Citizens' Issues
After unseasonal rains, 'aam' set to be a 'VIP' this season
'Aam' or the mango - the summer delight for millions across India - might finally be a 'VIP' this season. This, as unseasonal rains have wreaked havoc on the harvest and production is likely to dip by over 30 percent. While heavy and gutsy winds have brought down most of the 'baur' (mango flower), much of the remaining has been hit by fungal attack due to moisture.
 
Mango growers in Uttar Pradesh rue the fact that unseasonal rain, hailstorms and inclement weather could actually spike the harvest further, leaving fewer mangoes and out of reach of commoners. The prices, they warn, are going to rise steeply. The western belt of mango orchards and the Mallihabad belt have taken the brunt of the rain over the past few weeks.
 
In Saharanpur, 70-75 per cent of the mango crop has been damaged, leaving growers haunted with the spectre of "very poor yield". The crop damage becomes more worrying as last year, the extreme heat of June had damaged the mangoes. With the temperatures comparatively low in April, mango growers point out that the fruit will take time to ripen and could miss the domestic and export markets.
 
Shabi-ul-Hasan, a major mango exporter from Saharanpur, said he is keeping his fingers crossed for the next few weeks, adding that "as of now, the crop has been badly hit" owing to the rains.
 
The western belt of UP - Muzaffarnagar, Baghpat, Shamli, Saharanpur, Syana in Bulandshahr, Shikarpur and Gulawathi - export more than 200 tonnes of various mango varieties to the Gulf countries, Europe and the US.
 
In 2014, the crop damage was not as bad as this year and the exports had dropped to a mere 40 tonnes. Mango exporters are worried that this year could "render a body blow" to the harvest.
 
The Rataul mangoes, which make Baghpat a favoured export centre, has also witnessed extensive damage. The situation is similar in Mallihabad, neighbouring state capital of Lucknow, where the famous Dussehri variety comes from.
 
Haji Qalimulla, an eminent mango grower referred to as 'Mango Man', feared that the cost of Dussehri, the commom man's 'darling fruit', could cost an additional Rs 10-20 this time round. He also said that making any more predictions on the mango harvest could be dicy as rains have been unseasonally coming and going. Any further rain could further scale-up the prices.
 
The situation is the same for the Chaunsa, Safeda and other varieties grown in the state.
 
Mango is grown over almost 300,000 hectares and the yield varies from 3.5-4.2 million tonnes. While a sizeable chunk is exported, the rest is consumed domestically. So, brace up for the sweet mango season to be slightly bitter and out of reach!

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COMMENTS

Gopalakrishnan T V

2 years ago

VIP Culture cannot be tolerated. Better refer this toTimes Now.

Charity, a Good Karma
In an experiment, pranic healing seems to have cured 88% of cancerous cells. In a repeat study, the cells got cured to the extent of 96%. The karma theory was scientifically proven, for the first time
 
Tim Cook, Apple Inc’s chief executive, has joined the list of rich and powerful giving away all their wealth for charity. The 55-year-old is estimated to have a net worth of $780 million, all of which he has donated to charity, after keeping just about enough for his 19-year-old nephew’s education. Mr Cook said: “You want to be the pebble in the pond that creates the ripple for change.” He joins celebrities like Alfred Nobel, Nelson Rockefeller Sr, Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg (of Facebook) and (Oracle Corp’s) Larry Ellison.
 
If one goes through the history of all these people, except Warren Buffett and Tim Cook, they have all had a change of heart after facing some setback in their health. Does it mean that charity helps you regain your health? Giving provides you that sense of well-being and self-worth that boosts the immune system. There is an old saying in my language, Kannada, which philosophises giving as very healthy and beneficial to self: Kottaddu thanage, bachittaddu pararige (what you give away is yours and what you store at home will go to others).
 
People, like Mr Cook, are role models for many of our rich, to donate for the society’s good. Has there been any scientific study done on the role played by charity as a good karma? A good friend, the late Prof Joie Jones, a top cancer specialist and chief of cancer radiology at the University of California in Irvine, did exactly that. Prof Jones was also qualified in physics.
 
Prof Jones had cancer himself but did not want conventional treatment. Instead, he was successfully treated by Indian-American pranic healers. He was very keen to see if pranic healing does really help defeat cancers in the laboratory. Prof Jones’s lab, at that time, was the best in the United States for cancer research. However, the pranic healers wanted the lab to be first spiritually cleaned which took a couple of days. All these were anathema to conventional science.
 
Pranic healing is an energy healing method used from time immemorial with success. Prof Jones had hela cells used for cancer research in humans as the base for his study. He irradiated those cells with gamma rays which converts them into cancer cells. Each sample was repeated five times to ensure that errors did not creep in. He took care to cover the cancer cells inside a Faraday cage which, physicists know, does not allow any of the known energies—nuclear, gravitational and electromagnetic—to pass through. To ensure accuracy, he put a thick lead cover over the cells. No known energy could thus enter the cells.
 

Remarkable

To his surprise, pranic healing seems to have cured 88% of the cells. This was a great breakthrough and a remarkable result for any reductionist study. Prof Jones wanted better results as he hypothesised that holistic healing techniques must be perfected. Though born an American of Caucasian descent, he knew Indian scriptures well and believed in the karma theory. The National Institute of Health (NIH) funded the study and had sent two observers. Prof Jones asked each of them to donate $100 of their own tax-paid money to any charity and then to pray that the good karma of their charity should go to the cancer cells in the study. The study was then repeated. Lo and behold! The cells got cured to the extent of 96%. The karma theory was, for the first time, scientifically proven, Prof Jones felt.
 
