The HINDU Notes – 11th February 2019 - VISION

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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

The HINDU Notes – 11th February 2019

📰 Links beyond boundaries

To insist that the Aryans were a distinct people is to impose present-day borders on the remote past

•Problems with the definition of ‘Aryan’ continue even though the term was first used a couple of centuries ago, writes eminent historian Romila Thapar in the foreword to Which Of Us Are Aryans: Rethinking the Concept of Our Origins. In the book, Professor Thapar and other scholars and experts critically examine the Aryan question by analysing history, genetics, early Vedic compositions, archaeology and linguistics, and challenge various myths and theories doing the rounds. Professor Thapar examines the definition of ‘Aryan’, its earliest use in Vedic and Iranian compositions, and the change it underwent. An excerpt:

•In any discussion of the ‘Aryan’ a good place to begin with would be to set out the space and time of the subject. In terms of space we tend to think only of the geography of the Indian subcontinent and the boundaries of pre-Partition India as they existed for British India. The focus is then narrowed down to north-western India. But the geographical area of the archaeological and linguistic evidence is far more extensive. The links therefore are way beyond just the boundaries of north-west British India and involve some familiarity with more distant cultures.

•In terms of archaeology, the more extensive earlier reach was that of the Harappa Culture or the Indus Civilisation. From Shortughai in the Pamirs, evidence of Harappan settlements extends all the way south to the Indus plain and further to the Arabian Sea, westwards into Baluchistan and Makran and touching the Indo-Iranian borderlands, and eastwards into Punjab and Haryana. More recently finds have been located in Oman in the Arabian peninsula, particularly in the vicinity of copper mines. The Harappans were known to have had trading relations with the Gulf and Mesopotamia. People of the ancient past did not confine themselves to one place. They travelled, migrated, traded and communicated across vast distances. This would probably have been too vast an area to host a single, unified culture. We have to consider the possibility of a multiplicity of cultures and societies, some fairly isolated and others in close contact but possibly functioning under a recognised and similar sociopolitical rubric.

Covering extensive areas

•Varieties of Indo-Aryan and Indo-Iranian speakers can only be given an approximate geographical location which is not as firm as that of archaeological cultures. The geographical area of all these languages is extensive but not all are referred to in the same text and they vary with the text. The wider geography of Proto-Indo-European takes a different direction from that of the Harappa Culture. Northern Syria and Anatolia are the locations possibly linked to Proto-Indo-Aryan, north-eastern Iran is the location for Old Iranian linked to the Avesta, and the speakers of Indo-Aryan as known from the Rig Veda are restricted to the Indo-Iranian borderlands and Punjab up to the Doab, which is geographically a small area. The history of the Indo-Aryan language has been extended backwards in time to the ancestral language of Indo-European and this brings in adjoining parts of Central Asia. The presence of Indo-Aryan in the Ganga plain is attested to in the post-Rig Vedic period.

•Thus although the focus is often only on the Punjab we should not forget that there was also a large area of West Asia and Central Asia that had a bearing on this history, even if the Indo-Aryan of the Rig Veda was not spoken in such a vast geographical area. The need for familiarity with the archaeology and linguistic history of other areas further complicates the problem. The geographical overlap between the Harappan sites and the place names associated with Indo-Aryan and Indo-Iranian is a limited area covering virtually only the Indo-Iranian borderlands and the Punjab. The thrust of the Harappan locations is southwards with maritime links westwards along the Persian Gulf, whereas the Indo-Aryan speakers show up overland and move south-eastwards to the Ganga plain.

•The chronology of the two is also different. The time bracket covers many centuries. There are some dates well established among historians and archaeologists. The Harappan urban cultures, referred to as the Mature Harappan, date from about 2600 to about 1700 BCE, after urbanism slowly peters out. The Rig Veda is generally dated to the period after the decline of urbanism and would therefore date from about 1500 BCE or a couple of centuries later. The subsequent Vedas — the Samaveda, Yajurveda and Atharvaveda — relating also to the Ganga plain are dated to the early first millennium BCE.

