Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Introduction

Taxes are the sources of income for the government. The entire tax regime of India is divided into two broad categories, direct tax and indirect tax. Direct taxes are those which are collected directly from the entities, both firms and individuals, by the government and it include Personal Income Tax, Corporate Income Tax, Capital Gain Tax, Dividend Distribution Tax, Wealth Tax etc. On the other Indirect Taxes are those which are collected from entities directly by the government including Customs Duty, Excise Duty, Service Tax, Value Added Tax, Securities Transaction Tax, and other taxes levied by the state.

Fiscal Consolidation: DTC and GST

The existence of multiple tax laws in Indian taxation regime makes things complex both for the entities and the government of India. In order to simplify the taxation system government has proposed two reforms namely Direct Tax Code (DTC), and Goods and Services Tax (GST). These reforms are proposed to consolidate various tax laws. The Direct Tax Code has been proposed for direct taxes to be finalized for enactment during 2011-12 and proposed to be effective from April 1, 2012. DTC proposes widening of the tax slabs and reduction of deduction and exemptions. It will also be providing stable framework for taxation of international transactions and global capital. GST has been proposed to bring the taxation of goods and services under one umbrella, which is the practice adopted by majority of the countries of the world. It has been proposed that the GST will have two components namely Central GST and State GST. The central GST will replace the taxes levied by central government such as central excise duty and service tax whereas the state GST will replace the state indirect taxes such as Value Added Tax and Stamp duties. One of the important aspects of the GST will be the seamless flow of credit across the entire supply chain and across all states under a common tax base. The credits of the goods transaction can be adjusted against the transaction of services and vice versa. The widening of direct tax slabs and capping of majority of the indirect taxes at the same rate of 10% in the Union Budget of 2011 has been step towards an era to DTC and GST.

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Introduction

The Great Bengal Famine of 1943, also known as the Holocaust of India, took about 3 million Indian lives. This incident along with the food crises during 1960s stimulated the Indian Government to think seriously in the direction of food security. The Government of India wanted to increase the production of good grains, so that we would not have to depend on imports in order to meet our food requirement.

The urge for food sufficiency let to the birth of Green Revolution in India under the guidance of Dr. Norman Borlaug of Mexico and Dr. M. S. Swaminathan of India. The Green Revolution introduced high yielding variety seed in the irrigated lands of Punjab, Haryana, and West Bengal. The high yielding variety of seed requires fertilizers and pesticides so were supplemented with the same. The agriculture practices adopted as a result of Green Revolution resulted in 100% increase in the production of cereals during 1970 to 1990. During the same period, the population of India increased by 60%. Consequently, the per capita availability of cereals has increased by 30%. Such an impressive growth in the production of cereals made India self-sufficient in food grains.

However, the Green Revolution’s main focus was on the production of only two cereals wheat and rice, other food crops like millets, oil seeds, vegetables, etc. were neglected at the first place. Also, the green revolution was limited to the irrigated parts of India, despite the fact that about 75% of the land in India is rain fed. All the more, the green revolution was beneficial for the large and medium farmers who can afford the increased cost of inputs and mechanization.

Is High Yielding Really Yielding?

High yielding variety (HYV) seeds are more responsive to the three macro nutrients nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium (NPK). However, a plant requires 16 macro and 7 micro nutrients for a healthy growth. The high responsiveness of the HYV crops to NPK demands more of these nutrients, which is provided through chemical fertilizers like urea. Crops cannot take these nutrients in solid form; they are absorbed in dissolved state. Thus, HYV required seven times more water than traditional variety of seeds. More water in the plant body makes them heavier and more prone to diseases. In order to save crops from pests and diseases more and more pesticides and chemical are used. These pesticides and chemicals not only kill the harmful insects but also helping insects like butterflies, which helps in pollination.

In order to reduce the weight of the plants, and to make plants stand in the fields scientists working for the development of HYV of seeds, came up with dwarf varieties. These dwarf varieties have shorter stem. One can say that in these dwarf HYV seed the stem part is converted into fruits. Farmers use the leftover stem portion of the crops as fodder for their cattle. Now, since the fodder content is reduced, farmers now sustain lesser number of cattle on their farm produce and require other supplements for their cattle.

