Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 19 April 2019
Relevant articles from PIB:
- Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: What is PE and how are they taxed, issues and challenges present, need for measures?
Context: CBDT invites stakeholder comments on report pertaining to Profit Attribution to Permanent Establishment(PE) in India.
Recognizing the significance of issues relating to attribution of profits to a permanent establishment as well as the need to bring greater clarity and predictability in the applicable tax regime, a Committee was formed to examine the existing scheme of profit attribution to PE under Article 7 of DTAAs and recommend changes in Rule 10 of the Income-tax Rules, 1962. The Committee has submitted its report and it has been decided to seek suggestions/comments of the stakeholders and the general public.
Relevance of Pes:
Usually, foreign companies get tax concession under Double Taxation Avoidance Treaties and they pay taxes in their home countries. But if they have PEs in India, they should pay taxes for the income they have created in India. Thus, PE makes a foreign companies’ Indian income taxable in India.
What is a Permanent Establishment?
A Permanent Establishment in India is a fixed place of business, wholly or partly carried out by a foreign enterprise operating in India. Such fixed place of business can be a branch office, a place of management, a factory, a warehouse, a workshop etc. However the definition of permanent establishment differs in each tax treaty.
Taxation of non-residents in India is governed by the provisions of the Income-tax Act, 1961 (“the Act”) and the provisions of the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement(s) [DTAA(s)] concluded or adopted by the Central Government under the powers conferred under Section 90 or 90A of the Act, respectively. The business income of a non-resident can be taxed in India if it satisfies the requisite thresholds provided under the Act as well as the threshold provided in the applicable tax treaty, by a concept of Permanent Establishment (PE).
- India and its neighbourhood- relations.
What to study?
- For Prelims: What is LoC and how is it established, geographical extent and significance?
- For Mains: How is trade across LoC being misused, need for trade across LoC and what needs to be done?
Context: MHA has issued orders to suspend the LoC trade in Jammu & Kashmir. This action has been taken as the Government of India has been receiving reports that the Cross LoC trade routes are being misused by the Pakistan based elements for funnelling illegal weapons, narcotics and fake currency etc.
Trade across LoC:
- LoC trade is meant to facilitate exchange of goods of common use between local populations across the LoC in Jammu & Kashmir.
- The trade is allowed through two Trade Facilitation Centres located at Salamabad, Uri, District Baramulla and Chakkan-da-Bagh, District Poonch.
- The trade takes place four days a week.
- The Trade is based on Barter system and zero duty basis.
Why is it being suspended?
- LoC trade is being misused on very large scale. It has been revealed that the trade has changed its character to mostly third party trade and products from other regions, including foreign countries, are finding their way through this route.
- Unscrupulous and anti national elements are using the route as a conduit for Hawala money, drugs and weapons, under the garb of this trade.
- Significant number of trading concerns engaged in LoC trade are being operated by persons closely associated with banned terrorist organizations involved in fuelling terrorism/separatism.
- Some individuals have crossed over to Pakistan, and joined militant organizations. Trading firms established by them are under the control of militant organizations and are engaged in LoC trade.
What is LoC?
- Originally known as the Cease-fire Line, it was redesignated as the “Line of Control” following the Simla Agreement, which was signed on 3 July 1972.
- The part of Jammu that is under Indian control is known as the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The Pakistani-controlled part is divided into Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit–Baltistan. The northernmost point of the Line of Control is known as NJ9842.
- Another ceasefire line separates the Indian-controlled state of Jammu and Kashmir from the Chinese-controlled area known as Aksai Chin.
- The Line of Control divided Kashmir into two parts and closed the Jehlum valley route.
Relevant articles from various News Papers:
- Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.
What to study?
- For Prelims: Who can and who cannot cast their votes?
- For Mains: Should undertrials and convicts be allowed to vote- arguments ‘For’ and ‘Against’.
Context: The Supreme Court is hearing a plea questioning an electoral law which denies undertrials and convicts their right to vote.
Who can vote and who cannot?
Under Section 62(5) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, individuals in lawful custody of the police and those serving a sentence of imprisonment after conviction cannot vote. Undertrial prisoners are also excluded from participating in elections even if their names are on electoral rolls.
Only those under preventive detention can cast their vote through postal ballots.
What has the SC said on this?
The SC has observed that a person is in prison because of his or her conduct, and cannot claim equal rights as others who are not incarcerated.
Why they should be given voting rights?
- The voting ban is criticised on the ground that it makes no offence-based or sentence-based classification — that is, prisoners are debarred from voting irrespective of the gravity of the offence they have committed, or the length of their sentence. It also makes no distinction between convicted prisoners, undertrials, and those in lawful police custody.
- Besides, a person is innocent until proven guilty by law. Despite this, it denies an undertrial the right to vote but allows a detainee the same.
- The provision also violates the rights to equality, vote (Article 326) and is arbitrary. It is not a reasonable restriction.
Need of the hour:
Undertrials should be allowed to vote. This is because there are many people, awaiting trial, who have spent more time in prison than the actual term their alleged crime merits. Their numbers are much bigger than convicts.
