Category Archives: Education

Dalic backs 'world class' Modric

Uruguay are a 'complete team': Stephan

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Bentancur discusses Cavani fitness

Bentancur discusses Cavani fitness

GST starts paying off but fears of missing budget estimates stay

NEW DELHI: One year after India adopted Goods and Services Tax (GST), the results have been mixed.

Hailed as one of the biggest reforms by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, GST has helped increase tax collections in a country where compliance is historically low.

While monthly receipts have picked up after a chaotic roll out, they are still not strong enough to meet the government’s annual tax target. GST brought in an average Rs 97,540 crore a month in revenue, government data reported in the three months to June show, compared with a target of nearly Rs 1.1 lakh crore.

The government needs the revenue from GST to keep its budget deficit in check as PM Modi prepares to ramp up spending on welfare programs from health to farming before general elections next year. The government has already widened its deficit goal for the current fiscal year to 3.3 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) from 3 per cent, putting pressure on bond yields.

The budget gap may reach 3.5 per cent of GDP this year as GST revenue trails, Suvodeep Rakshit and Upasna Bhardwaj, analysts at Mumbai-based Kotak Mahindra Bank, said in a note on Monday.

But, there may be signs of improvement. Nomura Holdings analysts say the introduction of e-way bills for transporting goods between states has led to a rise in GST collections, giving them confidence that the budget targets will be met. Finance Minister Piyush Goyal said on Sunday tax collections are expected to pick up during the rest of the year and the government will likely raise Rs 13,000 crore from GST.

Tax-to-GDP ratio touched its highest level of 11.6 per cent last fiscal year, according to a report by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), a Mumbai-based business information company. This is seen rising further to 12.1 per cent this year.

“Collections are definitely improving,” said Pratik Jain, partner and national leader for indirect tax at PwC India. “That said, it is still lower than the budget for 2018-19.”

ELECTION GOODIES

Introduction of the tax last year — with four different rates instead of the single rate adopted in countries including the UK and Singapore — led to uncertainties because of an onerous reporting system and frequent policy changes, disrupting supply chains and in turn consumption, which acted as a drag on economic growth. Overcoming those teething problems may help lift tax collections.

But the upcoming elections pose a different threat. The number of goods and services attracting the highest rate of GST were pruned before state elections last year, and with polls due in some more states this year and for parliament in early 2019, more such tweaks can’t be ruled out. That may hurt revenue.

The government could move certain items currently attracting 28 per cent GST to the 18 per cent group, MS Mani, a partner overseeing GST at Deloitte India said, referring to the different tax rates, also known as slabs. The government could also merge other categories in a couple of years.

While introduction of GST promised predictability and stability by replacing about a dozen federal and state levies to make India a single market, there’s room for improvement.

“India is little far away for moving to a single rate slab for GST compared to advanced economies such as Singapore and Australia,” Mani said. “Indian conditions are diverse and it is home to poorest of poor and richest of richest making it difficult for a single rate slab in the near future.”

Major General Vikram Dogra completes Ironman Triathlon

Major General Vikram Dogra has become the first Indian Army officer to complete the Ironman Triathlon event, considered one of the most difficult one-day sporting events in the world, in Austria, the army has claimed.

Japan women's university to accept transgender students

TOKYO: A Japanese women’s university said Tuesday it will admit transgender students who were born male but identify as female, a rare move in a country where LGBT rights lag behind other developed nations.

An official at the education ministry told AFP the move by Ochanomizu University in Tokyo was “likely unprecedented”, though he could not confirm if it was a national first, and praised the decision.

“It is desirable that many universities take steps in the direction of understanding the needs of sexual minorities, though making such a decision is up to each university,” he said.

A university spokesman said the policy would come into force from fiscal year 2020, and would apply to would-be students who were born male but identify as female.

The move by the university, which was Japan’s first institution of higher education for women and opened in 1875, comes as many local private universities are reportedly weighing a similar policy, following in the footstep of American schools.

