1.Good and simple tax (The Hindu)

2.Creating corridors of certainty (The Hindu)

3.Nation wide mass movement on Swacchata (News on Air, PIB)

1.Good and simple tax  (The Hindu)

Synoptic line: It throws light on the issue of quarterly review of Goods and services tax. (GS paper II)

Overview

  • Recently the government had pass the Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017, it has been projected that it will usher India into a new era of Indirect Taxation, with most of the indirect taxes subsumed in one tax, GST will help Indian Economy reach new heights.
  • Goods and services tax regime is nearing the end of its first full quarter since roll-out this July. Revenue collections from the first month appear robust, with just 70% of eligible taxpayers bringing in ₹95,000crore. At this rate, the total tally could well surge close to ₹1.2 lakh crore. This would be significantly higher than the ₹91,000 crore indirect tax target for the Centre and the States on an overall basis.

Assessment

  • The initial trend will need to be corroborated by inflows for subsequent months, but with many more taxpayers registering now, the GST appears to have begun well as far as the exchequer is concerned. If revenues remain healthy, the government would, over time, get the necessary fiscal room to rationalise multiple GST rates into fewer slabs and possibly lower levies as a stimulus.
  • However, it has been noticed that there have been significant glitches in the GST Network, in its information technology backbone, and in the issues of connectivity. These need to improve for businesses to run smooth, due to these glitches several firms of all sizes across sectors struggling to file their first set of returns. 
  • The GSTN, the information technology (IT) backbone and portal for real-time taxpayer registration, migration, and tax return filings under the GST had faced downtime when the first deadline for filing of returns approached, forcing the government to extend the last date. 
  • Though the GST Council, the highest decision-making body of the new Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime, had recently decided to form a five-member panel to look into the technical glitches facing GST-Network (GSTN).
  • The problem is most acute for exporters, for whom the Council has now formed a special committee under the Revenue Secretary and it has been provided that there are no further setbacks on these timelines, these procedural problems need to be resolved as soon as possible for industry to be comfortable with this switch-over.
  • With the extension of GST return filing dates, it had become clear that the high-profile GSTN has let down India’s most prized tax reform.
  • Apart from this, the GST Council has already changed the announced tax rates on over 100 products and services within about 75 days of the roll-out. An ever-changing policy landscape is hardly conducive for attracting investment. The fact that industrial output grew just 1.2% in July may not be a coincidence.

Way ahead

  • The GST has been burdened with massive compliance prerequisites, real-time invoice matching, e-way bills and input tax credit, and an exceptionally robust IT network. The nation was misled repeatedly on the preparation GSTN. In fact, the final procedures of GST, approved only a week before its launch, were loaded on a naive network without proper trials.
  • The dysfunctional GSTN has virtually put the GST in a standstill and forced businesses to take recourse of informal channels of transactions, that is, without proper billing.

Question– government has mentioned that the GST will combine all the taxes into one tax whether it is charged on Service Tax or Value added Tax. The advantage of this tax will be in enhancement of the tax compliance and economic growth. Now that GST is nearing the end first full quarter since roll-out this July, critically analyse the its effectiveness and problems.

2.Creating corridors of certainty (The Hindu) 

Synoptic line: It throws light on the issue that though the numbers of tiger population are important but numbers are the beginning of the tiger story, and not the end. (GS paper III)

Overview

  • According to the official data, India’s tiger population has risen steadily in the past decade after it dipped to 1411 in 2007 and is now estimated to range between 2500 and 3000.
  • According to World Wildlife Fund-India, though the population have been almost twice the number of tigers than it did a decade ago, but the threats to India’s big cats remain as potent as ever. India’s reported tiger deaths related to poaching peaked in 2016.

Ranthambore reserve

  • Ranthambore in Rajasthan is arguably India’s most well-known tiger reserve, aglow with bold tigers posing for the camera. It has a fierce conservation ethic, a success story with few parallels. It is estimated that there are over 60 tigers in this relatively small tiger reserve.
  • Though the reserve is doing well in terms of tiger numbers, it is cut off from other forests. This is a microcosm for many other tiger reserves in India. Several are admirably run with healthy tiger numbers, but simultaneously they are also witness to fast-paced disturbance in the landscape around them. While numbers of tigers are stable inside reserves, connectivity between them is getting cut off.