The ‘Prison Statistics India, 2014’ published by the National Crime Records Bureau, says there were 2,82,879 undertrials and 1,31,517 convicts lodged across 1,387 prisons in the country as on December 31, 2014.
- In Europe, Switzerland, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Ireland, the Baltic States, and Spain already allow prisoner voting.
- Countries like Romania, Iceland, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Luxembourg, Cyprus and Germany have opted for a middle path: Voting is allowed subject to certain permits and conditions such as the quantum of sentence served.
- They are only disenfranchised as an added penalty based on the gravity of the crime. Bulgaria allows for anyone sentenced to less than a decade to vote. In Australia, the limit is five years.
The increasing realisation that progressive criminal justice reforms, including the right to vote in the prisons, are the way forward, also stems from the fact that voter disenfranchisement has had an ugly history related to racism and oppression of the indigenous peoples in countries such as the US and Canada.
“Innocent until proven guilty” is a central tenet of the justice system. In this context, prisoner voting can prove to be a major component of rehabilitative justice and a step towards in the easier integration of these people into the mainstream after serving time.
Sources: the hindu.
- Issues related to biotechnology.
What to study?
- For prelims: What is genome sequencing and how is it done? Human genome sequencing project and features, about CCMB.
- For Mains: Significance, need and challenges to the project.
Context: In an indigenous genetic mapping effort, nearly 1,000 rural youth from the length and breadth of India will have their genomes sequenced by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). The project aims at educating a generation of students on the “usefulness” of genomics.
Details of the project:
- The project is an adjunct to a much larger government-led programme, still in the works, to sequence at least 10,000 Indian genomes.
- Typically, those recruited as part of genome-sample collections are representative of the country’s population diversity. In this case, the bulk of them will be college students, both men and women, and pursuing degrees in the life sciences or biology.
- The project aims to reach out to a lot of collegians, educating them about genomics and putting a system in place that allows them to access information revealed by their genome.
- Genomes will be sequenced based on a blood sample and the scientists plan to hold at least 30 camps covering most States.
- Every person whose genomes are sequenced will be given a report. The participants would be told if they carry gene variants that make them less responsive to certain classes of medicines. For instance, having a certain gene makes some people less responsive to clopidogrel, a key drug that prevents strokes and heart attack.
- The project would involve the Hyderabad-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) and cost ₹18 crore, with the sequencing to be done at the IGIB and the CCMB.
Need for genome sequencing:
Ever since the human genome was first sequenced in 2003, it opened a fresh perspective on the link between disease and the unique genetic make-up of each individual. Nearly 10,000 diseases — including cystic fibrosis, thalassemia — are known to be the result of a single gene malfunctioning. While genes may render some insensitive to certain drugs, genome sequencing has shown that cancer too can be understood from the viewpoint of genetics, rather than being seen as a disease of certain organs.
Significance of the project:
Globally, many countries have undertaken genome sequencing of a sample of their citizens to determine unique genetic traits, susceptibility (and resilience) to disease. This is the first time that such a large sample of Indians will be recruited for a detailed study.
What are the uses of genome sequencing?
A genome is an organism’s complete set of DNA, including all of its genes.
Genomics is an interdisciplinary field of science focusing on the structure, function, evolution, mapping, and editing of genomes. Genomics also involves the sequencing and analysis of genomes through uses of high throughput DNA sequencing.
Advances in genomics have triggered a revolution in discovery-based research and systems biology to facilitate understanding of even the most complex biological systems such as the brain.
About Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology:
The Centre for Cellular & Molecular Biology (CCMB) is a premier research organization which conducts high quality basic research and trainings in frontier areas of modern biology, and promote centralized national facilities for new and modern techniques in the interdisciplinary areas of biology.
- It was set up initially as a semi-autonomous Centre on April 1, 1977 with the Biochemistry Division of the then Regional Research Laboratory (presently, Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, IICT) Hyderabad.
- It is located in Hyderabad and operates under the aegis of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
- It is designated as “Center of Excellence” by the Global Molecular and Cell Biology Network, UNESCO.
Sources: the hindu.
- Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: UNMISS- mandate, about UN Peacekeeping- need, significance, challenges and operations in place.
Context: A total of 150 Indian peacekeepers serving with the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) have received medals of honour for their dedicated service and sacrifice.
About United Nations Mission in South Sudan:
On 9 July 2011 South Sudan became the newest country in the world. The birth of the Republic of South Sudan is the culmination of a six-year peace process which began with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005.
However, the Security Council determined that the situation faced by South Sudan continued to constitute a threat to international peace and security in the region and established the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) to consolidate peace and security and to help establish conditions for development.
Following the crisis which broke out in South Sudan in December 2013, the Security Council reinforced UNMISS and reprioritized its mandate towards the protection of civilians, human rights monitoring, and support for the delivery of humanitarian assistance and for the implementation of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement.
The stated UNMISS Mandate includes:
- Support for peace consolidation and thereby fostering longer-term state building and economic development.
