13 November 2017-Current Affairs

  1. The GST Council rationalises the tax regime
  2. India’s urban issues
  3. Why ABBA (Aadhaar-based Biometric Authentication) must go?

  1. The GST Council rationalises the tax regime
  • With recent GST rate changes, the highest tax bracket of 28% is left with just 50 products (earlier 250)
  • The ambit of the Composition Scheme for small businesses has been expanded twice — from an initial turnover threshold of Rs. 75 lakh per year to Rs. 1 crore (in October), and now further to Rs. 1.5 crore.
  • It conveys the message that the initial rates were worked out in a hurry with maximising revenue being the prime consideration.
  • The Council must institute a transparent system with an explicit rationale for any rate changes in the future. Only then can business and retail find predictability in the GST.
  • Reference
  • http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/hit-refresh/article20376160.ece

  1. India’s urban issues
  • Delhi
    • Delhi’s pollution levels are among the highest in the world
    • As temperatures drop and crop stubble is burnt in neighbouring areas and firecrackers are lit — despite bans — toxic particulate matter rises to alarming levels.
  • Bengaluru
    • In Bengaluru, traffic comes to a virtual halt during peak hours.
    • The average speed of vehicles in the city has dropped to  4.7 km per hour
    • The road condition is not satisfactory either
  • Mumbai
    • Every year, between June and September, people are stranded by floods, swallowed up by open manholes, electrocuted by low-hanging wires, injured under collapsed buildings, or plain incapacitated in their daily routines between home and office.
    • At Elphinstone Road Railway Station, a stampede after the recent floods left 22 people dead.
    • Numerous old structures are in danger of collapse.
  • Kolkata
    • Lack of civic amenities.
    • Without regular increases in power supply and water provision, the city survives on an entirely outmoded and inadequate supply and distribution system.
    • With the Ganga along its Western flank, the city traditionally had extensive groundwater reserves and wetlands, but large parts of South and Central Kolkata now experience chronic water shortages.
    • With rationing, power cuts and blackouts, India’s oldest and once-most sophisticated modern city is now its most un-modern and antiquated.
  • Chennai 
    • It’s  the most livable of the big five cities
    • it has all the same afflictions, but in smaller measure — broken incomplete roads , water logging, lack of street drainage and lighting, and continual shortage of drinking water in the new areas
  • Possible Solutions
    • Odd and even-numbered cars, a ban on diesel, planting trees, reviving mangroves, establishing flood break-heads, rationing utilities and reviving public transport are minor and ad- hoc solutions to problems that are now beyond environmental and bureaucratic control.
    • Bengaluru could benefit from the graded transition from fossil-fuel powered cars to electric cars
    • Private pod transport can be an answer to traffic problems
    • Attempts at reducing commuting  like work from home options to employees
    • Mumbai should clean up its storm drainage system before the monsoon .It could try  creating large catchment areas throughout the city
    • Delhi should encourage carpooling in winter and levy fines on burning coal .Also it should reduce construction and create biomass parks with a sizeable proportion of trees per person in every neighbourhood
    • An officer should be employed to take on responsibilities and initiate action
  • Reference


  1. Why ABBA (Aadhaar-based Biometric Authentication) must go?
  • The Central government has been insisting on 100% Aadhaar “seeding” across schemes such as the PDS, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) and pensions. Seeding refers to the practice of entering Aadhaar numbers for each household member on the ration card.
  • Seeding and the Aadhaar-based Biometric Authentication (ABBA) system are mandatory in the PDS. ABBA is the practice of using an electronic point of sale (PoS) machine to authenticate each transaction
  • Issues
    • There were reports of starvation deaths due to PDS denial in places such as Jharkhand
    • Many deserving beneficiaries were denied PDS ration due to administrative issues.
    • At the time of purchase, the ABBA requires power supply, a functional PoS machine, mobile and Internet connectivity, State and Central Identities Data Repository (CIDR) servers to be ‘up’, and for fingerprint authentication to be successful.
    • Identity fraud, for example in the form of duplicate ration cards, only requires Aadhaar-seeding; the ABBA is unnecessary.
    • In a survey in Jharkhand ,dealers continue to swindle people by cutting up to a kg of their grain entitlement despite successful ABBA authentication (quantity fraud)
    • The Finance Ministry’s latest Economic Survey reports high biometric failure rates.
    • Failure in consecutive months leads to people giving up entirely. States such as Rajasthan were planning to treat such households as dead or non-existent
    • Flexibility issues: An elderly person asking a neighbour to fetch their grain would count as identity fraud in ABBA
    • The ABBA must be withdrawn from the PDS and pensions in favour of alternative technologies such as smart cards.
  • Reference
    • http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/why-abba-must-go/article20376164.ece