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Editorials/Opinions Analyses For UPSC 11 December 2021

Contents

  1. Goods and Services Tax as an unfinished agenda
  2. Make the mental well-being of teachers a priority

Goods and Services Tax as an unfinished agenda

Context:

GST, or Goods and Services Tax, an institutional tax innovation intensively marketed in many countries by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, was wrapped in a “one nation one tax” package, and was accepted by India in 2017. Even after 50 months in existence, a number of relevant issues, both for policy and action, remain unresolved.

Relevance:

GS-III: Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is GST?
  2. GST Council
  3. Issues with GST
  4. Global Experiences with systems like GST

What is GST?

GST is a destination-based indirect tax and is levied at the final consumption point. Under it, the final consumer of the goods and services bear the tax charged in the supply chain. GST is a transparent and fair system that prevents black money and corruption and promotes new governance culture.

GST Act

  • Goods and Services Tax (GST) Act came into effect in 2017.
  • Goods and Services Tax (GST) was introduced by the Government of India to boost the economic growth of India. GST is considered to be the biggest taxation reform in the history of the Indian economy.
  • The power to make any changes in the GST law is in the hands of the GST Council. GST Council is headed by the Finance Minister. One hundred and first amendment act, 2016 introduced the GST in India in July 2017.

GST Council

  • Goods & Services Tax Council is a constitutional body for making recommendations to the Union and State Government on issues related to Goods and Service Tax.
  • As per Article 279A (1) of the amended Constitution, the GST Council has to be constituted by the President within 60 days of the commencement of Article 279A.
  • The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Second Amendment) Bill, 2016, for the introduction of Goods and Services Tax in the country was introduced in the Parliament and passed by Rajya Sabha on 3rd August 2016 and by Lok Sabha on 8th August 2016.
  • GST Council is an apex member committee to modify, reconcile or procure any law or regulation based on the context of goods and services tax in India.
  • The GST council is responsible for any revision or enactment of rule or any rate changes of the goods and services in India.
  • The council contains the following members:
    1. Union Finance Minister (as chairperson)
    2. Union Minister of States in charge of revenue or finance (as members)
    3. The ministers of states in charge of finance or taxation or other ministers as nominated by each state’s government (as members).

Issues with GST

States’ Concerns with GST

  • GST was only conceivable in India because the states agreed to give up a large portion of their constitutionally inherited indirect levies.
  • Given the lack of revenue neutrality and a slew of other challenges, many states are left with little choice but to rely on GST compensation.
  • While compensation must lawfully coexist with GST, even the constitutionally stipulated five-year compensation has not been provided in letter and spirit, requiring states to ask for their due.
  • GST discriminates against manufacturing states, highlighting the necessity for a revenue-sharing model that properly incentivizes exporting states by dividing IGST money among three parties rather than two.

Issues with IGST

  • Although IGST is a significant source of income for many states, the clearing house method and procedure remain unknown.
  • There is a virtual information vacuum, particularly with regard to IGST, and there are various flaws in the digital architecture.
  • GSTN is now in a slump. It does not make efficient use of the vast amounts of useful data being created, nor does it share it so that others might use it.
  • Such “data monopoly” behaviour was a matter of history in India’s statistics system and must be eliminated sooner rather than later.

Other Issues

  • The promised revenue neutrality remains a fantasy, and several states have seen their tax-to-GDP ratios fall.
  • According to studies, the ratio of own tax income to GDP has decreased in the major 18 states.
  • There are significant disparities in Revenue Neutral Rates (RNR) between producing and consumer states.
  • The difficulties were exacerbated by widespread evasion following the removal of checkpoints, and then by the proliferation of bogus invoices, which rose by leaps and bounds.
  • Exemptions and subventions exacerbated and aggravated the problem.
  • Despite the fact that two expert panels recommended a bigger allocation for the states, GST is split evenly between the Centre and the States.

Global Experiences with systems like GST

  • South Africa: The South African experience illustrates how zero-rating and large exemptions have defeated revenue goals.
  • Canada: Reviewing 30 years of the Canadian experience with GST, it is shown that GST could be improved by limiting zero-rating, tax exemptions and harmonizing tax rates.
  • Brazil: The Brazilian experience indicates that transfers through social security or subsidies tend to be more progressive than subventions or exemptions.

-Source: The Hindu


Make the mental well-being of teachers a priority

Context:

The school education sector in India too struggled during the novel coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic-induced conditions posed several challenges which largely remained unnoticed along with the burden on teachers, who too struggled with meaningful pedagogies embedded in digital platforms.

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Pandemic-induced Challenges for Teachers
  2. Consequences of the Pandemic on the Mental Health of Teachers
  3. Way Forward

Pandemic-induced Challenges for Teachers

  • One of the most difficult issues for teachers throughout the pandemic was being completely cut off from touch with children during the Pandemic.
    Teachers in medium-sized, metropolitan private schools experienced a new sort of “bullying” by being constantly “watched” by parents who pointed out even the smallest flaws.
  • The challenges of COVID-19 duty were deployment and door-to-door operations. COVID-19 surveys, distribution of immunity booster pills, and police inter- and intra-district checkpoints are all part of the job.
  • They had to keep records at COVID-19 care facilities, and managing lineups outside booze stores caused them to feel a ‘loss of identity’ at times.
  • This unusual circumstance, along with media stories claiming that “teachers earned compensation without doing any job,” caused a great deal of emotional anguish.
  • Teachers were also under continual pressure to present documentation of their attempts to keep learning ‘alive.’ These attempts could not be adequately validated, nor could their efficacy be assessed.
  • Poor working conditions and no systemic protection is another significant challenge for teachers exposed by the pandemic.

Consequences of the Pandemic on the Mental Health of Teachers

  • Teaching is not only a career for many instructors, but it is also the most fulfilling occupation since connecting with young children and teenagers provides them enormous pleasure and delight.
  • Teachers’ imaginative answers to mitigating their own stress and strain resulted from mental tension caused by being cut off from children, which was fueled by the public opinion of teachers’ salaries as a big burden.
  • It is becoming increasingly evident that our children are facing a mental health and well-being crisis.
  • The pandemic brings to light the quiet epidemic of mental illness in teenagers and young people throughout the world.
  • Teachers, as one of the main caregivers for children, have an impact on both the emotional environment of the classroom and the emotional and behavioural well-being of individuals in their care.
  • The ability of the teacher to negotiate this obligation is heavily influenced by their own mental health and well-being.

Way Forward

  • Creating a friendly atmosphere in which teachers may talk about their everyday pressures and well-being with their colleagues.
  • Teachers’ communities of practice and teacher unions can prioritize this issue.
  • Incorporating mental health, well-being, and burnout management into teacher training and refresher training can help to prioritize mental health.
  • Systemic investments in school mental health enable the creation of a well-being-focused environment, which is addressed through clearly defined policies on anti-bullying, redress of harassment and grievances, and the establishment of a support system of psychosocial services that teachers can access.
  • Focusing on teachers’ little successes also contributes significantly to the development of a strengths-based culture.
  • Recognizing and tackling this stigma at a systemic level will assist schools in creating an atmosphere where mental health may be discussed openly.

-Source: The Hindu

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