June 2016
India and Nepal: Neighbours Trapped by Apprehensions

India's relationship with its neighbours is often a point of passionate discussion. In this article, The Hindu Centre's Public Policy Scholar, Maa

Official Document: Draft National Education Policy 2016

The Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD), Government of India, has shared some inputs on the draft National Education Policy (NEP) 2016. The

Reserve Bank of India: Handbook of Statistics on Indian States

This is the first edition of the Handbook of Statistics on Indian States published by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). According to RBI, the Handbook "provides State-wise statistics on a wide range of features of the regional economy of India". "This publication – the first of its kind – follows the approach of ‘one indicator-one table’ and covers in 125 tables sub-national statistics on socio-demographics, State Domestic Product, agriculture, industry, infrastructure, banking and fiscal indicators across Indian States over a time period ranging from 1951 to 2015-16," the RBI said on June 27, 2016, when the report was released. The RBI invites responses, which may be sent to: [email protected] Resources: Full Text: "Handbook of Statistics on Indian States" by RBI. [PDF 1.76 MB]

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Mullaiperiyar Dam Controversy: Myths, Realities, and Challenges

A 120-year-old dam owned and operated by Tamil Nadu, but located in neighbouring Kerala, has been cause for an inter-State water conflict in southern

Gasping for Breath: Coal, Air Pollution and Public Health in Chennai

Is the air we breathe killing us slowly? It is, apparently. In this article, The Hindu Centre’s Public Policy Scholar, Mukul Kumar, highlights

Mapping and its Discontents: The Geospatial Information Regulation Bill, 2016

The new Geospatial Information Regulation Bill proposed by the Ministry of Home Affairs attempts to regulate the flow of digital and cartographic info

Next Level Journalism: Trends in Newsrooms – 2016

Informed decision making is important for social progress. The role of journalism in creating a well-informed society is constantly evolving. This publication, Trends in Newsrooms, 2016, by the World Editors Forum analyses the role played by media in shaping public opinion, particularly through appropriate use of new technologies that are available. The publication highlights the urgency in the media to regain public trust, given the emergence of multiple channels of news availability. Of particular relevance to the formulation of public policy, the publication, in a section “Constructive Journalism”, provides pointers on how journalists can play a meaningful role in working towards solutions for social issues. Resources: The full text of Trends in Newsrooms, 2016 , published by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), can be downloaded here. [PDF 6.42 MB]

Full Text: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister’s Memorandum to the Prime Minister of India (June 14, 2016)

