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Here is our 9pm current affairs brief for you today
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List of Contents
Highlights of 43rd GST Council Meeting
Source- The Hindu
Syllabus- GS 3 – Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources.
Synopsis- Key recommendations made during 43rd GST Council meeting and why it is a missed opportunity.
43rd GST Council Meeting took place recently. Several measures were announced however, they failed to inspire any hope of recovery from the disastrous impacts of 2nd wave of the pandemic.
Key recommendations during 43rd GST council meeting
- GST Amnesty Scheme for small firms pending GST returns–
- The scheme has been recommended for reducing late fees. Now Taxpayers can file pending returns, avail benefits of the scheme, with reduced late fees.
- Annual Return Filing – The Council has recommended amending the CGST Act 2017. It allows for self-certification of reconciliation statements, instead of getting them certified by Chartered Accountants.
- The Council exempts import duty on Covid-19 relief materials- The GST Council extends the GST exemption granted on relief material received for free from abroad for donations to State-approved entities.
- The period for availing of this exemption has also been extended to August 31.
- The medicine for Black Fungus [Amphotericin-B] has also been included in the exemption list for tax-free imports.
- GST Compensation Cess to remain the same – Same formula as last year will be adopted in 2021 too. A rough estimate is that the Central Government will have to borrow Rs. 1.58 lakh crores and pass it on to the states.
Key points missed in 43rd GST council meeting
- There were no discussions on putting fuel- petrol, diesel under GST, despite high petrol prices.
- The Council failed to provide an immediate tax break for critical pandemic relief supplies despite States and industry pressing for waivers.
- Inadequate relaxation in GST amnesty scheme – There is no waiver from interest payment available to businesses with a turnover of over ₹5 crores.
- It would be beneficial, if all businesses were given a complete waiver of late fees for pandemic hit months.
- Waiting until June 8 for a final decision on extra GST exemptions for COVID relief operations are waste of time, when each day’s delay in providing relief hurts thousands.
Effects of Pandemic on Young Healthcare Workers
Source: click here
Syllabus: GS 2
Synopsis: Attention needs to be given to the requirements of the most vulnerable members of the caregiving team i.e. young healthcare workers.
young medical interns, postgraduates, nurses, physiotherapists, pharmacists, etc are the lowest steps in the hierarchy of training. It seems fair from an academic view and is according to any professional training path. However, this structure is apathetic for young Health care workers.
- Even before the pandemic, duty hour restrictions were not followed for young healthcare workers. Sleep-deprived postgraduates used to work for 100-hours in a week.
- The stipends provided to them are inconsistent. For example, Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh offer the lowest monthly stipends to first-year residents at Rs 35-37,000.
What are the adverse effects of the pandemic on young healthcare workers?
During the pandemic, most public hospitals had young interns, postgraduates, nurses, and technicians staff in fever clinics, wards, and ICUs. They were overworked by the huge volume of patients.
- Firstly, they are physically distressed by working for 8-12 hours in a stuffy PPE suit and tightly-fitted face mask. One cannot even take a toilet break.
- It requires a tremendous cognitive effort to manage complex ventilator settings and drug interactions. Especially when the patient is admitted to the Covid-19 ward with multiple co-morbidities.
- Secondly, as the second wave hit, hospitals increased their beds and ICU capacity. But the healthcare workers remained overstretched. The burden further increased by poorly-informed public health measures and an increase in public frustration and indifference.
- Thirdly, the NEET postgraduate exams this year have been delayed. The shortage of workers will continue to overburden them.
- Fourthly, the growing amount of disinformation on social media which adds to distrust against doctors and nurses has left most trainees in an unfortunate position. They are defending their worth and the firmness of scientific evidence that updates medical practice.
- They also have to defend themselves against the several instances of violence and abuse by patient attendees.
- Fifthly, all of these factors have taken a toll on the well-being of young trainees. They are away from their families and the uncertainty about their safety amidst a global pandemic affects their mental health.
- Suicide has claimed the lives of students, interns, and postgraduates in the last year across the country. Reasons were the stress of persistent duty hours, (some even suffering from severe conditions themselves).
- It is time we bring an end to our indifference towards young healthcare workers. There should be some amendments to the Epidemic Disease Act to protect frontline workers from exploitation. They should be provided with centrally-sponsored insurance schemes.
- Citizens must now speak out against the exploitation of young trainees. It should be a moral responsibility to end this toxic culture that feeds off public apathy.
Factors Affecting Growth of Block Chain technology in India
Source: Indian Express
Gs3: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, Robotics, Nano-technology, Bio-technology
Synopsis: There are many positive benefits in utilising blockchain technology. However, regulatory uncertainties in Policymaking have impeded the growth of Blockchain technology in India.
