Sunday, March 1, 2015

Social face of Modi Budget

ASHOK B SHARMA
The Modi Government has drawn up a roadmap for boosting public investments in infrastructure, facilitating ambitious programmes like Make in India, Green India, Skill India and as well as providing safety nets for the poor and the common man, despite the “squeeze” in the fiscal space.
The squeeze in the central government’s fiscal space has been caused due to implementation of the recommendations of the14th Finance Commission whereby 62% of the total tax receipts, including the divisible pool of taxes, grants and plan transfers, would be devolved to the States. Also the current scheme of transparent coal auctioning will accrue more benefits to coal-bearing States. Hence the Union government expects the States to assist in some of its welfare schemes in the spirit of cooperative federalism.
The Union government, however, has not attempted much to phase out subsidies, as was expected. Subsidies on food and fertilisers have been increased marginally, factoring in the cost of production; so also subsidies on interest. The petroleum subsidy has been drastically reduced from Rs 60,270 crore in 2014-15 revised estimate to Rs 30,000 crore in 2015-16 budgetary estimate, while other subsidies have been reduced from Rs 1,631.55 crore to Rs 1,520 crore.
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, while presenting the Budget, made his intention clear to use the Jan Dhan Yojana-Aadhar platform and Mobile phone (called JAM trinity by the Economic Survey) to facilitate direct transfer of benefits in a leakage-proof, well-targeted and cashless manner.
The government has not yet proposed winding up of any welfare scheme. It has identified two major factors critical to agricultural production, namely, soil health and irrigation. Accordingly Rs 5,300 crore has been allocated to support micro-irrigation, watershed development and Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana. It has assured to create a Unified National Agriculture Market. For boosting job augmentation in rural areas Rs 34,699 crore has been allocated under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Generation Scheme (MGNREGS).
Further, for developing rural infrastructure Rs 25,000 crore has been allotted to the corpus of Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF), Rs 15,000 crore for Long Term Rural Credit Fund and Rs 15,000 crore for Short Term Regional Rural Bank Refinance Fund. Government has set an ambitious target of disbursement of loans to the tune of Rs 8.5 crore to farmers by banks.
Financial inclusion of the common man is government’s key agenda for creating safety nets. It boasts of the success of roping in over 12.5 crore families in 100 days under Prime Minister’s Jan Dhan Yojana, wherein one can open account against zero balance and also have insurance benefits. It plans to utilize the vast postal network with nearly 1,54,000 points spread across rural areas to further its plans for financial inclusion.
The Budget proposes setting up the Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana to cover accidental death risk of Rs 200,000 for a premium of just Rs 12 a year. Atal Pension Yojana will be launched to provide a defined pension, depending on the contribution and its period, and government will contribute 50% of the beneficiaries’ premium limited to Rs 1,000 each year for five years in new accounts opened before the end of 2015. The third social security scheme to be launched is Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana which would cover both natural and accidental death risk to the tune of Rs 200,000. The premium will be Rs 330 per year for the age group 18-50.
There are unclaimed deposits in pension funds, such as about Rs 3,000 crore in PPF and about Rs 6,000 crore in EPF. The government intends to use these as corpus to set up a Senior Citizen Welfare Fund which will be used to subsidise the premiums of vulnerable groups such as old age pensioners, BPL card holders, small and marginal farmers. A new scheme for providing physical aids and assisted living devices for senior citizens living below the poverty line will be launched.
Allocation of Rs 30,851 crore has been made for welfare schemes of Scheduled Castes, Rs 19,980 crore for Scheduled Tribes, Rs 79,258 crore for women. Nai Manzil scheme will be launched to enable youths of minority communities not having a formal school education to seek employment.
For small businesses run by Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other backward class, Micro Units Development Refinance Agency (MUDRA) Bank will be set up with a corpus of Rs 20,000 crore and credit guarantee corpus of Rs 3,000 crore. It will assist the beneficiaries through Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana. An electronic Trade Receivables Discounting System (TReDS) will be set up for financing of trade receivables of MSMEs from corporate and other buyers through multiple financiers. The non-banking financial corporations (NBFCs) registered with RBI and having asset size of Rs 500 crore and above will be considered for notification as financial institutions in terms of the SARFAEI Act 2002.
The government has selected infrastructure as a priority area for investment and has increased outlays for roads and gross budgetary support to railways by Rs 14,031 crore and Rs 10,050 crore respectively. It has increased the CAPEX of public sector units to Rs 3,17,889 crore. The total public investment in infrastructure is pegged at Rs 70,000 crore. National Investment and Infrastructure Fund will also be set up.
With such a broad paradigm for growth, the India story should take a flying leap.
(Ashok B Sharma is a senior Columnist writing in several Indian and international newspapers and magazines. He can be reached atashokbsharma@gmail.com His mobile phone number +01-9810902204)