Ochanomizu University will hold a press conference “soon” to explain the background and details of the decision, the university spokesman said.

Japan has gradually been moving to accommodate lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) children and students.

In 2015, the education ministry issued instructions to municipalities to address the needs of LGBT students, including efforts to prevent bullying and addressing issues linked to changing rooms and school uniforms.

About one in 13 people in Japan is estimated to belong to the LGBT community, according to private company research.

But despite a relatively tolerant environment, only 13 percent are open with friends about their sexual orientation or gender identity, with just over 10 percent coming out to their family and less than five percent to their colleagues, according to the Japan LGBT Research Institute.

Japan has no national legislation recognising same-sex partnership, though some local governments have policies recognising same-sex civil unions.

And transgender Japanese face serious hurdles to changing their birth gender on legal documents.

Akane Tsunashima, acting secretary general of rights group Japan Alliance for LGBT Legislation, welcomed the move as “a positive step towards an environment where all universities take measures to accept sexual minorities as they are.”

Amazon delivers bedsheets and eye shadows at 11,562 feet

NEW DELHI: Perched high in the Himalayas, near India’s border with China, the tiny town of Leh sometimes seems as if it has been left behind by modern technology. Internet and cell phone service is spotty, the two roads to the outside world are snowed in every winter, and Buddhist monasteries compete with military outposts for prime mountaintop locations.

But early each morning, the convenience of the digital age arrives, by way of a plane carrying 15 to 20 bags of packages from Amazon. At an elevation of 11,562 feet, Leh is the highest spot in the world where the company offers speedy delivery.

When the plane arrives from New Delhi, it is met by employees from Amazon’s local delivery partner, Incredible Himalaya, who then shuttle the packages by van to a modest warehouse nearby. Eshay Rangdol, 26, the nephew of the owner, helps oversee the sorting of the packages and delivers many of them himself.

The couriers must follow exacting standards set by Amazon, from wearing closed toe shoes and being neatly groomed to displaying their ID cards and carrying a fully charged cell phone.

Amazon began offering doorstep delivery in this region last fall, as part of an effort to better serve the remotest corners of India. Sales volume in Leh is up twelve-fold since Incredible Himalaya took over deliveries from the postal service, which was much slower and required customers to pick up packages at the post office.

Rangdol and the other couriers get to the shoppers via motorcycle and scooter. When the snow is heavy in the winter, they will occasionally use a car. But two wheels are generally better than four to navigate Leh’s narrow, bumpy roads and dodge the ubiquitous cows.

Skalzing Dolma, a frequent Amazon customer, was Rangdol’s first stop on a recent day, receiving a delivery of bedsheets and eye shadow. Dolma has bought everything from clothing to kitchen appliances on Amazon and estimated that she has spent a total of Rs 1, 00,000 on the site. With few choices in Leh stores, cosmetics and clothing are popular categories for Amazon here.

Orders typically arrive in five to seven days, slower than the two-day delivery that Amazon’s big-city customers receive but quicker than the monthlong journey they often took with the post office.

Fortunately for Amazon, the local soldiers and monks are big customers. Thinley Odzer, a monk at the tiny Kartse Monastery, received a backpack. In the past, he has bought mobile phone cases and parts for his motorbike.

Amazon may never make money shipping products by air to customers in Leh. But the idea is that profits from dense urban areas like Mumbai and Delhi will subsidise service to more remote ones. “We want to make delivery convenient to where our customers are,” said Tim Collins, Amazon’s VP of global logistics. “Over time, the economics will work themselves out.”

England’s campaign faces first major test vs resurgent Colombia

There is no dressing room gossip, no public spat, no whirl of criticism back home and no hooligans poisoning the excitement of the drama surrounding the World Cup in Russia. But England are still there in Moscow, preparing for their first knockout game against Colombia on Tuesday.