PRELIM SNIPPETS – February 14th 2022
1. National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration (NIEPA)
Why in News?
- The Ministry of Education has recently presented the 5th National Award for Innovations and Good Practices in Educational Administration (IGPEA).
- The National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration (NIEPA) has instituted the National Award for IGPEA for District and Block Level Education Officers.
- NIEPA, under the Ministry of Education, is a premier organization dealing with capacity building and research in planning and management of education not only in India but also in South Asia.
- It was launched by NIEPA in 2014 with an aim to encourage innovations and good practices in educational administration at grassroot level for improving the functioning of the public system of education.
- Its objectives is to recognise innovative ideas and practices adopted by the district and block level education officers for effective management of the educational administrative system at the district and block levels.
- The educational officers at the field level are also an essential link between system level administration and institutional level management of education. Role of these officers is crucial in the process of implementation of policies and programmes at the field level.
- Some of the major areas wherein the officers have initiated many interventions include – the use of ICT to the extent of digital classrooms, use of Facebook and WhatsApp; mobilization of physical, human and financial resources; improving infrastructure facilities within the schools, community mobilization and support; skill building, especially language skills; capacity building of the teachers and interventions related to enhancement in the quality of the overall function of the schools.
2. Income Tax (IT) Act 1961
Why in News?
- Recently, The Union Budget 2022-23 brought in some amendments to the Income Tax (IT) Act 1961 that would be effective retrospectively.
- A retrospective tax is one that is charged for transactions in the long past. It can be a new or additional charge on transactions done in the past.
- Ideally, retrospective tax is to make adjustments when policies in the past and the present are so vastly different that tax paid before under the old policy could be said to have been less. Retrospective tax could correct that situation by charging tax under the existing policy.
- Retrospective taxation allows a nation to implement a rule to impose a tax on certain products, goods or services and deals and charge companies from a time before the date on which the law is passed.
- Countries use this form of taxation to rectify any deviations in the taxation policies that, in the past, allowed firms to take benefit from any loophole. It affects companies that had unknowingly or knowingly used the tax rules differently.
- Not only India, but many other countries like the US, UK, Australia, Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, and Italy have retrospectively taxed firms.
- Making a retrospective amendment to the IT Act from 2005-06, the Budget has clarified that cess and surcharge will not be allowed to be claimed as deductions in the form of expenditure, a practice that some companies and businesses were resorting to in the absence of legal clarity.
- Citing some court rulings over the years that had given benefit to taxpayers in claiming cess as expenditure and not tax, the tax department said the retrospective amendment is being done to correct the anomaly.
- This amendment will take effect retrospectively from 1st April, 2005 and will accordingly apply in relation to the assessment year 2005-06 and subsequent assessment years.
- The change Is being brought from AY 2005-06 as education cess was brought in for the first time by the Finance Act, 2004.
- The court rulings differentiated between income tax and education cess on income tax, and in absence of a specific disallowance for ‘education cess’, courts had taken a view beneficial for taxpayers in many cases.
- In order to nullify the effect of such court rulings and to consider such rulings against the intention of the law, a clarificatory amendment has been introduced in the income tax law, providing that any surcharge or education cess on income tax shall not be allowed as business expenditure.
3. The Mekedatu Balancing Reservoir-cum-Drinking Water Project
Why in News?
- Tamil Nadu has rejected the idea for an exclusive discussion by the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) on the Mekedatu Balancing Reservoir-cum-Drinking Water Project proposed by Karnataka.
- Tamil Nadu reiterated its position that there should be no discussion on the subject, which was sub judice.
- Tamil Nadu has protested against Karnataka’s move to build a reservoir on river Cauvery at Mekedatu. It is “not acceptable” to the state that Karnataka wants to utilise 4.75 tmc as drinking water from a reservoir with a storage capacity of 67tmc ft.
- However, the Karnataka Government has asserted that there is no “compromise” on the Mekedatu project and the state wants to undertake the project.
- Mekedatu is a multipurpose (drinking and power) project.
- It involves building a balancing reservoir, near Kanakapura in Ramanagara district in Karnataka.
- The project once completed is aimed at ensuring drinking water to Bengaluru and neighboring areas (4.75 TMC) and also can generate 400 MW power.
- The estimated cost of the project is Rs 9,000 crore.
4. Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA):
Why in News?
- The interim trade agreement between India and Australia is unlikely to include items that both sides consider “sensitive”.
- The Indian and Australian negotiators will have the final “interim agreement” ready in 30 days and that the agreement will be a “win-win” document.
- India’s exports to Australia amounted to $4.04 billion while imports were $8.24 billion in FY21.
- Major Indian exports to Australia are petroleum products, medicines, polished diamonds, gold jewellery, apparel etc, while key Australian exports to India include coal, LNG, alumina and non-monetary gold.
- In services, major Indian exports include travel, telecom and computer, government and financial services, while Australian services exports were principally in education and personal travel.
- In 2020, India was Australia’s seventh-largest trading partner and sixth largest export destination, driven by coal and international education.
- The Interim agreement will mark the beginning of a phase of FTAs that India is aiming to achieve in the coming year.
- Apart from Australia, India is in talks to conclude similar FTAs and early harvest deals with Israel, Canada, the European Union and the United Arab Emirates.
- The Gulf Cooperation Council – the six country block – has also shown interest in concluding an FTA with India. The GCC includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and also the UAE.