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The Hindu Important Articles 14th July,2017

No GST on old gold sold to jewellers

Sale of old gold ornaments by individuals to jewellers won’t be subject to Goods and Services Tax (GST), the Government said.

Responding to a query in a GST Master Class on Wednesday, tax authorities had suggested that the sale of old gold jewellery by a consumer to a jeweller would be subject to GST at the rate of 3% under the reverse charge mechanism of the GST law and jewellers could claim input tax on such purchases.

“On further examination, it is felt that the issue needs to be clarified,” an official statement said. The central GST law requires registered entities like jewellers to pay tax on taxable goods supplied to them by unregistered entities under what is known as reverse charge mechanism.

The law also defines supplier as someone who supplies goods or services for a consideration in the course or furtherance of business. “Even though the sale of old gold by an individual is for a consideration, it cannot be said to be in the course or furtherance of his business, and hence does not qualify to be a supply per se.”

The Hindu Important Hindu Articles 14th July,2017

It’s not help, it’s work

We need a legislation to regulate domestic work

Employing a help in house? Only after verification,” says the ad’s headline. Below, in capital letters, appears a warning: “An unverified domestic help can pose a serious security risk.” And then a call to action: “Contact your beat constable or local police station for domestic help verification.”

The copy is set against a visual of a cop taking a picture of a young girl, presumably the domestic help, while an elderly woman, her employer, looks on. The girl picked to represent the ‘domestic help’ has the features of an adivasi, is slightly built, and dark-complexioned. She is shown standing, in one corner of the frame, while the cop and her employer are seated.

Readers of English newspapers would be familiar with this ad campaign, urging them to get their domestic helps verified by the police. Of late, these ads have become a matter of great concern for unions, domestic workers, and social activists, who say the campaign reeks of class prejudice.

But what they find most objectionable is the criminalisation of people on the basis of their occupation. Copies of so-called police verification forms are doing the rounds of housing societies across Delhi. Domestic workers are being made to fill up the form and submit them to the nearest police station.

The data sought by the form includes, among other things, the domestic help’s “petwords of speech”, “physical built”, “complexion” and “handwriting specimen”, besides descriptions of eyes, hair, tattoo marks, and prints of all the fingers of both hands. No such information is sought about the employer, despite there being ample evidence to suggest that the security threat works the other way too.

Indeed, hardly a week goes by without some news report about a domestic help being abused by her employer. Cases of torture, beatings, sexual assault, and incarceration are common. If anything, one could argue that in this sector, it is the employer who poses a bigger security threat — to the employee.

Lack of recognition

For the record, no other category of workers is required to register themselves with the police. In a country where 93% of the workforce is in the unorganised sector and therefore beyond the purview of most labour laws, domestic workers represent a new low in terms of disempowerment: they are not even recognised as workers. Their work — cooking, cleaning, dish-washing, baby-sitting — is not recognised as work by the state. Criminalisation is thus the last straw.

India has only two laws that, in a roundabout way, construe domestic helps as workers. The Unorganised Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008, (UWSSA) and the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013. While the former is a social welfare scheme, the latter is aims to protect working women in general. Neither of these recognises domestic helps as rights-bearing workers.

Yet this recognition is a necessary pre-condition for state regulation. Strangely enough, it exists — in the form of a draft National Policy for Domestic Workers. This policy not only calls for promoting awareness of domestic work as a “legitimate labour market activity”, but also recommends amending existing labour laws to ensure that domestic workers enjoy all the labour rights that other workers do. But the government seems to be in no hurry to adopt it.

Domestic work as an economic activity is too vast and employs too many to remain unregulated. Though the 2011 NSSO data put the number of domestic workers at 3.9 million, trade unions estimate the number to be around 10 million. Most of these are from vulnerable communities – Adivasis, Dalits or landless OBCs. Nearly all of them are migrant workers. And an overwhelming number are women.

The apparently endless supply of domestic workers has a lot to do with the decline of employment opportunities in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors, which took a hit post-2008. At the same time, demand kept rising, as the entry of middle class and upper middle class women into the male-dominated world of work was not matched in scale by a corresponding entry of men into the (feminised) realm of unpaid housework.

Poorer women from the hinterlands stepped in to fill the labour gap, for some remuneration. Today, the economic value of housework is no longer disputed. But the nexus of the state and the market has managed to keep domestic work outside the realm of economic regulation. Neither the Maternity Benefits Act nor the Minimum Wages Act or any of the scores of other labour laws apply to domestic work. Domestic workers can be hired and fired at will. The employer has no legally binding obligations.

A regulatory framework

Some have attempted to justify the government’s reluctance to regulate domestic work on the grounds that the workplace is a private household which should not be encroached upon by the state. But this argument does not hold since the anti-sexual harassment law recognises the private household as a workplace. Besides, we already have a draft legislation that presents a model for regulating domestic work without inviting the state into the living room, as it were.

The National Platform for Domestic Workers submitted a draft bill, the Domestic Workers Regulation of Work and Social Security Bill, 2016, to the government in January. Going beyond state-centric welfare measures, it calls for the compulsory registration of the employer and the employee with the District Board for regulation of domestic workers. Unlike the UWSSA, which puts the onus on the state, it mandates the collection of cess from the employer for the maintenance of a social security fund for domestic workers, whose access would be mediated through an identity card.

This framework achieves both the objectives of police verification — security, and documentation of identification data. But in a refreshing contrast, it does so not by criminalising domestic helps but by empowering them as rights-bearing workers.

Thus, to view domestic workers as a security threat is but another way of denying them the status of workers. The policy mindset regarding domestic workers must shift from a law-and-order paradigm to one about workers’ rights. A good place to start would be to consider enacting a Domestic Workers Regulation of Work and Social Security Act

The Hindu Important Article 13th July,2017

CPI inflation slows to 1.54%, IIP at 1.72%

Inflation measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) slipped below the central bank’s lower tolerance level to 1.54% in June and industrial output growth decelerated to 1.72% in May, prompting Chief Economic Advisor (CEA) Arvind Subramanian to hint at the need to reboot monetary policy assumptions including ‘systematic inflation forecast errors’ he had red-flagged earlier.

