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THE HINDU DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS 15th FEBRUARY 2020

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ADJUSTED GROSS REVENUE ISSUE OF TELECOM COMPANIES

NEWS:

The Supreme Court on Friday ordered the managing directors and directors of companies, including telecom majors Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, to show cause why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against them for failing to pay even a “single penny” to the government in Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) dues, worth ₹1.47 lakh crore, despite an October 2019 judgment.

Failure to comply with the orders would entail company heads appearing in person in court at the next hearing on March 17, the court said.

STORY SO FAR

A Bench, led by Justice Arun Mishra, said the sector had long reaped the fruits of the Centre’s liberalised mode of payment by the revenue sharing regime. “It has benefited immensely under the scheme as apparent from the gross revenue trend from 2004 to 2015,” he said.

WHAT IS AGR?

Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) is the usage and licensing fee that telecom operators are charged by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT).

As per DoT, the charges are calculated based on all revenues earned by a telco – including non-telecom related sources such as deposit interests and asset sales. Telcos, on their part, insist that AGR should comprise only the revenues generated from telecom services.

WHY TUSSLE?

In 2005 Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has challenged the government’s definition for AGR calculation.

Later in 2015, the TDSAT said AGR included all receipts except capital receipts and revenue from non-core sources such as rent, profit on the sale of fixed assets, dividend, interest and miscellaneous income, etc.

EUROPEAN UNION

NEWS:

The European Union (EU) has called for a swift removal of communication and political restrictions in Kashmir and is in touch with the Indian authorities for a continuing dialogue on the situation in Kashmir, a spokesperson said.

“Some restrictions remain, notably on Internet access and mobile services, and some political leaders are still in detention. While we recognise the serious security concerns, it is important that the remaining restrictions are lifted swiftly,” said Virginie Battu-Henriksson, EU Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

ABOUT EUROPEAN UNION

The European Union (EU) is an economic and political union of 28 member states that are located primarily in Europe. European Union has launched a single European currency – the Euro.

The capital of the European Union is Brussels, Belgium.

European Union Map

  • Not all nations of Europe are member nations of the European Union. There are 44 counties in Europe as per the United Nations, however, the European Union so far consists only of 28 members.
  • Cyprus lies wholly in Asia but is at times considered as a European country. Cyprus is a member nation of EU, despite its geographical location.
  • Not all member nations use the common currency Euro. Only 19 member states consider the Euro as their currency. However, a few counties in Europe like Montenegro and Kosovo,  even though not part of the EU, use the Euro as their currency.

European Union – Main bodies and Institutions

European Union Institutions

The EU is run by five main bodies: European Parliament, Council of the Union, European Commission, Court of Justice, and the Court of Auditors.

Objectives of EU

The EU aims at the closer economic and political integration of the member countries in the following ways:

• Establishing an economic and a monetary union:

• Implementing a common foreign and defence policy:

  • Strengthening of its economic and political institutions: and

• Developing relations in the spheres of’ home affairs and justice.

 

NATIONAL COMMISSION FOR WOMEN

NEWS: 

At least 60 girls in a hostel in Gujarat’s Kutch were allegedly asked to remove their undergarments to prove that they were not menstruating, after complaints that girls having periods had entered the temple and kitchen in the premises.

The hostel is part of the Shree Sahajanand Girls Institute (SSGI), run by a trust of the Swaminarayan Temple. The hostel rector and college principal are reported to have given instructions for the checking on Tuesday.

The National Commission for Women has also sought a report. “We have sent a police team under a woman inspector to talk to the girls and are in the process of filing an FIR. Though the girls are not ready to come forward, we are confident that at least one girl will come forward to lodge an FIR,” Kutch West Superintendent of Police Saurabh Tolumbia said.

ABOUT NATIONAL COMMISSION FOR WOMEN

The National Commission for Women was set up as statutory body in January 1992 under the National Commission for Women Act, 1990.

The primary mandate of the National Commission for Women and State Commissions for Women Commission is to safeguard and protect the interests of women. It has wide responsibility covering almost all aspects of women development.

The commission regularly publishes a monthly newsletter, Rashtra Mahila in both Hindi and English.

COVID 19 CASES

NEWS:

Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) Hospital here, the nodal hospital for management/treatment of COVID-19 cases, has reported two suspected cases of the virus. The patients are being kept in isolation, said officials. The hospital has, so far, seen 40 suspected cases but has discharged 38 patients after they tested negative for the virus.

The hospitals here, including All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Safdarjung Hospital, have been on red alert — to take-in, isolate and if infected treat COVID-19 — for nearly a month now.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has called COVID-19 “public enemy number one”, which could create significant political, economic and social upheaval.

