Ms. Mirabai Chanu won gold at the World Weightlifting Championship.(1/12/2017)

Doing Business in India (1/12/2017)

‘Ease of doing business’ refers to the regulatory environment in a country to set up and operate a business. Every year, the World Bank compares the business environment in 190 countries in its Ease of Doing Business Report.

What parameters is a country ranked on?

The ease of doing business rankings are based on a country’s performance on 10 parameters such as enforcing contracts and starting a business. In India, these rankings are based on the business environment in Mumbai and Delhi. A lower rank indicates better performance on that parameter, whereas a higher rank indicates worse performance on the indicator.

What has led to an improvement in India’s ease of doing business rankings?

  1. Starting a business : Starting a business involves obtaining clearances, and conforming to various regulations under laws such as Companies Act, 2013. The report noted that India merged the application procedure for getting a Permanent Account Number (PAN) and the Tax Account Number (TAN) for new businesses. It also improved the online application system for getting a PAN and a TAN.

  2. Getting credit and resolving insolvency: The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code passed in 2016 provides for a 180-day time-bound process to resolve insolvency. It also provides for the continuation of a debtor’s business during these proceedings. The Code allows secured creditors to opt out of resolution proceedings, and specifies that a debtor will be immune against creditor claims during the 180-day insolvency resolution process. Prior to the passage of the Code, it took 4.3 years in India to liquidate a business (as of 2015).

  3. Paying taxes: The report notes that India made paying taxes easier by requiring that payments to the Employees Provident Fund are made electronically. Further, it introduced measures to ease compliance with corporate income tax.

  4. Trading across borders: Import border compliance at the Jawaharlal Nehru Port, Mumbai was reduced. Export and Import costs were also reduced through increasing use of electronic and mobile platforms, among others.

  5. Enforcing contracts: The introduction of the National Judicial Data Grid has made it possible to generate case management reports on local courts.

What are some of the other recommendations to improve the business environment in India?

  1. Starting a business: The Standing Committee observed that regulations and procedures for starting a business are time-consuming. The Committee observed that as a consequence, a large number of start-ups are moving out of India and setting base in countries like Singapore where such procedures are easier. It emphasised on the need to streamline regulations to give businesses in India a boost.

  2. The Committee had suggested that the procedures and time period for registration of companies should be reduced. In addition, a unique business ID should be created to integrate all information related to a debtor. This ID should be used as sole reference for the business.

  3. Acquiring land, registering property: Under the current legal framework there are delays in acquiring land and getting necessary permissions to use it. These delays are on account of multiple reasons including the availability of suitable land and disputes related to land titles.

  4. The Standing Committee observed that the process of updating and digitising land records has been going on for three decades. It recommended that this process should be completed at the earliest. The digitised records would assist in removing ambiguity in land titles and help in its smooth transfer.

  5. The Committee also recommended creating a single window for registration of property, to reduce delays.

  6. Construction permits: In India, obtaining construction permits involves multiple procedures and is time consuming.

  7. Taxation: The Standing Committee had noted that the tax administration in India was complex, and arbitration proceedings were time-consuming. It observed that the controversies on the Minimum Alternate Tax on capital gains and the tax disputes with companies like Vodafone and Shell had harmed India’s image on taxation matters. Such policy uncertainty and tax disputes have made foreign companies hesitant to do business in India.

  8. The Committee observed that for ‘Make in India’ to succeed, there is a need for a fair, judicious and stable tax administration in the country. Further, it suggested that to reduce harassment of tax payers, an electronic tax administration system should be created. Such a system would reduce human interface during dispute resolution.

  9. Enforcing contracts: Enforcing contracts requires the involvement of the judicial system. The time taken to enforce contracts in India is long. For instance, the Standing Committee noted that it took close to four years in India for enforcing contracts. On the other hand, it took less than six months for contract enforcement in Singapore. This may be due to various reasons including complex litigation procedures, confusion related to jurisdiction of courts and high existing pendency of cases.

  10. The Standing Committee recommended that an alternative dispute resolution mechanism and fast track courts should be set up to expedite disposal of contract enforcement cases. It suggested that efforts should be made to limit adjournments to exceptional circumstances only. It also recommended that certified practitioners should be created, to assist dispute resolution

International Maritime Council (3/12/2017)

International Day of Persons with Disabilities’ i.e. 3rd December, 2017

Data Protection Framework for India - (3/12/2017)

  1. Principles: The Committee suggested that a framework to protect data in the country should be based on seven principles:

    1. law should be flexible to take into account changing technologies,

    2. law must apply to both government and private sector entities,

    3. consent should be genuine, informed, and meaningful,

    4. processing of data should be minimal and only for the purpose for which it is sought,

    5. entities controlling the data should be accountable for any data processing,

    6. enforcement of the data protection framework should be by a high-powered statutory authority,

    7. penalties should be adequate to discourage any wrongful acts.

  2. Scope and exemptions under the framework

    1. Applicability: The Committee observed that countries can enforce laws within their jurisdiction. However, a single act of data processing could take place across different countries and jurisdictions. Some of the questions asked by the Committee relate to: (i) territorial applicability of the law, (ii) extent to which the law should apply outside India, and (iii) measures that should be included in the law to ensure compliance by foreign entities.

    2. Definition of personal data: The Committee noted that it is important to define what constitutes personal information. This is critical to determine the extent to which privacy of information will be guaranteed under a data protection law. It sought comments on some questions which relate to: (i) what kind of information qualifies as personal data, (ii) should the definition focus on whether a person can be identified based on the data, and (iii) treatment of sensitive personal data. Sensitive data is related to intimate matters where there is a higher expectation of privacy (e.g., caste, religion, and sexual orientation).

