Polity & Governance
- Supreme Court upholds Haryana panchayat law
- Bullet train project- biggest FDI in Indian Railways
- India and South Korea sign MoU on taxation treaty
Science & Technology
- World’s First anti-dengue vaccine- ‘Dengvaxia’
Polity & Governance
Supreme Court upholds Haryana panchayat law
Supreme Court upheld a Haryana Panchayati Raj (Amendment) Act, 2015.
The act mandates among other things that only those having “minimum” educational qualifications will be eligible to contest panchayat elections in the State.
Key Features of the Act:
- The Act requires that general candidates must have passed Class X examination while women and Dalit candidates need to have cleared Class VIII. Dalit women candidates must clear Class V.
- The other grounds for disqualification from contesting polls under the Haryana Panchayati Raj (Amendment) Act, 2015 are
- Failure to pay arrears to any primary agriculture co-operative society or agriculture co-operative banks,
- Failure to pay electricity bill arrears and
- Not having a functional toilet at home.
Supreme Court’s Observations:
- The law was meant to elect “model representatives for local self government for better administrative efficiency.
- Basic education would “enable the candidates to effectively discharge duties of the panchayat. Therefore, prescription of an educational qualification is not irrelevant for better administration.
- It is only education which gives a human being the power to discriminate between right and wrong, good and bad.
- Such an exercise is irrelevant in deciding the constitutionality of making insolvency a cause of disqualification.
- The court has observed that the impoverished and the “indebted” may not be “genuinely interested” in contesting elections as elections at any level in this country are expensive affairs.
- The apex court agreed with the Haryana government that now “if people still do not have a toilet it is not because of their poverty but because of their lacking the requisite will.”
[Sources: The Hindu, Indian Express]
Bullet train project- biggest FDI in Indian Railways
The Cabinet has given its approval to set up India’s first 500-km-long bullet train project, with the help of Japanese funds and technology and it is the largest foreign investment in India’s railway sector.
- A 500-km-long bullet train project connecting Mumbai to Ahmedabad. The cost will be Rs 98,000 crore.
- Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) had offered to fund 80 per cent of the cost of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad project.
- JICA had submitted a feasibility study for the high-speed corridor that is expected to cut travel time to two hours from seven.
Setback for China:
- China had recently bagged its first foreign bullet train project in Indonesia, beating Japan by offering easy finance and technical assistance.
- However the India-Japan bullet train project comes as a setback for China, which had been aggressively pitching to partner India in building the planned 10,000-km network of bullet trains.
Chinese aid in Indian Railway:
- China was awarded the contract for a similar feasibility study for the 2,200-km Delhi-Chennai corridor in September.
- Also, an India-China consortium is conducting a separate feasibility study for the 1,200-km Delhi-Mumbai corridor.
- Apart from improving speed on existing tracks, China is also training Indian Railways engineers in heavy haulage and setting up a rail university.
Experience of Taiwan:
- India’s hopes from bullet trains have been marred by the experience of Taiwan, which has been operating a high-speed train service based on Japan’s Shinkansen bullet train system since 2007.
- Saddled with huge losses – owing to high depreciation and interest payments and low ridership numbers – the operator has sought a bailout by the government to turnaround the troubled business.
[Source: Business Standard]
India and South Korea sign MoU on taxation treaty
India and Korea have inked a new memorandum of understanding on suspension of collection of taxes during pendency of mutual agreement procedure.
- This MoU will relieve the burden of double taxation for the taxpayer in both the countries during the pendency of MAP proceedings.
- This is a step towards ease of doing business in India for Korean companies as it will relieve economic double taxation and promote cross-border trade and investment.
What is Mutual Agreement Procedure (MAP)?
- MAP or Mutual Agreement Procedure is an alternate dispute resolution mechanism that allows competent authorities of India and its treaty partner to negotiate a mutually acceptable settlement.
- Its main advantage is elimination of double taxation arising out of transfer pricing tax disputes, existence of Permanent Establishment, and characterisation of income and attribution of profits to such establishments.
- Under MAP, which is a preferred way to settle cross-border tax cases globally, the two sides can negotiate settlement on a case that can subsequently be taken off from the formal legal process. The resolution process draws up parameters for taxation in one country for which credit would be available in another.
- Both sides have also agreed that transfer pricing dispute cases will be taken up for MAP under the revised DTAA between India and Korea.
[Sources: PIB, Economic Times]
Science & Technology
World’s First anti-dengue vaccine- ‘Dengvaxia’
Mexican government has approved the world’s first anti-dengue vaccine called ‘Dengvaxia’.
- This vaccine is designed to protect people in the 9-45 age groups from all four subtypes of the virus.
- The vaccine has been developed by France-based Sanofi Pasteur and is the result of an extensive clinical development programme running for almost two decades.
About Dengue Fever:
- Dengue fever, also known as breakbone fever, is a mosquito-borne tropical disease caused by the dengue virus.
- Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle and joint pains, and a characteristic skin rash that is similar to measles.
- In a small proportion of cases, the disease develops into Severe dengue (also known as dengue hemorrhagic fever) which is characterized by fever, abdominal pain, persistent vomiting, bleeding and breathing difficulty and is a potentially lethal complication, affecting mainly children.
- Severe dengue affects most Asian and Latin American countries and has become a leading cause of hospitalization and death among children in these regions.
- Dengue virus is transmitted by female mosquitoes mainly of the species Aedes aegypti and, to a lesser extent, A. albopictus. The disease is widespread throughout the tropics, with local variations in risk influenced by rainfall, temperature and unplanned rapid urbanization.
- Prevention is sought by reducing the habitat and the number of mosquitoes and limiting exposure to bites.
[Sources: The Hindu, WHO, Wiki]