Sunday, February 19, 2017

This doesn't make sense - GSTN vs CBEC

When government is struggling to clarify, and simplify existing tax regimes and trying to shed more lights to complex, hard to read (sometimes unwanted) taxation rules it is amusing (at the same time irritating) to see two of its arms fight each other.

In latest series of events Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN) is under investigation by Service tax department of Central Bureau of Excise and Customs (CBEC). Assessing officer issued a summon against GSTN CEO Prakash Kumar and asked him to appear (in person/through representative) on February 22, with balance sheets, bank statements and income tax return forms. Summon also asked the company to produce details of funds from GoI and payments details towards Infosys (Infosys was commissioned for implementing the GST project).

By the way GSTN was set up as a non-profit, non-government company in March 2013. Ownership of GSTN is as follows,

Central Government: 24.5%
State Governments: 24.5%
HDFC: 10%
NSE Strategic Investment Corporation: 10%
HDFC Bank: 10%
ICICI Bank: 10%
LIC Finance: 11%

Total Assets: 143 Crores, Revenues 16.3 Crore (as on Mar 31, 2016)

GSTN receives grants in aid from government for its capital requirements.

Now what make this problem ugly is, if two government’s arms are not able to settle taxation issues then how we can expect things will go smooth when private, public limited companies are involved. Already retrospective taxation and other ad-hoc items created more mess than clarify things. Central government needs to step in and make rules clear, simple and create an environment where companies know what to pay and government know what it will get. Anything short of it will only make things worse. If taxation issue is creating problems for an entity which was created to make things simple in the first place, then forget about higher expectations from ease of doing business rankings.



1. GSTN's  infra firm under scrutiny for tax evasion - Business Standard

Elimination of Measles and Control Rubella: A Big Challenge to take Head on

Latest recommendations of an Expert Advisory Group to MoHFW (Ministry of Health and Family Welfare) is to target 2020 for eliminations of Measles and control Rubella. In order to achieve this goal, government is planning to cover 41 crore children in coming two years.

What makes it critical for India to become Measles and Rubella free is the fact that, Measles is a major cause of children’s death and CRS (Congenital Rubella Syndrome) results in severe irreversible birth defects which affects eyes, ears, brain and hearts. Rubella - which generally comes in the first three months of pregnancy – often results in Glaucoma, Cataract, loss of hearing capability, Microcephaly, Mental retardation.

India already made good progress in this field. Measles death have been down by 51% between 2000 and 2015 (in terms of number it is from 100,000 to 49000).

In our immunization program, first dose of measles vaccine is given at an age of 9 months. In 2010 we introduced a second dose of vaccination for measles.

Any improvement in measles situation in India will also raise the hope of its global elimination. Hope that we will be able to stay on track and make India measles free by 2020.


Abuses at God’s Place – Vatican has to Take Tough Measures

Sexual abuse scandals are nothing new to Church. Oscar winning movie ‘Spotlight’ shows how these things happened in US and how key people either ignored or covered up the problems.
New reports from Australia are shocking. Tragically, this might not be a problem limited to US or Australia. A proper investigation may reveal numerous rotten apples from other countries as well.
Australian government investigators found that (from 1980 to 2015) there were 4444 victims of abuse.

What more,

"through this period... abused children were ignored or punished while priests who raped children were protected by supervisors"

Some of the key findings are,

1. 40.4% of religious brothers from the order of ‘St. John of God’ were accused of sexually assaulting their wards.
2. It took an average of 33 years for victims to overcome decades of personal despair and file complaints.
3. 7% of catholic priests in Australia between 1950 and 2010 allegedly sexually abused children.
4. 4444 people were reported child sexual abuse, which allegedly occurred at more than 1000 different institutions between 1980 and 2015.
5. Average age of victims was 10.5 for girls and 11.6 for boys.
6. Claims identified 1880 different alleged perpetrators.
7. 90% of alleged perpetrators were male, 10% were female.
8. Commission referred 309 cases to Police (this resulted in 27 prosecutions; additional 75 cases are under investigation)

In US, as per,

1. 26 bishops, 3733 priests, 93 nuns, 287 brothers, 58 deacons, 23 seminarians (a total of 4,220) personals name have been made public for accusations of sexual abuse.
2. U.S. bishops have reported receiving allegations of abuse by 6,528 priests in 1950-2015 (or 5.9% of the 109,694 U.S. priests active in between 1950 and 2002) according to John Jay report.

