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GS Paper III- Economic Development.

Goods and Services Tax To Come Into Effect After Long Wait Of 17 Years.

Background

  • After 17 tumultuous years, a nationwide Goods and Services Tax (GST) will rollout from midnight tonight, overhauling India’s convoluted indirect taxation system and unifying the $2 trillion economy with 1.3 billion people into a single market.
  • GST, which will replace more than a dozen central and state levies like factory-gate, excise duty, service tax and local sales tax or VAT, is India’s biggest tax reform in the 70 years of independence and will help modernise Asia’s third largest economy.

The Timeline Of The 17 Year Long Journey For The Tax’s Implementation-

  • 2003: The Vajpayee government forms a task force under Vijay Kelkar to recommend tax reforms.
  • 2004: Vijay Kelkar, then advisor to the Finance Ministry, recommends the GST to replace the existing tax regime.
  • February 28, 2006: The GST appears in the Budget speech for the first time; Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram sets an ambitious April 1, 2010 as deadline for the GST implementation. He says the Empowered Committee of Finance Ministers will prepare a road map for the GST.
  • 2008: Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers constituted.
  • April 30, 2008: The committee submits a report titled ‘A Model and Roadmap Goods and Services Tax (GST) in India’ to the government
  • November 10, 2009: The committee submits a discussion paper in the public domain on the GST welcoming a debate.
  • 2009: Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee announces the basic structure of GST as designed by Dasgupta committee; retains 2010 deadline.

*BJP opposes GST basic structure.

  • February 2010: Finance Ministry starts mission-mode computerisation of commercial taxes in the States, to lay the foundation for the GST rollout.
  • Pranab Mukherjee defers the GST to April 1, 2011.
  • March 22, 2011: UPA-II tables 115th Constitution Amendment Bill in the Lok Sabha for bringing the GST.
  • March 29, 2011: The GST Bill referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance led by Yashwant Sinha.
  • Asim Dasgupta resigns, replaced by then Kerala Finance Minister KM Mani.
  • November 2012: Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram holds meetings with State Finance Ministers; decides to resolve all issues by December 31, 2012 for the GST rollout.
  • February 2013: Declaring the UPA government’s resolve to introducing the GST, Mr. Chidambaram, in his Budget speech, makes provision for Rs 9,000 crore to compensate the States for the losses incurred because of the GST.
  • August 2013: Parliamentary standing committee submits report to Parliament suggesting improvements on the GST. The Bill gets ready for introduction in Parliament.
  • December 18, 2014: Cabinet gives the approval for the Constitution Amendment Bill (122nd) for the GST.
  • December 19, 2014: Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley introduces the Constitution Amendment Bill for the GST.
  • August 3, 2016: The Rajya Sabha passes the Constitution Amendment Bill by two-thirds majority after more than a year.
  • September 8, 2016: President signs the Bill and it becomes law.

Sources- The Hindu, Times of India.

 

GS Paper II- International Relations.

India-China Standoff: Serious Implications Of Sikkim Road Issue, Says Govt.

Background

  • India on Friday expressed serious concern at Chinese construction activities in Donglang area, saying they amount to a “significant change of status quo” even as Beijing continued to insist the standoff in Sikkim sector could be resolved only if New Delhi recalled its troops to their original positions.
  • In a riposte to the Chinese military’s warning that India should learn lessons from the 1962 border conflict and not clamour for war, finance minister Arun Jaitley said circumstances had changed over the past five decades, the India of today is different.”

Highlights Of The Dispute-

  • The government today expressed deep concern over China constructing a road in the disputed Doklam area near Sikkim, and said it had conveyed to Beijing that such an action would represent a significant change of status quo with “serious” security implications for India.
  • India’s reaction follows a face-off between Indian and Chinese troops in the area, prompting Beijing to take a tough stance and demand withdrawal of Indian troops from the Sikkim sector as a precondition for “meaningful dialogue” to resolve the situation.
  • Beijing had also accused India of being a “third-party” to China-Bhutan dispute.
  • China sought a “meaningful dialogue” with India over the border row in the Sikkim sector and asked it to withdraw its troops from Doklam, insisting that Beijing has “indisputable sovereignty” over the area.
  • “Diplomatic channels are unimpeded between India and China for talks on the standoff in Sikkim,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said.
  • “The pressing issue is to have a meaningful dialogue for the withdrawal of Indian troops from the Doklam area in Sikkim sector,” he said.
  • Reacting to China’s contention, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said it was essential that all parties concerned display utmost restraint and abide by their respective bilateral understandings not to change the status quo unilaterally.
  • It is also important that the consensus reached between India and China through the Special Representatives process is scrupulously respected by both sides, the ministry added.
  • “India is deeply concerned at the recent Chinese actions and has conveyed to the Chinese government that such construction would represent a significant change of status quo with serious security implications for India,” MEA asserted in a press release.
  • The ministry also narrated the sequence of events since June 16 when a PLA construction party entered the Doklam area and attempted to construct a road.
  • In keeping with their tradition of maintaining close consultation on matters of mutual interest, Bhutan and India had been in continuous contact through the unfolding of these developments.

Sources- Business Standard, Hindustan Times.

 

GS Paper I- Indian Heritage, Culture and History.

Amarnath Yatra suspended due to heavy rains.

About the Yatra-

  • Amarnath cave is a Hindu shrine located in Jammu and Kashmir, India. The cave is situated at an altitude of 3,888 m (12,756 ft) about 141 km (88 mi) from Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir and reached through Pahalgam town.
  • The shrine forms an important part of Hinduism and is considered to be one of the holiest shrines in Hinduism. The cave is surrounded by snowy mountains.
  • The cave itself is covered with snow most of the year except for a short period of time in summer when it is open for pilgrims.
  • Thousands of Hindu devotees make an annual pilgrimage to the Amarnath cave on challenging mountainous terrain to see an ice stalagmite formed inside the cave.

What Happened In The Yatra So Far-

  • The annual Amarnath Yatra that began on Thursday from twin routes of Pahalgam and Baltal has been suspended due to heavy rainfall and landslide on early Friday morning, said an official from the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB).
  • “The yatra has been suspended temporarily in view of the rains that lashed the twin routes early in the morning. The pilgrims headed for base camps at Baltal and Nunwan are requested to check the status of the yatra with the control room or helpline set up by the SASB before starting off, ” the official added.
  • The yatra began amidst tight security arrangements yesterday and over 6,000 pilgrims have already paid obeisance at the Amarnath temple despite the unpleasant inclement weather conditions.
  • On the first day of the yatra, a man was killed by a shooting stone enroute the cave shrine raising the toll to two.
  • Jammu and Kashmir Governor N N Vohra, who is also the chairman of the SASB was among the first batch of pilgrims to reach the cave shrine. He paid obeisance at the sanctum sanctorum of the shrine and participated in the ‘Pratham Pooja’ ceremony. Vohra prayed for sustained peace, harmony, progress and prosperity in thestate, the spokesman said.
  • The second batch of 2,481 pilgrims, comprising 1,638males, 663 females and 180 sages, left from Jammu in 66vehicles for the twin base camps of the yatra.

Some Facts About The Yatra-

  • The temple is a popular yatra destination for Hindus. In 2011 it received about 634,000 people; the highest recorded number for the site.The number was 622,000 in 2012 and 350,000 in 2013. Pilgrims visit the holy site during the 45-day season around the festival of Shravani Mela in July–August, coinciding with the Hindu holy month of Shraavana.
  • The beginning of the annual pilgrimage, called Amarnath Yatra is marked by ‘pratham pujan’ to invoke the blessings of Shri Amarnathji.
  • The best part of journey is between Guru Purnima and Shravan Purnima. The Government of Jammu and Kashmir makes all arrangements for the comfort of the pilgrims for undertaking the ritualistic journey for visiting the shrine on Shravan Purnama.

Sources- The Indian Express, Wikipedia.