17, January 2017

1.National Alliance against online Child sexual abuse and exploitation
Source: PIB

The Ministry of Women & Child Development is planning to form a National Alliance against Online Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation.

Aim of the alliance:
The alliance aims to develop a comprehensive outreach system to engage parents, schools, communities, NGO partners and local governments (PRIs and ULBs) as well as police and lawyers to ensure better implementation of the legal framework, policies, national strategies and standards in relation to child protection and child rights.

Background:

Child sexual abuse is a multi-layered problem which negatively impacts children’s safety, health and well being. Research from world-wide indicates that children’s exposure to violence and abuse is associated with long-term physical, psychological, and emotional harm. Child abuse is finding new forms and channels through mobile and digital technologies.

  • Online child abuse and exploitation amplifies existing forms of offline bullying, stalking and harassment. It also facilitates the sexual exploitation of children through the production and dissemination of child sexual abuse materials and by facilitating the sexual exploitation and trafficking of children. Online abuse knows no national boundaries.
  • Even though India has a comprehensive legal framework for protection of child rights in the form of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2015, POCSO Act, 2012 along with RTE Act 2009 and recently amended Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2106, there is limited awareness of online risks for children, both among parents and guardian and children themselves.

The National Alliance on Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation has the following broad objectives:

  • Bring a common definition of child pornography including amendment of acts (Information technology Act, POCSO Act).
  • Set up a multi-member secretariat based in MWCD with a portal inclusive of a hotline for reporting and strengthening existing service delivery systems.
  • Provide a platform for Government/ NGOs and other child rights activists for networking and information sharing.
  • Document and showcases success stories and best practices in terms of prevention of online abuse and exploitation of children.
  • Inform and educate member organisations, parents, teachers, front line service providers and children on the rights of the children and various issues related to online child abuse and exploitation.
  • Provide a forum for advocacy for child rights and policy inputs based on research and studies.

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2.“Nagaland Health Project”
Source : PIB

A financing agreement for IDA credit of US$ 48 million for the ‘Nagaland Health Project’ was recently signed between India and the World Bank.

The Objectives of the project are to improve health services and increase their utilization by communities in targeted locations in Nagaland.

  • Communities in targeted locations will benefit from project activities at the community and health facility levels while the population of the state as a whole will benefit from improvements in higher-level facilities as well as system-wide investments.
  • The project will directly benefit about 600,000 people. It will support and complement existing systems and mechanisms involving communities under the National Health Mission.

About IDA:

The International Development Association (IDA) is the part of the World Bank that helps the world’s poorest countries. Overseen by 173 shareholder nations, IDA aims to reduce poverty by providing loans (called “credits”) and grants for programs that boost economic growth, reduce inequalities, and improve people’s living conditions.

  • IDA complements the World Bank’s original lending arm—the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD). IBRD was established to function as a self-sustaining business and provides loans and advice to middle-income and credit-worthy poor countries. IBRD and IDA share the same staff and headquarters and evaluate projects with the same rigorous standards.
  • IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 771 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa, and is the single largest source of donor funds for basic social services in these countries.
  • IDA lends money on concessional terms. This means that IDA credits have a zero or very low interest charge and repayments are stretched over 25 to 40 years, including a 5- to 10-year grace period. IDA also provides grants to countries at risk of debt distress.
  • In addition to concessional loans and grants, IDA provides significant levels of debt relief through the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative and the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI).

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3.GST roll out likely from July 1
Source : The Hindu

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council has arrived at a consensus on contentious issues such as administrative control over tax payers in the new indirect tax regime, thus paving the way for GST to be introduced this year, although three months after the Centre’s original rollout deadline of April 1, 2017.

  • The consensus was reached after the Centre agreed to the demand of states to go in for horizontal split with regard to tax payers based on annual turnover.

Background:

This division of tax administration had been holding up the finalisation GST tax laws, making it difficult for the government to stick with the April 1 deadline. The delay in expected to help trade and industry better prepare themselves.

facts:

  • Under the proposed tax regime, 90% of all assessees with a turnover of Rs 1.5 crore or less will be assessed for scrutiny and audit by state authorities, the remaining 10% by the Centre. Above that limit, Centre and states will assess in a 50:50 ratio.
  • The entire taxation base will be shared between the assessment machinery of the Centre and the states. Both will have intelligence based assessment powers.
  • The Centre has also given leeway to states on integrated GST (I-GST), which deals with inter-state sales. The power to levy and collect the I-GST lies with the central government but states will also be cross-empowered in the same ratio as above through a special provision in law. Any IGST disputes among states will be resolved by the Centre.
  • The Centre has also ceded ground on taxation rights over the sea. Territorial waters extending to 12 nautical miles fall under control of the union government but as per convention, states will be empowered to collect tax on any economic activity in this zone.

About GST council:

As per Article 279A (1) of the Constitution, the GST Council has to be constituted by the President within 60 days of the commencement of Article 279A. The notification for bringing into force Article 279A was issued in September 2016.

  • GST Council will decide on the tax rate, exempted goods and the threshold under the new taxation regime.
  • The council will be chaired by Union Finance Minister and have Minister in charge of Finance or Taxation or any other Minister nominated by each State Government as its member. Also Minister of State in charge of Revenue or Finance at the Centre would be a member.

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4.India ranks 92nd in 2017 Global Talent Index

Source : Economic times

India was ranked 92nd among 118 countries in the 2017 Global index of talent competitiveness (GTI) list.

The index measures ability of countries to compete for talent i.e. how countries grow, attract and retain talent.

