The News Editorial Analysis 26th November 2021

The News Editorial Analysis 26th November 2021

The News Editorial Analysis 26th November 2021

Will revisit annual income criteria for EWS quota: Union govt to SC.

The News Editorial Analysis 26th November 2021

The Union government on Thursday, November 25, told the Supreme Court that it has taken a considered decision to revisit the limit of Rs 8 lakh annual income fixed for determining the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) category for reservation in NEET admissions for post-graduate medical courses. A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, Surya Kant, and Vikram Nath was informed by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta that a committee will be constituted to determine the criteria for EWS and it would take four weeks. SG Mehta said that NEET (PG) counselling would stand postponed for a further four weeks as per the assurance earlier given to the court.

The top court was hearing a batch of pleas filed by students challenging the Union government and Medical Counselling Committee (MCC)’s July 29 notice, providing 27% reservation for Other Backward Class (OBC) and 10% for EWS category in the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET-PG) admissions for medical courses for the current academic year.

Justice Kant said that the EWS quota is a very enabling and progressive kind of reservation and all States should support the government in its endeavour. The bench said that the only question is that determination of the category should be in a scientific manner.

Bring in three-rate GST structure, says study by Finance Ministry

National Institute of Public Finance and Policy study says Government can rationalise the rates without losing revenues.

The Government can rationalise the GST rate structure without losing revenues by rejigging the four major rates of 5%, 12%, 18% and 28% with a three-rate framework of 8%, 15% and 30%, as per a National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP) study.

The findings of the NIPFP, an autonomous think tank backed by the Finance Ministry, assume significance as the GST Council has tasked a Group of Ministers, headed by Karnataka CM Basavaraj S. Bommai, to propose a rationalisation of tax rates and a possible merger of different tax slabs by December to shore up revenues.

rejigging rates

Multiple rate changes since the introduction of the GST regime in July 2017 have brought the effective GST rate to 11.6% from the original revenue neutral rate of 15.5%, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman pointed out at the last Council meeting in September.

“Merging the 12% and 18% GST rates into any tax rate lower than 18% may result in revenue loss. Our study proposes that the GST Council may consider a three-rate structure by adopting 8%, 15% and 30% for revenue neutrality,” NIPFP associate professor Sacchidananda Mukherjee told The Hindu.

The nature of rate changes has also meant that over 40% of taxable turnover value now falls in the 18% tax slab, thus any move to dovetail that slab with a lower rate will trigger losses to the tax kitty that need to be offset by marginal hikes in other remaining major rates — 5% and 28%.


The 28% rate is levied on demerit goods such as tobacco products, automobiles and aerated drinks, along with additional GST compensation cess.

If the revenue loss from merging the 12% and 18% slabs were to be met by just hiking the rate on demerit or sin goods, the highest GST rate would have to be raised to almost 38%. Alternatively, the lowest standard rate will have to be raised from 5% to about 9%.

Court allows minor to end 25 week pregnancy

The High Court of Karnataka has permitted a 16-year-old rape survivor to terminate her 25-week pregnancy after the medical board found that continuation of pregnancy may impact the minor’s mental and physical health besides impacting her status in society.

Justice N.S. Sanjay Gowda passed the order while allowing the petition filed by the minor through her mother.

The petitioners had approached the court after the medical practitioner and the Belagavi district hospital refused to terminate the pregnancy citing provisions of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971.

“The minor needs termination as continuing pregnancy endangers the mother physically and mentally with risk as explained by the gynaecologist and psychiatrist,” said the report of the medical board, set up by Belagavi district surgeon on directions of the High Court.

The court noted that the paediatrician, who was part of the medical board, opined that it would be a high-risk pregnancy as the survivor is a teenage mother and it would also pose grave risk to the foetus.

Mental state factored in

The court took into consideration the view of the psychiatrist, who pointed out that if the pregnancy was continued, the petitioner would develop anxiety and could lead to definite depression. Citing the apex court’s decisions equating women’s right to reproduction with the right to personal liberty guaranteed under Constitution of India, the court observed that “The consequences of continuing the pregnancy on the future life of the 16-year-old would be quite severe and detrimental to a dignified life as contemplated under Article 21 of the Constitution.”       

                   Scorpene class submarine INS Vela joins Navy

With this, the Navy currently has 16 conventional and one nuclear submarine in service.

The fourth Scorpene class conventional submarine, INS Vela, was commissioned into the Navy in the presence of Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh at a ceremony in Mumbai on Thursday.

