Newsletter July 2 2018






Ruling out a single tax rate under the GST, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said milk and Mercedes cannot be taxed at the same rate. “It would have been very simple to have just one slab, but it would have meant we could not have food items at zero per cent tax rate. Can we have milk and Mercedes at the same rate?” Modi said in an interview to Swarajya magazine. “So, when our friends in Congress say that they will have just one GST rate, they are effectively saying they will tax food items and commodities, which are currently at zero or 5 per cent, at 18 per cent,” he said.

Asked about a possible drop in rates, he said: “Talking about rates, earlier many taxes were hidden. Now, what you see is what you pay. The government has reduced taxes on nearly 400 groups of item….A large number of items of daily usage are either exempted or are in 5 per cent slab. Some 95 per cent items fall in/ below the 18 per cent slab.”

Listing the positive changes, Modi said that against a total of 66 lakh indirect taxpayers registered since independence, 48 lakh new enterprises have registered since the launch of the GST on July 1, 2017. “Around 350 crore invoices were processed and 11 crore returns were filed. Would we be looking at such numbers if GST were indeed very complex?” he asked.

“Check-posts across the country have been abolished and there are no more queues at state borders. Not only are truck drivers saving precious time but the logistics sector is also getting a boost and thereby increasing the productivity of our country. Would this be happening if GST was complex?” he said.

“The GST has seen Indian cooperative federalism at its best. We consolidated the states and proactively developed a consensus, where earlier governments had failed,” he said.

Responding to a query on criticism of GST, he said the new tax regime was a massive change, requiring a complete reset of one of the world’s largest economic systems. “The reform merged 17 taxes, 23 cesses into one single tax. When it was finally introduced, it was our endeavour to make it simple and ensure sensitivity of the system. There are often teething troubles seen when a reform of this magnitude is carried out, but these issues were not only identified but also addressed in real time,” he said.




While the government patted its back as GST regime completes one year, the Opposition Congress described the implementation faulty.

Calling for urgent reforms in the law in the monsoon session of Parliament, former Finance Minister P Chidambaram said “multiple tax slabs do not mean GST. You can call it something else. Call it RSS tax, but don’t call it GST”.

The former minister also took a jibe at untrained people handling the subject. “So far, Mr Fixits have been at work in reforming the GST. Elections in Gujarat and Karnataka pushed a desperate government to make some changes.”

“Beginning with the GST Constitution Amendment Bill, every step taken by the BJP government as regards GST was flawed. The GST Bills ignored the advice of the Chief Economic Adviser on many aspects, notably on rates. The net result is that what we have today is a very different animal and not a true GST,” Chidambaram said. “Reforms in GST have been thwarted due to the arrogance of the government. Our suggestions are brushed aside and the changes the GST promised, including a raise of 2 per cent in the GDP, never happened,” he said.




Over 53,000 Twitter users have backed a vicious backlash on foreign minister Sushma Swaraj at a time her cabinet colleagues have maintained a studied silence.

One among the collection of trolls that received such support had advised Sushma’s husband, former Mizoram governor Swaraj Kaushal, to “beat her up & teach her not to do Muslim appeasement” when she returned home.

A measure of the sentiments such tweets evoked was available because the foreign minister herself launched a Twitter poll to see whether people liked the abusive trolling she has been facing for a week.

A silver-lining is that the majority (57 per cent) of those who took the poll supported her while 43 per cent backed the trolls that had targeted her since a Lucknow passport official was transferred for allegedly harassing an inter-faith couple. The 43 per cent of the 124,305 who took the poll till Sunday afternoon translates into 53,451 Twitter users. This is not a small number.

Sushma kicked off the poll on Saturday, tweeting: “Friends: I have liked some tweets. This is happening for the last few days. Do you approve of such tweets?…”




Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut on Sunday said Indira Gandhi’s “contribution” couldn’t be ignored just because of her 1975 decision and described the former Prime Minister as being “pro-democracy” for calling elections after the Emergency was withdrawn nearly two years later.

“Nobody else performed so greatly in this country like (the late) Indira Gandhi did. Her one decision of Emergency cannot wash away her contribution,” the Rajya member wrote in his weekly column in party mouthpiece Saamana.

“It is a treason to reject the contribution of Pandit Nehru, Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel, Rajendra Prasad, Dr Ambedkar, Netaji (Subhas Chandra) Bose and Veer Savarkar. Every government has to take some practical decision as per the situation. Who will decide what is wrong and right? The Emergency ought to be forgotten,” Raut said.

The comments came days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP had raked up the Emergency coinciding with its 43rd anniversary while targeting the Congress.

Raut said Indira had imposed the Emergency as she wanted to save the country from chaos.

He said Modi and the BJP were repeatedly targeting the Gandhis because they were still afraid of the “skeleton” called the Congress, which couldn’t win even 50 seats in the 2014 parliamentary elections.









A suicide bomber targeted a convoy of Sikhs and Hindus on their way to meet Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani in the eastern city of Jalalabad on Sunday, killing at least 19 persons.

