The HINDU Notes – 30th May 2019 - VISION

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Thursday, May 30, 2019

The HINDU Notes – 30th May 2019

πŸ“° GST evasion: SC to examine power of authorities to make arrests

Seeks Centre’s response; three-judge Bench to hear case

•The Supreme Court on Wednesday decided to consider the question of power of authorities to make arrests for Goods and Services Tax (GST) evasion.

•A Vacation Bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Aniruddha Bose asked the government to address the court on the issue, particularly in the backdrop of varying decisions on the question by several High Courts.

•The Bench scheduled the case for hearing before a three-judge Bench.

•On May 27, the court dismissed a challenge against the Telangana High Court decision that said individuals cannot be protected from arrest for GST violations.

•On April 18, the High Court said it was not inclined to grant relief against arrest to petitioners who had approached it challenging the summons issued by the Superintendent (Anti-Evasion) of the Hyderabad GST Commissionerate under the Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017 and invocation of penal provisions under the law.

πŸ“° Aid to relative for buying property not a benami transaction: SC

The source of money is merely one of relevant considerations but not determinative in character, says SC

•Mere financial assistance provided to purchase property for the welfare of family members cannot be classified as a benami transaction, the Supreme Court held in a recent judgment.

•A Bench led by Justice L. Nageswara Rao upheld a Karnataka High Court order, which dismissed a plea that the financial help given by G. Venkata Rao to his family members to purchase property was a benami transaction.

•Financial assistance or source of money cannot be sole determinative factor or circumstance to hold that a purchase of property is benami.

•“The intention of the late G. Venkata Rao was to provide financial assistance for the welfare of his sons, and not beyond that,” the court noted.

•The court reiterated its own precedents while considering the nature of benami transactions. “The source of money had never been the sole consideration. It is merely one of the relevant considerations but not determinative in character,” Justice Rao wrote in the verdict.

•It referred to the Supreme Court’s judgment in the Thakur Bhim Singh case, in which it held that “while considering a particular transaction as benami, the intention of the person who contributed the purchase money is determinative of the nature of transaction.”

•“It is further observed by this court as to what the intention of the person was, who contributed the purchase money, has to be decided on the basis of the surrounding circumstance,” the Bench said.

πŸ“° What’s PICME

•Pregnancy and Infant Cohort Monitoring and Evaluation (PICME) is a project implemented by the Directorate of Public Health and Preventive Medicine. It is mandatory for pregnant women to register themselves on PICME. K. Kolandaswamy, Director of Public Health, said this registration helped track and monitor pregnant women.

•“If a pregnant woman is due for check up and does not turn up, the software automatically throws up the detail, and our health staff visit her. After delivery, it also monitors the vaccination status of the baby,” he said.

πŸ“° Pakistan extends airspace ban

•Pakistan on Wednesday extended the ban on the use of its airspace for flights from and passing through India by a fortnight.

•The earlier NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) issued by Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority was until 3.30 p.m. on May 30. It has been replaced by a new one effective until 5.30 a.m. on June 15, a senior official of the Civil Aviation Ministry said.

•According to data maintained by the Ministry of Civil Aviation, a total of six airlines, majority of them from Central Asian countries, have cancelled as many as 33 weekly flights from Delhi.

•However, in what can be seen as a sign of de-escalation of tensions, the IAF has written to the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to revoke restrictions imposed by it for certain regions in response to Pakistan’s ban. “The IAF issued a letter to AAI on Wednesday that there are no restrictions on airspace from our end,” a defence source said.

•The AAI is expected to revoke its earlier NOTAM and issue a new one in the next couple of days.

•A Civil Aviation Ministry official said that after Pakistan lifted the ban, it will take nearly 14 hours to resume normal operations.

πŸ“° U.S. digs its heels on Iran oil sanctions

No new exemptions after May 2

•The U.S. has said that there is no change to its position on the import of Iranian oil by other countries. State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus reiterated the U.S. stand in response to reports in the Indian media that New Delhi was trying to continue limited imports of Iranian oil which it intended to pay for in rupees.

•“...I would just say that the Secretary has been very clear since April 22nd that we are going to zero,” Ms. Ortagus told reporters on Tuesday.

•“We have stated that there are no new exemptions after May 2nd as it relates to importing Iranian oil. The U.S. position there remains quite firm.”

Six-month waiver

•India was one of eight countries that had a six-month waiver from sanctions against buying Iranian oil, which went into effect in early November last year, months after the United States pulled out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), an international deal to curb Iran’s nuclear programme. That waiver expired on May 2.

