Pulse Beat


Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and irritable bowel disease (IBD) are difficult to manage with conventional drug therapy. Alternate therapies and diet management are becoming popular with suffering people. These two are common GI (gastro-intestinal) tract diseases affecting around 20% of the populations. Both start in the mind and they need adjunct treatment with diet, yoga, meditation and hypnosis which have been shown to be effective in sub-sets of patients. One-size-fits-all does not work here either. Studies in the West also support this alternate therapy approach. An article by A Gerkens in French gives credence to the idea of alternate medicines being the first line of approach for these two illnesses. 

Harvard University Mumps Epidemic

Although big companies making vaccines were known to be giving out poor studies and false results, the government and the public were made to believe that some of these vaccines were very effective. Now, there is a mumps epidemic raging at the Harvard campus which is threatening to get out of control. What worries me is the failure of vaccination to prevent this simple disease. All the students falling prey to this are adequately immunised, according to the official schedule.
Dr Paul J Barreira, director of the Massachusetts University’s health services, says that the rise in cases is disconcerting. “I’m actually more concerned now than I was during any time of the outbreak,” Dr Barreira told The Harvard Crimson, the student newspaper. “I’m desperate to get students to take seriously that they shouldn’t be infecting one another.” Please note that he is politically correct. He did not utter a single word against vaccination!

HPV Vaccine and Side–effects

Anew study of nearly 40,000 young girls given HPV (human papilloma virus) vaccine showed that a good 10% of them ended up in the emergency rooms soon after the vaccine shots (within a few days also). The study was done with funds from Alberta State Health department. The curious thing about this study is that the government agency claims that this is not alarming. It is routine, they say. This only goes to show how powerful the industry is. HPV vaccine becomes effective only after the girl starts her sexual life. There is no study, to date, which shows that the antibody levels will hold good until that time, since 98% of the HPV virus gets killed in the vaginal secretions. The remaining 2% might have problems but only 1%-2% of them might develop cancer. Statistically, this is negligible risk; the 10% serious side-effect looks too big, in contrast. 

Good Vs Bad Science

Ivan Oransky, global editorial director of the news site Med Page Today and co-founder of the website Retraction Watch, has made a career of spotlighting bad research —scientific studies that need to be weeded out. He estimates that of the two to three million scientific papers published worldwide each year, 500-600 wind up being retracted. Though this is not a large number, it is still disturbing as many bad papers still escape being retracted.
It’s important to distinguish what people commonly refer to as ‘junk science’ from fraud and retractions. Fraudulent studies, faking the results, making them look better than they are, or good old-fashioned plagiarism, etc, are rarities but real all the same. Even the so-called best journals are not spared in this game. A couple of much-hyped stem-cell papers, published in 2014 in the leading journal, Nature, were retracted after other researchers couldn’t reproduce the findings. Another case involved a study published in Science that claimed to show that gay people were better at changing people’s minds about same-sex marriage. The data was faked. The conventional peer review system can never detect fraud in research. The studies to be watched for fraud are usually medical research using funds from the industry! 


