Citizens' Issues
20 Indian Army jawans killed in Manipur ambush
At least 20 soldiers were killed and 11 others injured when militants ambushed their convoy in Manipur on Thursday in the worst such attack on the Indian Army in a decade, an official said.
 
A team of 6 Dogra Regiment was on a routine road opening patrol in the morning in Chandel district when the attack occurred between Paralong and Charong villages.
 
An army spokesman said the militants first fired rocket-propelled grenades at the four-vehicle convoy on its way to Imphal from Chandel.
 
Most of the bodies were charred, the official said.
 

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Nepal bans import, sale of Maggi noodles

With noodles being a very popular dish in the Himalayan nation, Maggi, along with other domestic noodles, is likely to face strong food quality checks, officials here said

 

The Nepal government has decided to impose a ban on importing and selling of Indian noodle brand, Maggi, in its market for an undefined period.
 
With noodles being a very popular dish in the Himalayan nation, Maggi, along with other domestic noodles, is likely to face strong food quality checks, officials here said.
 
"Yes, we are putting a ban on importing and selling Maggi in Nepal following the controversy in India," Uttam Kumar Bhattarai, secretary at the ministry of agriculture development, told IANS on Thursday.
 
He further added that his ministry was going to issue a public notice on Friday urging consumers to avoid eating Maggi following the controversy in India.
 
The noodles market in Nepal itself is quite big and some of the Nepali noodle brands like Wai Wai are popular in India too.
 
The ban will continue until further notice, Bhattarai said, adding that some samples have also also been sent to laboratory to confirm whether Maggi noodles in Nepal also contain excessive lead as has been reported in India.
 
The government has also urged the public not to consume Maggi and urged traders to return the product. The Department of Food Technology and Control of Nepal has already recommended to the government to ban sale of Indian noodles citing growing opposition in India and Nepal.
 
The department also summoned the chief distributor of Maggi and instructed him to stop selling the product. The government has also requested the International Food Safety Network (iFSN) to provide details about Maggi products.
 
There are also calls from consumer rights groups to test the quality of the ready-to-eat food as it can pose serious health hazard to the people.
 
The Maggi saga is likely to have ripple effects in the Nepali noodle market and over a dozen domestic brands have to undergo laboratory tests. The department of food quality said that once the testing of Maggi noodles was over, it would conduct further tests on Nepali noodles and foreign branded noodles.
 
Traders here say that after Wai Wai, Maggi is a popular brand in Nepal and Maggi soup is one of the most popular brands among soup items.

User

Will the hike in service tax be easily digested?
Even in a closed network like Indian Railways, food is now served and sold without receipts, or if you get receipts, then you do not know where the service tax collected is going
 
An otherwise modest increase in service tax from 12.36% to 14% on an all-India basis would have gone largely un-noticed and without causing much of a flutter had it not been for the simple fact that this small change appears to be setting off huge reactions. These reactions travel across the real world that is India and Bharat.
 
A good example is that of a ship loaded with a heavy cargo, say steel or iron ore, and calculations for stability, stress as well as strain giving the ship a safe margin for a passage from say Australia to Japan. These calculations take into account every possible form of bad weather and adverse conditions with ample margins to spare.
 
Still, ships, which are loaded perfectly, break up and sink. Sometimes in perfectly calm weather, sometimes in bad weather, but all the same - they sink. This is where we learnt that disaster is not just about small changes in one particular parameter, but about the "hole in the cheese effect" that this one small change can have with all the other parameters, amplifying them beyond redemption.
 
What is the "hole in the cheese" effect? If you have seen naturally processed cheeses, you will often see that there are holes going across from one end to the other, thus making it in terms of strength, a "weak" cheese, one that can and will break easily if, say, dropped. Likewise, the longer effects of this small service tax increase.
 
1) Social unrest goes up when the value of the money printed by the Government keeps going down. Whether it is about domestic purchasing power or value vis-a-vis foreign exchange, people are acutely aware that the government does not appear to be keeping its part of the bargain on the purchasing power of the rupee, despite a huge drop in oil prices and largely reduced scams.
 
2) Social unrest also goes up when the reporting and returns procedure for something like service tax becomes so complicated that ordinary citizens have to hire specific consultants to save them from the draconian clauses that surround any form of inability to adhere to the absolute letter of the service tax regime. People who have to, perforce; replicate the same work for two different agencies, often, working at cross-purposes, do not understand why the service tax regime could not have been combined with the income tax regime.
 
3) Social unrest also goes up with an even more aware population that increasingly has access to a public grievance system, which, however, does not appear to work too well, starts reacting. Blatant service tax scams-amounts being charged by vendors but visible non-deposit of service tax in government coffers in cases like Kingfisher and others, make people ask, what for are we paying service tax?
 
