Payroll Automation for Monthly Allowance Payment (PADMA)
In News, why?
Pay Roll Automation for Disbursement of Monthly Allowances (PADMA), an automated Pay & Allowances module for the Indian Coast Guard, was recently launched by the Ministry of Defense.
What are the PADMA’s Key Highlights?
Around 15,000 members of the Indian Coast Guard will receive their pay and allowances through PADMA, an automated platform utilising cutting-edge technology.
The Defense Accounts Department oversaw the development of this module, which will be run by the Pay Accounts Office Coast Guard, Noida.
The Centralized Pay System (CPS), whose foundation is being created by the Defense Accounts Department Headquarters to offer one-stop pay accounting solutions for all organisations under the Ministry, was launched with this event.
The PADMA launch will support the Digital India Vision. Additionally, it is a “Atmanirbhar Bharat” effort because Indian entrepreneurs and industry experts worked together to create and develop the complete module.
A centralised and decentralised payment system is what?
Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) and National Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT) systems, both owned and run by the Reserve Bank, are examples of centralised payment systems in India.
RTGS: This system, which mostly caters to high-value transactions, allows for the real-time transfer of money to a beneficiary’s account.
Real-time processing refers to handling instructions as soon as they are received, whereas gross settlement denotes that each money transfer instruction is settled separately.
NEFT: This electronic fund transfer system processes batches of the transactions that have been received up to a certain point in time.
Typically, it is utilised for fund transactions up to Rs. 2 lakh.
The clearing houses run by RBI (Cheque Truncation System (CTS) centres as well as other banks (Express Cheque Clearing System (ECCS) centres and any other system as determined by RBI from time to time) would be included in the decentralised payment systems.
Cheque truncation is the process of halting the flow of a physical check issued by a drawer while it is being transported from the branch of the presenting bank to the paying bank.
System for clearing express checks: To settle a check payment, money is transferred from one account to another. Normally, the sum is credited to the deposit account and an equal sum is debited at the bank from whence it is drawn. The clearing houses run by RBI (Cheque Truncation System (CTS) centres as well as other banks (Express Cheque Clearing System (ECCS) centres and any other system as determined by RBI from time to time) would be included in the decentralised payment systems.
Cheque truncation is the process of halting the flow of a physical check issued by a drawer while it is being transported from the branch of the presenting bank to the paying bank.
System for clearing express checks: To settle a check payment, money is transferred from one account to another. Normally, the sum is credited to the deposit account and an equal sum is debited at the bank from whence it is drawn.
Indian Coast Guard: What is it?
It is an Indian agency responsible for marine law enforcement, search and rescue, and has control over all of India’s territorial seas, including the contiguous zone and the exclusive economic zone.
Contiguous zone: This is a region of water that stretches up to 24 nautical miles from the baseline from the territorial sea’s margin.
A special economic zone (SEZ) is a region of a nation that is subject to distinct economic rules from other areas of the same nation.
It is managed by the Ministry of Defense.
The idea for the ICG was born following the war of 1971.
The creative Rustamji Committee came up with the design for a multifunctional Coast Guard.
Functions: Smuggling Prevention: The ICG’s main responsibility is to stop smuggling through marine routes.
It has jurisdiction over India’s territorial waters, including the Exclusive Economic Zone and Contiguous Zone (EEZ).
Aid to Civil Authority: During numerous “Aid to Civil Authority” activities, such as support for civil authority during floods, cyclones, and other natural calamities, it has also saved over 13,000 personnel.
In order to combat transnational maritime crimes and improve maritime safety in its purview and in the Indian Ocean Region, it is also working with littoral nations.
The ICG has fostered cross-ocean professional partnerships and links with nations in the Indian Ocean Region for Ocean Peacekeeping as part of the SAGAR – Security and Growth for All in the Region & “Neighbourhood First” policy.
Disaster management role: The ICG has become the “First Responder” in the area by effectively averting significant ecological disasters.