- Support the Government of the Republic of South Sudan in exercising its responsibilities for conflict prevention, mitigation and resolution and protect civilians.
- Support the Government of the Republic of South Sudan in developing its capacity to provide security, to establish rule of law, and to strengthen the security and justice sectors.
What is peacekeeping?
- United Nations Peacekeeping helps countries torn by conflict create conditions for lasting peace. Peacekeeping has proven to be one of the most effective tools available to the UN to assist host countries navigate the difficult path from conflict to peace.
- Peacekeeping has unique strengths, including legitimacy, burden sharing, and an ability to deploy and sustain troops and police from around the globe, integrating them with civilian peacekeepers to advance multidimensional mandates.
- UN peacekeepers provide security and the political and peacebuilding support to help countries make the difficult, early transition from conflict to peace.
- There are currently 14 UN peacekeeping operations deployed on four continents.
UN Peacekeeping is guided by three basic principles:
- Consent of the parties.
- Non-use of force except in self-defence and defence of the mandate.
UN peacekeeping is a unique global partnership. It brings together the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Secretariat, troop and police contributors and the host governments in a combined effort to maintain international peace and security. Its strength lies in the legitimacy of the UN Charter and in the wide range of contributing countries that participate and provide precious resources.
Facts for Prelims:
In News- Drugs Technical Advisory Board (DTAB):
DTAB is highest statutory decision-making body on technical matters related to drugs in the country. It is constituted as per the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940. It is part of Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
Bubble boy disease:
Context: US scientists claim that they used HIV to make a gene therapy that cured eight infants of severe combined immunodeficiency, or “bubble boy” disease.
What is Bubble boy disease?
The inherited immune system disorder is technically called X-linked severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), and it affects mostly boys. Bubble boy disease is the most common SCID condition, and the frequency of the illness isn’t known.
Why is X-linked SCID nicknamed “bubble boy disease”?
If a child tests positive for the disease at birth, they can’t necessarily do activities that other children can do. A child with X-linked SCID can’t fight off infections the way a healthy child can because their immune system doesn’t function properly. They have to live inside a “bubble” to keep from coming into contact with germs that wouldn’t hurt a healthy person but could kill someone whose immune system doesn’t work.
What causes this?
Bubble boy disease is caused by mutations in a gene called IL2RG on the X chromosome. The IL2RG gene provides instructions for making a protein that is critical for normal immune system function. This protein is necessary for the growth and maturation of developing immune system cells called lymphocytes.
Summaries of Important Editorials:
A crisis of credibility?
Though considered a formidable institution in leading the world in electoral efficiency since its inception, the Election Commission of India (EC), in the 2019 general election, has come under the scanner like never before in the wake of incidents involving a breach of the Model Code of Conduct, particularly those by the ruling party.
- On April 8, in a letter to the President of India, a group of retired bureaucrats and diplomats, in the context of recent incidents, expressed concern over the EC’s “weak kneed conduct” and the institution “suffering from a crisis of credibility today”.
- Prime Minister’s March 27 announcement of India’s first anti-satellite (ASAT) test is a “serious breach of propriety which amounts to giving unfair publicity to the party in power”.
- Questions were also raised over the launch of NaMo TV without licence, and a biopic on the life of the Prime Minister which was scheduled for release on April 11, when elections commenced.
- Other instances: Transfers of top officials, voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) audits, violations of the MCC by Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
Root of the problem:
- The genesis of the problem lies in the flawed system of appointment of election commissioners, who are appointed unilaterally by the government of the day.
- The system of removal of Election Commissioners is also a cause of concern. Only the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) is protected from being removed except through impeachment. The other two commissioners having equal voting power in the functioning of the EC can outvote the CEC 10 times a day. The uncertainty of elevation by seniority makes them vulnerable to government pressure.
- The government can control a defiant CEC through the majority voting power of the two commissioners.
- The EC’s reputation also suffers when it is unable to tame recalcitrant political parties, especially the ruling party. This is because despite being the registering authority under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, it has no power to de-register them even for the gravest of violations.
What needs to be done?
- Depoliticise appointments through a broad-based consultation, as in other countries.
- In its 255th report, the Law Commission recommended a collegium, consisting of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and the Chief Justice of India.
- Political stalwarts such as L.K. Advani, and former Chief Election Commissioners including B.B. Tandon and N. Gopalaswami supported the idea in the past even when in office.
- The Constitution enabled protection to the CEC as it was a one-man commission initially. This must now be extend to other commissioners, who were added in 1993, as they collectively represent the EC.
- EC must be empowered “to de-register a political party, particularly in view of its constitutional mandate”.
Elections are the bedrock of democracy and the EC’s credibility is central to democratic legitimacy. Hence, the guardian of elections itself needs urgent institutional safeguards to protect its autonomy. It is time that action is taken to depoliticise constitutional appointments and the EC empowered to de-register parties for electoral misconduct. It is a step needed towards restoring all-important public faith in the institution.