🛑Well begun is not always half done, and, in any case, half done is never good enough. The Centre’s response to the Supreme Court that the modalities of the expansive assistance programme for children orphaned by COVID-19, announced by the Prime Minister, were yet to be formulated comes as a disappointment. While rightly feted for its announcement of a comprehensive programme for the most vulnerable section of the population during this COVID-19 pandemic, children, the Centre did not lay down procedural formalities for implementation. It is clear from the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights’ submission in the Supreme Court that nearly 10,000 children are in need of immediate care and protection. They include children aged between zero and 17 years orphaned or abandoned during the COVID-19 pandemic since March 2020. The total was 9,346 children who have been affected, including 1,742 children who lost both parents, 7,464 who have lost one parent, and 140 who have been abandoned from March 2020 to May 29, 2021. It further told the apex court that these children run a high risk of being pushed into trafficking and the flesh trade. There is thus no doubt that time is of the essence here.
Given the urgency of rescuing these children, the Government cannot dawdle over figuring out implementation strategies. A swift laying down of processes and monitoring mechanisms to kick start rescue and relief, besides undertaking the continuing process of estimating beneficiaries is needed. Children have little or no agency of their own and are still dependent on adults to get by, and the disruption that COVID-19 has wrought on their lives is devastating. The experience of States that sprang to the assistance of children orphaned by the Indian Ocean tsunami can be factored in — they were embraced into the safety net of the social security system, and funds were placed in a trust for them for use when they reach a certain age. While the plans announced under the PM CARES Fund include this, and are far more expansive looking at funding schooling, higher education, even health insurance, a promise is nothing if not fulfilled. The responsibility of the Government now is to go the full mile to ensure that these benefits reach every child fitting the criteria, besides making sure that the children are not exploited with an eye on the eventual bounty. Several States have announced their child-care packages on similar lines too, with some setting up monitoring committees to ensure implementation. Sincere implementation through committed staff, and using existing systems such as 1098 for periodic identification of children in need would be the cornerstones of such a project, especially at a time when the onslaught of COVID-19 is far from over.
1.Lay Down (Phrasal Verb)-formulate and enforce or insist on a rule or principle. निर्धारित करना
2.Run A High Risk (Phrase)-to subject oneself to a particular risk or a high probability of a negative or unfortunate outcome.
3.Pushed Into (Phrasal Verb)-to force someone into a situation.
4.Trafficking (N)-the activity of buying and selling goods or people illegally. अवैध व्यापार
5.Dawdle Over (Phrasal Verb)-to waste time rather than work diligently on something.
6.Swift (Adj)-happening quickly or promptly. शीघ्र
7.Disruption (N)-disturbance or problems which interrupt an event, activity, or process. विघटन
8.Devastating (Adj)-highly destructive or damaging. भयानक
9.Cornerstones (N)-an important quality or feature on which a particular thing depends or is based. आधार
10.Onslaught (N)-a sudden and severe onset of trouble.
🛑Several anxieties faced by students, parents and schools have been calmed by the decision to cancel the Central Board of Secondary Education Class XII examination following a review by the Centre. Shaken by the carnage wrought by the second wave of the pandemic, the Government had little choice but to act against possible fresh clusters of infection, although that will mean considerably limited opportunities for students. Hopes for predictability in 2021, after the traumatic experience of students all through last year, have been dashed by the emergence of the double mutant variant of the coronavirus that has spread far and wide because of superspreader events. The Government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi were obviously anxious to be seen as acting decisively on the examination question, after a long phase of dithering in formulating a national response. The decision to cancel the crucial Class XII public examination and replace it with an objective assessment for certification will help boards of education in the States to move in the same direction. Some pointers to an assessment scheme can be found in the CBSE’s submission to the Supreme Court last year, when the pandemic prevented the completion of Class XII examinations: for students who could not take the examination, as in Delhi, the internal, practical, and project assessment was proposed as a proxy to arrive at results, with an option to improve performance at a subsequent examination. The Board must now come up with a model scientific scheme.
The decision to cancel the examination in 2021 may have resolved a prickly issue, but the question of national entrance examinations — such as NEET and JEE — need to be addressed. Importantly, the Centre must recognise that major factors such as non-availability of enough vaccine doses, absence of a systematic vaccine coverage plan, and poor understanding of where virus variants are spreading, contributed to the second wave, and may, in fact, cause a third. For instance, there is better comprehension in Britain of where the variant of concern initially isolated from India, B.1.617.2, is spreading in that country because it has a robust genome sequencing programme. Such sharp insight, together with the availability of free and widespread testing, is crucial to stop waves of infections that threaten to hobble the country. The plight of students, which is engaging governments, has to become a top priority. Singapore has just approved mRNA vaccine coverage for children 12 years and older, just as the U.S. regulator FDA has for 12 to 15-year-olds. Britain has thought of 100 extra tuition hours for schools from 2022. There cannot be an interminable wait for vaccines to trickle down to all. The Centre must take responsibility to provide them to everyone, including students.
1.Carnage (N)-a situation in which there is a lot of death and destruction.
2.Traumatic (Adj)-deeply disturbing or distressing.
3.Anxious (Adj)-worried and nervous. चिंतित
4.Decisively (Adv)-in a way that shows the ability to make decisions quickly and effectively. निश्चित रूप से
5.Dithering (N)-a state of indecision or agitation. दुविधा में होना
6.Prickly (Adj)-difficult, complicated, tricky, intricate, troublesome.