“The number of 1.54% is historically low and reflects the firm and ongoing consolidation of macro-economic stability,” Mr. Subramanian said soon after the data was released. “The last time we saw such inflation — according to a slightly different CPI series (IW) — was in 1999 and before that in August 1978.”

Retail inflation slowed for the third straight month, largely driven by a 1.17% contraction in food prices. Growth in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) slowed for the second consecutive month, with consumer durables’ production contracting by 4.55% in May, following April’s 6.05% contraction.

“This low, heartening (CPI) number is consistent with our analysis for some time now — and which will be fully elaborated in the forthcoming Survey — of a paradigm shift in the inflationary process to low levels of inflation, a shift that I think has been missed by all, reflected in the large one-sided, and systematic inflation forecast errors that have been made,” Mr. Subramanian said.

“Clearly, this low number and what it implies about underlying price pressures — as well as the latest IIP data just released — is something that, I am sure, all policy makers will reflect upon very, very carefully,” he said.

‘Deflationary trends’

Sanjeev Sanyal, Principal Economic Advisor, in the Department of Economic Affairs tweeted: “I share @arvindsubraman’s concerns about deflationary trends. Policymakers should follow real data rather than error prone forecasting models.”

Inflation in clothing and footwear slowed to 4.17% from 4.4% in May, while the fuel and light category witnessed a sharper slowdown, with the reading easing to 4.54% from 5.46%.

“The trends in the overall consumer price index and in food prices were expected, but have been sharper than anticipated,” D.K. Srivastava, Chief Policy Advisor at EY India said. “In my view, it is the outcome of demand and supply factors. Demand is subdued and supply is buoyant. That is why there is a sharp downward trend.”

In the IIP, mining and quarrying witnessed a sharp slowdown in May, contracting 0.89% from a growth of 3.23% in April. Manufacturing activity also slowed to 1.21% from 2.35%. “The subdued growth in manufacturing is worrying as some of the major sectors like capital goods, automobiles and textiles have shown degrowth,” A Didar Singh, Secretary General of FICCI said

The Hindu Important Article 13th July,2017

Bitcoin trade may come under SEBI

The government is considering the introduction of a regulatory regime for virtual or crypto currencies, such as Bitcoin, that would enable the levy of the Goods and Services Tax on their sale.

The new regime may possibly bring their trading under the oversight of the stock market regulator, Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).

The idea is to treat such currency in a manner similar to gold sold digitally, so that it can be traded on registered exchanges in a bid to “promote” a formal tax base, while keeping a tab on their use for illegal activities such as money laundering, terror funding and drug trafficking

The Hindu Important Articles 12th July,2017

Mothers as monitors

Ready-to-eat fortified meals are not the best solution to tackle malnutrition among children

On the occasion of World Hunger Day on May 28, Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi had spoken eloquently about the need to serve ready-to-eat fortified meals to tackle malnutrition in the country. India still has an unenviable track record when it comes to tackling malnutrition among children and pregnant women. What was not surprising was the similarity in approach of Ms. Gandhi and her predecessor, Renuka Chowdhury, towards addressing the issue of malnutrition among the very young. While expressing horror at the quality of meals served to children between the age group of six months to five years, both the ministers found an easy solution in ready-to-serve meals.

Two States, two examples

In a country of 1.31 billion people, how difficult can the task of monitoring food for malnourished and starving children be? Eight years ago, in Bihar’s Bettiah district (also known as West Champaran), someone had worked out a simple solution to ensure that quality food was served.

The district administration decided to enrol mothers, who kept a watch on what their children were fed in mid-day meals at school. The logic: which mother would cheat on feeding her own? On the blackboard, the menu of the day was displayed. On the rolls were mothers who cooked nutritious meals for the children. It was a heart-warming sight to see kids holding their shining plates above their heads marching in single file to the school. The aroma of freshly cooked food wafted in the premises. The food, an essential ingredient for their survival. The quality, assured.

A similar approach was followed in Thane district of Pune a few years ago in the anganwadi centres after the district had earned notoriety when Grade III and Grade IV levels of stunting on account of malnutrition were reported.

A solution worth emulating

The question Ms. Gandhi should have asked on World Hunger Day as she addressed multinational companies in the audience, many of whom are willing to lend a helping hand, was not whether they could offer help. She should have instead sought their suggestions on how to monitor the food being served to youngsters. As she reeled off reasons for the poor track record of serving hot cooked meals, from poorly paid anganwadi workers to siphoning off rations meant for malnourished children and mothers, surely she could have addressed the problem of monitoring the food served. Seeking the help of corporates is an easy way out — opening the door to a system of contractors. A few years ago, liquor baron Ponty Chadha was awarded a contract under the Integrated Child Development Services scheme in Uttar Pradesh! If Bihar and Maharashtra districts can show the way, is it that difficult to replicate the example in the rest of the country?

The Hindu Important Articles 12th July,2017

Getting GST right

I will always remember the midnight launch of Goods and Services Tax (GST) on June 30/July 1 as the moment when my government let down a girl who died in Assam’s Baksa district. Maggots had found their way into her stomach because she had used a rag during her periods. Her parents refused to treat her as they thought she was pregnant. Eventually it was too late even though she was taken to a hospital.

The road to rights

When I started my online petition on March 8, requesting the Union Finance Minister to make eco-friendly sanitary pads tax-free and reduce the tax bracket of other napkins from 12-14% to 5%, I found more than three lakh people joining me in my appeal. I also found support from across the political spectrum. The Union Health and the Women and Child Development Ministers also agreed that it was a proposal with merit.

The Finance Minister readily accepted that it was a cause mooted by activists and non-governmental organisations, but it did not resonate with members of the GST Council that for an adolescent girl, an affordable sanitary napkin is actually essential for her well-being. Over the months, activists, writers and I have thrown pertinent facts and figures at the government trying to convince them that this tax exemption would be an important health intervention. That a woman needs all means possible to help her during menstruation can only be forcefully argued by women.