“Vela has taken the ‘Make in India’ spirit a notch higher with the fitment indigenised battery cells, which power a very silent permanently magnetised propulsion motor,” the Navy said in a statement.

Construction of the submarine commenced with the first cutting of steel on July 14, 2009 and it was launched and named Vela on May 6, 2019.

With this, the Navy currently has 16 conventional and one nuclear submarine in service. It includes eight Russian Kilo class submarines, four German HDW submarines, four French Scorpene submarines and the indigenous nuclear ballistic missile submarine INS Arihant.

Vela, being named after a type of Indian fish belonging to the stingray family, the crest depicts the fish swimming across the blue seas. The submarine’s mascot is the Sub-ray which is an amalgamation of the submarine and the stingray which symbolises the metamorphosis of the submarine’s character with the qualities of a stingray, the Navy said.

The new INS Vela carries forward the legacy of its namesake, the erstwhile Vela which was commissioned on August 31, 1973 as the lead boat of Vela class submarines and was decommissioned on January 25, 2010.

Six Scorpene submarines are being built under Project-75 by Mazgaon Dock Limited (MDL), Mumbai, under technology transfer from Naval Group of France under a $3.75 bn deal signed in October 2005.

The first submarine INS Kalvari was commissioned in December 2017, second submarine INS Khanderi in September 2019 and third one INS Karanj in March 2021. The fifth submarine, Vagir, was launched in November 2020 and is undergoing sea trails while the sixth one Vagsheer is in advanced stage of outfitting.

The Navy has drawn up plans to install Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) modules on all Scorpene submarines as they go for their refit beginning with INS Kulvari in 2023 to enhance their endurance. That hinges on the successful fitment of the indigenous AIP module developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation on board a submarine. The land-based prototype has recently undergone successful trials.

Parallely, the Navy recently issued the Request For Proposal for procurement of six advanced submarines under Project-75I.

The Navy has a 30-year submarine building programme and after the P-75I the Navy intends to design and build conventional submarines indigenously. “This is going to be maybe the last time (P-75I) that we will take any outside assistance; henceforth we will design and build our own submarines,” Navy Chief Adm Singh told The Hindu recently.

With delays in submarine induction, the SSKs-209s (German HDWs) and EKMs (Russian Kilo’s) are being put through the Medium Refit Life Certification process which will give them additional life of 10 to 15 years.

National Family Health Survey says women outnumber men

The fifth edition of the National Family Health Survey confirmed signs of a demographic shift in the country.

The fifth edition of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) confirmed signs of a demographic shift in India. For the first time since the NFHS began in 1992, the proportion of women exceeded men: there were 1,020 women for 1,000 men. In the last edition of the survey in 2015-16, there were 991 women for every 1,000 men.

Only the decadal census is considered the official marker of population trends in India and have a wider surveillance programme. The NFHS surveys are smaller but are conducted at the district level and are a pointer to the future.


However, sex ratio at birth for children born in the last five years only improved from 919 per 1,000 males in 2015-16 to 929 per 1,000, underscoring that boys, on average, continued to have better odds of survival than girls.

Most States and Union Territories (UTs) had more women than men, the NFHS-5 shows. States that had fewer women than men included Gujarat, Maharashtra, Arunachal Pradesh, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Union territories such as Jammu & Kashmir, Chandigarh, Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar islands, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and Ladakh.

All of these States and UTs, however, showed improvements in the population increase of women.

A State-wise breakup of the NFHS data also shows that India is on its way to stabilising its population, with most States and UTs having a Total Fertility Rate (TFR) of less than two. A TFR of less than 2.1, or a woman on average bearing two children over a lifetime, suggests that an existing generation of a people will be exactly replaced. Anything less than two suggests an eventual decline in population over time. Only six States: Bihar, Meghalaya, Manipur, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh have a TFR above two. Bihar has a TFR of three which, however, is an improvement from the 3.4 of the NFHS-4. Again, much like the broader trend towards feminisation, the TFR in all States has improved in the last five years.

India is still poised to be the most populous country in the world with the current projection by the United Nations population division forecasting that India’s population will peak around 1.6 to 1.8 billion from 2040-2050.

A Government report last year projected that India would overtake China as the world’s most populous country around 2031 — almost a decade later than the United Nations projection of 2022.