By way of illustration, the most recent mission was “Sagar Aarakshan-II” onboard Chemical Carrier MV X-v, a significant fire-fighting and pollution response operation off the coast of Sri Lanka.
The Horn of Africa is home to China
In News, why?
A conference on peace, governance, and development between China and Africa was recently conducted.
China’s stated intention to “play a role in the domain of security” is new.
Foreign Ministries from the following Horn of Africa nations took part in the conference that was held in Ethiopia: Kenya, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia, South Sudan, and Uganda.
The Horn of Africa is what?
A peninsula in northeastern Africa is known as the Horn of Africa.
It is the fourth largest peninsula in the globe and is situated on the easternmost point of the African continent.
It stretches hundreds of kilometres into the Gulf of Aden, the Indian Ocean, and the Guardafui Channel from where it lies at the southern edge of the Red Sea.
The Tropic of Cancer and the Equator are both equally distant from the Horn of Africa.
The Horn is made up of a variety of regions, including the beaches of Eritrea and Somalia, the Ogaden Desert, and the highlands of the Ethiopian Plateau.
The area that includes Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somalia is known as the Horn of Africa.
The region has been affected by imperialism, neocolonialism, the Cold War, ethnic warfare within Africa, poverty, disease, famine, and many other things.
What recent Chinese projects are there?
China declared its three goals for Africa in January 2022: containing the epidemic, putting the FOCAC outcomes into practise, and defending shared interests while opposing hegemonic politics.
The Horn as a whole participated in the 2021 forum, and four resolutions were approved:
The Action Plan of Dakar:
The Forum has been strongly promoting the development of relations between China and Africa over the past 21 years since its inception, according to the two sides, who also believe that it has become an important benchmark for international cooperation with Africa. The two sides applaud the development of relations between China and Africa.
It was created to establish the goals and directions of medium- and long-term cooperation and to advance a closer community with a shared destiny for China and Africa.
Aiming to improve coordination and collaboration in the multilateral climate process and collectively protect the legitimate rights and interests of China, Africa, and other developing nations, the Sino-African Declaration on Climate Change aims to increase coordination and cooperation.
The Dakar Declaration of the Eighth Ministerial Conference of FOCAC was unanimously adopted by both parties under the theme “Deepen China-Africa Partnership and Promote Sustainable Development to Build a China-Africa Community with a Shared Future in the New Era” and their shared commitment to the growth of FOCAC and the deepening of the China-Africa comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership.
The FOCAC encourages China’s contribution to the Horn’s socioeconomic and infrastructure development.
China sent more than 3,00,000 vaccines to Ethiopia and Uganda during the Covid-19 pandemic and 2,00,000 vaccines to Kenya and Somalia. China’s vaccination diplomacy has also aided Sudan and Eritrea.
What are the main regional interests of China?
Infrastructure: One of its notable initiatives was fully supporting the African Union’s Addis Abeba headquarters, which cost $200 million.
The Mombasa-Nairobi rail link in Kenya is another project in which China has invested, and it has previously completed railroad projects in Sudan.
Additionally, it has a healthy market for military equipment in Ethiopia and has completed more than 80 infrastructure projects there, including hospitals, roads, schools, and stadiums.
China is funding 14 infrastructure projects in Djibouti.
Financial support: With a debt of approximately USD 14 billion, Ethiopia is one of the top five African countries where China invests.
67 percent of Kenya’s bilateral debt is with China.
China committed to helping Eritrea with USD 15.7 million in 2022.
Natural resources (oil and coal): Ethiopian minerals like gold, iron ore, precious stones, chemicals, oil, and natural gas are of interest to China as well.
Since Beijing’s initial involvement into the petroleum business in 1995, South Sudan, a source of petroleum products, has seen ongoing investment from Beijing.
Maritime Interests: Djibouti is home to China’s sole military outpost outside of its continental territory.
China made a suggestion in 2022 that it would be willing to expand Eritrea’s coastline, which would connect to China’s projects in Ethiopia, a landlocked country.
The United States has conjectured that China wants to expand its military footprint in the region by constructing another military base in Kenya or Tanzania.
