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Answered: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – May 25

1. Do you support taxing of agricultural income? Give concrete arguments in support of your opinion.(GS 3)

Business Line | The Hindu

Yes agricultural income needs to be taxed or yes,it is valid:-

  • Laws:
    • Section 2 (1A) of the Income Tax Act defines agricultural income as rent/revenue from land, income derived from this land through agriculture and income derived from buildings on that land.
    • Section 10 (1) of the Income Tax Act excludes agricultural income from a computation of total income. Neither of these sections is dispute-free and chartered accountants and lawyers have been enriched via these. But broadly, these propositions are true.
    • Conditions on the sale of agricultural land vary from state to state .thishas been misused.
  • Confusion:-
    • In the Seventh Schedule, Entry 82 in the Union List mentions taxes other than agricultural income, while Entry 46 in the State List mentions taxes on agricultural income
  • 4 lakh taxpayers claimed exemption from agriculture income in the assessment year 2014-15. The biggest were seed giants like Kaveri Seeds – which claimed Rs.186.63 crore exemption and made a profit of Rs.215 crore before tax—and multinational Monsanto India, which claimed Rs.94 crore as exemption from agriculture income.
  • According to Vijay kelkar task force it has become a conduit for tax evasion.
  • The onset of tax avoidance as mechanized farms with hired labour took advantage of the exemptions provided to cooperative farms. In assessment year 2014-15, for instance, nine of the top 10 claimants for tax exemption of agricultural income were corporations; the 10th was a state government department.

No:-

  • If India looks at the growth of its agriculture in the post-reform period, the relative contribution of agricultural income to India’s gross domestic product has shrunk at an alarming rate.
    • During the period 1991 to 2016, the share of agriculture decreased from 32% to 15%. Compared with this, the workforce dependence on agriculture is still very high, at 49.7%.
  • Given the technological and environmental constraints, the performance of the agriculture sector has not been encouraging, and consequently, the welfare of the population living in the countryside has not visibly improved. So taxing would only be burdensome.
  • The income-expenditure gap for a majority of farmers is in the negative. More than one-third of the farmers have expressed their choice to leave the non-remunerative occupation.
  • The agrarian distress has been deepening, and there has been a rise in farmer suicides. Instead of finding a viable policy to solve the crisis, floating the idea of taxing farming income is a great disservice to the sector..

What is needed?

  • There must be a unified system of taxation across states. Agricultural income taxation must be integrated with non-agricultural income taxation.
  • The Income Tax Act defines agricultural income but not who is a farmer. Since the two are intertwined, the act should be amended.
  • Incremental tax revenues (net of costs) generated from suggestions above should be assigned to the state government. This revenue should be exclusively used for the benefit of farmers.

    2. What is zero day vulnerability? How can hackers exploit the same?(GS 3)

Indian Express | Link-1 | Link-2

Introduction:-

  • Recently the WannaCry ransomware  exploited vulnerabilities in Windows 7 that the US National Security Agency (NSA) apparently knew about for a few years.
  • This attack  raised perplexing questions about zero day vulnerability.

Zero day vulnerability:-

  • zero-day(also known as zero-hour or 0 day) vulnerability is an undisclosed computer software vulnerability that hackers can exploit to adversely affect computer programs, data, additional computers or a network.
  • It is known as a “zero-day” because it is not publicly reported or announced before becoming active, leaving the software’s author with zero days in which to create patches or advise workarounds to mitigate its actions.
  • The fewer the days the bug has been known about, the higher the chances that it has no fix or mitigation.

How can hackers exploit:-

  • Malware writers can exploit zero-day vulnerabilities through several different attack vectors.
  • Sometimes, when users visit rogue websites, malicious code on the site can exploit vulnerabilities in Web browsers.
  • Web browsers are a particular target for criminals because of their widespread distribution and usage.
  • Windows systems have the capability to automatically install updates, but in many corporate set ups, the auto-update is disabled to give IT departments more control over company machines. This left many machines vulnerable to the attack.
  • Vulnerabilities can be the result of improper computer or security configurations and programming errors. If left unaddressed, vulnerabilities create security holes that can be exploited by cybercriminals.
  • Hackers write code to target a specific security weakness and package it into exploit malware, a type malicious software that takes advantage of a vulnerability in order to compromise a computer system or cause an unintended behavior to occur on the software.
  • If your computer is infected, exploit malware can steal your data, allowing hackers to take unauthorized control of your computer, and even use the software in a way that was not originally intended
  • For the everyday computer user, a vulnerability can pose serious security risks because exploit malware can infect a computer through otherwise harmless web browsing activities, such as viewing a website, opening a compromised message, or playing infected media.

What can be done?

  • Establish personal online security best practices
  • Configure security settings for your operating system, internet browser and security software.

3. The shift to flexible inflation targeting by RBI’s monetary policy committee is based on a deep theoretical shift in economic policy thinking. Discuss.(GS 3)

Live Mint

Introduction:-

  • Indian monetary policy entered a new era more than a year ago. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) now considers consumer price inflation as the nominal anchor of its policy.

Yes:-

  • The new framework makes RBI more accountable as now it will have to explain to the government if it fails to meet the inflation targets.
  • This will put India on a par with other nations in terms of flexible inflation targeting.
  • The Urjit Patel committee had unambiguously stated on page 12 of its report that it was influenced by the New Keynesian research programme.
  • This is a shift from the earlier policy thinking that now there is a fixed target of inflation which has to be pursued by RBI.

No:-

  • It is not clear whether the RBI has any sharp theoretical premise behind the flexible inflation targeting that it has been advocating.So calling it a economic policy shift is way ahead.

 

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