Recent study

  • A genetic study suggests that Ranthambore’s tigers suffer from low genetic diversity and isolation. Based on a study of samples from tiger post-mortems and collection from live tigers and a new study, which had inputs from laboratories at the Wildlife Institute of India, the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, and Aaranyak (These are in- south India; central India, the Terai and north-east India; and in Ranthambore) has found that India has three distinct and genetically connected tiger populations.
  • The Ranthambore population has the least genetic diversity due to this it may suffer from isolation. There are mainly 2 issues involved, firstly the populations require genetic flow to remain robust, securing healthy tiger numbers are not enough for tiger health.
  • Secondly we are in an age of active management. When tigers go extinct in an area, they are flown in or carried in from other areas as it was done in the case of Panna (Madhya Pradesh) and Sariska (Rajasthan). It appears, prima facie, that the problem is solved.

Wild isolated population

  • India has more than 60% of the global wild tiger population. Several studies suggest that tigers do well in remote and dense forest but tigers also need new forest to colonise, dispersing from their natal areas as they reach adulthood.
  • Natural history has viewed the tiger to be the epitome of the ‘wild’ animal doing well in areas with less human disturbance, taking down large prey, keeping a distance from people, and being fiercely territorial of space.
  • While the tiger is undoubtedly the epitome of wildness, its wildness is not restricted to being a fierce obligate carnivore which hunts to survive, dying when weakened.  Modern surveillance proves this theory demonstrating that tigers will traverse long, difficult distances to establish territories.
  • Genetically isolated or stranded populations can suffer from genetic depression, and subsequently, mutations and ailments. This has already happened to species which have had stranded populations such as the Florida panther and possibly the Great Indian Bustard.
  • We have very hard disregard for conservation of tiger population outside the protected areas. For example-
  • In Madhya Pradesh, the Ken-Betwa river interlinking project will submerge a large part of the Panna tiger reserve and landscape.
  • A new proposed irrigation project will submerge more than three lakh trees in the Palamau tiger reserve (Jharkhand).
  • New highway proposals which will make wider cuts through Sariska, Kaziranga (Assam) and between the Kanha and Pench reserves are being considered or implemented.

Way ahead

  • Wildness and wildlife conservation include preserving ecological processes which hold their own evolutionary potential. A robust forest or habitat corridor between tiger reserves is an important means of maintaining these ecological processes and may hold the key to the survival and adaptation of the species.
  • There should be an effort to link reserves, that would need many more stakeholders and political will. Rajasthan had recently created the Mukundra tiger reserve for Ranthambore’s ‘spillover’ tigers. Apart from moving tigers with human intervention, the corridor between the two reserves should be strengthened too. Other States need to start restoring corridors or stepping stones between forests.

Question– Several studies have suggested that tigers do well in remote and dense forest, but tigers also need new forest to colonise, dispersing from their natal areas as they reach adulthood otherwise population will have the least genetic diversity and it might suffer from isolation. Explain in the context of Ranthambore reserve.

3.Nation wide mass movement on Swacchata (News on Air, PIB) 

Synoptic line: It throws light on the issue of nationwide campaign ‘Swacchata Hi Sewa’. (GS paper III)

Overview

  • The whole country is again going to take up sanitation initiatives, the national movement that is the Swachh Bharat Mission. This follows an impassioned call by the Prime Minister ahead of the 3rd anniversary of Swachh Bharat Mission that falls on 2nd October.
  • The Prime Minister has named the nation-wide sanitation campaign from 15th September to 2nd October 2017 as “Swacchata Hi Seva”. This is being coordinated by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, the convening Ministry for the Swachh Bharat Mission.
  • President had launched the nationwide campaign Swacchata Hi Sewa from Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh. The president had Emphasise that cleanliness is the real service to humanity, he administered a pledge to people for their commitment to the cause. He would administer nation-wide “Swacchata Hi Seva” pledge thereby initiating parallel action in all the 250,000 plus Gram Panchayats and cities in India.

Objectives

  • The objective of the campaign is to mobilise people and reinforce the “Jan Aandolan” for sanitation to contribute to Mahatma Gandhi’s dream of a Clean India. ‘Swacchata Hi Seva’ campaign will see large scale mobilisation of people from all walks of life to undertake shramdaan for cleanliness and construction of toilets and to make their environments free from open defecation.
  • There will be targeted cleaning of public and tourist places. The participation will range from the President of India to the common citizen and it would also involve Union Ministers, Governors, Chief Ministers, legislators, celebrities and top officials. Celebrities, faith leaders, corporate honchos etc. are being mobilised to spearhead the campaign in their respective areas of influence.
  • Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation has made elaborate plans along with the State Governments to involve people from various walks of life and make this an unprecedented people’s campaign. Reaching out to the poor and marginalised and providing them with sustainable sanitation services would be the hallmark of this campaign.

Question–  It’s been years since the Government launched the campaign to clean up India, the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. After all India is home to 450 million people as per Government data, which have no access to toilets and defecate in the open. Can India clean up its act and achieve its target of being totally open defecation free by 2019? Critically analyse