CAO Daily Editorial analysis for UPSC IAS 18th-January, 2018

Current Affairs Only Daily Editorial Analysis for Competitive Exams


18th Jan, 2018

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The price prescription {Public Policy}

(The Hindu)


Context

This article talks about the laws regarding sale and advertisement of tobacco products.

Facts

India is the second largest consumer and producer of tobacco-based products — categorised as sin goods or demerit goods — and it has become imperative for policymakers to devise measures to effectively curb their use.

Supreme Court Judgment

The Supreme Court recently stayed a Karnataka High Court order setting aside the 2014 amendment rules to the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003 that prescribed tobacco packages having pictorial warnings covering 85% of the package space.

A skewed pattern

The World Health Organisation’s Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS 2016-17) highlights India’s distinct pattern of tobacco consumption in multiple forms such as cigarettes, bidis, chewing tobacco and khaini (smokeless tobacco) — in contrast to the global trend of cigarettes being the primary source of consumption. In India, bidis, chewing tobacco and khaini form 89% of consumption as against 11% for cigarettes.

Explanation

If we look at the competitive dynamics and pricing, a key reason for such disparity is because it is based on the unit-level pricing of multiple forms of tobacco.
The average unit price of a bidi or smokeless tobacco is significantly lower than of a cigarette.

After GST

The price of an average bidi pack has been increased by 20 paise.

In comparison, the price rise post-GST is much higher for cigarettes. The average increase in pack price has been the highest for the economy pack followed by the premium and mid-priced packs.

If we consider other tobacco-related variants such as smokeless tobacco and pan masala, their pricing trends move in the opposite direction with respect to pack sizes.

Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003

  • It is an Act of Parliament of India enacted in 2003 to prohibit advertisement of, and to provide for the regulation of trade and commerce in, and production, supply and distribution of cigarettes and other tobacco products in India.
  • This Act was enacted by the Parliament to give effect to the Resolution passed by the 39th World Health Assembly, urging the member states to implement measures to provide non-smokers protection from involuntary exposure to tobacco smoke.

Impact of GST Rate on the Tobacco Industry

Excise duty is charged on the manufacturing of cigarettes, bidi, and other chewing tobacco products at different rates.
Cigarette – 64%
Bidi – 22%
Chewing products – 81%

  • A lot of revenue is generated from the sale of tobacco for the Indian government. Although the tax burden levied on the Indian tobacco industry is not enough as per the recommendation of the WHO for a tax burden of 75% on all tobacco-related products.
  • There has been an increasing demand for a higher tax burden on the tobacco manufacturers.
  • Under GST, there will be an additional cess charged on the tobacco-related products, over and above the GST charged at the rate of 28%

Conclusion

Impact on the tobacco industry is going to be largely neutral since the 5% cess declared by the Indian government was less than the expected rate by the tobacco industry. There will be an increase in the expense of smokers due to the rise in the price of a cigarette in the initial period. Although, it is expected that the tobacco industry, irrespective of the tax rate, would have a neutral effect due to the implementation of GST.


Left behind {Education Policy}

(The Hindu)


Context

The right to free and compulsory education must be extended to the 14-18 age group

In news

The ASER sample study estimates that 14% of (14-18) age group — a total of 125 million young Indians in this category — are not enrolled.
It is absolutely essential for all of them to get an education that equips them with the skills, especially job-oriented vocational capabilities, if the expectation of a demographic dividend is to be meaningful.

Requirement

  • It is absolutely essential for all of them to get an education that equips them with the skills, especially job-oriented vocational capabilities, if the expectation of a demographic dividend is to be meaningful.
  • The state of rural elementary education is far from encouraging. To begin with, only 5% of the respondents in the survey, which was aided by the NGO Pratham, reported doing any kind of vocational course, and even among this small minority a third were enrolled for three months or less.
  • Only 43% of the youth could solve an arithmetic problem involving division of a three-digit number by a single digit.

Right to education

  • The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act or Right to Education Act (RTE), is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted on 4 August 2009, which describes the modalities of the importance of free and compulsory education for children between 6 and 14 in India under Article 21a of the Indian Constitution. India became one of 135 countries to make education a fundamental right of every child when the Act came into force on 1 April 2010.
  • The title of the RTE Act incorporates the words ‘free and compulsory’. ‘Free education’ means that no child, other than a child who has been admitted by his or her parents to a school which is not supported by the appropriate Government, shall be liable to pay any kind of fee or charges or expenses which may prevent him or her from pursuing and completing elementary education.
  • Compulsory education’ casts an obligation on the appropriate Government and local authorities to provide and ensure admission, attendance and completion of elementary education by all children in the 6-14 age group.
  • With this, India has moved forward to a rights based framework that casts a legal obligation on the Central and State Governments to implement this fundamental child right as enshrined in the Article 21A of the Constitution, in accordance with the provisions of the RTE Act.17.

Khaps defanged

{Governance}

(Indian Express)


Context

SC makes it illegal for extra-constitutional organisations, society and parents from forcing marital choices

A bench headed by the Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra observed on 16th January, that khaps have no right to question the marital choices of community members. While the matter in dispute, filed by the NGO Shakti Vahini, concerned honour crimes and the role of khaps.

Khap Panchayats

A Khap Panchayat is an assembly of Khap elders, and a Sarv Khap is an assembly of many Khap Panchayats.
Khaps are not affiliated with the formally elected government bodies and is instead concerned with the affairs of the Khap it represents. It is not affiliated with the democratically elected local assemblies that are also termed Panchayat.
A Khap Panchayat has no official government recognition or authority, but can exert significant social influence within the community it represents.

Khaps have been the most egregious offenders in this regard, sanctioning ostracism, humiliation and the use of lethal force against young people who exercise personal choice and marry in contravention of the complex web of exogamous and endogamous conventions which govern marriage, and which prevail in the social domain, outside the legal system.

In response to outrage about honour killings in India and Pakistan, some khaps have tried to embrace modern values. In 2014, the Satrol khap panchayat, Haryana’s biggest, permitted inter-caste marriages.


 

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