I have argued in Parliament on many an occasion to deliberate on issues of women’s empowerment using data on the dismal percentage of women in the workforce, the high percentage of school dropouts among girls, and the rise in gender crimes. These have always been received by the government with sensitivity, and have drawn assurances about the government’s commitment. While we continue to focus on and highlight the problem, the solution is complex. The right to equality is not an easy right to ensure and enforce.

My empowerment has to be about saving me from damage and not saving me after I am damaged. It has to be about building my ability to seize an opportunity in education, employment or a seat in a panchayat. It has to be about minimising and containing my inherent disadvantages because of my gender, which stand in my way.

The Constitution recognises this and allows women a head start in life. Yet, girls have to drop out of school because menstruation is a stigma; they have to stay away from education because they have no restroom in school; and there is female foeticide because a girl is considered to be a liability. The real empowerment of women does not need doles and handouts. It needs interventions that tackle the problem.

We are a country where many women are still dependent on cloth-based products as they cannot access high quality, expensive personal hygiene products or lack sufficient information about sanitary pads. If a woman has to use hay, ash, sand, wood shavings, newspaper, dried leaves, or even plastic as a substitute for a hygiene product, despite subsidised napkins being distributed under the National Rural Health Mission (NHRM) in many States, I hope the government is compelled to think about the limitations of their prevailing interventions in this regard. Their system of distribution is failing to ensure last-mile delivery.

Ensure last-mile access

In India, 70% of women say that their families cannot afford to buy sanitary pads. Distribution of free or subsidised napkins in schools by States is a good step but cannot solve the problem. If the government has to push the social campaign ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’, it tells us that there are more girls out of school than in them in India. A government that champions the idea of disinvestment/privatisation of its own businesses in the name of greater business efficacy should have realised that commercial, private sector entities can deliver better in rural and remote markets if the product becomes cheaper and within the purchasing power of the economically weaker sections.

The celebrations of the midnight GST launch have numbed many. The harsh truth is that ultimately, every manufacturer shifts the burden of cost to the consumer. If a huge budget of the NRHM and its network can’t ensure last-mile delivery to the women of rural India or the urban poor, it could have been achieved at a lesser cost by reducing the tax on sanitary napkins, where only 12% of women use sanitary napkins. This could have worked as an incentive for private manufacturers. It could have been a significant intervention.

Where some 11,000-plus products were discussed by the GST Council, I have no doubt the members did have women in mind — bangles and bindis have been exempted from GST. Whether they had women empowerment in mind, I don’t know.

Sushmita Dev is a Congress MP in the Lok Sabha

The Hindu Important Articles 11th July,2017

Reading between the numbers

A nuanced understanding of the population question is vital

July 11 has been designated by the United Nations as World Population Day. The UN chooses one aspect of population to draw attention to each year; this year the theme is access to family planning.

As someone who teaches a semester-long course on ‘population dynamics’ (the changing interplay of population size, growth and distribution), I want to underline three related but distinct reasons why we should, or should not, as seekers of a healthy, wealthy and wise world for all its inhabitants, keep population dynamics in mind.

Let’s set aside for the moment the UN’s projection of India’s population size overtaking China’s by 2024.

First, any development planning with a time horizon of more than a few years has to factor in the changing size of the base population and, therefore, the changing size of the resources needed to meet the requirements even if the per capita requirements remain unchanged. A simple and glaring example of this obvious calculation not having been made can be found in the insane competition for college admissions in our towns and cities, as the rise in the number of seats has not kept even modest pace with the rise in the number of those finishing secondary school and wanting to go on to college.

Demographic dividend

Virtually every development sector that requires investments will need a larger amount of such investment in different areas — like clinics, hospital beds, homes, schools, colleges and training institutes, jobs, social security, rural banks, piped water and policemen — as the absolute size of our population increases.

It is not just about numbers, of course. What matters is how these additional numbers are distributed — by age, gender, education, income, marital status, geography, and so on. And we are still potentially at the peak of at least one of these distributions — that by age. Thanks to falling birth rates and only slowly rising longevity, we have this ‘window of opportunity’ or ‘demographic dividend’ during which the working-age population as a proportion of the total population is large enough in principle to supply many of these additional resources.

That advantage will begin to erode soon enough. Worse, even now, some of it is merely notional — we have a large number of young people but we do not have the skills or jobs for this to translate linearly into larger economic output. Indeed, what we might have instead is a translation into poorer social output as the rising per capita frustrations of life feed into antisocial behaviour — my euphemism for the ghastly outbreaks of amoral and immoral mob violence that it seems can be instigated at a moment’s notice these days.

Second, our population size and growth require us to reflect more deeply on the implications of this size and growth for development. Are we exceeding our carrying capacity nationally and globally? Are the rising population densities increasing the spread of infection through too much close contact between people? Are we using up water and forests and energy faster than we can replenish them?

These are important questions, but get neglected by well-meaning researchers who, rightly, fear that any uncomfortable findings will quickly translate into a call for policies that penalise the weakest and the most vulnerable members of society and increase the already vast controls on women’s bodies. We see this fear being justified in several official attempts to clamp down on the fertility of the poor or otherwise marginalised, Assam being the latest example of this kind of crude intrusion into private decisions. An even more horrifying recent example comes from the coercion and callousness that resulted in the deaths of several women in sterilisation camps in Chhattisgarh in 2014.

What our research needs is a better understanding of what population growth does to resources given the vast disparities in consumption between the rich (and usually low-fertility) and the poor (and high-fertility) populations. Second, it needs to publicise better the non-coercive and much more effective interventions that we know lead to falls in fertility everywhere — girls’ education and women’s easy access to voluntary contraception in particular. As more women get educated, several of the economic and social reasons for wanting many children begin to seem less important and it organically results in fewer births if the means to achieve this are known and available.