The HYV has increased the input cost of agriculture, due to extra cost of fertilizers, pesticides and mechanization in one hand and has deprived farmers of fodder for their cattle. So, if we just look at the overall effect on the life of a small farmer, whose life depends only on his small piece of land and the cattle, the picture is not very clear for him. The small and marginal farmers are still skeptical about the overall benefits of the HYV of crops.

Tale of small and marginal farmers

Green Revolution has shown some great results in the short run. However, if one analyzes the impact of Green Revolution in great in detail, we can see that the fertilizer requirement of the HYV seeds has increased considerable. For example, 300kg of urea is required for one hectare instead of 3kg initially. Due to excessive use of fertilizers and irrigation, the soil has become saline in many part of India. The high pH of the soil is not conducive for the germination of the seeds, in some part of India soil is reduced to the status of concrete. A recent pioneering study sponsored by three United Nations agencies (FAO, UNDP and UNEP) estimated the severity and costs of land degradation in South Asia. This study reports that the cost of degradation of the soil due to salinization is close to $1.5 billion. Also, due to excessive use of ground water for irrigation, the water in majority of the part of India has reduced to half. The chemical based farming has regarded the physical, chemical and biological characteristics of the soil.

Failure of the seed in some part of India brought back the thought of the use of their traditional variety of seeds in the minds of farmers. But, farmers couldn’t find any traditional variety of seeds in the market. The entire seed market is packed with the HYV seeds. The traditional variety of seeds, which have been gained there properties over decades, by the process of adaptation and natural selection, are lost now. The traditional varieties have adapted itself to the climate and soil conditions of different areas are no more available. The failure of the crops resort farmers to try new varieties, but the skeptical about new varieties. Even Government of India has not provided any provision to safeguard against the crop failure in the proposed Seed Bill, 2010.

The economic condition of small and marginal farmers is very bad. The rising cost of inputs to agriculture coupled with soil degradation and destruction of village ecosystem has led farmers into the debt trap of moneylenders. The farmers are even prone to commit suicides. The NCRB data shows that on an average about 17,000 farmers committed suicide in India during 1997-2006. In number of suicides are high in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh and this is attributed to the failure of the Bt cotton crop in these states. The farmers committing suicides are mainly small and marginal farmers across India.

References

  1. Parikh, K.S. and Upal Ghosh (1991) “Natural Resource Accounting for Soils:  towards an Empirical Estimate of Costs of Soil Degradation in India” Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research Discussion Paper No.48.
  2. Green Revolution: Curse or blessing?; International Policy research institute. (http://www.ifpri.org/sites/default/files/pubs/pubs/ib/ib11.pdf)
  3. Kisan Morcha for amendment to Seeds Bill, The Hindu, Wednesday, Mar 02, 2011.(http://www.hindu.com/2011/03/02/stories/2011030253880500.htm)
  4. Guillaume P. Gruère , Purvi Mehta-Bhatt , Debdatta Sengupta; Bt Cotton and Farmer Suicides in India; IFPRI Discussion Paper 00808, October 2008.

 

 

Music Box

Posted: September 24, 2010 in Uncategorized

Music Box poses an interesting dilemma: what If your parent was guilty of a horrific crime, will you not do everything to defend that parent? Ann Talbot faces this problem when her father Michael Lazlo is being charged with war crimes during World War II in Hungary. Despite pleas from her co-workers, friends and even the prosecuting attorney (Frederic Forrest), Ann pushes on to defend her father. But as the trial progresses and the witnesses testify, Ann begins to have serious doubts as to her father’s doubts.

The most heart-breaking scene is when Ann finds out just how horrible her father truly is. When she retrieves a music box that was left in a pawn shop by a now deceased friend, she finds the proof of her father’s guilt. The look on Ann’s face says it all: her father had betrayed her and that he is truly a monster. Thought Ann has really done justice to the daughter father relation by standing by the side of her father when he is in need. But, what if father turns out to be a monster?

The film shows a dilemma of Ann to follow the path of morality and humanitarianism or to be a good daughter. Everyone one of us loves our parents, but sometimes we have to go against our own parents to establish truth and justice, that’s what the  Ann did when acted against his own father. The films shows how a killer who kills in blood can present himself as a normal citizen and kelp on telling lies to his own daughter.