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Saturday 28 February 2015
Essar मामला: 2 पत्रकारों का इस्तीफा,एक को मिला नोटिस,चौथे ने गेस्ट हाउस में दी थी पार्टी
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वरिष्ठ पत्रकार ने कन्या‘दान’ पर जताई आपत्ति, अगर है आप साथ तो आगे बढ़ाए उनका विचार
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Rev. Growth Estimated Rs.2,25,790 Cr – Actual Rs.1,12,657 Cr

February28, 2015 (C) Ravinder Singh ravinderinvent@gmail.com

Something Bogus Experts on TV debates are not discussing is that GOI under BJP could collect just 50% of the Estimated Tax Collection Growth Rs.2,25,790 Cr – Actual Rs.1,12,657 CrThis is very-very poor performance. But on the other hand Non Tax Revenue Growth of GOI was substantially more than estimates, against Rs.13,635 cr to 18,961 cr Actual – this points to massive Leakages in Tax Collections in additions to Unjustified Tax Concessions Highlighted Here.
Customs Tax Foregone Rs. 3,41,592 Crore >>
>> Collection Rs. 1,88,713 Crores

Tax Foregone – Customs: - As per EDI data, estimated revenue impact of tax incentives for the financial year i.e. 2014-15 (April to December, 2014) is Rs 2, 31,472 Crore. After extrapolation for data not captured by EDI, the estimated revenue impact of tax incentives for the whole year 2014-15 comes to Rs. 3,41,592 Crore.

Almost Half of Custom Concessions are for 2 of 98 Items – Precious Gems & Jewelry Rs.75,592 cr [Rs.48,635 cr] and Mineral Oils Rs.72,180 cr [Rs.77,851 cr] for 2014-15 [2013-14] – Together add up to Rs.147,772 cr [Rs.1,26,486 cr] – Majority of Companies to benefit are located in Gujarat.

The aggregate revenue impact of incentives available in respect of direct and indirect taxes (levied by the Central Government) isRs.549984 crore for 2013-14 and is projected to be Rs.589285 crore for 2014-15. To conclude, the total revenue impact of tax incentives for Financial Year 2013-14 is lower as compared to the total revenue impact of tax incentivies for Financial Year 2012-13.
Ravinder Singh, Inventor & Consultant, INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGIES AND PROJECTS

#3: ALL INDIA INTER UNIVERSITY AMERICAN FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP 2015 – All-Punjab Final