Does China abandon its non-intervention stance?
Chinese investments in Africa may result in stable conditions that aid in the achievement of the continent’s goals for peace and prosperity. Conflict in the area has a high cost for China.
Over 600 Chinese nationals who were working on various projects in Ethiopia at the time of the conflict’s outbreak were evacuated, placing multiple investments at danger.
The region is crucial to attaining the goals of the China-Africa Cooperation Vision 2035 from a trading standpoint.
China’s efforts to promote peace in Africa signal a change in its non-interventionist guiding philosophy.
China wants the world to know that it is in the continent for a bigger purpose than just the Horn of Africa.
This involves a desire to elevate its worldwide stature and project itself as a world leader.
Additionally, recent events seem to indicate that China is planning to invest in a multidimensional growth in the continent over the long term.
China’s presence offers Africa an option to the European powers, many of whom are under fire from the continent’s governments.
African countries also get along better with nations like China and Russia than governments that adhere to Western notions of democracy.
What does the Horn of Africa mean for India?
Interest in Africa has increased:
India has been increasingly interested in Africa for political, economic, and security reasons, particularly the Horn of Africa sub-region.
Distance from an Oil-Producing Region:
Due to its proximity to the Middle Eastern region’s oil-producing region, the Horn of Africa is crucial from a strategic perspective.
The Red Sea’s shipping routes see almost 40% of the oil that is produced in the Middle East.
Djibouti serves as a bottleneck on this maritime route. This is the rationale behind the presence of military bases in Djibouti by nations including the United States, France, and China.
As a result of India’s increased reliance on maritime lines of communication for its economic development, Delhi stated that its national interests extended from “Aden to Malacca” rather than just the Indian Subcontinent.
What worries India about China’s presence?
Possession of the Indian Ocean:
Djibouti, which is located on the northern tip of the Indian Ocean, has the potential to join China’s “string of pearls” of military ties and allies that surround India, which also includes Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka.
In recent days, China has increased activities in the Indian Ocean, which India believes to be within its sphere of influence, citing freedom of navigation and anti-piracy patrols. The Indian Navy has been compelled to increase surveillance of the critical seas.
China aims to exert control over Important Shipping Routes
80 percent of the world’s oil and 30 percent of the bulk cargo are transported through the shipping channels of the Indian Ocean. China wants to protect its commercial and energy transit ties along important marine routes.
Influencing Indian Ocean nations:
Nations aiming for a stronger role in international affairs are increasingly using the Indian Ocean as a proving ground. China is investing in facilities including ports, roads, and trains in an effort to gain favour and influence among the nations of the Indian Ocean.
Building ports and other infrastructure in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Pakistan is part of China’s strategy to increase its influence in the Indian Ocean.
Expanding through OBOR:
China’s ambitious One Belt, One Road (OBOR) programme to create a new Silk Route places a lot of emphasis on the Indian Ocean.
India has avoided using OBOR as its focal point.
India should pay closer attention to the current circumstances and power dynamics in the Horn of Africa since what happens there directly affects India’s security and well-being.
To be able to meaningfully contribute to the problem’s settlement, India would be well advised to become more active in exploring and having in-depth discussions with the governments in Eastern Africa, the African Union, and other parties involved.
Council for Goods and Services Tax
In News, why?
In order to simplify the rate structure, officials recently agreed raising the rates for several goods and services at the 47th meeting of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council, which was presided over by the Union Finance Minister.
The GST Council: What is It?
Background: After the Constitutional (122nd Amendment) Bill was approved by both Houses of Parliament in 2016, the Goods and Services Tax regime went into effect.
The President then gave his assent after it had been approved by the state assemblies of more than 15 Indian states.
The GST Council is a venue that the federal government and the states collaborate on.
According to Article 279A (1) of the modified Constitution, the President established it.
Members of the Council include the Union Minister of State (Finance) from the Centre and the Union Finance Minister (chairperson).
A minister in charge of finances, taxes, or any other minister may be proposed for membership by each state.