The third prong of interest in population and population growth comes from the dangerous competition for power and strength that pits different groups increasingly against one another in India today. This tragic competition plays out in some gruesome ways, of course; but it is also fuels a medieval belief that power lies merely in numbers. This quest for power means each group seeks to increase its own numbers and decrease those of ‘others’; short of genocide, the latter cannot be easily done by deliberately increasing the death rate; so the other arm of population growth, births, is targeted. And we thus have the spectacle, for example, of presumably celibate and childless religious leaders of all hues (male as well as female, it appears in the case of Hindus) exhorting their followers to step up childbearing while condemning the unbridled reproduction of the ‘other’ side. In a world run by knowledge and technology, not only is this a foolish way to gain advantage, it again shifts the responsibility for group power on to women’s exhausted bodies, their own desires and health be damned.

Denial of agency to women

We are not alone in this attitude. This reasoning lay behind the denial of contraception and abortion to ‘Aryan’ women in Nazi Germany even as pregnancies in others were often forcibly aborted; it lies in the recent call by the President of Turkey to Turkish immigrants in the West to multiply more rapidly; it explains the rash of incentives many European and East Asian countries now offer to women to have a second or third child to delay the inevitable fall in population numbers in these countries as long as they refuse to countenance immigration to replenish their labour forces.

All these are poor examples for India to follow, for ethical reasons and because they more often than not boomerang. What women need is the right to make their own childbearing decisions and to have the information and services to make these decisions wisely and well. If this truly happens, the ‘population’ question will take care of itself.

Alaka M. Basu, a professor in the department of development sociology at Cornell University, is currently senior fellow, United Nations Foundation

The Hindu Important Articles 11th July,2017

Do what is good for your faith, says CJCourt dismisses plea to ban burning of Ravana’s effigy

Every person has the right to do what he feels is good for his faith, Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar said in open court on Monday.

“This court is not about good or bad. It is about what is legal and what is illegal. You do what you feel is good for your faith and let others do what is good for their faith,” Chief Justice Khehar addressed a PIL petitioner.

Anand Prakash Sharma, the petitioner, had moved the court with a plea to end the practice of burning the effigy of Ravana, a demon king in the epic Ramayana, on the eve of the Dussehra festival. “Have you heard of Article 25 (freedom of religion) of the Constitution?” the CJI asked Mr. Sharma.

The petitioner said such a practice does not find any mention in Valmiki Ramayanaor Tulsidas’ Ramayana . Besides, it is harmful to the environment and public health. He said the burning of Ravana’s effigy “hurts some sects of people”. The Bench dismissed the case.

The Hindu Important Articles 10th July,2017

‘China seen as more innovative in IT than India’

Asian rival doesn’t have a TCS, but it has a Tencent and Alibaba which are more dominant and valuable in the future

A 7% growth rate is not good enough for India and its IT industry has missed the bus on innovation by sticking to a template that worked 25 years ago, believes economistSoumitra Duttawho co-authors theWorld Economic Forum‘s annual Global Information Technology report. Layoffs and adjustments, to tumult in its largest market —the U.S. — are transient factors and the real worry is that China is seen as more innovative now than India in the IT space, said Mr. Dutta, who is the Dean, Cornell SC Johnson College of Business. Edited excerpts :

Are Indian student applications falling in U.S. universities under the Donald Trump administration?

Generally, foreign student applications are down this year. This is across the U.S. due to uncertainty about the visa and work situation after studies. Canada is being very aggressive to bring in foreign students and it’s also a very attractive country to go to.

In the short-term, some negative impact is happening. But more worrying is the potential cuts the Donald Trump administration is making in research areas, because as grants go down, it affects output. And that’s the part that really worries me in the university much more.

There is also a concern about the environment on campuses as people are much more divided in terms of political views, but I am more concerned about the possible loss of R&D funding with many key research programmes losing out.

A lot of the funding for climate change will disappear. If you remove the intellectual horsepower that feeds the universities, that hurts more than losing student applications.

What are your views on the Indian IT industry’s current woes?

I think the traditional Indian IT players will have to restructure their business model and hire more people in the U.S. The costs will go up, so they will have to think about what that means for the employee balance across countries and the cost structures. That will of course, have a short-term effect on margins and they will have to look for new markets.

A bigger issue that I see with the Indian IT sector is it was very innovative 25 years ago. There hasn’t really been another big innovation in the IT sector. They have been following the same template for too long. As a result, you don’t have an Indian Microsoft or an Indian Alibaba. And that’s the problem.

The product investment is not there, nor is the consumer Internet boom. So in some sense, the Indian IT industry hasn’t innovated in the last 15 years enough.

China doesn’t have a TCS, but it has a Tencent and Alibaba which are more dominant and valuable in the future. China has succeeded in skipping a generation altogether and they got leadership in the next generation. Today, if you ask the question is China more innovative in the IT industry than India, people would probably say yes. The answer wouldn’t have been the same 15 years ago. So India has lost the leadership of the IT industry in many ways.

So do you see the current spate of layoffs in the sector as an outcome of redundant skill sets?

The Indian IT sector layoffs are, in my view, just a temporary balancing of the workforce. All companies go through this… The basic model of the IT industry is still stable and there’s enough business. They might have lower margins and lesser people. They are not going to go out of business, they will adjust a bit. There will be healthy companies like TCS and Wipro. But they are not going to be the next generation companies and they will never be. TCS, Infosys or Wipro will never be the next Alibaba. And that’s a problem.

The next generation of IT companies are coming from the U.S. and China, not India. If you look at the market capitalisation of top 10 tech companies in the world, Alibaba and Tencent are No. 9 and No. 10. And the top five are big U.S. companies.

So India, despite having all the lead in IT, doesn’t have an entry in that. That is not an easy problem to fix. Because you miss a generation, it takes 15 years to catch up.

Any attempt for India to make a bid for that will require us to think about what’s the next big leap and be able to make that generational leap. Because 20 years ago, there was no vision of Alibaba or Tencent. But some people in China made that leap and got lucky.