While the virus has now spread to at least 24 countries, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan noted that the Ministry has put in place a task force to monitor the situation with representatives from the Ministries of Health, Home, Civil Aviation and Women and Child Development among others. “The situation is being monitored round-the-clock and we are holding review meetings daily. Also, all hospitals across the country are on high alert and have been told to stock up on medicines and other personal protection equipment,” he added.

Precautionary measures

Maintain hand and respiratory hygiene

Practice safe food habits like washing hands with soap or alcohol-based hand rub

Cover mouth and nose with medical mask or tissue when coughing or sneezing

Avoid unprotected close contact with anyone developing cold or flu-like symptoms

Seek medical care if you have a fever, cough and difficulty in breathing

When visiting markets, avoid direct unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces

INDIAN PANGOLIN

NEWS:

Forthe first time, scientists have radio-tagged the Indian pangolin, an endangered animal that is rarely sighted in forests here.

The Indian pangolin, which dons a thick scaly skin, is hunted for meat and used in traditional Chinese medicine. Researchers say tagging the animal will help understand the habits of the reclusive, nocturnal animal.

Radio-tagging involves attaching a transmitter to an animal to monitor its movement.

Pangolins are among the most trafficked wildlife species in the world. The projected population declines range from 50% to 80% across the genus.

Out of the eight species of pangolin, the Indian and the Chinese pangolins are found in India. Both these species are listed under Schedule I Part I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

 

FIRST EDITORIAL: DECLARING CRIMINAL RECORDS OF CANDIDATES

Editorial highlights that Supreme Court has asked the political parties to explain candidate choice and why those with criminal cases pending against them were preferred over those with no such record.

The Court has asked national and regional parties to disclose the reason for their selection “with reference to qualifications, achievements and merit of the candidates concerned”, and barred them from merely citing “winnability” as a reason.

In addition to full disclosure of the cases pending against them on their official websites and social media accounts, the parties are also required to publish these details in a local regional language paper and a national newspaper.

This is a forward movement from the present situation in which the burden of disclosure is on candidates through mandatory affidavits filed along with their nomination papers.

The latest order is in line with a series of judgments aimed at preserving the purity of the election process: directions to ensure the asset disclosure and criminal records of candidates, the incorporation of the ‘none of the above’ option in the voting machine, and the invalidation of a clause that protected sitting legislators from immediate disqualification after conviction. In addition, the Court has directed the establishment of special courts in all States for the quick disposal of cases involving elected representatives.

Conclusion

However, it must be underscored that de-criminalisation of politics cannot be achieved by judicial fiat alone. The political class has to respond to the challenge.

A legislative option is to amend the law to bar from contest those against whom charges have been framed. A more meaningful option would be for parties to refrain from giving ticket to such candidates.

 

LEAD ARTICLE: ONE ASIA TWO PERSPECTIVES

First perspective is that of Gunnar Myrdal towards Asian countries and their economies.
Myrdal made a comparison of “Western values” and “Asia Values”. Among the latter he included survival mindedness; irresponsiveness to opportunities for betterment; scorn for manual labour; unwillingness to work for others; superstitious beliefs and irrational outlook; submission to authority and exploitation; low aptitude for cooperation.

Myrdal thoughts about Asian institutions: underdeveloped institutions for enterprise, employment and credit; imperfections in the authority of government agencies; low standards of efficiency and integrity in public administration

Second perspective that author has highlighted is that of Angus Maddison and Deepak Nayyar. He pointed out that in 1820, just two centuries ago, Asia accounted for almost two thirds of the world population and three fifths of the world’s income. China and India put together accounted for half the world population and world income. That is, Asia (China and India in particular) was not always at the bottom of the pit and poverty was not its characteristic feature.

China and India, contributed close to 60% of the global manufacturing production and an even larger proportion of manufactured exports until around 1750. However, over the next two centuries, the Industrial Revolution in Britain brought about a radical transformation of the situation that changed the profile completely.

During the second half of the 20th century, the situation has changed again as is widely known. It began with the East Asian tigers, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore. Soon others joined, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia; then, of course, China and India. The economic profile of Asia has completely changed.

Coming century will be the Asian century

in the next 50 years, Asia’s multifaceted economic performance will continue and by the beginning of the next century, if not earlier, China will overtake the United States as the largest economy. Indeed, three other economies to claim top positions will most likely be from Asia — India, Indonesia and Japan and many other Asian countries may also do well, a far cry from the pessimism that was the cardinal note of Myrdal’s Asian Drama.

There can be little doubt that, circa 2050,… Asia will account for more than one-half of world income, and will be home for more than one-half the people on earth. It will, thus, have an economic and political significance in the world that would have been difficult to imagine fifty years ago.