Functions: According to Article 279, the Council is responsible for “making recommendations to the Union and the States on major GST-related issues, such as the GST-eligible products and services and model GST Laws.”
It also determines the different GST rate slabs.
For instance, a panel of ministers’ interim report recommended taxing horse racing, online gaming, and casinos with a 28 percent GST.
This is the first meeting since the Supreme Court ruled in May 2022 that the GST Council’s recommendations are not legally enforceable.
According to the court, Article 246A of the Constitution grants both the federal government and state legislatures “simultaneous” authority to enact laws governing the GST, and the council’s proposals “are the result of a cooperative conversation including the Union and States.”
Some states, including Kerala and Tamil Nadu, applauded this because they think states can be more accommodating in embracing the recommendations as they are appropriate for them.
What is the Goods and Services Tax (GST)?
The 101st Constitution Amendment Act of 2016 brought in the GST.
One of the biggest indirect tax measures ever implemented in the nation.
One Nation One Tax served as its campaign slogan for its introduction.
Indirect taxes including excise duty, Value Added Tax (VAT), service tax, luxury tax, etc. have been incorporated into the GST.
It is basically a consumption tax that is assessed at the moment of final consumption.
A shared national market has resulted from the introduction of the GST, which was implemented to reduce double taxation, the cascading effect of taxes, the complexity of taxes, categorization issues, etc.
A merchant can later offset the tax that is levied on the provision of finished products and services by the GST that was paid on inputs (i.e., goods and services purchased).
The input tax credit is the name for the set-off tax.
The cascading effect, or tax on tax, which raises the tax burden on the final consumer, is avoided by the GST.
What is the GST’s Importance?
Develop a Single Common Market:
Assist India in developing a single common national market. Additionally, it will support the “Make in India” initiative and foreign investment.
By coordinating laws, processes, and tax rates between the federal government and individual states.
Boosting Tax Compliance improved compliance environment since all returns must be filed online, input credits must be validated online, and more paper records of transactions are encouraged at all supply chain levels;
Discourage tax evasion:
By removing rate arbitrage between neighbouring States and that between intra- and inter-state sales, uniform SGST and IGST rates will lessen the motivation for evasion.
Bring about Clarity:
The taxation system will be more certain if there are uniform procedures for taxpayer registration, tax refunds, tax return forms, common tax bases, and a common system of classifying products and services;
Increasing the use of IT will result in fewer interactions between taxpayers and tax administration that require human interaction, greatly lowering corruption;
Boost Secondary Sector:
It will improve manufacturing and export activity, create more jobs, and raise GDP (Gross Domestic Product), with gainful employment resulting in significant economic growth.
What Problems Are Related to GST?
Several Tax Rates:
India has multiple tax rates, in contrast to many other economies that have adopted similar tax system. The implementation of a single indirect tax rate on all commodities and services in the nation is hampered as a result.
While the GST eliminated many taxes and cesses, a new tax in the form of a compensatory cess was instituted for luxury and sinful items. Later, this was extended to cover vehicles.
The wisdom of guaranteed compensation for states has been strengthened by the Union government’s propensity to levy and appropriate cess income for itself without sharing them with the states.
As the GST failed to deliver on its economic promises, it proved to be foresighted because this guarantee protected state revenues.
Economy not covered by the GST: Nearly half of the GDP is still exempt from GST. Duty on things like petroleum, real estate, and electricity is still exempt from the GST.
The difficulty of submitting taxes: The GST statute mandates that certain types of taxpayers submit their GST yearly returns together with a GST audit. However, for taxpayers, filing annual returns can be challenging and confusing. In addition, the annual report contains a lot of information that is omitted from the monthly and quarterly forms.
Higher Tax Rates: Despite rationalised rates, 50% of items still fall inside the 18% tax bracket. In addition, several necessities for fighting the pandemic were subject to additional taxes. For instance, there is a tax of 12% on oxygen concentrators and 5% on vaccines and foreign aid.