- Satoshi Nakamoto created the most popular cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, in 2008, as a fully decentralised, peer-to-peer electronic cash system.
- Since then, Bitcoins have seen phenomenal growth in market value. For instance, Bitcoin, which was traded at just $0.0008 in 2010, commands a market price of $65,000 this April.
- Many newer coins were introduced since Bitcoin’s launch, and their cumulative market value touched $2.5 trillion. Their value has surpassed the size of the economy of most modern nations.
- Despite its increasing acceptance globally, India has followed its usual approach of ‘bar what you can’t understand, ban what you can’t control’.
- In 2018, the Reserve Bank barred our financial institutions from supporting crypto transactions, but the Supreme Court overturned it in 2020.
- Further, the government has circulated a draft bill outlawing all cryptocurrency activities. It has been under discussion since 2019.
- More recently, the Reserve Bank has announced the launch of a private blockchain-supported official digital currency, similar to China’s digital Yuan.
- However, launching official digital currency is impractical, and shows a lack of understanding of this disruptive innovation.
Why India is hesitant to accept cryptocurrencies?
Though Cryptocurrencies have many advantages there are few concerns associated with them,
- One, extreme volatility. For example, China’s recent crackdown on cryptocurrency wiped out a trillion US dollars from the global crypto market within a span of 24 hours.
- Two, it can be used as an instrument for illicit activities, including money laundering and terror funding as there are no regulations.
What is the significance of Blockchain technology?
The underlying technology of Cryptocurrencies is Blockchain technology. Blockchain network performs functions such as verification of transactions and contracts and the updating and maintenance of these records in the form of tamper-proof ledgers. It serves many purposes.
- One, currently, intermediaries (including banks, credit card, and payment gateways) draw almost 3 percent from the total global economic output of over $100 trillion, as fees for their services. Integrating blockchain into these sectors could result in hundreds of billions of dollars in savings.
- Two, Blockchain can make every aspect of e-governance, judicial and electoral processes more efficient and transparent.
- Three, it can make our digital space more redistributive and fairer. For instance, Tech firms, including titans like Google and Facebook, derive most of their value from their multitude of users. Blockchain could enable these internet customers to receive micro-payments for any original data they share in the digital space including ratings, reviews, and images.
Despite its significance, regulatory uncertainty is hampering the growth of blockchain start-ups in India. For instance, blockchain start-ups worldwide received venture funding of $ 2.6 billion. Whereas, in India, less than 0.2 percent of the amount the sector raised globally have gone into the Indian blockchain start-ups
- India has been a late adopter in all the previous phases of the digital revolution. Like semiconductors, the internet, and smartphone technology (4G and 5G).
- Currently, we are witnessing the next phase in a digital revolution led by technologies like blockchain.
- Channelizing India’s human capital, expertise, and resources supported with the right policies will help India to make the most benefit of it.
Issues with Tarun Tejpal case judgment
Source: The Hindu
Gs2: Structure, Organization, and Functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary
Synopsis: Tarun Tejpal case judgment needs to be overturned. Else, it will remain as a bad precedent that impedes the workplace safety of women.
- Tarun Tejpal, the former Tehelka editor-in-chief was accused of sexually assaulting his female colleague.
- Followingly he was arrested and released on bail by the Supreme Court.
- Recently, an Additional Sessions Judge had acquitted Tarun Tejpal from charges of rape.
- The judgment transforms the accused into the victim and the survivor into the accused. The judgment has been criticized on the following grounds.
- The court had dismissed the rape charges based on unfounded rationality.
- Further, this judgment will be in history as an example of the worst kind of victim-blaming and shaming to benefit the accused.
What are the reasons for criticising the Tarun Tejpal case judgment?
- First, the judgment is criticized for its unprecedented interpretation in support of the accused.
- One, the court denied accepting the victim as a sterling witness. It was stated that the survivor did not fit into the court’s preconceived ideas of a rape survivor’s behaviour.
- This disregards the women’s struggles that forced changes in law, in case law, and in approaches to victims of rape.
- Two, even some evidence against the accused were ignored. Such as the accused’s personal apology, the draft of an official apology, and the conversations recorded by the survivor with the senior woman officer negotiating on behalf of the accused.
- The judgment holds that the apology and the statements made by the accused were not sent voluntarily. But that it was under pressure and intimidation by the survivor.
- Second, violation of privacy. Section 53A in the Indian Evidence Act rules out reference to past sexual history. However, the survivor was subjected to answer even intimate details of her life and her friendships.
- Third, the judgment criminalizes the right of a survivor to approach activists and lawyers for their help. Senior members of the Bar such as Indira Jaisingh were accused of doctoring and also of adding to incidents in support of the victim.