Placing the Vedas

•However there are those who differ and would like to date the Rig Veda to 3000 BCE or even earlier and identify its culture with the Harappan cities. They maintain that the Aryans are indigenous and there was therefore not even a migration of any kind, let alone any invasion as was thought in the nineteenth century. To maintain this position it is even said that the Rig Veda is prior to the Harappa Culture or that the authors of the Harappa Culture were Rigvedic Aryans. These views have become a matter of rather extensive controversy to say the least. This latter chronology, apart from not being able to muster firm evidence, creates huge problems for the historian. The discrepancy between Harappan urbanism and Rigvedic agro-pastoralism negates equivalence. Such an early chronology for the Rig Veda would, for example, create a gap of at least 1,500 years between the Rig Veda and the other Vedas and therefore break what is known to be the continuity between the four Vedas. Taking it back to the third millennium BCE creates major problems of parallels and correlations with archaeological evidence. It leads to a long chronological hiatus between the first and the later three Vedas — the Samaveda, Yajurveda and Atharvaveda — as the dating of these to the first millennium BC remains firm.

•The insistence that the Aryans were a distinct people and that they were indigenous to the territory of British India is to impose present-day boundaries on the remote past, which makes the statement anachronistic. Concepts such as ‘indigenous’ and ‘alien’ have to be precisely defined, which they are not in this case, and the definition has to conform to the time context for when it is being used.

📰 Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu disapproves of competitive populism

Stresses the need for structural changes to sustainably increase incomes

•Competitive populism among political parties and offers of loan waivers and free power in the run-up to elections are just temporary solutions that do not address the need for structural changes to sustainably develop incomes in the country, said Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu on Sunday.

•Delivering the Chief Guest address during The Huddle, a thought conclave organised by The Hindu, in Bengaluru, Mr. Naidu said: “Promises of free power mean that first we’ll get low power and then no power...Loan waivers (similarly) are temporary solutions. Farmers need credit every season. What we need are structural changes.” Populist measures may have short-term political gains, but lead to long-term economic problems as they are “unproductive,” he said.

•Mr. Naidu termed them “competitive populism” that is fraught with “tall and impractical” programmes. “We’re supposed to be a mature democracy. But people get away with these promises and handing out lollipops to voters. Parties will have to justify and explain to the people on how they would find finances to fund such schemes. This is an important will make them accountable to voters,” he said.

•Mr. Naidu, who is also the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, said the code of conduct for MPs and MLAs should ensure the end of repeated disruptions in Parliament and Assemblies. “It is unfortunate that disorder and disruptions have become the order of the day. It isn’t individual MPs and MLAs that disrupt proceedings out of their will, but parties. It is the high command which directs them to. This competitive opposition must go,” he said.

📰 ‘Expedite implementation of Forest Rights Act’

It would ensure food, nutritional security of the vulnerable section of society: Food Commission

•The Odisha State Food Commission has again asked the State government to expedite implementation of the Forest Rights Act, 2006, that would help ensure food and nutritional security to the vulnerable section of society.

•In a letter addressed to all Collectors, OSFC chairperson Ranglal Jamuda pointed out that “out of 4,25,563 IFR titles distributed till December 2018, demarcation of land has been completed in respect of 2,99,471 titles representing 70.37% of the total titles.”

•“It is a matter of serious concern that in seven important districts (where more than 5,000 titles have been distributed) the performance on demarcation of titles is significantly below the State average,” said Mr. Jamuda.

Demarcation of titles

•Keonjhar has completed demarcation of titles in case of only 34.37% while Nabarangpur achieved 34.4%, Koraput (33.68%), Sundargarh (52.96%), Deogarh (48.12%), Nuapada (35.80%) and Ganjam (51.94%).

•“In all these seven districts the Collectors should undertake special drive for demarcation of land. The amins posted in other tehsils may be re-deployed in tehsils having more number of pending cases for demarcation,” Mr. Jamuda directed.

•Mr. Jamuda, a retired IAS officer, said the government should take the services of retired revenue inspectors and amins to expedite implementation.

•Demarcation of land regularised under Individual Forest Right and correction of preparation of record of rights have been completed only in case of Bhadrak district.

•Similarly, in case of correction of RoRs, cumulative achievement has so far been 1,78,039 titles, only representing 41.83% of the titles distributed.

•“Despite a series of instructions, the extent of land developed utilising Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme funds till December 2018 is only 56,340.53 acres. In five districts there was no activity in this regard,” said Mr. Jamuda.