Citizens of India have never been as aware about governance and mis-governance as they are now. In neighbouring Malaysia, which was behind India two-three decades ago, the governance in terms of the basics like primary education, sanitation, law & order, preventive healthcare and water are leaps and bounds ahead of India. Now, the combined goods and service tax (GST) in Malaysia is expected to be 6% and that is also causing social unrest.
 
Thanks to a virtual destruction of the concept of clean air and a sabotage of the food chain, India has a population of citizens weakened by decades of bad health because of these two additional parameters, which increase the cost of living. The other part is the damage done to the economy because of rampant import of sub-standard products, mainly from China, but from all over the world now. WTO places the responsibility on quality of products exported on to the importing country. India is now amongst the few importing countries where quality of products imported is shoddy compared to the same products being used by the exporting country.
 
Social unrest takes place in a country when people are aware that they are being taken for a solid ride by the Government for no tangible benefits. This small rise in service tax, which is actually not so small because the stringency of laws for even accidental or small errors are enough to shut down a business, will have a force multiplier effect in the days to come as we run up towards GST. More and more people will move into the cash economy otherwise called "black". You have to step out to see the writing on the wall. Even in a closed network like Indian Railways, food is now served and sold without receipts, or if you get receipts, then you do not know where the service tax collected is going.

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COMMENTS

vswami

1 year ago

Sporadic (to quickly share 'katcha' thoughts):
Not willing to deviate from the demerits of the hike in GST, according to a school of thought preferred by puritans, the very levy, so called service tax, not just the last of the increases, is no less a fraud on the humanity than as taxation of ‘Capital Gains’. For viewpoints in detail, may care to look up the personal (google) blogs on the topic @swamilook.
In a jugular (not-so-serious ) vein: On the dilated “hole in the cheese”, not to perchance miss the latest news (link):
Mystery of disappearing holes in Swiss cheese solved | The ...

As to the problem in digesting the ubiquitous service tax , with its ever spreading tentacles, if not for free, - as underlined in the news from Austria,- the next best is for seller to charge a price / fee as less as economically feasible; if not workable, of course, the dire consequences as foresighted in the concluding Para may be the inevitable effect, hence might happen. In the alternative, suggestion is to scout around for a branded digestive - ‘antacid’, if any.


Nataraj Kailasam

1 year ago

It would have been appreciated
if Jaitley had reduced the service
tax to 10%. Instead he has raised
it to 14% and retained the option
of charging a few services at an
even higher rate of 16%.
I think a wise finance minister,
with so much money received from
the coal block options, would have
(should have) reduced the service tax, and eased the burden of the common man. Another thing the finance minister should have thought of
(but did not) is to curb wasteful government expenditure, and stop the mindless foreign junkets by MLAs and MPs of both ruling and opposition parties in states ruled by both the opposition and BJP, put his foot down on increasing the salaries and perks of MLAs, giving them costly gifts like laptops etc (in bihar) and aiming to spread
the pronounced policy of development with good governance. Instead, what we have got in Narendra Modi's first year is a report card which gives him just 35 marks (pass marks being 60). I dont assign much value to the ideas that one year is too short a time for evaluation of the work of a government, and that we should give it more time.
Nothing seems to have improved. In a nutshell, it seems like it is old wine in a new bottle.
Hugely disapppointed, and let me
confess that I do not hold much hope for the future.
Who said corruption has been put down? It is after all a matter not just in the centre, but in the states as well. Let even the BJP ruled states declare that there is zero corruption--in their states. It is an open challenge. Even Kejriwal cannot say he will be able to achieve it after five years of completion of his tenure in Delhi!

J Pinto

2 years ago

Mera Bharat Mahaan

Simple Indian

2 years ago

People in developed countries, particularly scandinavian countries don't mind paying high direct / indirect taxes, as their money is ploughed back into social welfare schemes benefiting one and all. That's not the case in developing countries like India, where public funds are routinely siphoned off by unscrupulous corrupt politicians & officials. If people would get similar social welfare benefits in India, as people in some developed countries do, we in India would happily pay our taxes, not avoid / evade them. After all, a former PM is believed to have admitted that for every rupee govt provides for public good, only 15% actually reaches the intended beneficiaries. The recent scam over officials having siphoned off even money collected for Uttarakhand flood victims proves our ingenuity beyond doubt.

REPLY

vswami

In Reply to Simple Indian 1 year ago

To venture and do some loud thinking: Is there a simple way to possibly create as many "escrow accounts" in the annual fiscal budget itself,as the number of 'social welfare schemes'- extant or newly announced; and specify as to what percentage of the year tax collections should directly go only to the credit of related so ear marked account and be accordingly spent ! OR any other like checks and balances to suggest ?

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