 We need someone out here to think about what will happen 15 years from now. That is a big question mark. Because what we have right now in India is essentially copies of American businesses like Amazon or eBay. There’s no real innovation happening in the Internet space.

What’s your view on India’s growth slipping to 6.1% in the last quarter of 2016-17?

The slight dip is not what worries me. What worries me is the overall number. I think 6% or 7% growth is not enough for India. Any country that has become an emerging global power needs to have 10-20 years of 10% growth. We are nowhere near that.

Brazil at some point had 10% growth for 15 years. China had it for 20 years. India’s never actually had that. What worries me is will we actually hit 8%, 9% or 10% and will we be able to sustain it over 10 or 15 years. I am keeping my fingers crossed that the government’s focus on building institutions will lead to long-term results.

So I am not too concerned with the short-term dip which might be because of demonetisation and whatever other reasons. I am more concerned about can we move from 7% to 9%. Because at 6% or 7%, you are not really making a dent on the poverty reduction front, at least not fast enough. If you want to make it fast enough, we need to move at a different pace. We shouldn’t forget that India’s economy is still quite small with a very low per capita income.

The U.S. economy is roughly 16-17 trillion dollars, China is about 10-11 trillion dollars, India is around two [trillion]. And India’s nominal GDP per capita is still very low.

From a foreign investors’ lens, if a government with such a majority cannot address the tough structural reforms such as in factor markets like land and labour, is there a concern that India’s potential will remain untapped?

Now what the Prime Minister has really done is consolidated the BJP’s power at both the national and State level. In many ways, that was an important foundation to be laid. Hopefully, that will lead to faster and more effective action going forward. I think people and business like stability more than anything else. Emerging markets have a problem as they usually don’t have stability. That’s what people hate about emerging markets. So the fact that the same party now controls the Centre and a large part of the States gives a sense of stability to the foreign investor and businesses. That is important as once you have confidence and stability, people take the right decisions or at least are more encouraged to take the hard decisions.

Would now be a good time to take up land acquisition reforms, for instance?

I think so. There will always be some changes that are hard to do because of politics and democratic systems. There’s always a cost of change. But I think if we can still do a lot to simplify things and focus on health, education and infrastructure, it will help. There’s a lot of low-hanging fruit in India. It’s good to have analysis and new ideas, but I think the problem in India is less about ideas and more with execution. I do believe that government’s focus on stability and a sense of calmness and focused discipline on execution is critical. It’s very hard to govern a large and diverse country like India. It’s a significant achievement just to provide a sense of stability, direction and some positive confidence.

How do you see business education evolving? Will we see more consilience being weaved into what one traditionally learnt at B-schools?

I am also the chair of the AACSB, the global body for business schools’ accreditation. We went through a vision exercise recently and two themes came out strongly. The future would be about making connections between disciplines like engineering and business, health and business and so on and secondly, the connection with industry. The second theme was disruption. There was a strong feeling that the way we have done business education in the past will not be the same going forward.

We will have to rethink business education for the future. There’s no clear model but the field is ready for disruption and you can see that already with the traditional MBA market stagnating to some degree. We see some of the weaker players dropping out, some schools are stopping their MBA programmes.

There’s a feeling that what got us here will not get us through the next 50 years

The Hindu Important Articles 10th July,2017

G20 hails India’s labour reforms, start-up policy

Hamburg Action Plan praisesefforts to boost innovation

Acknowledging the steps being taken by India for sustainable and inclusive growth as well as support to global economy, the G20 has praised the initiatives in the country for promoting ease of doing business, start-up funding and labour reforms.

In its Hamburg Action Plan, adopted at the G20 Summit, the group also noted that “in the financial sector, India is popularising a number of derivative instruments in exchanges or electronic trading platforms” as part of the measures to enhance resilience of its economy.

It further said India is facilitating external commercial borrowings (ECBs) by start-ups to encourage innovation and promote ease of doing business, as part of the efforts being taken by the G20 members this year for maintaining momentum on structural reforms and sustainable growth.

The Hindu Important Articles 09th July,2017

The moral coarseness of our public culture

Our complex moral sensibilities are cultivated less within the family, more through systematic teaching in the humanities

If some wrong is done to people close to us, to our family or friends, we respond with utter horror, as we must. Why then do we react feebly or, worse, not at all when people beyond our little community are treated cruelly? More specifically, why has there not been greater collective outrage at mob lynching of a poor Muslim or the horrendous brutality regularly faced by Dalits?

Why is it that instead of a chorus of straightforward condemnation, we confront moral indifference or troublesome public statements such as that we must first or also condemn other instances of brutality in the past? Imagine Nirbhaya’s mother being told in the aftermath of the dastardly incident that any denunciation of what happened is conditional: we must in the same breath also condemn all brutal rapes in the past. The moral coarseness of this response simply jumps to the eye.

Our public culture

Has the savagery around us numbed our sensibilities to the suffering of others? Has the ‘dirty’ politics around these incidents put off ‘decent’ men and women, compelling them to withdraw into their shell, fall silent? I don’t know. I admit to having no direct explanation of this phenomenon. But I draw attention to two aspects of our public culture that contribute to our shared moral coarseness.

First, many of us, the metropolitan middle and upper classes, have begun to believe that moral values are individual preferences, a matter of subjective taste, something each individual can choose, so that what is valuable for one person need not be valuable or good for another. Moral values, it is claimed, vary from individual to individual. There is no objective morality — call it moral subjectivism. Two lessons are usually drawn from this: that (a) we can never arrive at a common understanding or agreement on moral values, and since there is no shared morality, (b) no one should pass moral judgment on others. One step further and we arrive at the calamitous consequence of presuming an absence of common moral judgment even on issues where agreement can easily exist, such as that it is wrong to be cruel to other human beings. This too is mere subjective opinion!

