20&21, August 2017

1.Ministry of Defence approves delegation of Powers to Border Roads Organisation
Source: PIB, The Hindu

Functioning under the control of the Ministry of Defence since 2015, the BRO is engaged in road construction to provide connectivity to difficult and inaccessible regions in the border areas of the country.


Completion of strategic border roads has been delayed as was highlighted on various occasions by the Comptroller and Auditor-General and the Parliamentary Standing Committee.

Powers revised:

The Defence Ministry has delegated administrative and financial powers right up to the level of Chief Engineer and task force commander.

  • Now, a Chief Engineer of BRO can accord administrative approval up to Rs. 50 crore
  • Additional Director-General (ADG) up to Rs. 75 crore
  • Director-General (DG) up to Rs. 100 crore

Earlier, a Chief Engineer in the BRO could give administrative approval of works up to Rs. 10 crore and ADG up to Rs. 20 crore for departmental works. For contractual works, all administrative approvals were given by the DGBR, who had powers only up to Rs. 50 crore.


2.Corporate governance: Focus on SEBI
Source: The Hindu


The exit of Vishal Sikka as the chief of Infosys brings forth the issue of corporate governance yet again. Market participants said the capital markets regulator, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), needed to intervene in such matters to protect the interest of investors, especially the retail segment.

Market participants suggest:

A three-tier system for firms, with a supervisory board at the top to be constituted and it should lay down the framework for the functioning of the board of directors. The board of directors, in turn, oversees the functioning of the executive management.

SEBI had constituted a committee on corporate governance under the chairmanship of Uday Kotak in June this year. The committee is expected to submit its report within four months.

About Corporate governance:

  • Corporate governance is the system of rules, practices and processes by which a company is directed and controlled
  • Corporate governance essentially involves balancing the interests of a company’s many stakeholders, such as shareholders, management, customers, suppliers, financiers, government and the community
  • Since corporate governance also provides the framework for attaining a company’s objectives, it encompasses practically every sphere of management, from action plans and internal controls to performance measurement and corporate disclosure


3.Studying the great American Solar eclipse
Source: The Hindu

About 16% of the U.S. territory will witness a total eclipse. This eclipse has the special feature of lasting for so long over the mainland for about 2 minutes and 41.6 sec at Carbondale, Illinois.

Scientists across the world are trying to use it to verify their theories on the Sun. This can help them model “space weather”. And predict solar storms that can affect the operation of satellites and even electric power grids on Earth.


4. Artificial intelligence imperils India Inc jobs

Source: The Hindu

The IT services industry alone is set to lose 6.4 lakh low-skilled positions to automation by 2021.

Artificial intelligence or AI may become the new world order in the years to come. The software, ‘driving’ the cart, had been developed by Infosys together with IIT-Delhi. The vehicle can be used on a pre-determined route.

Impact on IT

  • The emergence of new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and automation are going to be the new drivers of employment, especially for India’s $150 billion information technology (IT) industry that now employs about four million people.
  • Over the past two years, Bengaluru-based Infosys, which crossed a revenue of $10.2 billion in the 2016-17 fiscal, has revamped the way it trains staff
  • With the advances in automation technology, there are jobs that are going to be replaced by automated processes that demand the young professionals to prepare for life-long learning and not be dependent on just getting a degree for the sake of employment

Job losses

  • Automation threatens 69% of the jobs in India, while its 77% in China, according to a World Bank research.
  • If it (automation) is not planned well and addressed holistically, it is a disaster in the making and there is no doubt about that it is going to affect 60%-70% of the current jobs. They will either get marginalised or totally eliminated. The transition will happen in a decade and not in 50 or 100 years.
  • The era of digitisation and automation will create newer career choices for IT professionals. The new job roles that will dominate the IT workforce are within digital domains such as big data, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing and cyber security
  • While there is a risk to jobs due to these trends, the good news is that a huge number of new jobs are getting created as well in areas like cyber security, cloud, big data, machine learning and AI. It is clearly a time of career pivot for IT professionals to make sure they are where the growth is.

Drones, robots

  • The impact of automation is not just limited to the country’s information technology industry but other areas as well such as agriculture. Tata Group is working on a precision agriculture technology where an unmanned aerial vehicle or a drone can be used for aerial spraying on farms.
  • Companies like Skylark Drones is providing its unmanned aerial vehicles to enterprises for services such as land surveying, power line inspection and monitoring of construction, pipelines and crop health.


5.Data shows new tax regime widely adopted
Source: The Hindu

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) is one of the biggest tax reforms in India. The goal of GST, which is ‘one nation, one tax, one market,’ a shot-in-the-arm for the country’s ease-of-doing-business initiatives, is laudable.

Positive outcomes

  • In the long term, GST is likely to achieve improvements in the system efficiency, simplification and rationalisation of taxes, and the shift of business activity from the unorganised to the organised segment.
  • The resultant widening of tax base, along with traceability of transactions, is bound to add to the exchequer despite reduction in tax burden on the consumption of common goods.
  • GST has impacted positively the transport and logistics sector: movement of trucks has increased; time required to cover distances has come down drastically, and pollution levels have come down with increased truck speeds.

Uniform interface, a first

GSTN or the GST Network, cutting through traditional silos, has established for the first time a uniform interface for the taxpayer and a common and shared IT (information technology) infrastructure between the Centre and the States.

A complex exercise involving the integration of the entire indirect tax ecosystem, the tax regime has brought all the tax administrations (Centre, State and Union Territories) to the same level of IT maturity with uniform formats and interfaces for taxpayers and external stakeholders.

The legacy image of the revenue officer or taxman is gradually shifting from being intimidatingly adversarial to being a persuasive guide and facilitator.

Some Problems flagged by different sectors

  • The healthcare industry has sought that services be zero-rated rather than exempt so that providers can avail of input tax credit;
  • hybrid vehicle manufacturers ask for 28% without cess;
  • power distribution projects under various government programmes, and
  • Urgent intervention of the GST Council is requested towards huge losses to be suffered by units located in the exemption areas on account of non-availability of credit of excise duty which is inbuilt in the manufacturing cost of the opening stock of goods in the GST regime.

Indian industry is hopeful that the Centre will look into the problems and work to quickly resolve the same, ironing out interpretational issues.


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