Taxation
Government sets up panel on minimum alternate tax
The government on Friday set up a high-level committee on minimum alternate tax (MAT) on foreign institutional investors (FIIs), following the passing of the Finance Bill, 2015-16, in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday.
 
Replying to the debate on the bill, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced a high-level committee for looking into the controversial issue of levy of MAT on FIIs.
 
"I have received a large number of representations on MAT applicable to FIIs as well as a few other tax issues, which are essentially legacy issues, we have decided to refer to a committee headed by Justice A.P. Shah, the chairman of the Law Commission," Jaitley said.
 
"Recently, the affected parties moved the Supreme Court for an early hearing. On behalf of the government, it was conveyed to the court that the government had no objection to an early hearing."
 
"And we are also keen on a final settlement of the issue. It is expected that the Supreme Court will fix an early hearing," the finance minister added.
 
Jaitley had announced exempting FIIs from paying MAT on the capital gains earned by them, but soon after the Income tax department sent notices to at least 90 foreign portfolio investors (FPIs).
 
He has assured foreign investors that a very simplified income tax return form will soon replace the MAT.
 
With the uncertainty created by MAT, foreign investors sold around $630 million in Indian shares and bonds on Wednesday, marking the biggest single-day sales since January 2014.
 
As per preliminary depositary data, it was the biggest single day sell-off since foreign investors sold around a net $877 million on January 27, 2014, when emerging markets suffered from withdrawals sparked by fears of the US Federal Reserve raising interest rates.
 
Shares and bonds have wiped out entire gains for the year over the past few weeks, with the Nifty down 11 percent since hitting a record high on March 4.
 
According to depository data last week, FIIs are set to break an 11-month streak of net inflows into the Indian debt market, having turned net sellers in April for the first time since April 2014.
 
Net outflows till April 27 have been Rs.817 crore - in the wake of recent tax notices demanding tax at 20 percent on interest income, as opposed to five percent without minimum alternate tax.
 
"I am considering a high-level committee to explore what can be done to resolve the past and move beyond it in a way that would provide real predictability and certainty to investors," Jaitley wrote last month in an opinion piece in the Financial Times.

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Feel sleepy at work? Blame it on depression, obesity
If you feel tired and drowsy the whole day even after a good night's sleep, it could be due to obesity and depression, a new research has found.
 
Obesity and depression -- not only lack of sleep -- are underlying causes for regular drowsiness, the findings showed.
 
"Obesity and weight gain predicted who was going to have daytime sleepiness," said Julio Fernandez-Mendoza, assistant professor of psychiatry at the Penn State College of Medicine in the US.
 
"Moreover, weight loss predicted who was going to stop experiencing daytime sleepiness, reinforcing the causal relationship," Fernandez-Mendoza noted.
 
The association between body mass index and sleepiness was independent of sleep duration, meaning obese people may be tired during the day, no matter how much they sleep at night.
 
The primary underlying mechanism that makes obese people feel overly tired is likely low-grade chronic inflammation. Fat cells, particularly from abdominal fat, produce immune compounds called cytokines that promote sleepiness, among other effects.
 
The researchers measured self-reporting of excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) at baseline and again an average of 7.5 years later in 1,395 men and women.
 
Depressed individuals in the study also had high incidence of EDS. Physiologic sleep disturbances, including taking longer to fall asleep and waking up in the middle of the night, explained their daytime drowsiness.
 
Feeling overly tired during the day can reduce job productivity and increase errors and absenteeism and may lead to more serious issues like automobile accidents.
 
These findings could lead to more personalized sleep medicine for those with EDS.
 
The researchers published their findings in the journal Sleep.

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'Piku' - An e-motional journey with quirky characters
It portrays a dysfunctional Bengali family to the core. Based in Delhi's Chittaranjan Park, Bhaskor Banerjee (Amitabh Bachchan) is a cantankerous, hypochondriac septuagenarian, who constantly fears that he is 'critical' with issues relating to his bowel movements or the lack of it
 
Film: "Piku"; Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Deepika Padukone, Irrfan, Moushumi Chatterjee, Raghubir Yadav and Jisshu Sengupta; Director: Shoojit Sircar; Rating: ****1/2
 
The posters and the title scream aloud, "Piku - Motion Se Hi Emotion" and true to its title, there is nothing holding it back, literally and figuratively.
 
Shoojit Sircar, along with his team, who earlier gave us "Yahaan", "Vicky Donor" and "Madras Cafe", this time with "Piku" delivers a gem, that can go down in the annals of Indian cinema as one of the most entertaining films of the year.
 
"Piku" is a slice of life that tackles the "basic" truths with candour and humour.
 
It portrays a dysfunctional Bengali family to the core. Based in Delhi's Chittaranjan Park, Bhaskor Banerjee (Amitabh Bachchan) is a cantankerous, hypochondriac septuagenarian, who constantly fears that he is "critical" with issues relating to his bowel movements or the lack of it. He suffers from chronic constipation and his life solely revolves around his defecation.
 
This leads his daughter Piku (Deepika Padukone) to sacrifice her personal life to take care of her ageing father. She is largely tolerant and indulges most of his idiosyncrasies. So much so, that she willingly agrees to a road journey from Delhi to Kolkata when he insists he wants to visit his ancestral place, to where he belongs.
 
The duo, accompanied by their Man Friday Boudhan and the owner of the taxi company, Rana Choudhary (Irrfan) as the driver, embark upon the journey. Throughout the journey, the film captures the fine nuances of its quirky characters through their bickering and squabbles.
 
Amitabh plays the senile old Bhaskor Banerjee to perfection. He captures Bhaskor's spirit with such aplomb that he is repulsive and endearing at the same time. With this role, which includes the Bengali accent et al, director Shoojit Sircar has ensured that Amitabh has pushed the envelope further. The only flaw, albeit that can be overlooked, is Mr. Bachchan's clumsy get-up. His protruding stomach and unkempt wig were a tad unwarranted. Perhaps minus those, Bhaskor Banerjee would have looked more realistic.
 
Deepika, too, lives her character. There is something endearing about her Piku that probably only she could portray. She is natural and convincing as the independent, but family-oriented Bengali girl, who cares deeply for her father.
 
Irrfan, though excellent as Rana Choudhary, getting into the skin of his character, largely plays himself. His no-nonsense and matter-of-fact attitude is an extension of his personality, but he fits the character of Rana equally well. As an actor, he holds his own against Amitabh Bachchan when he nonchalantly states, "Death aur sh*t, kabhi bhi, kissi ko bhi, kahin bhi, aa sakti hain".
 
The rest of the cast. too, laudably essays their roles effectively and leaves a lasting impression on the viewers. What contributes to their performance, is undoubtedly the well-etched characters.
 
Apart from the performances, it is Juhi Chaturvedi's writing that is brilliant. The script is taut and also verbose, but that's the way it was designed. The screenplay has the right combination of light and poignant moments. The din created by the endless chatter of the characters too, is unbelievably real. The sarcasm in the witty dialogues is intense and packed with subtle messages and humour. Naturally then, these keep you in splits.
 
The background score by Anupam Roy is apt and mellifluous. The songs blend seamlessly into the narration, thereby enhancing the quality of the scenes.
 
Visually, the film is atmospheric. The dark frames by Kamaljeet Negi capture the mood and the moments clearly, but the snappy edits of quick shots in the initial scenes and a few jerky frames are a bit jarring.
 
Although "Piku" keeps you in "motion" for two hours plus, it is one of the most entertaining and enjoyable rides about life's fundamental needs, which you will thoroughly enjoy!

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