A notable exception is Kerala, a State with among the highest ratios of women to men at 1,121 and improvement over 1,049 recorded in the NFHS-4. However the TFR in Kerala has increased to 1.8 from 1.6. The State has also reported a decline in the sex ratio of children born in the last five years. There are 1,047 females per 1,000 males in 2015-16 that has now declined to 951 per 1,000 males.

The findings of NFHS-5 from 22 States & UTs covered in Phase-I were released in December 2020 and the remaining comprising Arunachal Pradesh, Chandigarh, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, NCT of Delhi, Odisha, Puducherry, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand were made public on Wednesday.

The NFHS-5 survey work has been conducted in around 6.1 lakh sample households from 707 districts (as on March, 2017) of the country; covering 724,115 women and 101,839 men to provide disaggregated estimates up to district level.


KRMB asks Andhra Pradesh, Telangana not to use Srisailam water for power generation

VIJAYAWADA: The Krishna River Management Board (KRMB) has written a letter to the water resources secretaries in both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh requesting them not to release water from the Srisailam reservoir exclusively for power generation without prior permission. 

Expressing concern that inflows will once again come only after 10 months, the board said that ‘large quantities’ of water were depleted from the reservoir even though there was no requirement of irrigation or drinking water under Nagarjuna Sagar ayacut, resulting in wastage of water into the sea.

the Genco authorities of both the States are generating power continuously through the left and the right powerhouses even though the level of Nagarjuna Sagar is near full reservoir level and meager inflows are received at Srisailam. This is also resulting in wastage of large quantum of water into the sea,” KRMB member (power) LB Muanthang said in a letter dated November 18 to special chief secretaries of water resources of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana governments.

Though the state governments have not placed any indents before the KRMB for water release from Srisailam and Nagarjuna Sagar Project in this water year (2021-22), the water level at Srisailam ‘depleted’ from 215.8 TMC on October 15 to 94.910 TMC on November 18.

“About 608.77 million units of power (295.91 MU by right powerhouse and 312.86 MU by left powerhouse) has been generated and about 55.966 TMC has been drained into the sea between October 19 to November 10. It is expected that Srisailam will likely receive monsoon inflows only during August 22,” the board member explained. He further said that flow of water into the sea is wastage of valuable water. “This may result in shortage of water for drinking/irrigation in the latter part of the year.”

‘Religious Conversion Won’t Change a Person’s Caste’: Madras HC

Justice S.M. Subramaniam issued his order while hearing a writ petition filed by S. Paul Raj, who belonged to the Adi Dravidar community and who had married G. Amutha, a woman from the Hindu Arunthathiyar community, both of which are categorised as Scheduled Castes (SC).

When Raj converted to Christianity, he was given a ‘Backwards Class’ (BC) community certificate, on the basis of which he applied for an inter-caste marriage certificate.

In Tamil Nadu, a marriage between a member of the SC/ST community and someone from any other community or between a member of the BC community and someone from another community is considered an ‘inter-caste’ marriage. Such unions are eligible for several welfare benefits, including priority consideration for government jobs.

When the Salem district authorities refused to issue the certificate, registering that both husband and wife in fact belonged to the SC community by birth, Raj filed a writ of mandamus petition seeking the inter-caste marriage certificate be issued.

The writ of mandamus is issued by a court to compel a public authority to perform legal duties it either has not performed or has refused to. In the present case, the petitioner sought the court’s directions to the relevant authorities to issue an inter-caste marriage certificate. 

Raj’s legal counsel, P. Saravanan, argued that the petitioner’s marriage should be considered an inter-caste marriage according to Tamil Nadu government order GOM No. 188, dated December 28, 1976. It details that an inter-caste marriage is one in which one of the spouses belongs to the SC/ST community.

However, advocate C. Jayaprakash, appearing for the state government, stated that a clarification issued by the Social Welfare Department through letter no. 235, issued on July 21, 1997, notes that a community certificate obtained as a result of religious conversion does not warrant an inter-caste marriage certificate.

The court dismissed the writ petition and upheld the Salem government official’s refusal to issue an inter-caste marriage certificate to the petitioner. 

“When both the petitioner and his wife belong to the scheduled caste community by birth, merely because the petitioner by virtue of conversion changed his religion would not entail him to get the inter-caste marriage certificate,” Justice Subramanium wrote in his order.