On June 14, 2016, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Jayalalithaa, presented a 29-point memorandum of requests highlighting the State’s demands on issues that touched upon financial allocations for Tamil Nadu and Union-State relations in India. The full text of the Memorandum, which includes the position of the State on issue relating to Water Resources, Fisheries, Power, Agriculture, Goods and Services Tax, Public Distribution System, Modernisation of Police Force, transport, rural development, textiles, health among others, can be accessed here. On the issue of a nation-wide Goods and Services Tax (GST), the memorandum said: “Tamil Nadu is concerned about the impact the proposed GST will have on the fiscal autonomy of States and the huge permanent revenue loss it is likely to cause to a manufacturing and net exporting State like Tamil Nadu. We are happy that some of the concerns raised by us have been addressed - the provision for Declared goods, which is against the principle of harmonization has been removed; alcoholic liquor meant for human consumption has been kept outside the purview of GST; and the provisions relating to Advisory Committees for dispute resolution have been dropped. However, a number of concerns of Tamil Nadu still need to be addressed including: GST Council as a constitutional body impinges on the legislative sovereignty of both the Parliament and the State Legislatures and completely jeopardizes the autonomy of the States in fiscal matters. We strongly object to the provision for the GST Council. The existing mechanism of the Empowered Committee of State Ministers which dealt with VAT issues is adequate. Ideally, no statutory GST Council is required. • Furthermore, the decision making rule and voting weightage in the proposed Council are unacceptable. They give the Government of India an effective veto in the GST Council and no distinction is sought to be made amongst the States in weightage. Hence, if at all a Council is formed, the weightage of the vote of the Central Government should be reduced to one-fourth of the total votes cast and that of the States correspondingly increased to three-fourths. Further, the weightage of each State’s vote should be in proportion to the representation of the State in the Council of States (Rajya Sabha). This is important as the changeover to GST has different implications for different States based on their size and reliance on own tax revenues. • Petroleum and Petroleum Products must be kept outside GST permanently in view of the revenue impact and the positive environmental and social impact of high effective taxation on these items. • There is a need to enable the States to levy higher taxes on tobacco and tobacco products on par with the Centre, as States like Tamil Nadu already levy a higher rate of tax on tobacco and tobacco products on account of the public health concerns. • It is quite clear that a manufacturing State like Tamil Nadu will permanently lose substantial revenue if GST is implemented, due to the shift of the levy from the point of origin to the point of destination and also due to the phasing out of Central Sales Tax and transfer of input tax credit on inter-State sales and inter-State stock transfers to the destination States. Due to the difficulty in fixing even nominally high revenue neutral rates, it is expected that the extent of revenue loss under GST would be around Rs. 9,270 crores for Tamil Nadu. • Tamil Nadu reiterates the need for a constitutionally mandated independent compensation mechanism for full (100 per cent) compensation of revenue losses suffered by the States for a period of not less than five years. • In lieu of the proposed additional levy of 1 per cent tax on inter-State supply of goods, Tamil Nadu suggests that the origin States may be allowed to retain 4 per cent of the Central GST part of the inter-State GST that would be leviable on inter-State supply of goods and services as this would ensure speedy recompense for a portion of the revenue loss and will reduce the amount of compensation payable. Further, as this comes out of the CGST component, it does not affect the destination State’s revenue or cause any cascading. Hence, the stand of the Government of Tamil Nadu is that before the Constitutional Amendment Bill on GST is taken up, the Government of India should strive for a broad consensus on important issues like the compensation period and methodology, revenue neutral rates, floor rates with bands, commodities to be excluded from GST, the IGST model and clarity on dual administrative control, so that the genuine apprehensions of States regarding loss of fiscal autonomy and permanent revenue loss are allayed.” Resources: Full Text: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister’s Memorandum to the Prime Minister of India (June 14, 2016) can be downloaded here. [PDF 514 KB] Source: Department of Information and Public Relations, Government of Tamil Nadu

It is the responsibility of the government to create and sustain a consensus: Jairam Ramesh

On June 11, 2016, former Union Minister, Jairam Ramesh was elected to the Rajya Sabha, India’s upper house, for a third term representing the Indian N

Drought Relief: Harnessing Native Genius for Water Storage

Droughts draw attention to failure of government supply programmes. With each passing year the severity of the water crisis worsens. At fault is an en

TAMIL NADU: Loyal Vote Banks Help AIADMK Overcome Anti-incumbency

Continuing political exclusion against the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) favoured the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) to retain po

How the States Polled: Lessons for BJP, INC

Notwithstanding the fact that the BJP/NDA appear to be on a strong wicket in national politics after the elections to five States, these poll results

Full Text: World Development Report 2016 - Digital Dividends [PDF 5.61 MB]

The World Bank Group's annual flagship publication - World Development Report (WDR) - is an important resource for social scientists, policy makers, and thought leaders. The 359-page WDR 2016, Digital Dividends, "explores the impact of the internet, mobile phones, and related technologies on economic development. Part One of the Report shows that potential gains from digital technologies are high, but often remain unrealized. Part Two proposes policies to expand connectivity, accelerate complementary reforms in sectors beyond information and communication technology (ICT), and address global coordination problems." Excerpt: "Only around 15 per cent of the world’s population currently has affordable high-speed access to the internet. Use of mobile phones, reaching almost three quarters of the world’s population, provides the main form of internet access in developing countries. But the lives of 2 billion people remain largely untouched by information and communication technologies (ICTs), and half a billion live outside areas with a mobile signal. The world’s offline population is mainly in India and China, but more than 100 million people are also offline in North America, mainly in Mexico." [p 201] Resources: Download the full text of World Developement Report 2016: Digital Dividends here. [PDF 5.61 MB]