 1997 scheme was roughly 5 per cent of the black income generated that year.

Barely 0.2-0.3 per cent of the black wealth has been declared in the 2016 scheme.

No of Declarations: The number of declarations in 1997 was over four lakh; now, surprisingly, it is a sixth of this number.

Data would not be revealed

The government has announced that it would not reveal any of the data collected through the scheme to any agency; not even the CAG.

CAG

CAG is a statutory body with powers to audit the accounts of the government. It is the CAG that pointed to the various infirmities in the 1997 scheme. Giving data to the CAG does not violate any confidentiality

Why the IDS has garnered much less than it should have?

If “round tripping” can be done at five per cent to 10 per cent of the amount of the funds, why pay 45 per cent under the IDS?

Further, if the government, promises not to resort to vigorous pursuit of businessmen — under “ease of doing business” — they may be under no pressure to come clean. A person who has hoarded black wealth can only be caught in a raid; such a person will not declare black wealth voluntarily unless there is a cost to not declaring.

Conclusion

It is reported that the income tax officers pressurised people under their charge to make declarations in the last three weeks .The “success” of the IDS scheme in the last three weeks also suggests that if the income tax department applies pressure, black money can be unearthed.

 

[2]. Cashless India: Challenges and benefits

Live mint

Context

According to a report by payments company Visa Inc. Titled ‘Accelerating the Growth of Digital Payments in India: A Five–year outlook Greater usage of digital payments will save trillions of rupees for the Indian economy as it will help bring down the cost of cash.

Why so much cash is used in India?

BENEFITS

Accelerating the growth of digital payments.

 

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