1. Indigenisation of Defence Production:-
Recently, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has announced a negative list of 101 defense items that will stop importing.
- It will offer an opportunity to the Indian defense industry to manufacture those items in the negative list.
- It is a big step towards self-reliance in defense under the Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative.
- This import ban progressively implemented between 2020to 2024.
- A separate budget head has been created with an outlay of nearly Rs. 52,000 crore for domestic capital procurement in the current financial year.
- In any government contract over Rs. 200 crore, no foreign company can participate in the tendering process.
- This will boost indigenization of defence production and is in line with the government’s target to reach a turnover of $25 billion by 2025 through indigenously manufactured defiance products.
- Government also targets to export these indigenously manufactured defense products worth $5 billion by 2025.
- The manufacturers could be private sector players or Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs).
- This will reduce the government’s defence import bill.
- This will create employment in defence sector.
2. Telemedicine service platforms:-
- The telemedicine service platforms of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare i.e. ‘eSanjeevani’ and ‘eSanjeevaniOPD’ have completed 1.5 lakh tele-consultations.
- Tele-consultation is part of telemedicine.
- In 2019, States have implemented tele-consultation by eSanjeevani and eSanjeevaniOPD in the states.
- It uses information technology to facilitate communications between a patient and a doctor who are geographically separated.
- It is a doctor to doctor telemedicine system, being implemented under the Ayushman Bharat Health and Wellness Centre (AB-HWCs) scheme.
- It was launched amid the Covid-19 pandemic to enable the patient to consult the doctor through tele-consultations.
- These platforms can help the rural area people who do not have easy access to medical facilities.
- These platforms are in line with the government’s vision of ‘Digital India’.
Telemedicine: According to World Health Organisation (WHO), telemedicine is the delivery of health care services, where distance is a critical factor by all health care professionals using Information Technology (IT) for diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease and injuries, research and evaluation.
3. World Tribal Day:-
International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples is observed on 9th August every year.
Its aim is to promote and protect the rights of the world’s indigenous population and acknowledge their contributions towards the world issues (environmental protection).
Theme 2020: “Covid-19 and the indigenous peoples’ resilience”
Tribes in India:
- According to the 2011 census, tribal’s make up 8.6% of India’s population.
- There are over 700 tribal groups in India, out of which around 75 are Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs).
- The Gond comprise the largest tribal group of India
- The largest number of tribal communities (62) is found in Odisha.
4. Indus water talks between India and Pakaistan :-
- India has refused a request by Pakistan to hold a meeting on Indus Water Treaty (IWT).
- The last meeting between the two countries was in 2019.
- As per the agreement in IWT, a meeting was to be scheduled in India before March 31, 2020 to discusses a range of issues such as construction of dams and hydropower projects concerning the Indus river system.
Issue regarding Hydropower project:-
- According to the terms of the IWT, India has the right to build Ratle run-of-the-river (RoR) projects on the three ‘western’ rivers — the Chenab, Jhelum and Indus — provided it doesn’t impede the water flow in Pakistan downstream.
- Pakistan believes that the project’s current design pose a serious impediment and has told the World Bank that it wants a Court of Arbitration (CoA) to solve this matter.
- India says this is only a technical issue and mutually solvable. It has agreed to a ‘neutral party’ since a CoA could stall any construction on all Indus projects.
5. Centre’s reliance on indirect tax revenue:-
- The taxation policy of the Indian government has been problematic on two grounds.
- It has been pro-rich (and anti-poor)
- It has deprived the state fiscal resources
- In addition, the government has relied on hiking cesses and surcharges.
- The share of indirect taxes is 50% of the gross tax revenue.
- The service tax was hiked steadily to 18% (under GST) from 12.4%.
- The above measures would penalize the poor and the middle class more than the rich.
- The imposition of fresh cesses such as the Swachh Bharat cess and Krishi Kalyan cess in addition to GST. It has been widely opposed on the grounds that it has the lack of transparency and incomplete reporting on the utilization of funds.
- The cuts in corporate tax that have resulted in a revenue loss (Rs 1.5 lakh crore) have contributed to making the state poor.
- The direct tax collections have shrunk by 3.5 per cent with a less increase in indirect taxes. Therefore indirect taxes have not made up for the loss in direct taxes.
- Thus the fiscal deficit jumped beyond 4.5 per cent of GDP in 2019-20.
- This is one of the reasons why public spending on education and health has stagnated.
- Deferring tax payments, with continued late fees and penalties on filling extensions and slashing corporate taxes is not the appropriate approach towards reviving the economy.
- With the Centre’s fiscal deficit reaching nearly 5 per cent of the GDP, and tax revenues likely to remain subdued over the next two years.
COVID-19 may be a blessing if it allows India to reform its tax system in order to make it work towards inclusive growth and sustainable development rather than targeting only investment-led economic growth.
After all, India’s tax-GDP ratio was only 10.9 per cent in 2019.