📰 No zero-sum games: on India-U.S. trade hostilities

India and the U.S. must work to halt trade hostilities urgently

•There are alarm bells in India over a possible decision by the U.S. Trade Representative to withdraw the Generalised System of Preferences status. Under this, India is able to export about 2,000 product lines to the U.S. under zero tariff. The revocation of the GSP, which was first extended to India in 1976 as part of a global concession by the U.S. to help developing countries build their economies, will be a blow to Indian exporters, and the biggest in a series of measures taken by the Trump administration against India to reduce its trade deficit. President Donald Trump’s case on what he calls “unequal tariffs” from India rests on the trade relationship in favour of India: Indian exports to the U.S. in 2017-18 stood at $47.9 billion, while imports were $26.7 billion. The measures are in line with Mr. Trump’s campaign promises. On the matter of Harley-Davidson motorcycles, he spoke directly to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on at least three occasions, demanding that India zero out tariffs to match U.S. rates on Indian motorcycles. In March 2018, the U.S. began imposing tariffs on several Indian products, and in April, the USTR began a review of India’s GSP status, based on complaints of trade barriers from India it had received from the dairy industry and manufacturers of medical devices. In November the U.S. withdrew GSP status on at least 50 Indian products.

•In retaliation, India proposed tariffs of about $235 million on 29 American goods, but has put off implementing these five times in the past year in the hope that a negotiated trade settlement will come through. The latest deadline expires on March 1. India has also attempted to address the trade deficit with purchase of American oil, energy and aircraft. There have been dozens of rounds of talks between officials over the past few months, but no breakthrough. U.S. officials say the decision on data localisation for all companies operating in India, and the more recent tightening norms for FDI in e-commerce have aggravated the situation. Both sides should work towards calling a halt to trade hostilities and speed up efforts for a comprehensive trade “package”, rather than try to match each concern product by product. The U.S. must realise that India is heading into elections, and offer more flexibility in the next few months. India must keep in mind that the larger, global picture is about U.S.-China trade issues, and if a trade deal with the U.S. is reached, India could be the biggest beneficiary of business deals lost by China. The visit of U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to India this week will be watched not as much for substance, as for signals that New Delhi and Washington understand the urgency in breaking the deadlock.

📰 Taliban says no agreement reached on ending hostilities

Nothing concrete achieved that would compel us to end the war: militants

•The Afghan Taliban has said that despite the ongoing talks with the U.S. and other regional powers, it had “not yet reached” any conclusion that would entail an immediate end to hostilities, according to a media report.

•Speaking to Pakistan’s Dawn News channel, Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid said that, even in Moscow talks, nothing concrete was achieved that would compel the militants to end the war. He insisted that the Taliban is holding talks with the U.S. “on its own initiative“.

Pakistan’s role

•When asked about Pakistan’s role in bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table, Mr. Mujahid said: “There is no role being played by any outside country. This has always been our own initiative and policy.” He, however, said that if the Taliban does end up having a say in the Afghan polity one day, it will approach Pakistan “as a brother and a neighbour”, seeking “comprehensive ties based on mutual respect.”

•He acknowledged that Pakistan had remained “the most important hub” for Afghan refugees during the Soviet invasion.

•Mr. Mujahid said that while the Taliban does not have a codified manifesto, their “clear” objectives were the end of the occupation of Afghanistan, establishment of an Islamic government, establishment of peace and security, reconstruction of Afghanistan and the provision of administrative services. He also said a new Constitution will be drafted and “implemented in light of the teachings of (the) sharia.

•On a question regarding the possible formation of an interim government in Afghanistan, he said that the Taliban had neither held any discussions regarding an interim government nor had they proposed such an idea.

•Explaining the Taliban position on refusing to talk to the government in Kabul, Mr. Mujahid said that any talks with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani regime would have symbolic ramifications.

•If the Taliban were hold talks with the Kabul government, it would mean that it had “accepted this stooge regime as a legitimate government (even though it was) imposed upon us by air craft and (the) bombing of invaders”, he said.

📰 Magistrate can’t order FIR on private complaint: SC

‘Executive Magistrate has no power under the Cr.PC

•An executive magistrate has no power under the Code of Criminal Procedure to direct the police to register an FIR on a private complaint filed before him, the Supreme Court has ruled.

•The recent judgment from a Bench of Justices Rohinton Nariman and Navin Sinha concerned a direction passed by the Unnao Sub-Divisional Magistrate to file an FIR on a private complaint from a student who alleged that she was cheated into taking admission to a three-year law course at an unrecognised institute. The police filed a case of cheating and misrepresentation against the institute management. After the Allahabad High Court refused to quash the FIR, the institute managers moved the Supreme Court.