The index is produced by global business school INSEAD in partnership with Adecco Group and Human Capital Leadership Institute (HCLI) of Singapore.
Top 10 Countries:
 Switzerland (1st), Singapore (2nd), United Kingdom (3rd), United States (4th), Sweden (5th), Australia (6th), Luxembourg (7th), Denmark (8th), Finland (9th) and Norway (10th).

BRICS Countries:
India’s ranking is worst among the five BRICS countries. China (54th), Russia (56th), South Africa (67th) and Brazil (81st).
It noted that BRICS countries are not getting stronger and both China and India have slipped from their year-ago rankings.

India Related Facts:

  • In this edition of the list, India slipped by 3 places compared to 89th rank in 2016 GTI.
  • India stood on a relatively solid in pool of global knowledge skills compared with other emerging markets.
  • But in terms of retaining and attracting talent indices, India ranked lowly 104th and 114th, respectively.
  • Overall a major challenge for India is to attract talent from abroad, particularly in the context of large emigration rates of high-skilled people.
  • India has been able to create a stable pool of global knowledge skills, but still experiences a brain drain.
  • India’s ranking will improve only if it improves in its regulatory (94th) and market (99th) landscapes.

GTI global ranking of cities:
2017 edition of GTI also released the first-ever global ranking of cities on the basis of their reputation and growing footprint in attracting, growing, and retaining global talent.

Top 10 global cities in terms of talent competitiveness:

Zurich, Helsinki, San Francisco, Gothenburg, Madrid, Paris, Los Angeles, Eindhoven and Dublin. Mumbai was only Indian city to make into this list.

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5.IMF cuts India’s FY17 growth rate to 6.6% from 7.6%

Source : The Hindu

The World Economic Outlook (WEO) update released by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has cut India’s growth rate for the fiscal year 2016–17 to 6.6% from its previous estimate of 7.6%.

  • India’s growth rate was cut due to the temporary negative consumption shock of demonetisation.
  • It has dampen India’s growth by 1% point in the FY2017 and 0.4% point in FY2017, compared with IMF’s earlier projections.

Highlights of IMF’s Outlook:

  • Global economic activity will pick up pace in FY17 and FY18, especially in emerging markets and developing economies.
  • Global growth is forecast at 3.4% in FY17 against 3.1% in FY16.
  • There is marginal upward shift in prospects for the US and China until 2018 but India, Mexico and Brazil are among the large economies that have had their projections revised downwards.
  • For China, the growth forecast for FY 2017 was revised upwards, to 6.5%, 0.3% point above the October 2016 forecast.
  • In 2018, China’s growth rate is projected to be 6% against India’s 7.7%.
  • The recent election of Donald Trump as US President could have a positive impact on US economy, but extent of it could not be gauged immediately.
  • The stimulus policies expected and already underway in US and China will hold world economy from further slowdown and result in rise of global growth.
  • India’s Demonetisation move led to shortage of currency causing a slump in demand and widespread job losses dampening growth.
  • Other Asian countries such as Thailand and Indonesia will also face headwinds in medium term.

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6.India ranks 60th in Inclusive Development Index

Source : Economis times
India ranked 60th among the 79 developing countries in 2017 Inclusive Development Index (IDI) released in World Economic Forum’s (WEF) ‘Inclusive Growth and Development Report’.

  • The index is based on 12 performance indicators and countries are ranked on IDI scores based on a scale of 1-7.
  • It has three pillars Growth and Development, Inclusion and Intergenerational Equity, and Sustainability in order to provide a more complete measure of economic development than GDP growth alone.

Top 10 developing economies in 2017 IDI:

Lithuania (1st), Azerbaijan (2nd), Hungary (3rd), Poland (4th), Romania (5th), Uruguay (6th), Latvia (7th), Panama (8th), Costa Rica (9th) and Chile (10th).

Top 10 advance economies in 2017 IDI:
Norway (1st), Luxembourg (2nd), Switzerland (3th), Iceland (4th) and Denmark (5th), (6th), Netherlands (7th), Australia (8th), New Zealand (9th) and Austria (10th).

BRIC’s countries:
Russia (13th), China (30th) and Brazil (30th).

India’s neighbours:
China (15th), Nepal (27th), Bangladesh (36th) and Pakistan (52nd).

India, with a score of only 3.38, ranks low among 79 developing economies, despite its growth in GDP per capita is among the top 10 and labour productivity growth has been strong.

India scores well in terms of access to finance for business development and real economy investment.

Reasons for India’s lower rank:

  • India’s debt-to-GDP ratio is high, that raises some questions about the sustainability of government spending.
  • India’s labour force participation rate is low, informal economy is large and many workers are vulnerable to employment situations with little room for social mobility.
  • India needs more progressive tax system to raise capital for expenditures in infrastructure, health care, basic services and education.

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7.Privacy concerns over data-sharing policy: Supreme Court notices to WhatsApp, Facebook
Source : The Hindu 

Issue:

The issue raised in the petition concern the new privacy policy of WhatsApp under which the app can share data with the parent organisation Facebook. This, petition alleges, may amount to invasion of privacy of individuals. Delhi HC had earlier denied any relief and refuse to interfere with the policy of Facebook and WhatsApp.

Facebook and WhatsApp are also facing trouble in Germany over this data-sharing, with the German privacy watchdog ordering Facebook to delete whatever data it has received from WhatsApp. Unlike India, where there are no specific privacy laws to deal with user data and how it is shared and stored, Germany has strict data privacy laws.

Supreme Court Order:

The Supreme Court has issued notices to WhatsApp, Facebook and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India to explain their legal positions over privacy concerns raised in a petition on the instant messaging application’s data-sharing policy.

  • It is alleged that privacy of citizens has been infringed by the social networking sites, which amounted to infringment of Articles 19 (Freedom of Speech and Expression) and 21 (Right to Life) of the Constitution.

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