Treat insurance policies as capital assets: ICAI

NEW DELHI:  The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) has suggested that Life Insurance Policies be treated as a capital asset. “It is suggested that Life insurance Policies be treated as a capital asset falling within the definition of “property” under section 2(14) of the (income Tax) Act. Indexation benefit (for premiums paid) will take care of inflationary impact – resulting in parity with other capital assets,” ICAI said in its Pre-Budget Memorandum, 2022.

Usually, maturity proceeds under life insurance policy are  tax-free under Section 10(10D) of the Income Tax Act. However, there are certain situations where this exemption is not available. For example, this exemption is not available on maturity proceeds of unit-linked insurance policies (Ulips) with an annual premium above Rs 2.5 lakh.

ICAI argues that deduction of only premium while computing the net income  or loss after surrender or withdrawal of policy doesn’t take care of inflation resulting in higher taxability. “A tax consolidation scheme may also be adopted in India. This would create a positive impact on business with significant reduction of compliance and litigation cost,” ICAI added.

It also added that exemption should not be linked based on premium to sum assured ratio.  “Currently exemption under section 10(10D) is based on premium to actual capital sum assured ratio. This results in life insurance with higher premiums due to age factor, occupational / lifestyle diseases (blood pressure, diabetes, etc.), being treated as taxable. Policyholders in absolute need of insurance cover are denied tax relief due to higher premiums in such cases,” it said.

Scientist warns of a new Covid variant with high number of mutations

A new variant of Covid-19 with over 30 spike mutations has been reported from southern Africa. On November 23, Dr. Tom Peacock, a virologist at Imperial College London, posted the details of the variant on, noting that the “incredibly high amount of spike mutations suggest this could be of real concern (predicted escape from most known monoclonal antibodies)”

Assigned as B.1.1.529, the variant was first spotted in Botswana and the other circulating countries are Hong Kong and South Africa. According to The Guardian, only 10 cases have been confirmed by genomic sequencing.

Dr. Tom Peacock tweeted that the variant should be monitored due to its “horrific spike profile”.

According to WHO, currently, only four variants of the coronavirus are designated as variants of concern – Alpha (lineage B.1.1.7, the so-called ‘UK variant’), Beta (lineage B.1.351, the so-called ‘South Africa variant’), Gamma (lineage P.1, the so-called ‘Brazil variant’) and Delta (lineage B.1.617.2).

“Worth emphasising this is at super low numbers right now in a region of Africa that is fairly well sampled, however, it very very much should be monitored due to that horrific spike profile (would take a guess that this would be worse antigenically than nearly anything else about),” Dr. Peacock said.

The mutation P681H seen in the new variant has also been reported in Alpha, Mu, some Gamma, and B.1.1.318 variants. The new variant also carries the N679K mutation which has been reported in many other variants. Dr. Peacock tweets: “This is the first time I’ve seen two of these mutations in a single variant”

The new variant also carries a mutation called N501Y which has been reported in other variants of concern. Studies have shown that this mutation helps the variant be more transmissible. It also allows the virus to readily bind to the human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptors.

It also carries the P681H mutation, one of the commonly identified spike mutations in SARS CoV-2, which enhances the transmissibility of the virus. The D614G mutation which has been reported to increase virus infectivity was also seen in the new variant.

Dr. Divya Tej Sowpati from CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology said that only very few genomic sequences of the new variant are available and more studies are needed. “The variant is currently being monitored,” he says.

Red cross gets its first women prez

The international Red Cross said Thursday that Swiss diplomat and international worker Mirjana Spoljaric Egger would be its next president, and the first woman to lead the organization.

The current assistant Secretary-General at the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) will replace Peter Maurer as president of the International Committee of the Red Cross when he steps down next September, the organization said in a statement.

Maurer, who will leave after 10 years on the job, hailed the appointment, saying Spoljaric Egger would “bring strategic vision, strong international experience and an extensive diplomatic background to the role.”

“She is an accomplished leader, and I am confident that she will be a powerful and compassionate advocate for people affected by armed conflict and violence.”

Spoljaric Egger, whose age was not given, said it was “a great honor and a great responsibility to be elected president of an organization which I have long admired for its inspiring and vital global mission.”

“I will strive to highlight the needs of the most vulnerable and to do justice to the incredible impact of ICRC’s teams in conflict settings worldwide.”

Spoljaric Egger previously served as the head of the UN and international organizations division of the Swiss foreign ministry, and has served as a Swiss diplomat in Bern, Cairo and New York.

She also worked with the UN agency serving Palestinian refugees, UNRWA.

The married mother of two studied at the Universities of Basel and Geneva, and holds a master’s degree in philosophy, economics and international law.