•“It is apparent that in the scheme of the Code, an Executive Magistrate has no role to play in directing the police to register an FIR on basis of a private complaint filed before him,” observed Justice Sinha, who wrote the judgment.

•“If a complaint is filed before the Executive Magistrate regarding an issue over which he has administrative jurisdiction and the Magistrate proceeds to hold an administrative inquiry, it may be possible for him to file an FIR himself... In such a case, entirely different considerations would arise,” the court said.

•However, in the present case, a reading of the FIR showed that the police registered the FIR on the direction of the Sub-Divisional Magistrate, which was “clearly impermissible in the law,” the court said.

•“The Sub-Divisional Magistrate does not exercise powers under Section 156(3) of the Code. The very institution of the FIR in the manner done is contrary to the law and without jurisdiction,” it said.

•The Bench said it was up to the complainant to lodge her grievance with the jurisdictional magistrate under Section 200 of the Cr.PC.

📰 Only 4 UDAN routes in northeast operational

•Two years since the launch of the ambitious low-cost flying scheme, aerial connectivity continues to elude the northeastern region. While as many as 20 bi-directional routes were awarded to various airlines during this period, only four are currently operational.

•The routes that have been connected are Guwahati-Pakyong-Guwahati (SpiceJet), Jorhat-Kolkata-Jorhat (IndiGo), Lilabari-Kolkata-Lilabari (SpiceJet) and Pakyong-Delhi-Pakyong (SpiceJet).

•When the scheme was launched in March 2017, a total of five routes were identified from the northeast for the regional connectivity scheme (RCS), also known as Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN). Under the scheme, the government provides a subsidy to airlines, who have to cap airfares for 50% of the total seats at ₹2,500 per hour of flight.

•These routes, connecting Shillong with five other destinations in Meghalaya, were bagged by Air Deccan. All of them now stand withdrawn because of the failure on the part of the airline to commence operations on some routes, and due to erratic services on others. Last week, the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) once again invited interest from various airlines for these routes.

•The northeast region was among the priority areas to be brought under the scheme during the second round of bidding that was concluded in January 2018. During this phase, 15 routes in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Sikkim were granted to various carriers, of which only the four routes mentioned above have been able to take off.

•None of the 75 helicopter routes in the country have taken off so far, which includes 33 routes for the northeast region.

•Sources in the MoCA said that they would be writing once again to various airlines, such as TruJet, AAA Aviation and Zoom Air, to start operations, failing which these routes, too, will stand cancelled.

•In the meantime, the government allotted 19 additional routes last month, including five seaplane routes in yet another round of bidding for UDAN. Airlines have six months to start services on these routes.

📰 The solution is universal

Strengthening the MGNREGA would be more prudent than a targeted cash transfer plan like PM-KISAN

•Rural distress has hit unprecedented levels. According to news reports, unemployment is the highest in 45 years. To allay some misgivings of the distress, one of the announcements in the Budget speech was that “vulnerable landholding farmer families, having cultivable land up to 2 hectares, will be provided direct income support at the rate of ₹ 6,000 per year”.

•This cash transfer scheme has been called Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN). The Ministry of Agriculture has written to State governments to prepare a database of all eligible beneficiaries along with their Aadhaar numbers, and update land records “expeditiously”. The letter further states that changes in land records after February 1, 2019 shall not be considered for this scheme.

A comparison

•Undoubtedly, farmers’ distress needs urgent attention but let’s see if the PM-KISAN is a reasonable solution. Let us first compare some basic numbers with the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA). For example, if two members of a household in Jharkhand work under MGNREGA (picture) for 30 days, they would earn ₹10,080 and a household of two in Haryana would earn ₹16,860 in 30 days. Jharkhand has the lowest daily MGNREGA wage rate, and Haryana the highest. Put simply, a month of MGNREGA earnings for a household is more than a year’s income support through PM-KISAN anywhere in the country.

•PM-KISAN is a targeted cash transfer programme and MGNREGA is a universal programme. Any rural household willing to do manual work is eligible under the Act. According to the 2011 Socio-Economic and Caste Census, around 40% of rural households are landless and depend on manual labour. The landless can earn through the MGNREGA but are not eligible for the PM-KISAN scheme. Notwithstanding the meagre amount, the PM-KISAN might be pitting the landless against a small farmer.