The second, equally serious, is the other side of the moral subjectivist coin. This is the widespread belief that while no common judgment is possible in value-laden human affairs, in the non-human domain, in the world of nature and things, where no moral values reside, a unique common judgment, one right answer is always available. Get rid of subjectively moral values from the world, free it of moral or human understanding, and shared judgment and objective knowledge will follow — objectivism. Furthermore, wherever humans can be viewed as objects or things, as in purely scientific treatment of human affairs, mainstream Western medical regimes or in the economic domain, a unique value-neutral answer exists, valid not just for one but for all.

Where both subjectivism and objectivism converge is that they make common human understanding either impossible or redundant. In the moral domain, subjectivism tells us, there is no common human understanding. And the objectivism of the scientific world view tells us that a common understanding is possible only in a world free of moral values.

But an urgently needed moral response to all kinds of social situations, including lynching or bombing of innocents, depends precisely on human-to-human or common understanding, the ability of one human to actually or imaginatively share a situation with others and to understand his pain, suffering or predicament. Moral judgment and moral outrage depend on empathetic understanding and compassion.

But we are not born with these capacities; they are learnt. Understanding the perspectives of others by their own lights and imagining their sufferings and predicaments is an acquired skill; we are taught to rise above one’s own provincialities, to respect difference and plurality, to value the social uses of reason that help explore new forms and levels of agreements or experiment with reasonable disagreements; to critically examine received knowledge, to make sound judgment in the face of complex dilemmas, to achieve greater self-understanding.

All these capacities depend upon thought and imagination that are cultivated. And for all this we need not physics, chemistry and mathematics, but philosophy, literature and narratives embedded in different religious traditions. We need to read and think with the Panchatantra , the Jataka s, the Mahabharata , with Plato, Buddha and Confucius, with Al-Ghazali and Rumi, with Annamacharya and thinkers in the Varkari tradition. In short, we need education in the humanities.

Not just employability

Our complex moral sensibilities are cultivated less within the family and more through systematic teaching in the humanities. An education system that neglects the humanities is slowly moving towards a moral disaster. But it is just this, a technocratic, humanities-free education system that devalues common human understanding, that many of us from the middle and upper classes wish to have for our children. By viewing education solely in terms of its employability quotient, how it helps us secure jobs — instruments of greater material prosperity for individuals, and tools for multiplying objectively measurable national assets (GDP, bigger profits and greater power) — we unwittingly invite moral coarseness upon ourselves.

When it comes to our family and close friends, our raw moral intuitions suffice. These intuitions are so strong that they overwhelm the moral vacuum encouraged by our humanities-devaluing education system. But when it comes to all other humans, our raw intuitions are too feeble. We desperately need a humanities-sensitive education to cultivate a sophisticated moral sensibility, for moral enlargement beyond kith and kin.

Alas, what we are receiving instead is further moral restriction. A culture that once treated all its elders with generosity and respect shows increasing sign of moral callousness towards even old parents. I fear this development may not be unrelated to the brutishness with which we treat those outside our fold

The Hindu Important Articles 09th July,2017

PMO, NSA tracking impact of Chinese FDI in South Asia

In the backdrop of the tense border stand-off in Sikkim with China, the Centre has begun its first ever in-depth assessment of Chinese investments in India’s neighbouring countries.

The exercise — being conducted mainly from India’s national security perspective — has been initiated by the Prime Minister’s Office and the National Security Adviser, official sources told The Hindu .

Informal discussions have already been held with the concerned Ministries, including the Commerce and Industry Ministry — the nodal body for foreign trade and foreign investment.

Dynamic mandate

Given the increasing influence of China in the Indian sub-continent and South Asia, the study will be dynamic and is, among other things, expected to look into various trends, tracking a surge, if any, in Chinese FDI in the region. For instance, Pakistan government data shows that FDI from China jumped from $256.8 million in 2014-15 to $878.8 million in 2016-17 (July-May). Pakistan’s financial year follows a July to June calendar.

The study will also analyse the impact of these Chinese investments — including those being made as part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI, also known as One Belt One Road or OBOR) — on India’s national security, sources said requesting anonymity. India’s reservations regarding the BRI/OBOR include strategic concerns on the BRI’s flagship project, the $50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), as it is expected to cover regions including Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

In addition to assessing the nature and impact of Chinese FDI in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, the study will track Chinese investments in Afghanistan and Maldives too.

However, the major challenge in the study will be the lack of detailed, country-wise data on overall FDI (year-wise) and Chinese FDI, in particular.

According to Biswajit Dhar, Professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Chinese investments in countries like Pakistan could, in turn, set the stage for Pakistan to make inroads into markets in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal and challenge the presence of Indian firms in these markets, where India is currently the major player.

The CPEC/OBOR projects can also better link Pakistan with the Central Asian Republics (CAR) and help the country establish a footprint in those markets, Prof. Dhar said.

The Hindu Important Articles 08th July , 2017

A spike in the footprints of time

The ‘coach’:“Over the last three decades, Aftab Mustafa, a farmer, has been imparting volleyball skills for free to young men from his village. Not as a recreational activity but with a focussed aim: jobs.” (Sitting left to right) Sharafat Khan, Rizwan Khan, Aftab Mustafa and Tauqueer, a former colleague of Aftab from his volleyball playing days.Rajeev BhattRajeev Bhatt

Goyara Mugali in Bundelkhand fell off the map after its inhabitants waged a battle against the British during the First War of Independence. Volleyball has come to its rescue, but only just. Omar Rashid reports on the struggle of the village as it battles now to stay afloat

In Goyara Mugali, the sight of a bloody battle between the British and Mughal forces in 1857, the landscape is dominated by the yellowish-brown characteristic of arid Bundelkhand. Congested lanes, uneven broken paths, ramshackle semi- pucca structures, overflowing drains, mounds of filth and dysfunctional handpumps showcase the infrastructural poverty of the village located in Banda district, a few kilometres from the Ken river.

Amid this dismal backdrop, Aftab Mustafa’s tidy, rustic dwelling on the edge of the slope leading down to the village’s two large ponds almost feels like a luxury. But minutes after we step into his house, the fan stops moving. A power cut. Unscheduled. Handheld fans are no match for the searing heat and humidity — Banda is one of the hottest districts in India with temperatures soaring above 47°C.