7.Hobble (V)-hamper the action or progress of.
8.Interminable (Adj)-continual, endless, continuous, eternal, perennial.
🛑Mehul Choksi was kidnapped, didn't go to Dominica of his free will: Lawyer
ANI | 03/06/2021 | 1 hour ago
Mehul Choksi was kidnapped, didn't go to Dominica of his own free will, said fugitive diamantaire's lawyer Vijay Aggarwal said on Wednesday and added that the only question in front of the Dominican court is where he entered Dominica illegally or not and whether the local police has the right to keep him in custody.
Aggarwal said that according to Dominican law, any arrested accused has to be presented before the court in 72 hours and added that because Choki was not presented in court within the prescribed time, the court has ordered to produce him before the magistrate at 4 pm (Dominica time).
"The only question before the court is that whether he entered Dominica illegally or not, whether he's liable to be detained. Whether Dominican police have the right to keep him in custody. How'll he be deported isn't a question before the court," he said.
"We said that he was kidnapped and didn't go to Dominica of his own free will. Here under section 6 of Dominica's Passport and Immigration Act, he is not a prohibited immigrant, therefore he has not committed any crime and Dominica police cannot arrest him," the lawyer added.
Aggarwal claimed that the hearing in Mehul Choksi matter in Dominica court is over.
"On the basis of Magistrate's order, the discussion will resume in court tomorrow. It proved our stand that Dominican police committed illegality by not producing him within 72 hours. The court agreed and said irregularity needs to be corrected," the lawyer added.
Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi are accused in the Rs 13,500 crore Punjab National Bank fraud case. Choksi fled the country was granted citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda in January 2018. He is involved in a legal battle to prevent his extradition to India.
Antigua police launched a manhunt for Mehul Choksi last month after his lawyer said that family members were worried as Choksi was missing. He was apprehended in Dominica and is in the custody of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the country.
🛑Donald Trump shuts down his social media site within a month of launch
IANS | 03/06/2021 | 1 hour ago
Former US President Donald Trump has shut down his personal social media platform launched less than a month ago in lieu of Twitter.
Trump's senior aide Jason Miller confirmed to US media on Wednesday that the webpage, dubbed "From the Desk of Donald J. Trump," has been shuttered permanently. "It was just auxiliary to the broader efforts we have and are working on," he said, Xinhua reported.
"Hoping to have more information on the broader efforts soon, but I do not have a precise awareness of timing," Miller was quoted by CNBC as saying.
Miller later replied to a tweet asking whether the move was a "precursor" to the former president joining "another social media platform," saying, "Yes, actually, it is."
Launched on May 4, the platform much resembles Twitter, which alongside Facebook banned Trump from posting messages in the aftermath of the January 6 Capitol riot that the former president was accused of inciting.
On May 5, Facebook's Oversight Board decided to uphold the ban on Trump's account.
🛑Google tax: US imposes tariffs on India, but with six-month delay
Dilasha Seth & Shreya Nandi | 02/06/2021 | 7 hours ago
In retaliation to India’s digital tax (2 per cent) on foreign technology majors, the United States on Wednesday decided to impose additional tariffs on a slew of Indian imports.
However, the tariffs will remain suspended for six months, as Washington hopes for a multilateral solution on the issue of digital taxation during the ongoing talks at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). This follows investigation by the office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) last year, which concluded that India’s equalisation levy was “actionable” under Section 301 of the Trade Act for being unreasonable, burdensome, and discriminatory against American companies like Amazon, Google, and Facebook, and inconsistent with international tax principles. Thereafter, it held consultations over its tariff proposal with industry, sought comments till April 30 and conducted a hearing on May 10.
“The final determination in the investigations is to impose additional tariffs on certain goods from these countries, while suspending the tariffs for up to 180 days to provide additional time to complete the ongoing multilateral negotiations on international taxation at the OECD and in the G20 process,” the USTR said in a statement.
Following the consultation, the USTR has decided to impose a tariff of up to 25 per cent ad valorem on aggregate level of trade on a slew of Indian products. These include shrimps, basmati rice and gold, with an aim to mop up around $55 million. This is as much as what India will collect from US companies through the 2 per cent equalisation levy. The US has decided to impose suspended tariffs on five other countries, that is, Austria, Italy, Spain, Turkey, and the United Kingdom over the digital services tax imposed by them.
“The United States is focused on finding a multilateral solution to a range of key issues related to international taxation, including our concerns with digital services taxes,” said Ambassador, USTR, Katherine Tai.
“The United States remains committed to reaching a consensus on international tax issues through the OECD and G20 processes. Today’s actions provide time for those negotiations to continue to make progress while maintaining the option of imposing tariffs under Section 301 if warranted in the future,” added Tai.
The 40 tariff sub-heads that may attract tariffs after six months include Rattan furniture and parts, precious stone articles, gold rope necklaces and neck chains, cultured pearls, yarn, cigarette paper, and corks and stoppers.
The Indian government, in April 2020, widened the scope of the equalisation levy to impose 2 per cent tax on non-resident e-commerce players with a turnover of Rs 2 crore. It earlier only applied to digital advertising services till March 2020 at the rate of 6 per cent.
In fact, India has further expanded the scope of the 2 per cent equalisation levy by way of clarifications in the Budget this year to e-commerce supply or service when any activity, including acceptance of the offer for sale, placing the purchase order, acceptance of the purchase order, supply of goods or provision of services, partly or wholly, payment of consideration, takes place online.