The Council’s decisions must continue to be made in accordance with the consultative and consensus-building processes that have benefited them so far.
The trust gap between the Center and states must first be filled in order to address the difficult problems. It is important to maintain the cooperative federalism spirit that the current administration frequently promotes.
Acts of good faith are the only way to fill the trust gap. The Union government should assure the states that it won’t impose cesses and surcharges outside of the sharing revenue pool. It must decide to uphold its promise to the states to provide a revenue guarantee. It must protect and respect the real principles of political and constitutional federalism as well as fiscal federalism.
In contrast to most federal democracies, democratically elected state governments in India do not hold exclusive authority over both direct and indirect taxation. The GST centralised indirect taxation in India. It is time to launch a national conversation about turning the tide and moving toward decentralization by granting governments the authority to levy direct taxes. The Union government’s pledge to start these negotiations will be a positive sign for the states’ fiscal flexibility and confidence.
In News, why?
The most recent Lancet Study claims that curbing speeding might prevent 20,000 fatalities in India each year.
Interventions concentrating on four important risk factors, such as speeding, drunk driving, not wearing a crash helmet, and not wearing a seatbelt, could reduce the 13.5 lakh fatal road injuries that occur year worldwide by 25 to 40 percent.
What are the main points?
The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways’ 2020 report states that 1,31,714 people died in India as a result of traffic accidents.
3 percent of fatalities were the result of speeding.
Death rates increased by 30.1 percent when helmets were not worn.
5 percent of fatalities were related to not using a seatbelt.
RTIs are the first cause of death in the 5-29 year age group and the ninth leading cause of death worldwide for all ages.
India is responsible for 10% of all crash-related fatalities while having only 1% of the world’s vehicles.
What role does road safety play in India?
In terms of traffic share and economic impact on the country, road transportation is the predominant means of transportation in India.
The number of cars on the road and the size of the road network have grown throughout time to accommodate the demand for road transportation.
Increased traffic accidents and fatal traffic accidents are a negative externality of the country’s growing road network, motorization, and urbanisation.\
Deficits in infrastructure include shoddy conditions for both automobiles and roads, low visibility, and poor road engineering, including poor material and construction quality, particularly for single-lane highways with abrupt curves.
Overspeeding, driving when intoxicated or stoned, being tired or riding without a helmet, and not using a seatbelt are all examples of negligence and hazards.
Distraction: Talking on cell phones while driving is now a leading contributor to traffic accidents.
Overloading: To reduce transportation costs.
India’s lax vehicle safety regulations: 2014 crash tests by the Global New Car Assessment Programme (NCAP) showed that some of the most popular car models in India failed the frontal impact crash test as required by the UN.
Road accidents cost India 3% of its GDP, and the majority of them may be avoided.
Social: Burden on Households:
Every road accident death depletes the household income of poor households for roughly seven months, sending the victims’ relatives into a vicious circle of debt and destitution.
Vulnerable Road Users (VRUs):
VRUs are disproportionately affected by traffic accidents and are responsible for more than half of all fatalities and serious injuries.
The category of VRUs is frequently made up of the underprivileged, particularly male road users of working age.
Women in the victims’ families carried the weight in both wealthy and poor households, frequently taking on extra work, taking on more responsibility, and providing care.
Traffic Crash Injuries and Disabilities: The Burden on Indian Society, 2021, a World Bank report claims.
The drop in their household income following a crash had a significant impact on about 50% of women.
After the accident, about 40% of women said their work schedules had changed, and 11% said they had taken on more work to help with the financial problem.
Compared to low-income urban (29.5%) and high-income rural families, the income loss for low-income rural households (56%) was the greatest (39.5 percent ).
How might traffic accidents be reduced?
With the use of E-challans, fraud in the collection of traffic-related fines can be reduced.
Speed-Detection Equipment: It is possible to install speed detection equipment that has been successfully used, such as radar and speed detection camera systems.
Both Chandigarh and New Delhi have already started using speed detection technology, including as digital still cameras, speed cameras, and radar guns, to regulate traffic.