Matrabhumi, a film by Manish Jha, shows us a glimpse how the nation would be if the current rate of abortions and female infanticides continues. The firm touches various social variables like sex and caste. It presents several social issues like female infancies by being drowning girl child in milk, gang-rape, serial rape, a Hindu priest engaging in a homosexual affair, incest, polygamous marriage, human slaughter, etc.

The film shows the brutality that women suffers in men dominated society where they are treated as medium of satisfying sexual desires and producing children, and forced to do household work. The film also shows how a father sells off his daughter by marrying her to five men for five lakh rupees and later he collected another lakh more when he found that the father in law is also sleeping with his daughter. This shows an unbelievable picture of father who made money out of his daughter plight. The shows that how comes into play and a women is declared impure when she ran away with a man of lower caste. Then politics of double standards comes into play. Where on one hand an impure woman was not allowed inside the house and is tied to the pole in the cow shed in highly inhuman conditions, but the men kept on visiting the same impure women to satisfying their sexual hunger. The film shows how a brother can kill his own blood brother just out of jealousy.

The has made me really think about the declining sex wherein even today we don’t enough women to couple with every men. If the trend of female infanticides continues then a nations without women is not a distant reality. The issue is thought provoking as if there will not be any women the human race will eventually come to a tragic end. This movie, despite exposing injustices excellently, is a bit perverted and disgusting. I feel that instead of giving standing ovations and applauding these horrible practices in our air-conditioned homes and theatres, we need to get out and stop this once and for all.

Happies Ending…..

Posted: November 21, 2009 in Uncategorized

Last Tuesday, when the lights of the theatre were switched on while watching “Ajab Prem Ki Gajab Khani”, a saying instantly rushed through my mind “All’s well that ends well”. The saying kept engrossed me during my entire walk down the road towards my home. I was wondering whether this happy ending is meant for movies only, especially bollywood movies. Does the concept of happy ending apply to real life? What’s happy ending for real life? What’s the correlation between the two golden words, “happy” and “ending”?

There is a strong correlation between “happy” and “ending”. End is that which is happy, otherwise it’s not “the end”. As the SRK said in Om Shanti Om “Picher abhi baki hai mere dost, happies ending”.

The Window Girl

Posted: September 26, 2009 in Uncategorized

While running down the stairs, I deliberately and habitually stroke my heels against the stairs to gain her attention. She, as usual, was busy with her work, calm and composed, The Window Girl. It wasn’t the first time I was successful in gaining her attention. But, this errand, culminated into something more, which I anticipated but was not sure. This time she waved, winked, and smiled at me. Startled by this bonanza, I reverted with a seemingly similar sign; but I don’t remember whether it was a ‘Hi’ or a ‘Bye’.

The Window Girl, she sits by the window adjacent to the stairs. I usually take liberty to catch a glimpse of her while climbing up and running down the stairs. There is no denying the fact that, she is one of the few girls I have been attracted to in my life, or you can say I had a crush on.

I was attracted to her the day first saw her. I don’t exactly remember what contributed to the attraction; her attire, her innocent face, or her bubbly smile. People name such an attraction as “Love at first sight”, but for me love has a much deeper meaning which cannot be contemplated by mere first sight.

I don’t know much about her, but intent to know more. I don’t know what will be the end of this rendezvous, hope it ends at a happy note, unlike the previous one.

Intellectual Orgasm

Posted: June 12, 2009 in Uncategorized

I am presently working on an ERP project, which is currently under implementation in my organization; we call it as LCM project. I am elated being a part of such an important project, which will be the nervous system of the organization once it is live.

We, my friend-cum-colleague Mr. S and I, were selected to coordinate with the vendors and to provide inputs to meet their requirements. This project provided us with enormous exposure to the business practices across different verticals of the organization. I feel delighted thinking the fact that I am also a contributor to the process of formulation of policies and business practices for the organization.

Most of my time is spent on brain storming towards providing solution to seemingly obvious and petite problems. Today our meeting lasted for about 5 hours till 9 pm. During the meeting six of us, the LCM team members, suffered multiple intellectual orgasms. Each one of us wanted to provide one’s own lateral views, and to quench one’s own intellectual thirst. It wasn’t the only day we landed up such marathon meeting but it’s the only day our CEO praised our efforts and declared the discussion a win-win. I really felt delighted, as everyone does when ones efforts are acknowledged.