    3. Exemptions: The Committee noted that entities under the data protection framework may be exempt from certain obligations (e.g., certain actions taken by the state). It sought comments on the categories of exemptions that should be included under the law, and the basic safeguards that should be ensured when processing data in these categories.

  3. Grounds for data processing, obligation on entities and rights of individuals

    1. Consent: The Committee noted that consent is treated as one of the grounds for processing personal data. However, consent is often not informed or meaningful. In this context, it sought comments on the conditions that determine valid consent. Further, it noted that one in three internet users across the world is a child under the age of 18. A data protection law must sufficiently protect their interests, while considering their vulnerability, and exposure to risks online.

    2. Purpose of collection: The Committee discussed the principle where personal data must be collected for a specified purpose, and such data should not be processed for any other purpose. Further, a related principle requires that personal data be erased once the purpose for collecting it has been met.

    3. Participation rights: The Committee noted that one of the principles of data protection is that a person whose data is being processed should be able to influence the processing. This includes the right to confirm, access, and rectify the data. The Committee observed that regulations of the European Union have recognised other rights such as the right to object to data processing. Incorporation of such rights in the Indian law requires further assessment. It also noted that the right to be forgotten has emerged as a contentious issue in data protection laws.

  4. Regulation and enforcement

    1. Enforcement models: The Committee noted that once the provisions of the law are formalised, enforcement mechanisms must be structured to ensure compliance. In this context, it sought comments on the enforcement tools to be used for: (i) code of conduct, (ii) breach of personal data, (iii) categorisation of different data controllers, and (iv) creation of a separate data protection authority. The authority may be responsible for: (i) monitoring, enforcement and investigation, (ii) setting standards, and (iii) generating awareness.

    2. Penalty and compensation: The Committee discussed penalties for offences under the proposed law, and the authority which should have the power to hear and adjudicate complaints. Further, it noted that awarding compensation to an individual who has incurred a loss or damage due to the data controller’s failure is an important remedy to be specified under the law.

Decoding the Code on Wages (3/12/17)

  1. Whats the Code ?

    1. The Code consolidates 40 state and central laws laws related to minimum wages, payment of wages and bonus, and a law prohibiting discrimination between men and women during recruitment promotion and wage payment.

  2. Who will be entitled to minimum wages ?

    1. Currently, the Minimum Wages Act, 1948 lists the employments where employers are required to pay minimum wages to workers. The Act applies to the organised sector as well as certain workers in the unorganised sector such as agricultural workers. The centre and states may add more employments to this list and mandate that minimum wages be paid for those jobs as well.

    2. The Code proposes to do away with the concept of bringing specific jobs under the Act, and mandates that minimum wages be paid for all types of employment – irrespective of whether they are in the organised or the unorganised sector.

    3. The unorganised sector comprises 92% of the total workforce in the country. A large proportion of these workers are currently not covered by the Minimum Wages Act, 1948. Experts have noted that over 90% of the workers in the unorganised sector do not have a written contract, which hampers the enforcement of various labour laws.

  3. Will minimum wages be uniform across the country ?

    1. No, different states will set their respective minimum wages. In addition, the Code introduces a national minimum wage which will be set by the central government. This will act as a floor for state governments to set their respective minimum wages. The central government may set different national minimum wages for different states or regions.

  4. On what basis will the minimum wages be calculated and fixed?

    1. Currently, the central government sets the minimum wage for certain employments, such as mines, railways or ports among others. The state governments set the minimum wage for all other employments. These minimum wages can be fixed based on the basis of different criteria such as type of industry or skill level of the worker.

    2. The Code also specifies that the centre or states will fix minimum wages taking into account factors such as skills required and difficulty of work. In addition, they will also consider price variations while determining the appropriate minimum wage. This process of fixing minimum wages is similar to the current law.

  5. Will workers be entitled to an overtime for working beyond regular hours?

    1. Currently, the central or state government define the number of hours that constitute a normal working day. In case an employee works beyond these hours, he is entitled to an overtime rate which is fixed by the government. As of today, the central government has fixed the overtime rate at 1.5 times normal wages in agriculture and double the normal wages for other employments.

    2. The Code proposes to fix this overtime rate at twice the prevailing wage rate. International organisations have recommended that overtime should be 1.25 times the regular wage.

  6. Does the Code prohibit gender discrimination between workers?

    1. The Code subsumes the Equal Remuneration Act 1976 Act, and contains specific provisions which prohibit gender discrimination in matters related to wages. However, unlike in the 1976 Act, the Code does not explicitly prohibit gender discrimination at the stage of recruitment.

  7. How is the Code going to be enforced?

    1. The four Acts being subsumed under the Code specify that inspectors will be appointed to ensure that the laws are being enforced properly. These inspectors may carry out surprise checks, examine persons, and require them to give information.

    2. The Code introduces the concept of a ‘facilitator’ who will carry out inspections and also provide employers and workers with information on how to improve their compliance with the law. Inspections will be carried out on the basis of a web-based inspection schedule that will be decided by the central or state government.

The Anti-Defection Law (11/12/17)

Universal Health Coverage Day, 2017

What is Bitcoin? (24/12/17)

What is National SC/ST hub? (24/12/17)

Meghalaya launches India’s first social audit law (24/12/17)

Miscellaneous - (24/12/17)

Stronger Partnership for a Brighter Future - Theme of BRICS Summit at Xiamen - 2017 (25/12/2017)

E-cigarettes (26/12/2017)

The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Second Amendment) Bill, 2017 (28/12/2017)

Pradhan Mantri Kisan SAMPADA Yojana (28/12/2017)

Udyami Mitra & PENCIL (Platform for Effective Enforcement for No Child Labour) (28/12/2017)


VULTURES IN INDIA (30/12/2017)


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