Inamullah Miakhail, spokesman for the provincial hospital in Nangarhar, said 17 of the 19 dead were from the minority Sikh and Hindu community. At least 10 of the 20 wounded were also from the minority community.

Avtar Singh Khalsa, a longtime leader of the Sikh community who had planned to run in the parliamentary elections set for October, was killed in the attack. Khalsa would have been elected unopposed to the Lower House as the seat he was planning to contest was apportioned to the minority by a presidential decree in 2016.

No one claimed responsibility for the attack.

Sikhs and Hindus have long suffered discrimination in the conservative Muslim country and have been targeted by Islamic extremists. The community numbered over 80,000 in the 1970s, but only around 1,000 now remain in the country.





Iran’s first vice president is saying the country’s private sector will be able to buy and export crude oil under a new plan to combat U.S. sanctions.

Eshaq Jahangiri made the comments Sunday in a televised speech.

“Our attempt is to defeat U.S. policies in the sale of oil and we are pretty sure we will sell our oil as much as we need,” he added.

President Donald Trump’s administration has threatened close allies such as South Korea with sanctions if they don’t cut off Iranian imports by early November. It comes as Mr. Trump pulled the U.S. out of Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers in May.





German Chancellor Angela Merkel was fighting for her political future on Sunday, looking to placate conservative rebels over immigration with a hard-fought European deal even as eastern EU states called it into doubt.

Merkel’s centre-right CDU party and its conservative Bavarian CSU allies are holding separate meetings to weigh the results of last week’s EU summit, which agreed collective measures by the bloc’s 28 members to reduce immigration.

Merkel hopes the deals with Germany’s neighbours will deter Interior Minister and CSU leader Horst Seehofer from defying her by turning away at the border asylum seekers already registered in other EU nations. The unilateral move would force her to fire him, in turn prompting a CSU walkout that would cost her majority in Parliament.

According to a document sent to coalition partners, Merkel sought to assuage the hardliners with deals with 16 other countries to return already-registered migrants if they reached Germany.

The German leader, who has been in office since 2005, has warned that the issue of migration could decide the very future of the EU itself.








Eleven members of a family, including seven women, were found dead under mysterious circumstances at their residence in Burari area of North Delhi on Sunday morning.

While 10 of the dead were found hanging from an iron-mesh in the ceiling on the first floor, with their eyes covered with pieces of cloth cut from the same bedsheet and their mouths taped, the body of a 77-year-old woman was found lying on the floor in another room of the house.

A police statement said some handwritten notes were found in the house “which point towards observance of some definite spiritual/ mystical practices by the whole family”. Additional DCP (North) Vinit Kumar said “these notes have strong similarity with the manner in which the mouths, eyes etc of the deceased were tied and taped”.

The deceased were later identified as Narayan Devi (77), sons Bhavnesh Bhatia (50) and Lalit Bhatia (45), daughters-in-law Savita Bhatia (48) and Teena Bhatia (42), daughter Pratibha (57), grandchildren Priyanka Bhatia (33), Nitu Bhatia (25), Monu Bhatia (23), Dhruv Bhatia (15) and Shivam Bhatia (15),” he said.

Police said they had recovered two registers with notes on how to attain moksha (salvation). “The state in which 10 of the bodies were found reflected what was written in the notes. These are exhaustive notes, and we are studying them,” said Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Alok Kumar. “During investigation, we found that the house was neither ransacked, nor were any valuables missing. The women had their gold jewellery intact, the cellphones were also not missing,” said Kumar.

The family had a plywood business and also ran a grocery store in the area. Residents told the police that the family had been living there for the past two decades.





In another case of mob violence triggered by social media posts, five people were lynched in Dhule district of Maharashtra on Sunday morning over suspicion that they were part of a gang of “child lifters”, police said.

The incident took place in the tribal hamlet of Rainpada in Sakri taluka, about 325 km from Mumbai. The mob reportedly comprised over 35 people, including some children.

The five victims, along with a few others, were seen getting down from a state transport bus, police said. When one of them apparently tried to speak to a girl child, the villagers, who had gathered for the weekly Sunday market, pounced on them, they said.

“The accused hail from a tribal village where WhatsApp posts pertaining to child kidnappers had gone viral. Based on the posts, the mob suspected the victims to be child lifters and thrashed them to death,” M Ramkumar, Superintendent of Police, Dhule, said. “The victims were nomads who had come to seek alms at the weekly bazaar,” he said.

Mob lynchings on mere suspicion, usually fuelled by fake messages on social media, have been taking place with alarming regularity. Tripura, Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are some of the states that have witnessed attacks recently. Matters have reached such a pass that lynching is being used almost like an accepted response to uncertain situations.





The government’s move to sell its stake in IDBI Bank to LIC has met with stiff resistance from employees of the insurance and banking sectors, who have questioned the rationale of investing in a bank which is weighed down by huge bad loans and losses.

“We are anxious and seriously concerned about this sale. Now as a concerned and a responsible trade union in LIC, it is morally worth questioning whether IDBI Bank, a lender with humongous bad loans close to a third of its book, makes for a good investment for LIC,” said Rajesh Kumar, general secretary, All India LIC Employees Federation.