•During the press briefing, Ms. Ortagus also said that the Secretary of State Michael Pompeo “will have a very robust discussion on a range of issues”.

•It is unclear which discussion she was referring to. The Hindu had reported that Mr. Pompeo is expected to lead a delegation to New Delhi in the third week of June, which would set the stage for talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.S. President Donald Trump in Osaka, Japan, on the sidelines of the G-20 summit on June 28-29.

πŸ“° India removed from currency monitoring list

•The U.S. on Tuesday removed India from its currency monitoring list of major trading partners, citing steps being taken by New Delhi that addressed some of the Donald Trump administration’s major concerns.

•Switzerland is the other nation that was removed from the list.

•“India has been removed from the monitoring list in this report, having met only one out of three criteria — a significant bilateral surplus with the United States — for two consecutive reports,” the Treasury Department said in its report on macroeconomic policies.

πŸ“° India has 20 health workers for 10,000 people, study finds

The ratio is close to the WHO threshold of 22.8

•India has 20.6 health workers per 10,000 people, a study based on data from the National Sample Survey reveals. While it is less than the World Health Organisation’s minimum threshold of 22.8, the numbers have increased from 19 health workers per 10,000 people in 2012.

•“This is welcome news as the numbers have increased since 2012. This shows that we are moving in the right direction and the size of the health workforce is steadily improving,” says Dr. Himanshu Negandhi, additional professor at the Indian Institute of Public Health, Delhi. Unfortunately, the distribution of health workers is uneven between urban and rural areas.

•Rural areas with nearly 71% of India’s population have only 36% of the country’s health workers.

•“This is not just in our country. Many countries have this divide,” adds Dr. Negandhi. Delhi has the highest concentration of health workers followed by Kerala, Punjab, and Haryana.

•The data also showed that approximately 25% of currently working health professionals do not have the required qualifications as laid down by professional councils, notes a study published in BMJ Open .

•Dr. Anup Karan, additional professor at Indian Institute of Public Health, Delhi, and lead researcher of this paper is of the opinion that “the public sector can collaborate with the private sector to overcome the shortages in human resources for health. However, this will not influence the overall size of the health workforce in the country.”

•The paper notes that policy should focus on enhancing the quality of health workers and bringing professionally qualified persons into the health workforce.

πŸ“° Being transgender is no longer a mental disorder, says WHO

Activists and doctors welcome the resolution

•The World Health Organization (WHO) will no longer categorise being transgender as a “mental disorder”.

•The change was brought in after a major resolution to amend the WHO health guidelines was approved earlier this week on May 25.

Health care needs

•The global health organisation said, “Evidence is now clear that gender incongruence is not a mental disorder, and indeed classifying it as such can cause enormous stigma for people who are transgender. Also there remain significant health care needs that can best be met if the condition is coded under the ICD (International Classification of Diseases).” Gender incongruence has now been listed under sexual health conditions.

•The WHO added that a “significant change in the mental disorders section of ICD-11 is the attempt of statisticians to simplify the codes as much as possible to allow for coding of mental health conditions by primary health care providers rather than by mental health specialists. This will be a critical move since the world still has a scarcity of mental health specialists — upto 9 out of 10 people needing mental health care don’t receive it.”

•Health and human rights activists are now hoping that the ICD-11 will be implemented by the WHO’s 194 member states over the next three years. The WHO’s removal of “gender identity disorder” from its diagnostic manual will have a liberating effect on transgender people worldwide, they said.

•“In India, psychiatrists at an individual level have stopped treating transgender as a mental health condition. With this move, the Indian government will have to make the changes in the medical systems and laws that require this now officially outdated diagnosis,” said Dr. Zakirhusain Shaikh, assistant professor, Department of Community Medicine, Hamdard Institute of Medical Sciences and Research.

•Akkai Padmashali, social activist, said, “The Indian government now has to ensure that this is implemented in totality. This may be a milestone, but there is still quite a way to go.”

πŸ“° 84 cities submit plans for improving air quality by 2024

Centre plans period review ahead of Environment Day

•Eighty-four out of the 102 cities that have been tasked with reducing toxic particulate matter levels by 20%-30% by 2024 have submitted proposals, C.K. Mishra, Secretary, Union Environment Ministry, said at a press conference.

•“We haven’t set any annual targets for the cities but are looking at a periodic review,” Mr. Mishra said at a function to announce the government’s plans to celebrate World Environment Day on June 5. One hundred and two cities, considered India’s most polluted, have been tasked with reducing PM (particulate matter) 10 and PM 2.5 levels by 2024, as part of the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP). This was made public in January this year.