•Further, it is unclear how tenant farmers, those without titles, and women farmers would be within the ambit of the scheme. There is also substantial evidence to demonstrate that universal schemes are less prone to corruption than targeted schemes. In targeted programmes, it is very common to have errors of exclusion, i.e., genuine beneficiaries get left out. Such errors go unrecorded and people continue to be left out. It is in some of these contexts that strengthening an existing universal programme such as the MGNREGA would have been a prudent move instead of introducing a hasty targeted cash transfer programme.

•The Agriculture Ministry’s letter states that “funds will be electronically transferred to the beneficiary’s bank account by [Government of India] through State Notional Account on a pattern similar to MGNREGS”. There are important lessons to be learned from the MGNREGA implementation. The Centre has frequently tinkered with the wage payments system in the MGNREGA. It’s creditable that timely generation of pay-orders have improved, but contrary to the Centre’s claims, less than a third of the payments were made on time. And in contempt of the Supreme Court orders, the Centre alone has been causing a delay of more than 50 days in disbursing wages.

Field realities

•Moreover, repeated changes in processes result in a hurried bureaucratic reorientation on the ground, and much chaos among workers and field functionaries alike. Field functionaries are pushed to meet stiff targets. Being short-staffed and inadequately trained, this results in many technical and unforeseen errors. A case in point is the rushed manner in which Aadhaar has been implemented for the MGNREGA.

•Several MGNREGA payments have been rejected, diverted, or frozen as a consequence. In the last four years alone, more than ₹1,300 crore of the MGNREGS wage payments have been rejected due to technical errors such as incorrect account numbers or faulty Aadhaar mapping. There have been no clear national guidelines to rectify these. There are numerous cases of MGNREGS payments getting diverted to Airtel wallets and ICICI bank accounts. In a recently concluded survey on common service centres in Jharkhand for Aadhaar-based payments, it was found that 42% of the biometric authentications failed in the first attempt, compelling them to come later. This continued harassment faced by people would have been a more humane question to address rather than brushing them aside as “teething problems” and build a new scheme on similar shaky platforms.

•The success of the PM-KISAN is contingent on there being reliable digital land records and reliable rural banking infrastructure — both are questionable at best. While ₹75,000 crore has been earmarked for this scheme, the MGNREGA continues to be pushed to a severe crisis. The MGNREGA allocation for 2019-20 is ₹60,000 crore, lower than the revised budget of ₹61,084 crore in 2018-19. In the last four years, on an average, around 20% of the Budget allocation has been unpaid pending payments from previous years. Thus, subtracting the pending liabilities, in real terms, the Budget allocation has been lower than 2010-11. Despite a letter to the Prime Minister by citizens and MPs in January 2019, (as of February 8) all MGNREGA funds have been exhausted. While the country stares at an impending drought, workers languish in unemployment. The MGNREGA is neither an income support programme nor just an asset creation programme. It is a labour programme meant to strengthen participatory democracy through community works. It is a legislative mechanism to strengthen the constitutional principle of the right to life. That the MGNREGA works have demonstrably strong multiplier effects are yet another reason to improve its implementation. Despite all this, the MGNREGA wage rates in 18 States have been kept lower than the States’ minimum agricultural wage rates. This acts as a deterrent for the landless. Yet, work demand has been 33% more than the employment provided this year — underscoring the desperation to work. By routinely under-funding this Act, the Bharatiya Janata Party government continues to undermine the constitutional guarantee.

•In an employment programme, adequacy of fund allocation and respectable wages are crucial, so meaningless claims of “highest ever allocation” and other dubious claims through a management information system are unhealthy for democracy.

📰 Where ‘angels’ are bedevilled

Targeting share valuation causes pain for start-ups. Restraining shell firms needs a different approach

•For the past few months, ‘angel tax’ issues have taken centre stage. Circulars have been issued with the hope that the matter would be resolved to everyone’s satisfaction. The Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) is attempting to move a fresh set of solutions to pour water on this raging issue.

•From the face of it, a public policy meant to curb shell companies has turned into an attack on genuine investments; and, the solution itself has become a problem. Does the Department need to take a fresh look at Section 56 (2) in light of the visible outcomes of a public policy gone wrong? We will wait and watch. Till then, let us revisit the issue itself.

•The focus was on promoting private sector investment in the country. This being the base, all other processes and rules should run consistent with this foundation. But, it is this premise which is taking a beating and hence the need to address it.

•Every investor has a view as to whether a venture is worth investing in, by calculating likely returns. The entrepreneur seeking investment has also determined the extent of control and ownership to be surrendered in return for funds.