IDBI Bank’s total stressed portfolio (including non-fund based facilities) is 35.9 per cent of total loans. Its gross NPAs at the end of March quarter stood at Rs 55,588 crore. This means that the bank will need significant amount of capital to clean up its books and maintain minimum levels of regulatory capital. “It should also be noted that no private investor has shown any interest in IDBI Bank even though the government has wanted to sell equity for over two years now,” Kumar said.





A housing society is not an industry, the Bombay high court has ruled. Justice Suresh Gupte, in a significant order, quashed a labour court’s order asking a housing society in Mumbai to reinstate a watchman whose services were terminated. The labour court had held that since the society earned a profit from the additional income that it earned from its members for displaying neon signs, it was an industry. The society said that the services provided by a watchman were personal in nature.

“Merely because the society levied some extra charges from a few of its members for display of neon signs, the society cannot be treated as an industry carrying on the business of hiring out of neon signs or allowing display of advertisements,” said Justice Gupte. “The labour court appears to have been swayed by the fact that a few members of the society were carrying on businesses such as a coaching class and a dispensary, and the society was charging advertisement charges for the neon signs put up by the members. The labour court was of the view that since the society was earning income, it could not be termed as a mere housing society,” said the judge. The court said that when there are multiple activities carried out by an establishment, then what is to be considered is its dominant function.




Rahul Dravid was on Sunday inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame, becoming only the fifth Indian to receive the honour after Bishan Singh Bedi, Kapil Dev, Sunil Gavaskar and Anil Kumble. The Indian cricket legend was inducted alongwith former Australia captain Ricky Ponting and England batting great Claire Taylor. With 13,288 runs in 164 Test matches, Dravid is fourth on the list of all-time highest run getters in the longest format of the game behind only Sachin Tendulkar, Ponting and Jacques Kallis.

In a video message, Dravid said, “It’s a great honour and privilege to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. I’m thankful to the ICC for giving me this honour. It’s a privilege to be in a group of people I have looked up to and I have admired as a young man growing up in my journey as a cricketer. I love to be able to thank so many people who have made it possible for me to have a career in this sport and to fulfill my dreams.”

Dravid, who is currently coach of India A, wasn’t present for the occassion to receive the honour.





Hosts Russia beat Spain 4-3 on penalties on Sunday to advance to the World Cup quarter-finals where they will face Croatia who also advanced via penalty shoot-out.

Russia keeper Igor Akinfeev saved Koke’s and Iago Aspas’ spot kicks to send the hosts through following a 1-1 draw over 120 minutes.

Spain, who have never beaten a host at World Cups or Euros, went ahead after 12 minutes when 38-year-old Sergei Ignashevich bundled into Spain captain Sergio Ramos at the far post, knocking a free kick in with his heel for the 10th own goal of the tournament.

Russia levelled with a penalty in the 42nd minute.

The game lacked pace and tempo therafter, with both teams cautious not concede too much space.

In the second match yesterday, Croatia beat Denmark in a dramatic penalty shootout on Sunday to progress to the World Cup quarter-finals. Mathias Jorgensen gave Denmark the lead after just 58 seconds but Mario Mandzukic levelled for Croatia in the fourth minute and the sides remained locked at 1-1 at the end of extra time.

But Croatia won the shootout 3-2 after Danijel Subasic saved three spot-kicks.

This is the first time since 1998 that Croatia have reached the quarter finals of World Cup.


India’s quest for their maiden Champions Trophy hockey title remained unaccomplished as they lost 1-3 to defending champions Australia via penalty shootouts in the summit clash of the 37th and final edition of the prestigious tournament.

India came agonisingly close to securing their maiden Champions Trophy triumph, only to be denied by a valiant show by Australia goalkeeper Tyler Lovell.

The match went into the shoot-off after both the teams were locked at 1-1 in regulation time. But the Kookaburra custodian produced a stellar show in the shootouts, denying Sardar Singh, Harmanpreet Singh and Lalit Upadhayay while Manpreet Singh was the only scorer for India.

Australia, on the other hand, converted their first two efforts in the shoot-off through Aran Zalewski and Daniel Beale before Indian goalkeeper PR Sreejesh denied Matthew Swann and Tom Craig.

But Jeremy Edwards converted the last try to hand Australia their record 15th Champions Trophy title.

But the Indians can take heart from the fact that they matched Australia stick to stick in the entire 60 minutes, even dominated the proceedings for a better part of the game but the strikers failed to utilise the numerous chances in front of an agile Lovell. It was Australia who took the lead in the 24th minute through Blake Govers who converted their only penalty corner.

While India had to be contend with their second consecutive silver medal, hosts Netherlands took away the bronze beating Olympic champions Argentina 2-0 in the third-fourth place match.

Belgium finished fifth after beating Pakistan 2-1 in the penalty shoot-off after both the teams were levelled at 2-2 at the end of 60 minutes.


It is not so important to know everything as to know the exact value of everything, to appreciate what we learn, and to arrange what we know. – Hannah More


Wife: I lost my keys again !

Husband: It’s in your Jeans.

Wife: Don’t drag my family into this….

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