NCAP targets

•The States in which the cities are located are expected to produce plans that include increasing the number of monitoring stations, providing technology support, conducting source apportionment studies, and strengthening enforcement. For achieving the NCAP targets, cities would be expected to calculate the reduction in pollution, keeping 2017’s average annual PM levels as the base year.

•The NCAP requires cities to implement specific measures such as “ensuring roads are pothole-free to improve traffic flow and thereby reduce dust” (within 60 days) or “ensuring strict action against unauthorised brick kilns” (within 30 days). It doesn’t specify an exact date for when these obligations kick in.

πŸ“° Farmers get Rs. 5 lakh for defective seeds

NCDRC orders co-operatives to pay up

•After a seven-year fight, two Haryana farmers have been granted a compensation of almost Rs. 5 lakh from cooperative giant Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited (IFFCO), which sold them defective guar seeds that led to 70% crop failure. The farmers won their case at the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) earlier this month.

•Vinod Kumar and Vijay Kumar, both farmers from the Shahpur village in the Hisar district of Haryana, had purchased 180 kg of guar seeds manufactured by IFFCO subsidiary Indian Farm Forestry Development Cooperative (IFFDC) in 2012. Guar, or cluster beans, is grown not just for the vegetable, but for its gum, which is one of India’s major agricultural exports to the United States. Haryana is the second largest producer in the country.

•According to the farmers, IFFDC assured them that the guar seeds would give proper yield of 8 to10 quintals per acre. Despite following proper instructions and procedure, even ploughing their fields thrice for better yield, “the crop was not up to the mark”, the farmers said.

πŸ“° SpaceX satellites pose new headache for astronomers

‘The objects can interfere with observations’

•It looked like a scene from a sci-fi blockbuster: an astronomer in the Netherlands captured footage of a train of brightly-lit SpaceX satellites ascending through the night sky this weekend, stunning space enthusiasts across the globe.

•But the sight has also provoked an outcry among astronomers who say the constellation, which so far consists of 60 broadband-beaming satellites but could one day grow to as many as 12,000, may threaten our view of the cosmos and deal a blow to scientific discovery.

•The launch was tracked around the world and it soon became clear that the satellites were visible to the naked eye: a new headache for researchers who already have to find workarounds to deal with objects cluttering their images of deep space.

Not starstruck

•“People were making extrapolations that if many of the satellites in these new mega-constellations had that kind of steady brightness, then in 20 years or less, for a good part the night anywhere in the world, the human eye would see more satellites than stars,” said Bill Keel, an astronomer at the University of Alabama.

•The satellites’ brightness has since diminished as their orientation has stabilised and they have continued their ascent to their final orbit at an altitude of 550 km.

•But that has not entirely allayed the concerns of scientists, who are worried about what happens next. Elon Musk’s SpaceX is just one of a several companies looking to enter the fledgling space Internet sector.

•To put that into context, there are currently 2,100 active satellites orbiting our planet, according to the Satellite Industry Association.

•If another 12,000 are added by SpaceX alone, “it will be hundreds above the horizon at any given time,” Jonathan McDowell of the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics said, adding that the problem would be exacerbated at certain times of the year and certain points in the night.

•“So, it’ll certainly be dramatic in the night sky if you’re far away from the city and you have a nice, dark area; and it’ll definitely cause problems for some kinds of professional astronomical observation.”

•The mercurial Mr. Musk responded to the debate on Twitter with contradictory messages, pledging to look into ways to reduce the satellites’ reflectivity but also saying they would have “0% impact on advancements in astronomy” and that telescopes should be moved into space anyway.

•He also argued the work of giving “billions of economically disadvantaged people” high-speed Internet access through his network “is the greater good”.

πŸ“° New species of wasp identified in Goa

•A new species of wasp from the genus Kudakrumia has been recently identified by scientists in Goa.

•The wasp, Kudakrumia rangnekari , has been named after Goa-based researcher Parag Rangnekar.

•“A species being named after me comes as a complete surprise. Mixed feelings at the moment, of joy and for some unknown reason slightly uncomfortable,” Mr. Rangnekar said. The new species was collected in the forests of the Western Ghats.

•Mr. Rangnekar’s quest to document the butterflies of this unique region resulted in a record of 220 species, of which 13 species had not been spotted before.

•Mr. Rangnekar, who is the founder-president of the Goa Bird Conservation Network, has now taken up the documentation of the dragonflies in the State.