- In the recent Union budget, the Centre had lowered its gross tax revenue target for 2019-20 by around Rs 3 lakh crore.
- But going by current trends, achieving even the revised revenue target will prove to be difficult.
- Tax collections for the first 10 months (April-January) of the current year imply that the Centre would need to collect almost 30 per cent of its full year target in the remaining two months in order to meet the revised target.
- Though government revenues do rise sharply towards the end of the year, with the economy slowing down considerably — nominal GDP is expected to grow only at 7.5 per cent — achieving the target will be challenging.
- If actual collections end up falling short of the revised estimates, the government will have to further cut its expenditure or postpone spending.
- Lower collections this year will also make it harder to achieve the target for the coming fiscal year.
- The Centre’s gross tax revenues have, worryingly, contracted by 2 per cent in the first 10 months of the current fiscal year. While direct tax collections have fallen by 4.9 per cent, indirect taxes have been almost flat.
- The government hopes to collect around Rs 2 lakh crore in the last two months — around 57 per cent higher than what was collected over the same period last year.
- On indirect taxes, though, the recent growth in GST collections is likely to reduce the extent of the shortfall. The Centre needs to collect roughly Rs 58,225 crore in March to meet the budgeted Central GST target. However, if the recent rise in GST collections is because of blockage of input credit, then actual collections may well be lower once credit is utilised.
- Meeting the non-tax and disinvestment target this year may also be difficult. There continues to be uncertainty regarding the magnitude and timing of payments by telecom operators towards settling their dues, and, as against a disinvestment target of Rs 65,000 crore, actual collections currently stand at Rs 34,845 crore.
- This divergence between revenue expectations and actual collections has now become a recurrent feature of India’s budgets.
- Rather than constantly revising its estimates, the government must be more realistic in its revenue projections, taking into account the prevailing economic scenario.
Taming The Virus
- The coronavirus outbreak has become a global concern.
- Globally, around 88,000 cases have been detected, most of which are in China.
- The death toll is more than 2,870 according to the World Health Organisation.
- The central government in China has taken efforts towards combating the virus — this includes the cordon sanitaire of Wuhan in the Hubei province where the virus originated. It was a heavy-handed decision as Wuhan is the largest city in central China with a population of nearly 9 million.
The question now is what other measures are needed to prevent further losses?
Need of Healthcare reforms
- Medical reform is a charged issue in most countries. The policy recommendations in favour of marketisation of healthcare normally emphasise three major points:
- First, bend the curve of the health share in GDP.
- Second, foster competition to provide more efficient healthcare.
- Third, mobilise resources from private entities which will ensure the win-win outcome of reducing government intervention as well as relieving its financial burden.
- China’s healthcare reform has followed this market economy path. By the end of 2019, there were 34,000 hospitals (12,000 public hospitals and 22,000 private-owned hospitals).
- In comparison with 2018, the number of public hospitals in the country came down by 181, while private-owned hospitals increased by 1,677.
- The coronavirus outbreak, however, has made it clear that when instant reaction is required, public hospitals hold the key.
- At present, more than 52 batches of medical staff of 6,097 professionals from around China are working in Wuhan and other places in Hubei. All of them are from public hospitals.
- The for-the-people principle helps to prevent healthcare from becoming another luxury good that is only availed by certain social groups.
- Unique role of public healthcare in China’s response to the coronavirus outbreak attests to the fact that only when policymakers care about the for-the-people principle they are willing to sacrifice their fondest policy goals.
- There is ample ground to believe that no country, no city, and no region can survive without international cooperation. China has received different kinds of support from across the world.
- China, at the same time, has made all-out efforts at home. It has identified the genetic sequence of the virus “in record time and immediately shared the sequence which helps other countries to prepare for the cases”.
- There is enough reason to be optimistic about containing the spread of the disease.
- Government funding on healthcare in China increased from 658.41 billion RMB in 2003, during the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak, to nearly 5.8 trillion RMB in 2018, according to China’s national health commission.
- Its share of GDP increased from 4.9 per cent in 2003 to 6.4 per cent in 2018.
- If policy making remains consistent with the for-the-people principle and international cooperation is forthcoming, there is hope for containment of coronavirus, and several other diseases.
How will in-flight WiFi work?
- The government has permitted airlines operating in India to provide in-flight WiFi services to passengers.
- The pilot “may permit the access of Internet services by passengers on board an aircraft in flight, through Wi-Fi on board, when laptop, smartphone, tablet, smartwatch, e-reader or a point of sale device is used in flight mode or airplane mode”.
- The Telecom Commission had given its green signal to in-flight connectivity of Internet and mobile communications on aircraft in Indian airspace in 2018.