“ Yeh hai bijli ka haal (This is the state of power supply),” exclaims Aftab. He quickly puts the disruption behind him and rummages through a pile of documents he summons from his room. It has photos, paper cuttings, receipts and certificates, some of them inscribed in the local Bundeli dialect, of the volleyball camps and events he has attended over the years. Aftab’s most prized article, however, is a plain white piece of paper on which he has scribbled names of young men with brief details of their job status or achievement. There are 20 names on the list.

Volleying for jobs

Over the last three decades, Aftab, a farmer, has been imparting volleyball skills for free to young men from his village. Not as a recreational activity but with a focussed aim: jobs. The list of 20 is of those who have either landed government jobs under the sports quota or excelled in volleyball at the State or national level. Around a dozen of them have got employed with the Railways, paramilitary forces, State-owned companies, etc. Little wonder then that around here, Aftab is better known as ‘Coach’.

Goyara Mugali’s connection with volleyball dates back several decades. Aftab remembers playing since he was 16. “From the time I was born [in 1963], I found my elders already had a culture of playing volleyball. We had some great players like Munne, Nabbu Kadir, Usman Ramza Baba and Gafoor Mukhiya from this village. Naturally, even I latched on to the legacy,” he says.

Aftab, however, could never succeed as a player. Instead, he took up coaching, having picked up enough skills at the stadium in Banda that came up after the Emergency. He started taking boys for selection exams to the top sporting colleges across Uttar Pradesh, in Lucknow, Gorakhpur and Dehradun (now in Uttarakhand), and also got them admitted to the prestigious sports hostels in Faizabad, Banda and Allahabad.

Rizwan Khan (33) and Sharafat Khan (34) are among the success stories of Goyara Mugali. While Rizwan is stationed in the 7th Battalion of the Central Reserve Police Force in Giridih, Jharkhand, Sharafat Khan is in the Border Security Force. Aftab’s wards, they qualified for the paramilitary through the sports quota in 2004 and 2006 respectively.

Running on empty

The village lies in the heart of the drought-prone region, battling bad crop, water crisis and unemployment. Migration is high and crime rampant. “We have to struggle for everything here. There are no opportunities. Educational facilities are limited. The only scope we saw was sports,” says Rizwan, who was groomed at the Lucknow Sports College.

Another success story is of Nijaat Khan, who played the under-19 for India and today works for Coal India. Then there is Ijaz Khan, Rizwan’s brother, who currently works in Ratlam with the Railways. Ijaz was a batchmate of cricketer Suresh Raina at the Lucknow Sports College.

Inspired by this lot and under Aftab’s guidance, every morning around two dozen young men, mostly teenagers, gather at the makeshift “mini-stadium” in the village to train. The facilities are primitive. The stadium came up on land carved out during redistribution by the government, with only poles erected for the net.

Till a few years back, it did not even have proper boundary walls until then Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) minister Vishambhar Nishad provided funds for its fortification. Even today, the boys have to purchase the balls and nets themselves. The local Nehru Yuva Kendra, established by the Government of India in 1988 to provide skill-building avenues to rural youth, is inactive.

“There is a shortage of funds. Those who qualified for the academies or got jobs occasionally arrange equipment and tournaments for the youth,” says Sharafat, who was in his village for the Id celebrations.

Despite the difficulties and paucity of equipment, Aftab has been able to make a name for himself, even finding recognition by the Bundelkhand Volleyball Protsahan Samiti. Two years ago, the district administration appointed him as its official district volleyball trainer. However, he resigned in a fit just after three months complaining that the pradhan and secretary of the gram panchayat of a village, Mawai, tried to extract bribe from his Rs. 10,000 monthly salary. Today, Aftab yearns for the government’s attention.

The battle of 1858

But better volleyball facilities are not the only thing Goyara Mugali craves for. It also demands recognition for its storied past. The village was the site of a bloody battle between the British forces and the army of the Nawab of Banda, Ali Bahadur II, during the concluding months of the First War of Independence. As per information recorded in the district gazetteers of Banda and Hamirpur, on April 19, 1858, an army led by British Major General Whitlock engaged the Nawab’s army “on an uneven country near Goera Mughli, 13 km of [sic] Banda.” The Nawab had eschewed his friendship to the British and sent a force to assist Tantia Tope in an attack on Charkhari, some say, to honour the rakhi sent to him by the Rani of Jhansi. The mutineers proceeded with 850 men of the 50th Bengal Native Infantry, 200 men of the 23rd Native Infantry and of the 2nd Regiment Irregular Cavalry, Gwalior contingent and half a battery of guns. At Goyara Mugali, however, the British army drove the Nawab’s army from three positions successfully across the Ken, capturing eight guns and killing 800 people. Banda, then a town, was captured and the Nawab, who escaped from the field, was forced to retire to Indore with an annual pension of Rs. 36,000.

This battle was one of the last decisive battles marking the end of the mutiny. “Narayan and Madhu Rao [descendants of Baji Rao Peshwa, who ruled over parts of Banda] on this, surrendered unconditionally to Whitlock,” reads the Banda Gazetteer . The Hamirpur Gazetteer adds, “With the defeat and flight of the Nawab the great rebellion as far as this district is concerned may be said to have come to an end.”

Today, as one walks through Goyara Mugali one can still spot markers of the time of the Mughals in the form of a Mughal Baba shrine, few old wells, graves and carvings. And of course its Muslim inhabitants, most of whom are Yusufzai Pathans, a Pashtun tribe that settled in India in the 18th century.

It has been a long-held grouse among residents of Goyara Mugali that despite its connection with the freedom struggle, it did not get its due recognition from the government. “This is a deshbhakt (patriotic) village. It is historic. Eight hundred people laid down their lives here. Because we are Muslim, there was no special initiative to develop it,” says Asif Khan, the former pradhan.