Alfred Nobel, Nelson Rockefeller Sr and Bill Gates were cured of severe depression after their charity efforts. The Ishopanishad urges people to live by giving. Thena thyakthena bhunjithaha (rejoice in giving). 
 
May Tim Cook’s tribe increase by leaps and bounds for the good of humankind!
 
(Professor Dr BM Hegde, a Padma Bhushan awardee in 2010, is an MD, PhD, FRCP (London, Edinburgh, Glasgow & Dublin), FACC and FAMS.)

User

Government must not be a tax terrorist: Experts

On April 15, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) had notified new norms and the attendant forms that, among other issues, requires an assessee to furnish all bank details, opened or closed in the year with the closing balance, as also the sources of funds for expenses in an overseas travel

 

Even as the central government has decided to review the new norms to file income tax returns barely three days after it was notified, due to widespread angst, experts termed the original proposal nothing but "tax terrorism" unleashed on honest tax payers.
 
"This is real tax terrorism. This does not target corrupt politicians, dishonest bureaucrats or the unscrupulous businessmen and film personalities who merrily evade taxes and stash away their ill-gotten wealth abroad," said P.S. Prabhakar, partner, Rajagopal and Badrinarayanan, a chartered accountancy firm.
 
"The government's decision affects the common people. They are expected to unnecessarily spend huge time and cost even for doing their basic duty of filing returns. It will involve filling up so much of detail not significant to them," Prabhakar told IANS.
 
The move, accordingly, drew loud protests and there were indications that the norms will be reviewed.
 
"The finance minister (Arun Jaitley) spoke to me from Washington. He has asked me to make the format simpler. He said the government must be proactive and he quickly decided to review the new income tax returns' format," Revenue Secretary Shaktikanta Das told IANS on Saturday.
 
"The additional information was actually sought to deal with unaccounted cash. This was also one of the recommendation of the SIT on black money," he said referring to the Special Investigation Team set up by the Narendra Modi government at the behest of the Supreme Court.
 
Asked when the decision will be taken, Das said: "I can't say now when the format will be revoked. We have to follow a process. All I can say now is that the format will be reviewed."
 
Another well-known chartered accountant, M.R. Venkatesh, said nothing useful will actually emerge by resorting to the new forms. "It is really a draconian measure. It has the potential to turn into tax terrorism. The real culprits would continue to go free," Venkatesh told IANS.
 
On April 15, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) had notified new norms and the attendant forms that, among other issues, requires an assessee to furnish all bank details, opened or closed in the year with the closing balance, as also the sources of funds for expenses in an overseas travel.
 
People complained the move was far from the promise of making the process of filing returns easier.
 
"Tax return forms are getting more complicated and taxpayer-unfriendly. No matter which government is in power, honest citizens are harassed due to the never-ending sadism of bureaucrats in North Block who seem to enjoy this," said Prabhakar, referring to the finance ministry in New Delhi.
 
"There is no serious attempt to get those millions of people who earn well but never bother to file."
 
Former chief economic advisor Arvind Veermani who knows the subtleties of how the decisions are taken in North Block, also felt the move was ill-aimed. He suggested a much bolder review of the items that were introduced over the past few years to make it simpler for the average assessee.
 
"Can guarantee, it won't cost you much revenue (less than Rs.1 crore) but gain goodwill from ordinary tax payers," he tweeted in a message, ostensibly meant for the finance minister, while also alluding to the fact that there are just 3.7 million income tax assessees in India and fewer who evade taxes.
 
"The revenue department's intelligence wing is either un-intelligent or dishonest. Otherwise, is it possible for any finance minister to shamelessly admit that in this country of 1.2 billion people, only 42,800 filed returns with income of more than Rs.1 crore?" Prabhakar said.
 
"The policy appears to be: Forget those who never file returns, squeeze those in our net."
 
Tax experts said there was, indeed, a stipulation that a person who has been overseas has to file returns. "But asking information for the year that has already gone by even from the salaried and interest income earners, definitely shows an overbearing attitude," said Prabhakar.
 
Tapati Ghose, partner with Deloitte Haskins and Sells, added: "Given that disclosures are required for the financial year 2014-15, one would need to collate and analyse the expenses incurred on the trips made in the recently-concluded tax year."

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COMMENTS

KAVIRAJ B PATIL

2 years ago

The more columns you are required to fill, the more likely the chance of making mistakes and the more likely the IT department will harass you for the error pertaining to a few hundred rupees. Through PAN, when the government has sufficient information about an individual's bank account, proper compilation of data by the IT department will make this sort of info unnecessary.

Except condemning us to a life of drudgery, these new measures will do nothing to stop black money holders particularly in the real estate field. The BJP's main backers i.e the educated, employed middle class are getting more and more disillusioned at the mindset of BJP leaders.

Mr Jitendra

2 years ago

1) There are 85 crore adults in India who are of working or are already working and earning.

2)There are 17 crore PAN cards issued till date.

3) Around 3.5 crore tax returns are filed every year in India

4) Out of 3.5 crore, some 2.5 crore are salaried individuals

So this clearly indicates that new forms will critically target the salaried class.
Instead of including more and more people into the tax compliance and tax return filing, they are trying to do the reverse.

Complete failure by either bureaucracy or government or both!

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