Vishnu Ravi Shankar, Patiala, Punjab, 28th February 2015: The semi-finals for the Division I tackle football teams at the 1st All India Inter University American Football Championship 2015 provided quality entertainment to the crowd at Punjabi University, Patiala. The first semi-final was between Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar (GNDU) and Osmania University, Hyderabad (OU), both of whom had impressed in their quarterfinal matches. The first quarter saw an 80-yard touchdown on a punt return by GNDU player Riar and the team managed to convert the field goal opportunity as well for an extra point. In the second quarter, both teams displayed solid defense and the scores remained unchanged. OU came back into the game with a 5-yard touchdown by their running back Sandri Sai followed by conversion of the field goal opportunity. With the game tied heading into the fourth quarter, GNDU player Sood scored a 40-yard touchdown and the team scored the field goal as well. Toward the end of the game, OU running back Sandri Sai scored again with a 30-yard touchdown with an opportunity to tie the game with a field goal. However, OU went for the win and tried to gain 2 points by advancing the ball. The team failed to complete the pass and GNDU managed to hold on for a 14-13 victory in a nail-biting encounter.
The second semi-final was between hosts Punjabi University, Patiala (PUP) and M.D. University, Rohtak (MDU). MDU began the game aggressively on the offensive end with multiple attempts at a touchdown. However, PUP played strong defense and managed to thwart MDU’s attempts in the first quarter. MDU kept the momentum going in the second quarter with MDU player Lakshya scoring a 15-yard touchdown entering the second quarter. This was followed by 30-yard touchdown by MDU player Rahul in the same quarter. The team failed to covert their field goal attempts following the touchdowns. Down 12-0 going into the second half, PUP fought back with a 40-yard touchdown by PUP player Anmol in the third quarter and a subsequent field goal conversion. Anmol was the hero for the host team scoring again with a 15-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter to give PUP a 1-point lead in the game. PUP maintained their narrow lead for the rest of the game to seal a berth in the final on 2 March 2015 where they will face state rivals GNDU, Amritsar.
Earlier in the day, the flag football semi-finals were played. The first match between city rivals Jaipur National University and JECRC University, Jaipur was a tightly contested affair with little difference between the two teams. The first half was won by JECRC University who scored all their 22 points before halftime. With the halftime score at 22-13 in favour of JECRC, Jaipur National University dominated the second half by scoring 2 touchdowns and taking a slender lead. Jaipur National University displayed strong defense to shut down JECRC and pulled away to qualify for the flag football final.
The second flag football semi-final between Gujarat University, Ahmedabad and Shisha O Anusandhan University, Bhubhaneshwar was a one-sided affair with Gujarat University completed dominating the game in both halves. Gujarat University are now through to the flag football final to be played on 2 March 2015 where they will face Jaipur National University. The losers of the semi-final matches also squared off to decide 3rd place. The game was comfortably won by JECRC University, Jaipur who defeated Shiksha O Anusandhan University, Bhubhaneshwar 34-14.
Results from Day 2:
Flag football semi-finals:
  1. Jaipur National University bt JECRC University, Jaipur25-22
  1. Gujarat University, Ahmedabad bt Shiksha O Anusandhan University, Bhubhaneshwar18-0
Flag football 3rd and 4th place match:
JECRC University, Jaipur bt Shiksha O Anusandhan University, Bhubhaneshwar: 34-14
Tackle football semi-finals:
  1. Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsarbt Osmania University, Hyderabad14-13 (7-0, 0-0, 0-7, 7-6)
  2. Punjabi University, Patialabt M.D. University, Rohtak13-12 (0-0, 0-12, 7-0, 6-0)
About the Elite Football League of India University
For the first time in India, select universities are competing in an All India Inter University American Football Championship. Going by the name of the ‘Elite Bowl 2015’, the tournament is being organized by the Elite Football League of India and Association of Indian Universities, along with hosts, Punjabi University, Patiala. There are 16 teams participating in the first version of the tournament in India from all across the country.
The tournament is being played on grounds specially designed for American Football, complete with line-marking and goal posts. The sixteen teams have been divided into two divisions – Division I teams will play tackle football and Division II teams will play flag football.  Tackle football for the better teams in Division I will be played in full American Football protective gear, while flag football played by the Division II teams is devoid of the protective gear.
Complete list of teams taking part in the Elite Bowl 2015 are as follows:
Division I teams:
  1. Bangalore University, Bangalore
  2. Osmania University, Hyderabad
  3. Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar
  4. Jain University, Bangalore
  5. M.D. University, Rohtak
  6. University of Madras, Chennai
  7. Punjabi University, Patiala
  8. Lovely Professional University, Phagwara
Division II teams:
  1. Auro University, Surat
  2. Gujarat University, Ahmedabad
  3. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar University, Agra
  4. Shiksha O Anusandhan University, Bhubhaneshwar
  5. Chandigarh University, Gharuan
  6. Jaipur National University
  7. JECRC University, Jaipur
  8. Poornima University, Jaipur
About Association of Indian Universities
The idea of bringing together all the universities on a common platform emerged from the deliberations of a Conference of the Vice Chancellors of Universities convened by Lord Reading, the then Viceroy of India at Shimla in 1924. The Inter-University Board (IUB) of India was subsequently formed on March 23, 1925, with the view of promoting university activities, especially by way of sharing information and co-operation in the field of education, culture, sports and allied areas. The Inter-University Board acquired a legal status with its registration in 1967 as a Society under the Societies Registration Act, 1860. In 1973, it assumed its present name: The Association of Indian Universities (AIU). The membership includes traditional universities, open universities, professional universities, Institutes of National Importance and deemed-to-be universities. In addition, there is a provision of granting of Associate Membership to universities of neighbouring countries.