He envisions that if the freedom fighters who were martyred that April were identified, their kin could be provided pension and development touching the entire village. Though officials, and even the youth of the village, are mostly unaware of the battle, over the years several officers have acknowledged the historical significance of the village. In the 1990s, villagers say, then district police chief Vijay Kumar had even inspected the site and was working to prepare a list of martyrs from the village. “But nothing came of it. He soon got transferred,” says Asif, a .315 bore rifle placed behind him.

Legend of the fall

The rifle is symbolic of the malaise that has made Goyara Mugali infamous in the entire region. The village boasts a bad reputation for crimes, in particular murders. Since 1923, village elders say, more than a hundred murders have taken place in the village, most of them over interpersonal rivalries and varshasva ki ladai (battle of supremacy) within the Pathan community.

The rivalry between Idris Pehalwan and Jamil, an uncle-nephew duo, is a thing of legend. It started over a property dispute leading to the murder of a maternal nephew of Idris by Jamil in 1991. Idris retaliated by murdering a close aide of Jamil, who then responded by murdering three relatives of Idris on a single day. In 1993, Idris got Jamil’s father murdered. Jamil then murdered Idris, before himself being gunned down in 2002. “Things have been quiet ever since. Migration also helped calm tension,” says Khalif, a relative of Idris, who returned to his native place after several years of working as a labourer in a sports company in Mumbai.

The embers of distrust, however, still burn strong. Two days after Id, representatives from two rival families had to travel 12 km to the Mataund police station to agree on a “compromise.” The village keeps the police on its toes. “We ensure that there is a weekly picket in all villages but for Goyara Mugali it is daily,” says Anita Chauhan, Mataund Station House Officer (SHO).

Posted in March this year, Chauhan says policing challenges here are similar to other cities/towns in U.P., the topography of Bundelkhand making the job tougher. Goyara Mugali is located near the edge of Banda close to not just the Hamirpur district border but also Madhya Pradesh — border areas are usually susceptible to criminal activities. The village tops the list of history-sheeters (habitual offenders) by a long stretch, with as many as 15 out of the 48 names hailing from it. But Chauhan insists Goyara Mugali’s crime rate today is “normal”, attributing it in part to migration and the youth’s interest in sports.

Waiting for redemption

Despite its notoriety, there are instances of cooperation with the authorities, adds SHO Chauhan. The villagers aided in the ‘encounter killing’ of the leader of the Raj Karan gang in the early ’90s. Goyara Mugali has also a little tale of composite culture. Despite being predominantly Muslim, its residents elected the lone Brahmin inhabitant, Shiv Dayal Pandit, as the pradhan for over three decades not just because of his goodwill but also so that he may not have to leave the village out of insecurity. “What can I say? The people showered my father with faith and love,” acknowledges his son, Suresh Mishra.

Goyara Mugali also faces basic sustenance problems, as it falls in the drought-prone zone. The fact that Daddu Prasad, who was village development minister in the BSP government of 2012-17, hailed from Goyara Mugali, seems to have done nothing to alter its fortune. Last summer, its main water source, the two big lakes, were bone-dry. Things are not so bad this year, even as farmers continue to reel under debt, unpaid compensation for crop damage and poor irrigation. Water-boring has proved difficult due to the rough terrain, and there is not a single government tube well, canal or pipeline close to the village. The industrial area of Banda is a few kilometres away but it isn’t exactly a hub of activity. Around 3,000 men from the village work as migrants in cities such as Surat, Mumbai and Delhi, says Mubarak Pehalwan, who himself spent time working in Meerut for a few years. A major problem is the village’s minimal educational facilities. It has a high school for boys whereas the girls can only study till Class VIII. According to the 2011 Census, the female literacy rate in the village was a dismal 50.86%, while the average was 60.48%, still less than the State average. “We submitted many memorandums to the administration over the years demanding an inter college [classes up to twelfth standard] but they did not act. If our boys and girls won’t study, how will we develop,” asks Asif Khan.

Aftab believes that given its rich pool of talent and culture of volleyball, Goyara Mugali could be developed as a local hub for the sport. “If coaching facilities and proper equipment are provided to the boys, imagine what a resource they will be for the State,” he says. Among those he trained is Inayat, 21, who dropped out of college in first year due to financial constraints. Unemployed, he is inspired by success stories like Rizwan and Sharafat. But training costs money. “Our coach keeps our morale high. But it would have been so much better if the government provided us some facilities. That would also encourage our parents to allow us to train,” says Inayat.

But a job is not always guaranteed. Arif, who stays at the Rae Bareli sports hostel, represented Uttar Pradesh in the national championship seven times but is still without a job. Numann, who was trained by the Sports Authority of India in Gorakhpur, is in the same boat. “I request the government to select these meritorious boys as coaches and also provide jobs to those with gold medals. There is also plenty of land in the village for setting up a training institute or coaching centre. It used to be a village of ladai-jhagda (quarrels and fights), but look at the talent. If only all this potential could be channelised,” says Aftab.

This is a deshbhakt village. It is historic. Eight hundred people laid down their lives here. Because we are Muslim, there was no special initiative to develop it.

Asif Khan,

Former pradhan

The Hindu Important Articles 08th July, 2017

Key officials to tackle exporters’ GST issues

Composite drawback rates a concern

The Government has appointed nodal officers at the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) and the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) to look into the concerns of exporters with regard to the new Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime.

Satya Srinivas, Joint Secretary (Customs), CBEC will be the nodal officer in CBEC, while Ajay Srivastava, Joint DGFT, will be the nodal point in DGFT.

This followed a meeting between the apex body for the country’s exporters, Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO), and the Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman as well as senior officials of the Department of Commerce and DGFT on July 6.

FIEO President G.K. Gupta said in a statement that exporters should highlight the areas in the GST regime where Government can take corrective measures to prevent an increase in transaction cost and time that could impact the country’s exports.

The major issues raised by the FIEO during the meeting included the issue with regard to composite drawback rates, which, it said, added to the transaction cost and time