Protocol amending India-China DTAA

The Government of the Republic of India and the Government of the People’s Republic of China have amended the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) for the avoidance of double taxation and for the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income, by signing a Protocol on 26/11/2018.

Purpose of the amendment of DTAA:

  • For the avoidance of double taxation.
  • For the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income.
  • Additional changes by signing the Protocol:
  • It updates the existing provisions for exchange of information to the latest international standards.
  • It incorporates changes required to implement treaty related minimum standards under the Action reports of Base Erosion & Profit Shifting (BEPS) Project, where India participated on an equal footing.

Under Section 90 of the Income-tax Act, 1961, India can enter into an agreement with a foreign country or specified territory for the avoidance of double taxation of income, for the exchange of information for the prevention of evasion.

Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA):

It is referred to as the Tax Treaty, a bilateral economic agreement between two nations that aims to avoid or eliminate double taxation of the same income in two countries.

A DTAA applies in cases where a taxpayer resides in one country and earns income in another.

DTAAs can either be comprehensive to cover all sources of income or be limited to certain areas such as taxing of income from shipping, air transport, inheritance, etc.

India has DTAAs with more than eighty countries.

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UN postal agency issues special Diwali stamp

India thanked the UN Postal Administration for issuing special postal stamps to commemorate Diwali, the Indian festival of lights.

The United Nations Postal Administration issued a special event sheet on October 19 to commemorate the festival of Diwali.

The sheet in the denomination of USD 1.15 contains ten stamps and tabs featuring festive lights and the symbolic lamps known as diyas.

Key Facts:

The special event sheet (stamps) issued by UNPA are in denomination of US $1.15.

It contains ten stamps and tabs featuring festive lights and symbolic lamps known as diyas.

The background of sheet features United Nations Headquarters building illuminated with a message of “Happy Diwali” to celebrate the spirit of the festival.

The description accompanying information about stamps mentioned that Diwali, also known as Deepawali is a joyous and popular festival of lights, which is celebrated in India and by followers of many faiths across the world.

It also said that during celebration clay lamps known as diyas are lit to signify the victory of good over evil. The festival also symbolizes the start of new year for many communities.

About the United Nations Postal Administration (UNPA):

It is the postal agency of the United Nations. It issues postage stamps and postal stationery, denominated in United States dollars for United Nations offices in New York, in Swiss francs for offices in Geneva and in euros for the offices in Vienna. Postage rates charged are identical to those of the host nation.

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Centre constitutes high-level committees to deal with mob violence, lynching

Two high-level committees have been constituted by the Central government to suggest ways and legal framework to effectively deal with incidents of mob violence and lynching, the Home Ministry.

One of the committees is being headed by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and the other by Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba.

The move comes after a number of mob lynching incidents were reported in several areas, stemming from fake social media rumors of child kidnappers as well as cow vigilantism.

The Union Government is highly concerned about the incidents of mob violence in some parts of the country. The government has already condemned such incidents and made its stand clear in the Parliament that, as per the Constitutional scheme, ‘Police’ and ‘Public Order’ are State subjects.

State Governments are responsible for controlling crime, maintaining law and order, and protecting the life and property of the citizens. They are empowered to enact and enforce laws to curb crime in their jurisdiction.

Condemning mob lynching incidents across the country and the Supreme Court had urged the Parliament to enact a new law to deal with the crime. The court passed a slew of directions in this regard to dealing with the mob lynching. Here are the directions:

There shall be a “separate offense” for lynching and the trial courts must ordinarily award maximum sentence upon conviction of the accused person to set a stern example in cases of mob violence.

The state governments will have to designate a senior police officer in each district for taking measures to prevent incidents of mob violence and lynching.

The state governments need to identify districts, sub-divisions, and villages where instances of lynching and mob violence have been reported in the recent past.

The nodal officers shall bring to the notice of the DGP about any inter-district co-ordination issues for devising a strategy to tackle lynching and mob violence related issues.

Every police officer shall ensure to disperse the mob that has a tendency to cause violence in the disguise of vigilantism or otherwise.

Central and the state governments shall broadcast on radio, television and other media platforms about the serious consequences of mob lynching and mob violence.

Despite the measures taken by the State Police, if it comes to the notice of the local police that an incident of lynching or mob violence has taken place, the jurisdictional police station shall immediately lodge an FIR.