FDI Assurances : TEST FOR MODI DIPLOMACY

FDI Assurances : TEST FOR MODI DIPLOMACY
 
By ASHOK B SHARMA
India with its quest for attracting greater foreign direct investments (FDIs) has stepped up its diplomatic efforts around the world. These have gained a renewed vigour after the country relaxed FDI norms and shortlisted as many as 25 sectors to attract investments under the ambitious ‘Make-in-India’ programme. These sectors are namely auto components, automobiles, aviation, biotechnology, chemicals, construction, defence manufacturing, electrical machinery, electronic system design and manufacturing, food processing, IT &BPM, leather, media and entertainment, mining, oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, ports, railways, roads and highways, renewable energy, space, textiles, thermal power, tourism and hospitality and wellness.
Total cumulative inflows of FDI since the year 2000 to 2014, however, had not been encouraging. It stands at only $355,415 million including equity inflows, re-invested earnings and other capital. Therefore, the new government that came to power under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May last year has become bullish in attracting FDIs and has opened by as many as 25 sectors of the economy to foster growth. The government feels that in the current period of continuing global slowdown, India with a market size of 1.2 billion people can be the most suitable destination for global investors.
At a recent meeting of Heads of Indian Missions Abroad, Prime Minister Modi urged to step up diplomatic efforts aiming at garnering FDIs, augmenting country’s trade opportunity and meeting energy needs. The President’s address to the joint session of Parliament just before the Union Budget has revealed government’s intention to deepen engagements almost everywhere across the globe, including West Asia, Central Asia, Africa and South Americas.
Government’s ambitious projects like Bullet Train, Digital India, Skill India, Housing for All, Swachh Bharat Mission, Namai Gange, Smart Cities, Heritage Development and Augmentation Yojana to name a few would need investments by prospective overseas investors including Indian diaspora. Investments are also needed in infrastructure sectors like industrial corridors, railways, roads and highways, freight corridors, information technology highways. Energy sector, particularly clean energy sector has been earmarked as a priority area for attracting foreign investment and technology transfer.
Developing closer integration of South Asia is an integral part of Modi diplomacy. With the agreement on energy cooperation approved in the last SAARC Summit at Kathmandu, the government has planned setting up of solar energy generating capacities along the international borders. The idea of a dedicated satellite for SAARC region is another area of proposed cooperation with South Asian countries. The most vital and effective economic integration in South Asia can, however, be possible with the setting up of value chains across the region. For instance, Bangladesh that does not grow cotton but sources from India and exports readymade garments can through distributed value chains encourage competitive advantages in production of both raw materials and value-added products.
With prospects of Indian cricket team brightening up at the World Cup, India has embarked upon cricket diplomacy in the region. The Indian Foreign Secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar has planned “SAARC Yatra” and would visit all the countries in the region. Some analysts believe that stalled dialogue between India and Pakistan is likely to revive after a popular government is put in place in Jammu and Kashmir. India’s cricket diplomacy with Pakistan is likely to encourage people-to-people contact before the dialogue process resumes.
The President’s address mentions the need for deepening cooperation with Europe. As Europe is currently undergoing recession in its economy, the prospective investors from that continent would look for investing in India if adequate environment is created. Though India has come closer to US in many ways and the latter has agreed to invest in the former’s nuclear power project, New Delhi is cautious about restoring confidence and momentum in its time-tested strategic partnership with Russia.  Both the US and Russia have assured co-production and development in defence sector.
India is particular in developing its shipping sector also. Under Make-in-India programme it has planned to strengthen ship designing capabilities, ship building and ship repair activities.
India has taken up with sincerity about its relationship with ASEAN and East Asia Summit and has changed its policy to ‘Act East Policy’ The Chinese President Xi Jingping on his recent visit to India had pledged to invest $20 billion in industrial and infrastructure projects in India within a span of five years and $10 billion to other countries in South Asia. But Japan had promised more – an investment of $35 billion for building smart cities and next generation infrastructure with the same period. In addition, Japan has pledged ODA loan of 50 billion yen to India Infrastructure Finance Company Ltd for a public-private partnership infrastructure projects in India. Australia has agreed to sell uranium for India’s nuclear power projects.
President’s address says about the need for deeper engagements with West Asia, Central Asia and South Americas. West still remains a troubled spot, but is a necessary destination for sourcing India’s energy needs and also Sovereign Funds for investment in the country. Central Asia is an energy rich region and India needs to strengthen its relations with the countries in the region. Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline is in the process of becoming a reality. India’s proposed route through Chabahar port in Iran to Afghanistan, Central Asia and beyond to Europe should be taken up with urgency.
Africa is a continent of strategic importance to India. The third India-Africa Forum Summit meeting that is slated to take place in this year is expected to take the relationship to a higher level.  Similarly, if the relationship with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) is raised to summit level talks, India can get a firm foothold in the region. Some of the African and Latin American countries are energy rich and can meet India’s energy needs.
New Delhi’s ambition to strengthen its relationship across the globe can result in better trade relationships and two-way investment opportunities. Prime Minister Modi has so far met over 40 world leaders, including those at the margins of major multilateral events. He has directly appealed to the Indian diaspora and corporate houses in countries he visited for investing in India. He has received assurances from many world leaders and global corporate houses. It is to be seen how the commitments translate into actual investments on the ground.
(Ashok B Sharma is a senior Columnist writing in several Indian and international newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at ashokbsharma@gmail.com His mobile phone number +91-9810902204)