CONCLUSION
There can be little doubt that, circa 2050,… Asia will account for more than one-half of world income, and will be home for more than one-half the people on earth. It will, thus, have an economic and political significance in the world that would have been difficult to imagine fifty years ago

SECOND ARTICLE: SARS AND CORONA VIRUS OUTBREAK IN CHINA

There are obvious parallels between the epidemics of 2002-2003 and 2019-2020. Both began in winter and featured cover-ups and whistle-blowers. The origins of both were traced to China’s unregulated wet markets and the sale of wildlife. Both resulted in quarantines, empty streets and considerable panic. They featured the jaw-dropping feats of entire hospitals being constructed within a few days’ time.

There are also differences. SARS was far deadlier, with a mortality rate of about 10%. The mortality rate for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is yet to be established, but appears to be about 2%. However, it is much more infectious. More than 1,300 people have died from the new virus, a number that is already greater than SARS’ final death toll of 774. It took eight months for SARS to spread to more than 8,000 people. The COVID-19 has infected over 63,000 people in about six weeks.

There are also differences in the government’s handling of the epidemics. With SARS, the cover up went on for far longer than it did in the present instance.

CONCLUSION

Under China’s President Xi Jinping, state control over the media has only deepened, which, together with his unabated emphasis on maintaining social order, means China remains vulnerable to crises despite surface strength.

 

SECOND EDITORIAL: CONTINUING ECONOMIC SLOWDOWN

December industrial output data, out on Wednesday, shows a contraction of 0.3%
This is curious because the core sector, accounting for 40% of the index of industrial production, showed a 1.3% growth in December. The villain seems to be manufacturing, which contracted by 1.2%,

editorial highlights that outbreak of corona virus in China may further lead to Slowdown in the Indian economy.

Manufacturers in India are reporting slim inventories for critical items of production and if factories do not begin to hum in China soon — the chances of that happening are remote given signs of an intensifying outbreak — it could spell trouble for India.

HIGH INFLATION

Meanwhile, inflation continued to hold sway with the January prints showing a rise in both consumer price inflation and wholesale price inflation. CPI accelerated to 7.59% in January, the second successive month of above 7% print, while wholesale price inflation broke the 3% barrier in January (3.1%) moving up from 2.59% in December. The surge in both numbers is largely due to rise in food prices, including of proteins and pulses but core inflation has also moved up to 4.1%.

SOLUTION: INCREASE CONSUMER DEMAND

Banks are reporting poor credit growth because businesses are unwilling to invest. And this in turn, is due to lack of demand. The key to a turnaround is, therefore, in the hands of the consumer.

DECLINE IN EXPORTS

NEWS:

The country’s exports dropped 1.66% to $25.97 billion in January, the sixth straight month of contraction, on account of a significant fall in shipments of petroleum, plastic, carpets, gems and jewellery, and leather products.

Imports also fell for the eighth consecutive month, down 0.75% to $41.14 billion in January, widening the trade deficit to a seven-month high of $15.17 billion, according to government data on Friday. Gold imports shrunk by about 9% to $1.58 billion during the month under review.

Last time, it was in June 2019 when trade deficit aggregated at $15.28 billion.

Of the 30 key sectors, as many as 18 segments showed negative growth in exports during the month.

COMPETITION COMMISSION OF INDIA

NEWS:

In a relief to e-commerce majors Amazon and Flipkart, the Karnataka High Court on Friday stayed the Competition Commission of India’s order directing an investigation through its Director General into whether they had entered into anti-competitive agreements in violation of the provisions of the Competition Act 2002.

Justice P.S. Dinesh Kumar passed the interim order while admitting a petition filed by Amazon Seller Services Pvt. Ltd., and stayed the January 13 order of the CCI. The CCI had ordered the probe on a complaint by Delhi Vyapar Mahasangh (DVM), which had alleged that Amazon and Flipkart were giving preference to select sellers and offering deep discounts by indulging in anti-competitive agreements.

About Competition Commission of India:

It is a statutory body of the Government of India, responsible for enforcing the Competition Act, 2002 throughout India and to prevent activities that have an adverse effect on competition.

Objectives of the Commission:

  • To prevent practices having adverse effect on competition.
  • To promote and sustain competition in markets.
  • To protect the interests of consumers.
  • To ensure freedom of trade.

Functions of the commission:

  • It is the duty of the Commission to eliminate practices having adverse effect on competition, promote and sustain competition, protect the interests of consumers and ensure freedom of trade in the markets of India.
  • The Commission is also required to give opinion on competition issues on a reference received from a statutory authority established under any law and to undertake competition advocacy, create public awareness and impart training on competition issues.

The Competition Act:

The Competition Act, 2002, as amended by the Competition (Amendment) Act, 2007, prohibits anti-competitive agreements, abuse of dominant position by enterprises and regulates combinations (acquisition, acquiring of control and M&A), which causes or likely to cause an appreciable adverse effect on competition within India.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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