- Broadly, in-flight connectivity systems use two kinds of technologies.
- One, an onboard antenna picks up signals from the nearest tower on the ground, and unless the aircraft flying over a large space with no towers (such as a water body), the connection will remain seamless up to a certain altitude.
- Otherwise, satellites can be used to connect to ground stations in the same way that satellite TV signals are transmitted. Data is transmitted to a personal electronic device through an onboard router, which connects to the plane’s antenna. The antenna transmits the signals, through satellites, to a ground station, which redirects the traffic to a billing server that calculates the data consumption. It is then relayed to the intercepting servers, and to the World Wide Web. Once flight mode is activated, the plane’s antenna will link to terrestrial Internet services provided by telecom service providers; when the aircraft has climbed to 3,000 m (normally 4-5 minutes after take-off), the antenna will switch to satellite-based services. This way, there will be no break in Internet services to passengers, and cross-interference between terrestrial and satellite networks will be avoided.
- Airlines will have to bear the initial cost of installing antennae on aircraft.
- Some airlines have said it would be easier to have the equipment installed on their new aircraft rather than taking planes out of service for retrofitting.
- The additional cost could find a way into ticket prices. Apart from the equipment, airlines will have to bear additional fuel costs, given the extra weight and drag aircraft will face due to the antenna.
- In general, WiFi on a plane is slower than on the ground — even though this is changing with newer technologies.
- Technology and laws allow calls to be made from aircraft, but many airlines do not want noisy cabins.
- A TRAI paper from a couple of years ago said over 30 airlines offer onboard connectivity.
GoI nominates 2 sites to be included in World Heritage Sites List
- The Government of India submitted two nomination dossiers for their inclusion in World Heritage List for the year 2020.
- They are as follows
- Dholavira : A Harappan city
- Monuments and Forts of Deccan Sultanate
- The City of Dholavira located in Khadir island of the Rann of Kutchch belonged to matured Harappan phase.
- Today what is seen as a fortified quadrangular city set in harsh arid land, was once a thriving metropolis for 1200 years (3000 BCE-1800 BCE) and had an access to the sea prior to decrease in sea level.
- The City of Dholavira located in Khadir island of the Rann of Kutch (Gujarat) belonged to the mature Harappan phase.
- It was excavated by R.S Bisht in 1985
- The water conservation methods of Dholavira are unique and measures as one of the most efficient systems of the ancient world.
- The presence of a three-tier zonation comprising of a distinct upper (citadel, bailey) and middle (having a distinct street-pattern, large scale enclosure and a ceremonial ground) towns enclosed by a lower town (with narrower streets, smaller enclosures and industrial area) – distinguishes the city of Dholavira from other metropolises of the Indus Valley Civilisation.
Monuments and forts of Deccan Sultanate
- The ‘Monuments of the Deccan Sultanate’ demonstrates the convergence of national and international styles of Islamic architecture and their intersections with the prevalent Hindu architecture of the period southern Indian in present-day Karnataka and Telangana
- It comprises of four components namely,
Bahmani Monuments at Gulbarga, Karnataka
- It primarily comprises the Gulbarga Fort with the Great Mosque in the Fort, Jami Masjid and the Haft Gumbad complex with seven tombs.
- Gulbarga was the first capital of the Bahmani dynasty.
Bahmani and Barid Shahi Monuments at Bidar, Karnataka
- It includes monuments at Bidar dating from late 15th to the early 16th centuries comprise of the Bidar Fort, the Madrasa Mahmud Gawan, the Bahamani tombs at Ashtur and the Barid Shahi tombs.
- The significant feature of Bidar is the sophisticated system of gates and sluices (A sluice is a water channel controlled at its head by a gate.) that could be used when required to flood segments of the moat and thus preserve water.
Adil Shahi Monuments at Bijapur, Karnataka
- These monuments date from the late 15th to the late 17th centuries.
- These are an ensemble of 80 small and big monuments including the fortifications, gates, water systems and tanks, several mosques and tombs and palatial structures.
- The most remarkable monuments within the fort include the Gol Gumbaz which is the second largest dome in the world.
Qutb Shahi Monuments at Hyderabad, Telangana
- It comprises of Golconda Fort, Qutb Shahi Tombs and Charminar that symbolize the Qutb Shahi Dynasty.
- Golconda is a fortified citadel and an early capital city of the Qutb Shahi dynasty.
- The tombs of Qutb Shahis are a mausoleum complex comprised of the tombs of the Royal family and the officials who faithfully served them.
- Charminar is a ceremonial Gateway built to celebrate the foundation of Hyderabad, a new Millennial City, in 1591 A.D.