India to revise tax pact with Mauritius to curb black money
Seeking to plug loopholes in the existing bilateral treaty that inhibit steps to curb black money, India on Tuesday said it has signed a protocol agreement with Mauritius to prevent evasion of taxes on income and capital gains by entities of either side.
"The protocol for the amendment of the convention for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income and capital gains between India and Mauritius was signed by both countries today at Port Louis," an official statement said.
The pact comes on a day when the finance ministry listed the steps taken to curb generation of black money by Indians within and outside India and that it has uncovered indirect tax evasion worth Rs.50,000 crore and undisclosed income of Rs.21,000 crore in the past two years.
Among other measures in the protocol pact with Mauritus is to have a source-based taxation of capital gains on shares. 
India gets taxation rights on capital gains arising from sale of shares in an Indian firm on or after April 1, 2017, while, also protecting investments in shares that were acquired before that date. Such tax will be limited to 50 percent of the domestic tax rate of India with caveats.
The benefit of 50 percent rebate in tax rate during the transition period from April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2019 shall not be available if the Mauritius company, including a shell firm, does not pass the test of having a bonafide business. 
"A resident is deemed to be a shell or a conduit company if its total expenditure on operations in Mauritius is less than Rs.2,700,000 (Mauritian Rs.1,500,000) in the immediately preceding 12 months," the statement added.
This apart, interest that accrues in India to a Mauritian bank will be subject to withholding tax in India at the rate of 7.5 percent of debt, the claims or loans made after March 31, 2017. But the claims before this date have been exempt.
The finance ministry said this protocol will tackle long-pending issues of treaty abuse -- where ill-gotten money is first sent to Mauritius through havala transactions, and then comes back as a legitimate investment. This is called round-tripping.
"The protocol will improve transparency in tax matters and will help curb tax evasion and tax avoidance. At the same time, existing investments -- investments made before April 1, 2017 -- have been grand-fathered and will not be subject to capital gains taxation in India.".
The government has taken a series of steps to tackle the generation of black money.
Listing the steps taken to curb black money, the finance ministry said in a separate statement on Tuesday that a new income disclosure scheme had been formulated for those holding undeclared assets to declare them and pay a total tax and penalty of 45 percent.
Further, amendments have also been made to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act to enable the attachment and confiscation of equivalent assets in India where the asset located abroad cannot be forfeited. 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.





6 months ago

The revised tax treaty with Mauritius wherein only genuine Mauritius based companies will be exempted from capital gain tax in India.All money routed through Mauritius will be liable to fall under the purview of this tax.

HUL’s volume growth disappoints at 4% for the March quarter
Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL) reported low revenue growth of 3.4% to Rs7,809 crore from Rs7,555 crore for Q4FY15-16. Its net profit growth stood at 7% with its profits in the current quarter at Rs1,090 crore. The operating profits rose 10.5% to Rs1,379 crore. The volume growth was extremely muted at 4%, which was lower than analyst expectations. Its volume growth in Q2FY15-16 stood at 7%, which subsequently declined to 6% in the third quarter. 
On the margins front, it reported 240 basis points rise in gross margins to 52.6% due to soft input prices. However, the growth in EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) margins was lower at 130 basis points due to higher advertising costs and staff costs. Its EBITDA margins for the quarter stood at 18.5%. Its advertising costs rose by 6% to Rs1,090 crore, while its staff costs rose by 15% to Rs446 crore from Rs388 crore. 
The soaps and detergent segment posted just 2.1% sales growth, while personal products posted 2.8% growth for the quarter. These two segments are critical for the company, accounting for nearly 75% of its revenue in FY15-16. Its beverages and packaged foods segment did better reporting revenue growth of 6.1% and 11.7% respectively. Each of its categories – soaps and detergents, personal products, beverages and packaged foods, reported single digit volume growth for the year. 
The management stated that the market slowed down further, especially in the drought affected rural areas. The management has guided that in the near-term, market growth improvement is largely dependent on the rural segment. The company has benefited from soft input prices in the last year. However, the management expects a pick-up in commodity costs in the near term. In general, analysts do not expect a pick-up in growth due to weak macro environment and a competitive environment in the sector, especially from Patanjali Products, which has been able to clock nearly Rs5,000 crore of revenues in FY15-16. 
In line with the strategy of the company to exit non-core businesses, HUL entered into an agreement for sale of its rice exports business to LT Foods Middle East DMCC. The business was carried primarily through its brands 'Gold Seal Indus Valley' and 'Rozana'. The business was insignificant for the company in revenue terms. It registered a turnover of Rs51 crore in FY14-15. 
Earlier, in mid-January, the Board of Directors approved the transfer of the balance of Rs2,187 crore from General Reserves to Profit & Loss Account. HUL has filed an application with the Bombay High Court for its approval. It would also require the approval of shareholders. However, the mode of distribution of this amount, whether by buyback/ special dividend, or any other mode, is unknown. 
The stock trades at a premium price-to-earnings (PE) multiple of 47, based on trailing twelve months earnings. The company has robust cash flows and a healthy dividend yield of around 1.7%. HUL declined marginally by 0.8% on the day of the results. However, it recovered today by 2%, closing at Rs862.  



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