News Wrap


The Union Government of India had promised the federal states compensation for any shortfall in Tax revenue, due to Goods and Services Tax (GST) implementation, for a period of five years. Several states, including Rajasthan, Kerala, Delhi, Punjab and West Bengal, have publicly urged the union government, to transfer pending compensation payments as they have not received the dues, for several months. The central government has written to all the states, voicing concern that due to the lower GST collections, the compensation cess might not be enough to pay for losses, arising out of the tax system. The compensation requirements have increased significantly, and are unlikely to be met from the compensation cess being collected. The government had budget for Rs 6,63,343 crore in GST collections for 2019-20, out of which it has collected only about 50%. It had targeted Rs 1,09,343 crore of compensation cess, of which it has collected Rs 64,528 crore till December 2019. The states have been asked to review the items exempted from GST, review the tax rates and compensation cess rates on various items, and to improve compliance measures, so as to augmenting GST collections.

Factual History
The entrance of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya (Uttar Pradesh) bore an inscription that it was built by Mir Baqi, commander of the Mughal emperor Babur in 1528. Till then the Valmiki Ramayana was known only to scholars and priests who knew Sanskrit. Lord Ram was not a popular deity. In the 16th century Tulsidas composed his "Ramcharitmanas" in Awadhi dialect of Hindi, making his Ramayana accessible to ordinary people, for the first time. Tulsidas, a poor Brahmin orphan was attacked by the Brahmin orthodoxy, and is said to have taken refuge in the mosque to write his epic. Ram temples began to be built during the reign of Emperor Akbar, as Tulsidas "Ramcharitmanas" became popular through recitals and folk performance known as Ram Leelas. In Oct 1992, there were more than 20 temples in Ayodhaya, that claimed to be Lord Ram's birthplace. The claims would attract more pilgrims and donations. Tulsidas would often stay in Ayodhaya. But he never mentions in his epic or anywhere else, that a temple marking the birthplace of Lord Ram had just been demolished by Babur. The temple-mosque controversy began after another 300 years. The Supreme Court of India has observed that the earliest record of Hindu-Muslim clashes around the disputed site was marked by the British colonial power in 1856-57, when it erected a six-foot brick wall, dividing the site to grant the inner portion of the mosque to Muslims, and the outer portion to Hindus. 1857 marks the First War of Independence (Named the Great Mutiny by the British), when Hindus and Muslims heroically united, and almost defeated the British. While the Hindus and Muslims joined hands in the battle field to oust the British. The British colonial powers found it convenient to stoke a potential religious conflict in Ayodhaya. Records show that back in 1856-57, Hindus led by Baba Ram Charan Das and Muslims led by a local muslim landlord of Ayodhya, Archan Khan, decided to maintain communal harmony, and made a pact to pray within the temple-mosque site, in two demarcated portions. This harmony remained unbroken till 23 December 1949, when Hindu miscreants broke into the Babri mosque at night, and installed Ram idols there. The local district court barred Muslims from the mosque after 1949, but appointed a series of Hindu priests to conduct prayers in one section. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad and RSS elements had never prayed at the Ram Temple. The entire campaign was run purely for money and political power. On 06 December 1992, with the Bharatiya Janata Party in power in Uttar Pradesh, Hindu militants destroyed the Babri Masjid. Archan Khan and Baba Ram Charan Das, who had forged the unity that allowed Hindus and Muslims to pray in harmony within the Babri compound for almost a hundred years, were charged with sedition by the British, after the defeat of the freedom struggle of l857. Both were hanged.

Dollar In Cuba
Dollar transactions were banned in Cuba in 2004. Since October 2019, Cuba's communist government has allowed citizens to open bank accounts that receive dollars, yen euros and other European currencies. Cuban citizens are now allowed to use the money to buy imported goods from new state owned shops, called Tiendas Moneda Libremente Convertible (or convertible currency shops), where prices are given in dollars. The Cuban state pays its employees (i.e. most workers); in Cuban pesos, the currency for buying necessities like electricity, water and bus tickets. In 1994, during the "special period" that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union, the government introduced convertible pesos (CUC), which could be exchanged for dollars at a rate of one to one. This was an attempt to pile up dollars from remittances, and curb inflation, by offering Cubans an alternative to dollars. Sources of foreign currency to sustain the import dependent economy are running dry. A drop in deliveries of subsidised oil from Venezuela caused by slump in production, and by American sanctions on firms that ship Venezuela oil, led to fuel shortages in September 2019. Tourism had helped offset the drop in aid from Venezuela, has been squeezed by American sanctions. The US President Donald Trump administration has banned cruises and "people to people" (i.e. non-group visits) interactions. Tourism dropped by 8.5% in 2019. The scarcity of dollars has put the CUC under pressure. Transactions are settled off—line, perhaps at a slightly higher valuation of the CUC. Cuba's new constitution, enacted in April 2019, recognises private enterprises. But the law that allows firms to incorporate has to yet to pass.

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Vol. 52, No. 28, Jan 12 - 18, 2020