•Both balance their interests to secure the maximum possible returns. To protect their respective long-term interests, both would be unwilling to compromise on their view. In case of doubt, the investor has recourse to the business plan to convince himself that his assumptions are accurate.

•Now, into what should be entirely the domain of the ‘private’ sector, we have brought ‘governmental control’, to the extent that whatever deal may be struck between the investor and the entrepreneur, they are plagued with having to satisfy a clause which can be a threat to the entire venture on account of an unfactored tax burden.

•Section 56 (2) (vii)(b) of the Income Tax Act provides for ‘where a closely held company issues its shares at a price more than its fair market value, the amount received in excess of the fair value will be taxed as income from other sources’. The determination of fair market value becomes the bone of contention. It now comes under the domain of the ‘Assessor’ — meaning the Income tax department. The department takes a look at the business plan and begins to check whether the turnover and business returns envisaged were achieved.

Valuation stalemate

•If they weren’t, the department faults the business plan and concludes that the valuation was much higher than what it should have been. Most businesses in our country are subject to flux on account of laws that are constantly being moved around. Then there is the market situation which is not guaranteed, either. Even if the investor is willing to wait for returns, the tax department is not. Due to volatile markets, coupled with tax issues, most financial advisers do not recommend formation of private limited companies. Strangely, it is common to find in recent times businesses — that could have easily benefited from the private limited tag and then becoming public limited companies — still remaining as partnerships or worse, sole proprietorships.

•Our ecosystem is not conducive for real growth in the private sector unless you have learnt to ‘handle the system’.

•If the government is concerned about ‘shell companies’, it would need to attack the issue head-on and define a shell company. What would qualify a company to be one? Once the identity of a shell company has been determined, the penalty for the same can then be decided.

•This would be better than targeting share valuation in a company, which is crucial to attracting investment. Currently, there is no distinction between a company functioning with genuine transactions and one that isn’t.

•Some food for thought: isn’t it sufficient that the share premium and the stake offered satisfy promoters and investors? Is there a need to lay boundaries to this aspect of free market enterprise? Is fair market value constant and consistent, year-on-year; and are extraneous influences the same all around?

Laws inadequate?

•If money in excess ‘appears’ to be pumped into a private limited company and the source of such funds doubtful, aren’t existing laws (Section 68 or 69 of the Income Tax Act, 1961) sufficient for the authorities to determine and tax accordingly without having to enter into the share valuation sphere?

•Is Section 56 (2)(vii)(b) of the Income Tax Act, 1961 deterring the flow of investments into private limited companies? If it is non-negotiable and will continue to remain so even for the most straight-forward transactions, how can genuine private limited companies that seek capital infusion for expansion/consolidation be protected from interpretations that could lead to layers of litigation with huge tax levy to be fought at different levels up to the apex court?

•Currently, consultants often discourage entrepreneurs from forming private limited companies due to factors that influence ease of investment and functioning.

•Public policies in this area directly impact the ecosystem affecting the growth of private limited companies. Perhaps, ‘angel’ tax has got to go if private limited firms are to flourish in India.

📰 Third round of OALP offers 23 oil, gas, coal-bed methane blocks

Centre expects immediate exploration work commitment of about $600-$700 mn

•India on Sunday offered 23 oil and gas and CBM blocks for bidding in the third round of Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OLAP), expecting up to to $700 million of investment that it hoped will help raise domestic output and cut imports.

•Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan launched the OALP-III bid round at the Petrotech 2019 conference here on the outskirts of Delhi.

•“In OALP-III, 23 blocks in 12 sedimentary basins are being offered. Of these, five are coal-bed methane (CBM) blocks. Total area on offer is about 31,000 square kilometre,” he said. The last date for bidding is April 10.

•OALP-III will run concurrently with OALP-II, where 14 blocks, covering an area of close to 30,000 sq km, is on offer for bidding, he said, adding that in OALP-I, 55 blocks, covering an area of 60,000 sq km, were offered in January 2018 and awarded in October last year.

More area added

•“In one year, we have added about 1.2 lakh sq km of area to the exploration kitty. This compares to 90,000 sq km area under exploration previously,” he said, adding the area under exploration will double by the time the round ends.

•“Our effort is to accelerate exploration of all sedimentary basins of the country,” he said.

•The third round is expected to “generate immediate exploration work commitment of around $600-$700 million,” a statement said.

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