Police officers utilise handheld radar guns to determine a passing vehicle’s speed.
Improved Safety Measures:
Roundabouts, raised platforms, speed bumps, and visual markings can significantly lower traffic accidents.
Stricter Regulations and Large Penalties: In order to decrease traffic rule infractions, heavy motor vehicle fines may be levied on offenders, particularly when they are operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, cannabis, or another narcotic.
Vehicle Safety Standards: It should be made a requirement for vehicles to include safety features including electronic stability control, effective car crash standards, and improved brakes.
Bharat NCAP was recently implemented by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (New Car Assessment Programme).
Bystanders have a significant impact on post-crash care. They participate by triggering the emergency response system and make quick decisions that could save lives until help arrives from professionals.
Building capability in road safety audits and road safety engineering requires the organisation of training courses and training workshops.
What road safety initiatives are there?
International: 2015 Brasilia Declaration on Road Safety
At the second Global High-Level Conference on Road Safety, which took place in Brazil, the declaration was signed. India is one of the Declaration’s signatories.
The nations intend to meet Sustainable Development Goal 3.6, which calls for halving the number of fatalities and injuries resulting from traffic accidents worldwide by 2030.
India’s 2019 Motor Vehicle Amendment Act
The Act increases fines for moving infractions, defective cars, underage driving, etc.
It calls for the creation of a Motor Vehicle Accident Fund, which would require all Indian road users to carry insurance coverage for a specific range of accidents.
Additionally, it calls for the establishment of a National Road Safety Board by the Central Government.
The 2007 Carriage by Road Act:
The Act regulates common carriers, sets limits on their liability, and requires them to declare the value of the goods they receive in order to determine their responsibility for loss or damage to those goods caused by their own negligence, that of their employees or agents, or by criminal activity, as well as for matters related to or incidental to that.
The Control of National Highways (Land and Traffic) Act of 2000:
The Act addresses the management of right-of-way, traffic, and land within National Highways, as well as the eviction of unlawful occupants from such areas.
The National Highways Authority of India Act, 1998, establishes a body to oversee the construction, upkeep, and management of national highways as well as any issues that may arise in the course of such activities.
Exercise 2022: Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC)
In News, why?
From June 29 to August 4, the RIMPAC-22 exercise will take place in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California. 27 nations are taking part in this year’s multi-dimensional exercise.
The US is in charge of one of the biggest biannual international naval exercises.
The US, Australia, and Canada began holding the RIMPAC as an annual exercise in 1971. But starting in 1974, maritime exercises were held every two years.
Its objectives include increasing interoperability and fostering trust between the Navies of friendly foreign nations.
Message for 2022:
RIMPAC 2022’s theme is “competent, adaptable partners.”
India took part in RIMPAC for the first time in 2014 with the locally constructed INS Sahyadri, a stealth frigate of the Shivalik class.
In the 2018 iteration of the competition, INS Sahyadri once more represented the nation.
Between, INS Satpura participated in the maritime exercise in 2016. The Indian Navy participated in the wargames before to 2014 just as an observer during the editions held in 2006, 2010 and 2012.
What characteristics does the P81 Maritime Patrol Aircraft have?
Boeing is producing the P-8I, a long-range, multi-mission maritime patrol aircraft, for the Indian Navy.
Its purpose was to safeguard India’s coastline and exclusive economic zone. It is capable of conducting maritime patrol, intelligence, anti-surface warfare (ASW), anti-submarine warfare (ASW), and surveillance and reconnaissance duties.
The drill is currently being conducted with participation from the Indian Navy’s INS Satpura and one P8I maritime patrol aircraft.
INS SATPURA: What is it?
The 6000-ton guided missile stealth frigate INS Satpura was conceived and constructed in-country and is outfitted to hunt down and destroy enemies on land, at sea, and in the air.
In celebration of India’s 75th anniversary of independence, the Eastern Fleet’s front-line INS Satpura, stationed in Visakhapatnam, is now on an extended operational deployment.