The State Governments shall prepare a lynching/mob violence victim compensation scheme in the light of the provisions of Section 357A of CrPC within one month from the date of this judgment.

If a police officer or an officer of the district administration fails to fulfill his duty, it will be considered an act of deliberate negligence.

At present, there is no law that criminalizes mob killings. The Indian Penal Code has provisions for unlawful assembly, rioting, and murder but nothing that takes cognizance of a group of people coming together to kill (a lynch mob).

Under Section 223 (a) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), to prosecute together two or more people accused of the same offense committed in the course of the “same transaction”. But the provision falls far short of an adequate legal framework for prosecuting lynch mobs.

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Green Good Deeds Movement

Green Good Deeds, the societal movement launched by the Union Minister for Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, to protect the environment and promote good living in the country, has found acceptance by the global community. The ongoing BRICS Ministerial on Environment at Durban, South Africa, has agreed to include “Green Good Deeds” in its official agenda in the next Ministerial in Brazil and another meeting in Russia”,

Dr. Harsh Vardhan had formally launched the nation-wide campaign in January 2018. He enlisted the cooperation of thousands of people – students, teachers, voluntary organizations, Residents Welfare Associations and professionals to adopt these deeds. The Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change had drawn up a list of over 500 Green Good Deeds and asked people to alter their behavior to Green Good Behaviour to fulfill their Green Social Responsibility. These small, positive actions, to be performed by individuals or organizations to strengthen the cause of environmental protection have been put up on a mobile App named “Dr. Harsh Vardhan”.

“Green Good Deeds” campaign:

The campaign has been launched by the Environment Ministry to sensitize the people and students, in particular, about climate change and global warming. The objective of the campaign is to restore and return the clean and green environment to the next generation.

The Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change had drawn up a list of over 500 Green Good Deeds and asked people to alter their behavior to Green Good Behaviour to fulfill their Green Social Responsibility.

These small positive actions to be performed by individuals or organizations to strengthen the cause of environmental protection were put on a mobile application named “Dr. Harsh Vardhan App”.

International conferences on Environment have been deliberating and adopting declarations. However, these declarations are hardly put to practice at the ground level, involving every section of the society. “Green Good Deeds” is an idea to take it to the people and get them involved.

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EIU Democracy Index

India has slipped to 42nd place on an annual Global Democracy Index amid “rise of conservative religious ideologies” and increase in vigilantism and violence against minorities as well as other dissenting voices.

While Norway has again topped the list, followed by Iceland and Sweden, compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), India has moved down from 32nd place last year and remains classified among “flawed democracies”.

Performance of various countries:

Top and bottom countries: Norway, Iceland and Sweden are the top three on the list while Chad, Syria and North Korea bring up the bottom.

The total score of 89 countries fell when compared to their ranking in 2016. India was one of the countries whose score declined the most. It fell ten places in the rankings from 32 to 42 as its score deteriorated by 0.58 points to 7.23 (on a scale of 0 to 10). In the ‘media freedom ranking’, India ranked 49 out of 167 countries that the index covered.

Asia recorded the biggest decline compared to other regions of the world. According to the index, Asia (5.63) lagged behind North America (8.56), Western Europe (8.38) and Latin America (6.26). Indonesia was the worst-performing nation, falling to 68th position from 48th rank.

Only top-19 countries have been classified as ‘full democracies’, while the hybrid regimes include Pakistan (110th), Bangladesh (92nd), Nepal (94th) and Bhutan (99th). Those named as ‘authoritarian regimes’ include China (139th), Myanmar (120th), Russia (135th) and Vietnam (140th). North Korea is ranked the lowest at 167th, while Syria is a notch better at 166th place.

What lies behind India’s poor performance?

The report has classified India as a flawed democracy and attributed the dip in India’s rankings to lack of freedom of speech and free media. The report notes that the rise of conservative religious ideologies has mainly affected India. The strengthening of right-wing Hindu forces in an otherwise secular country led to a rise of vigilantism and violence against minority communities, particularly Muslims, as well as other dissenting voices.

In some states in India, the authorities there have restricted freedom of the press, closed down several newspapers and heavily controlled mobile internet services. Several journalists were murdered in India in 2017, as in the previous year

A Human Rights Watch report published on January 22 had also alleged that Indian failed to protect its minorities in 2017. This report should serve as a warning sign for the country. Urgent steps are needed to protect democratic values of the country, without which our fundamental credentials as a democracy will be seriously undermined.

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