Are we supposed to hear these kinds of things from the place of God; perpetuated by people who are considered as an intermediary between God and believers? It’s time to take tough measures against rotten apples who abuse the position and prey on poor helpless, homeless kids. Is there a crime bigger than that? Forcing all those small butterflies to live a miserable traumatized life is an action which will never be forgiven or forgotten by God. Handling sexual abuse scandals are going to be one of the biggest challenge to Vatican and Pope. If Vatican is not taking tough measures and notifying the authorities about abuses at right time, then people may loss their belief in the structure. Even Jesus will not forgive them.



1. Australian catholic church alleges 7 of priests sexually abused kids over decade
2. Australias grim toll in the churchs sex abuse scandal - NYT

They need care and medicines NOT GUNS

What I don’t understand about America is, her citizens’ crazy demand for guns. After all, US have one of the world's biggest army, mammoth Homeland Security and other internal security infrastructures. All these institutions are very much functional and ready to face any challenges. In such a situation, what is the need for the state to let her citizen's carrying guns? I know that, this has a lot to do with the way US got independence and evolved over a period of time. Now-a-days many started considering the right to own a gun more important than the right to live.

Letting everyone carry a gun is an easy way to invite tragedies. I don’t think any other country will do this to their people, that also so willingly. Mass shootouts in public spaces, schools and deaths of thousands, armed robberies are living example of how the easy supply of guns rupturing the basics of families and societies. A man/woman carrying a gun is a walking death machine. There is high possibility that those carrying gun, may also use it in undesirable circumstances.

Now-a-days what we are seeing is, instead of outright ban or more controls on gun purchases Congress is more willing to relax the rules and allow more widely use; to the extent that even a mentally unstable person can also carry a gun.

I don’t think here in India, government is providing all required security for her citizens. But people carrying gun and roaming around the streets will be the last thing I want. Hope that, those gun hungry people will also realize this and do something about it. At least don't give it to mentally unstable people. They need care and medicines not guns.



1. Congress says let the mentally ill buy Guns - NYT

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Digital India - After effects of Demonitization

Demonetization's Aftereffects 

Another mile stone for India’s solar power program

4 MW horizontal single axis tracker in Vellakoil, Tamil Nadu
Shortfalls in rain, availability of water in rivers and growing atmosphere pollution is not only threatening the water supply to agriculture and cities but also raising questions about the viability of future electricity production by means of water intensive methods like thermal and hydro. Electricity became a crucial element in modern life to such an extent that, it acquired a position next to air, water, food and shelter. Raising concerns about safety and high initial investment already made nuclear power production unattractive.

It is at this juncture we are getting some good news from Rewa Ultra Mega Solar Project’s bidding. Bid for three units in Rewa – each will have an installed capacity of 250 MW – was won by won by Mahindra renewables, ACME Solar Holdings and Sweden’s Solengeri Power. Total installed capacity of this project is 750MW.

Mahindra renewables, ACME Solar Holdings and Solengeri Power quoted 2.979/KWh, 2.97/KWh and 2.974/KWh for first year. Under Rewa’s power purchase agreement there is an escalation price of 5paisa/ unit in tariff for next 15 years. As per Mint reports levelled tariff over 15 years will be 3.30 INR/Unit.

What make this number path breaking is, it is the first time we are witnessing a below 3 INR price for solar power. Till now the record was 4.34INR/Unit. Even the average price for electricity from highly polluting but cheap coal plants of NTPC stands at 3.2 INR/ Unit.

If these private companies which are going to operate Rewa are able to produce power sustainably (only time can tell) then lot of new projects will definitely come up. Even now many foreign funds are keen on investing in India’s renewable sector. However, to mature, the industry has to demonstrate that even without government subsidies it has a sustainable future.

In any case renewables share in Indian electricity production is going to increase. As per a BP estimate it will it 8% (from current 2%) by 2035. As of December 2015, we have an installed capacity of 9012.69MW.


1. Livemint

Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia