The Connectere Podcast is an initiative to bring forth innovative ideas and opinions of the youth forward via the digital medium. Tune in to this episode of the podcast where we delve into the topic of ‘Adapting to the new normal of today!’
There are two aspects to the news- knowing the headline and understanding the intricacies of it. We at The Connectere focus on both. While The First Forum edition gives a brief about the headlines, The Weekly Analysis Edition is meant to educate the reader on what do various news mean and what are their intricacies. This initiative is meant to educate the reader on how to understand the important news. In the Forty Eighth Edition we are covering the following news:
Second phase of Covid-19 vaccination drive in India
India has started the second phase of Covid-19 vaccination drive that will cover 10 crore people across the country from Monday. Government has started the vaccination of people above 60 years and individuals above 45 years of age having comorbidities against coronavirus. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also joined the elite club of global leaders who had publicly received the Covid-19 vaccine and urged people to come out for vaccination in order to fight the deadly pandemic as he got vaccinated on the first day of the second phase of vaccination drive in India.
People with the presence of one of the 20 comorbidities, including diabetes and heart failure with hospital admission in the past one year, have been prioritised in this phase of the COVID-19 vaccination drive.
The simplified system of certifying people with these comorbidities within the 45-59 years age group was explained to the States Health Departments. The co-morbidities which have been prioritised include diabetes, heart failure with hospital admission in the past one year, post-cardiac transplant, moderate or severe valvular heart disease, end-stage kidney disease on haemodialysis, a severe respiratory disease with hospitalisation in the last two years, primary immunodeficiency diseases/HIV infection and angina and hypertension/diabetes on treatment.
An Advanced self-registration process is used under which the beneficiaries will be able to self-register in advance by downloading the CO-Win 2.0 portal and through other IT applications such as Arogya Setu etc. This app shows the government and private hospitals serving as COVID vaccination centres with the date and time of the available schedules. The beneficiary would be able to choose the CVC of his/her choice and book an appointment for vaccination.
According to the ministry,6.44 lakh people booked appointments on the Co-Win portal on the first day of the second phase to get vaccinated, and 25 lakh potential beneficiaries registered on the portal on the same day, out of which 50,000 were healthcare and frontline workers. So far, 1.47 crore vaccines have been administered in India.
Attorney General Refused to give Consent to Contempt Proceedings Against Ex CJI
The Attorney General for India, K.K.Venugopal, has declined his consent to initiate proceedings for criminal contempt against the nominated member of Rajya Sabha, Ranjan Gogoi, for the interview he gave at the India Today conclave on February 12. Venugopal agreed with transparency activist Saket Gokhale, who sought his consent, that Gogoi initially made some very strong statements about the judiciary and the Supreme Court of India during the event. But he added that the statements “apparently reflect his deep frustration with the ills that undoubtedly beset the justice delivery system”. Venugopal, who claimed that he watched the entirety of Gogoi’s interview, was of the view that what he said was for the good of the institution, and would not in any manner scandalise the court or lower its authority in the eyes of the public.
In the recent Prashant Bhushan case, Venugopal told the Supreme Court that nine former judges of the Supreme Court had said that there was corruption in higher judiciary and that seven of them made the remark immediately after their retirement. That the court did not use its suo motu powers to question those former judges was cited by Venugopal to justify dropping of the contempt of court case against Bhushan. By not agreeing with Venugopal, the court only confirmed its class bias. Venugopal’s consent for initiating cases against comedian Kunal Kamra and artist Rachita Taneja, while declining consent in the case of Gogoi, is being seen as a hidden understanding and appreciation of a class bias.
Under the Contempt of Courts Act and the pertinent rules, the Supreme Court can initiate criminal contempt proceedings either on its own motion or upon a petition filed by a private individual after obtaining consent of the attorney general or the solicitor general.
New Guidelines for Social Media, OTT platforms
As the influence of social media and OTT platforms in providing information to public is increasing, the govt. has unveiled its plan to enact greater oversight over social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook and also bring digital media and streaming platforms into a stricter regulatory net called the ‘Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021’. The proposed changes may go down as the largest shake-up in the technology regulation space in nearly a decade. The new rules will require big social media companies to take down unlawful content within a specific time frame of being served either by a court order or notice of an appropriate government agency. The rules also carve out a separate category for sexual content under which an intermediary shall, within 24 hours, remove the offending content. These will come into effect the day these are notified for the most applicable entities, although a 3-month window would be given to significant social media intermediaries. The rules aim at tracking first originator by making it mandatory for significant social media messaging intermediaries like Whatsapp to enable the identification of “first originator” of the information to target people threatening the sovereignty and integrity of the country, the security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states, or public order or those committing offences relating to the above or in relation with rape, sexually explicit material or child sexual abuse material punishable with imprisonment for a term not less than five years. This move is aimed at tracking down people who use Whatsapp or Signal to spread fake news or carry out illegal activities, but at the same time, cyber experts fear that it may require companies to break their end-to-end encryption protocols and pave the way for a surveillance state.
The changes further include a ‘Code of Ethics and Procedure and Safeguards in Relation to Digital/ Online Media’. The rules under this code will apply to everyone from online news and digital media entities to OTT platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime. Publishers of news on digital media will be required to observe ‘Norms of Journalistic Conduct of the Press Council of India and the Programme Code under the Cable Television Networks Regulation Act’ which is needed to provide a level playing field between the offline and digital media. To ensure adherence to the Code of Ethics, the govt. envisages the establishment of three- tier structure under which user grievances can be addressed through self-regulation and oversight. Although, the motive of regulating the digital content is welcomed by digital media houses, there have been concerns about the privacy of people and the cumbersome dispute redressal system involving bureaucratic controls which can threaten the freedom of press and free speech in the country.
4G Spectrum Auction ends
the govt. has completed the much awaited spectrum auction for 4G airwaves in a two-day event generating proceeds much higher than those estimated beforehand. The last spectrum auctions were held in 2016, when the government offered 2,354.55 MHz at a reserve price of Rs 5.60 lakh crore. Although the govt. managed to sell only 965 MHz or about 40% of the spectrum that was put up for sale then and the total value of bids received was just Rs 65,789 crore, the need for a new spectrum auction had arisen because the validity of the airwaves bought by companies is set to expire in 2021. The govt. wrapped up an auction for fourth-generation or 4G airwaves generating Rs 77,815 crore in proceeds or about a fifth of spectrum value put on sale. It, however, claimed that the auction was a success as demand far exceeded its modest expectations. Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd, India’s largest telco, emerged as the top bidder, cornering roughly three-fourths of the spectrum sold in two-day event. It has acquired 488.35 MHz of airwaves across three bands 800 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2300 MHz worth Rs 57,122.65 crore which is much higher than the industry estimates. Jio has about 98.8 MHz of spectrum expiring this year for which it was expected to shell out Rs 23,863.8 crore. Similarly, it was expected that Airtel would largely renew the spectrum in 900 MHz and 1800 MHz that’s due to expire this year, and its total outgo would be around Rs 13,500 crore. However, Airtel went a step ahead and acquired spectrum in 800 MHz, 2100 MHz and 2300 MHz as well worth Rs 18,699 crore. Vodafone, on the other hand, was modest by acquiring airwaves of just 11.9 MHz of spectrum for Rs 1,993.4 crore-much lower than the industry estimates. Telecos need to pay upfront 25% of the spectrum won in the 700 MHz, 800 MHz and 900 MHz and 50 % of the rest of the bands. The rest is to be paid in 16 annual installments after a two-year moratorium. According to DOT, the payment is to be made in 10 days post the issue of demand notice which is expected to be released within the next 7-10 days. The govt. will, however, just get Rs 19,000-20,000 crore in the year upto 31st march from the latest sale as auction rules allow operators to stagger payments. Still, the money will be crucial for the govt, as it stares a record fiscal deficit of 9.5% this year. Spectrum Usage Charges (SUC) for the spectrum acquired in this auction will be payable at the rate of 3% of Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) of the license, excluding revenue from wireline services.
Besides, it has also been told that 5G spectrum will be rolled out by the end of 2021 but not on a pan-India basis and only in select areas where the demand would justify the capex.
India-Pakistan jointly announce maintenance of ceasefire agreement
In an unexpected shift from geo-political tensions, India and Pakistan jointly announced that both the rival nations would cease firing across their shared border on either side of the Line of Control (LoC). The announcement came as a surprise to many as the military officials of both nations agreed to a cease-fire beginning from midnight of February 24-25, 2021. This step is the first in over almost 20 years to ease border tensions and a significant one considering that both nations gave a joint statement.
However, people following geopolitics had a decent bit of idea that something of this sort was about to happen. Beginning from Pakistan Army Chief Bajwa’s comment on “peace in all direction” to India allowing Pakistan PM Imran Khan to use India’s airspace for his Sri Lanka visit, signs were there for around a month.
The ceasefire is particularly important as several troops from both ends are regularly involved in war-like situations causing heavy damage to life and property.
One might think as to why Pakistan decided to review its stance against India. Beginning from the Kashmir issue, Pakistan has turned slightly soft understanding that the revocation of special status has taken place, life is gradually turning to normal in the union territories and only dialogue will lead to the solution. Secondly, Pakistan need vaccines to fight Covid-19 of which India can be a significant supplier considering it has already extended millions of doses to other neighbouring countries in the subcontinent.
The most substantial concern that experts note here is whether the announcement would stand or not? And if yes, then for how long? It’s not the first time that both nations have decided to cease firing.
Experts also believe this decision is not one taken merely by the military officials and it has to be backed by political support in one form or the other. A joint statement also points to the fact that the backchannel process was ongoing for several months possibly.
The announcement also comes as a relief to India as it has eased its border tensions with both Pakistan and China with the ongoing disengagement process in Ladakh. It relieves India of a two-front war with its neighbours during the ongoing pandemic that has seen a slight spike in the past couple of weeks.
US bombs facilities in Syria in retaliation
The United States government on Thursday launched airstrikes in Syria near the Syria-Iraq border following an order from President Joe Biden. This, therefore, became the 1st airstrike under Joe Biden’s presidency of over 42 days. According to the US, the airstrikes targeted facilities in the Al Bukamal region of Syria that had two allegedly Iran backed militias, namely Kait’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada (KSS) and Kait’ib Hezbollah (KH). The White House defended the airstrikes saying it would reduce the future risk of additional attacks in the coming weeks. As per initial reports, several fighters of the Iraqi armed group were wounded and at least 22 fighters were killed.
According to the Pentagon, the strikes were executed in retaliation to attacks on US interests at Erbil Airport in northern Iraq where a rocket attack killed a civilian contractor, wounded a U.S. service member and other coalition troops. The US forces were sent to the bordering region of Iraq and Syria by the President after his oath on 20th January 2021 to maintain peace in the region.
The direct impact of the airstrikes was seen in share markets worldwide that collapsed including the Indian market where benchmark index BSE Sensex fell around 1900 points i.e. 3.8% in intra-day trading. However, additional reasons of increasing bond yields and growing concern of pandemic in the past week also led to the fell.
The airstrikes deliver clear signals throughout the world that although Joe Biden would not be as aggressive as Donald Trump, he would not hesitate to come forward and launch strikes if it’s in the interest of the United States and American coalition personnel. It also creates an image of Joe Biden as a strong President who might launch attacks if required. There was a mild response from foreign ministers of Iran and Syria who spoke to each other and said the West should adhere to the U.N. Security Council resolution on Syria and that bombings on random places should be avoided.
The airstrikes would however have no impact on the Iran nuclear deal which is thought to be reinstated in the upcoming months. Iran is currently facing heavy sanctions from the past few years imposed by former President Donald Trump.
The First Forum is an initiative that focuses on covering the latest happenings in a brief format. This is in lieu of the importance of knowledge about current happenings in this fast-changing world.
In the Eighty Fourth- Edition of The First Forum we would be covering the following topics:
2. Science and Technology
There are two aspects to the news- knowing the headline and understanding the intricacies of it. We at The Connectere focus on both. While The First Forum edition gives a brief about the headlines, The Weekly Analysis Edition is meant to educate the reader on what do various news mean and what are their intricacies. This initiative is meant to educate the reader on how to understand the important news. In the Forty Seventh Edition we are covering the following news:
Govt inviting suggestions on the Blue Economy Policy
The ‘Blue Economy’ is an emerging concept that encourages better stewardship of our ocean or ‘blue’ resources. The Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) has rolled out the draft blue economy policy in the public domain, inviting suggestions and inputs from various stakeholders, including industry, NGOs, academia and citizens. It is in line with the Government of India’s Vision of New India by 2030. The draft, prepared by the economic advisory council to the Prime Minister outlines the vision and strategy that can be adopted by the government to utilise the plethora of oceanic resources available in the country. It aims to enhance the contribution of the blue economy to India’s GDP by around 4%, improve the lives of coastal communities, preserve marine biodiversity, and maintain the national security of marine areas and resources. Let’s see the essence of this policy.
The blue economy occupies a vital potential position in India’s economic growth.
It could well be the next multiplier of GDP and well-being, provided sustainability and socio-economic welfare are kept centre-stage. It emphasizes policies across several key sectors to achieve holistic growth of India’s economy. It aids the production of goods and services that have clear linkages with economic growth, environmental sustainability, and national security. It is understood as a subset of the national economy comprising an entire ocean resources system and human-made economic infrastructure in marine, maritime, and onshore coastal zones within the country’s legal jurisdiction.
Therefore, India’s draft blue economy policy is envisaged as a crucial framework towards unlocking the country’s potential for economic growth and welfare. Most importantly, it is the 17 sustainable development goal (SDG), also known as the Global Goal adopted by the United Nations member states including India. SDG 14 seeks to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. Several countries have undertaken initiatives to harness their blue economy. For instance, Australia, Brazil, the United Kingdom, United States, Russia, and Norway have developed dedicated national ocean policies with measurable outcomes and budgetary provisions. Canada and Australia have enacted legislation and established hierarchical institutions at federal and state levels to ensure progress and monitoring of their blue economy targets. With a draft blue economy policy framework of its own, India is now all set to harness the vast potential of its ocean resources.
CBDT to keep double tax avoidance, international practices in view on NRI tax residency
The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) is evaluating a number of facets together with double taxation avoidance, greatest practices by different nations, and tax treaties, earlier than arriving at a view on figuring out tax residency for non-resident Indians or NRIs having overstayed in India in FY 21. They want to make sure that it should not be the case that NRIs income becomes tax-free in India as well as their home country being a loss for both at the same time.
Measures or instructions taken by nations such because the US, UK, and others would even have to be thought-about such that the view India takes is in line with international friends. Several nations in Europe and the UK have initiated second or third waves of lockdowns due to resurgence in Covid 19 circumstances at the same time as vaccination drives have begun. CBDT also has to look at tax treaties before formalizing a view. However, the most important problem the Board is going through is an assortment of knowledge of the variety of folks having bought impacted by overstay and lack of readability of guidelines. The officials added that whereas international journey for many a part of FY 21 was barred and opened up later on in a restricted method, the precise quantity of people that could have stayed greater than 182 days could be robust to confirm. Data could be important for figuring out the size of reduction that the Board wants to present, and therefore formulate its response to the Supreme Court. The SC has given CBDT three weeks to determine on reduction to be granted to NRIs on the fee of revenue tax for the continued monetary year. It is listening to a petition filed by an NRI who had stayed more than 182 days in India due to the lockdown and subsequently could have to pay tax in India on his world revenue. The Board had issued a clarification in May final year for FY20, on the facet of residency beneath Section 6 of the I-T Act whereby numerous relaxations have been offered to NRIs who couldn’t journey again to their nation of labor or residence due to the lockdown. CBDT has not issued any round for fee of revenue tax by NRIs staying past 182 days in India due to the pandemic in FY 21.
A thorough study should ensure that these people don’t escape a tax liability from both nations thus adding some part to both countries depending on various facts of residence and the various treaties but even if a small proportion added, the government revenue will increase and at the same time justice served.
SEBI eases norms for IPO of large entities
The most unexpected announcement at Budget was the proposed disinvestment of Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) as the government proposed to sell a part of its holding in LIC by way of an IPO. They are hoping that the listing would bring discipline while allowing retail investors to participate in wealth creation. But the plan to sell the stake has been marked by complications given the sheer size of the state-run company.
To put things in perspective, just a 10 per cent share sale to the public is pegged to be at least Rs 1 lakh crore, which will be tough for the market to absorb. India’s largest financial institution with assets of over Rs 32 lakh crore facing hurdles before the IPO. To deal with it, market regulator SEBI has relaxed the norms to make the listing process easier and smooth for large entities like LIC, making it easier for the government to sell a part of its stake through IPO.
As per the new norms now, for any company with a post-issue market capital of above Rs 1 lakh crore, the IPO size will have to be Rs 10,000 crore plus 5 percent of the incremental market capitalisation amount. It means large companies can now divest a minimum of 5 per cent in the IPO, instead of 10 per cent. Further, they will get five years, instead of three, to raise the public float to 25 per cent. The Central government will hold at least 75% in LIC for the first five years post the IPO, and subsequently, hold at least 51% in the insurer at all times after five years of the proposed IPO. This move eases the minimum offer and public holding norms will allow the government more time to abide by rules and pave the way for the much-awaited mega float of Life Insurance Corporation (LIC). This would also encourage large firms to opt for listing.
The government is betting on diluting its stake in state-run LIC via an IPO in the coming fiscal in an attempt to garner enough non-tax revenues to narrow the country’s fiscal deficit. LIC, which is preparing for its IPO and is currently undergoing an evaluation process by actuarial firms, will be the biggest beneficiary of this relaxation by Sebi.
India begins probe to continue anti-dumping duty on some steel imports from China
India has begun an investigation on the need to continue an anti-dumping duty on the imports of certain seamless tubes, pipes, hollow profiles of iron and steel from China based on complaints filed by ISMT Limited and Jindal Saw Limited. The applicants have alleged that dumping of these products from China has continued even after the imposition of anti-dumping duty, and there has been a significant increase in the volume of imports. The duty on the product was first imposed in February 2017 and is set to expire on May 16 this year. As per the notification issued by the Directorate General of Trade Remedies (DGTR), there is a likelihood that such activities would continue if such duties were to expire or removed thus bringing us back to square one in our problem. The period of investigation is April 1, 2019, to September 30, 2020.
Based on the duly substantiated application of the applicants and having satisfied itself, on the basis of the prima facie evidence submitted by the domestic industry, substantiating the likelihood of continuation or recurrence of dumping and injury, DGTR had declared that it initiates a sunset review investigation.
The DGTR, the quasi-judicial investigation arm of the commerce and industry ministry, has also begun a separate sunset review anti-dumping investigation in imports of Viscose Staple Fibre from China and Indonesia based on a complaint filed by the Association of Man-Made Fibre Industry of India on behalf of Grasim Industries Limited. The duty was first imposed on July 26, 2010, and then extended. The existing duties will expire on August 7, 2021. The period of investigation for the present investigation is September 1, 2019, to October 31, 2020.
While the other country might not be very happy from such duties being charged but there seems to be no option left for us as we could either keep an outside nation happy or let our markets prosper or rather survive. As unethical as it could ever get in dumping, it is only fair for India to continue with such duties to protect its own interests first. It is hoped that the new investigation shall ensure that the duties continue if not to be increased.
The Connectere Podcast is an initiative to bring forth innovative ideas and opinions of the youth forward via the digital medium. Tune in to this episode of the podcast where Sahib talks about the iconic ball tampering scandal of Australia from 2018.
The First Forum is an initiative that focuses on covering the latest happenings in a brief format. This is in lieu of the importance of knowledge about current happenings in this fast-changing world.
In the Eighty Third- Edition of The First Forum we would be covering the following topics:
2. Science and Technology
Though the year 2020 has been a forgettable one for many, it was surely an unforgettable one for Mukesh Ambani. The energy-to-telecom-to-digital conglomerate Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) became India’s first and the only company to cross a market capitalisation of Rs 15 lakh crore as investors rejoiced at fundraising that eventually helped the company in becoming totally debt-free. RIL is also marked for Asia’s 10th largest firm by market capital.
The Connectere Podcast is an initiative to bring forth innovative ideas and opinions of the youth forward via the digital medium. Tune in to this episode of the podcast where Manav talks about the economy of Nazi Germany.