Measuring progress: On the lessons of National Family Health Survey-5

The lessons of NFHS-5 must be used to improve social development indices

A periodic assessment of health and social development indicators is crucial for any country that is still clawing its way towards achieving ideal standards in the Human Development Index. While the results of the NFHS are usually mixed, and improvements in certain sectors ride along with stagnation and deterioration in other sectors, this year, there have been radical improvements in maternal and child health, sex ratio and population control. A greater proportion of births than ever before is now happening in institutions, more children in the 12-23 months age group have received their vaccinations, and, most interestingly, India has achieved a total fertility rate of 2.0, dropping further from the figure of 2.2 during NFHS-4, indicating that India has contained the population explosion. Policies, some even coercive, as in the case of the family planning sector, seem to have borne fruit, years after they were implemented. While gender ratio has, for the first time, recorded more women per 1,000 men, gender ratio at birth in the last five years still underlines the persistence of a deep-rooted son preference, one that has to be countered, through policy and law. There are other areas too, specially in the case of childhood nutrition where marginal gains in say, wasting and severe wasting, are deemed insufficient, and require renewed corrective efforts. The impact of the pandemic may also be noted, the disruption it caused to services such as balanced nutrition for children must be acknowledged, while this set of circumstances underscores the need for building resilient and fortified systems capable of delivering in the most trying circumstances. Having measured blood sugar and hypertension in the population for the first time, NFHS-5 highlighted the looming threat from lifestyle diseases.

This massive exercise that covered, this year, over six lakh households across the country, aims at providing data that will help shape the policies in a manner that will correct deficiencies, and ensure equitable access to services, particularly those with impact on social determinants that improve the quality of life. State-level indices are also released, to provide comparisons, but also to allow States to launch course correction, or to be inspired by success stories in other regions. Inputs on marriage and fertility, family planning, access to education and health services are provided by the NFHS, arguably second only to the exhaustive data that the decennial population census throws up. States need to treat it as such, and while they might dispute some assessments, the greater idea is to recognise it as a matrix to work on, to improve the development indicators further. Meanwhile, the Centre too must not treat it as a mere stocktaking exercise, but harness the opportunities the NFHS provides for launching reform or re-assessing certain policies without using it as a political tool in a federal set up.

Setting the tone at Glasgow, the job ahead in Delhi

India, while moving to renewable energy, e-vehicle use, and a digital economy, needs to focus on sustainable well-being

With current per capita emissions that are less than half the global average, India’s pledge to reach ‘net zero’ emissions by 2070 has cemented India’s credentials as a global leader. The emissions of all others who have pledged “net zero’ by 2050 are above the global average.

At COP26 in Glasgow (October 31-November 12, 2021), India successfully challenged the 40-year-old frame of global climate policy that pointed a finger at developing countries with the alternate frame of ‘climate justice’, that unsustainable lifestyles and wasteful consumption patterns are to blame. The political implication of the date 2070 is that the world should get to ‘net-zero’ by 2050. For that, the rich countries will need to do more and step up closer to their share of the carbon budget. India’s stand also signals that it will not act under external pressure, as requiring equal treatment is the hallmark of a global power, and will have an impact on other issues.

G7 no longer a rule setter

The problem, as Gandhiji had also observed, is really western civilisation; it also accounts for the spate of criticism of India’s open challenge in the plenary, and getting global agreement on a “just” transition to phase down, and not phase out, coal. The subject of oil was not touched, even as automobile emissions are the fastest growing emissions, because it is a defining feature of western civilisation. Coal is the most abundant energy source, essential for base load in electrification, and the production of steel and cement. Its use declines after the saturation level of infrastructure is reached. The irony of the host country pushing other nations to stop using coal — an energy resource which powered its own Industrial Revolution — was not lost on the poor countries who called out “carbon colonialism”. That India and China working together forced the G7 to make a retraction has signalled the coming of a world order in which the G7 no longer sets the rules.

The Prime Minister’s stand in the opening plenary, pushing ‘climate justice’, and the Environment Minister, Bhupender Yadav’s constant reminder that the negotiating text is not balanced as there is little advance on financial and other support, gave courage to the others to also successfully question the negotiating frame which focused on emissions reduction. After 40 years there is more specific language on both finance and adaptation finally recognising that costs and near-term effects of climate change will hit the poorest countries hardest.

The News Editorial Analysis 25th November 2021




Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get in touch
close slider