Arpana Pande: Union Budget 2015-Taxation Pangs

Beginning not with bigger policy changes, your humble columnist starts with what’s costlier and what’s cheaper after the FinMin rolled out the budget for the Fiscal year 2015-16. The flashy phones and tablets imported from abroad will see a price hike due to a hike in the excise duty, while their humbler Indian counterparts will sell cheaper because of reduction of customs duty for Indian made goods. Next time your bulb fuses replace it with a Made in India LED , as it comes cheaper because of the said reason. This reduce in the customs duty for locally manufactured products is another way for promoting Make in India, which has been a significant initiative of the new government. Setting up of MUDRA Bank with a corpus of Rs. 20,000 crore to refinance micro finance institutions was another step towards encouraging institutionalised credit among the people at the bottom of the income pyramid.
For bringing in private capital , into infrastructure via the PPP model a National Investment and Infrastructure Fund has been set up. Tax free infrastructure bonds for roads, rails and irrigation have also been planned.Skilled India, another project close to the present government’s heart, was given a boost by announcing the setting up of 6 new AIIMSs and two new IIMs. In his speech the FinMin talked about the need for increasing the reach of school level in India. He allocated funds for upgrading the present primary and secondary  schools into senior secondary schools, and setting up schools in the areas where there were none. He articulated a vision of every child having a school within 5 kilometres of her place of residence. For the Nirbhaya Fund , a corpus of Rs. 1,500 crore was announced. The MNREGS, the future of which was doubted by many till yesterday, was allocated Rs. 34,699 crore. The FinMin also said that he would try to raise funds from the market, for increasing this allocation by Rs. 5,000 crore. The FinMin also said, “Defence of every square inch of our motherland comes before anything else….”. But, the allocation for defence outlay increased by a paltry 7.4% , which came a disappointment to the Defence Minister, who was seen rubbing his thumb and index finger while smiling, as if to ask “Where is the money ?”
For the middle class the budget doesn’t offer too much. There have been no changes on personal tax rates or income slabs. The wealth tax for the High Net Worth individuals has been replaced by a surcharge of 2% of the net taxable income. The FinMin promised a stable taxation regime, while promising to decrease the taxes on industries from 30% to 25% over the next four years. He said this would be accompanied by removal of exemptions which were given to the industries. This brought out vociferous protests from the opposition benches. Selling this reform to the public would be a difficult task and the FinMin would have to prove the tax neutrality of the arrangement  to the people.  While the process for making people understand has begun, with the FinMin taking questions from the public via twitter hashtag #AskYourFM, more steps need to be taken. What would  the government do, is a question that would be answered in due course. In the meanwhile, smoke less. Cigarettes are injurious to your lungs and your pocket!

PM delivers opening remarks at 3rd Meeting of Governing Council of NITI Aayog The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi today said tha...