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Showing posts from May 4, 2017

Supreme Court puts critics of Aadhaar-PAN linkage in a spot (.hindu )

Does right to choose apply for tax?

Can a person who is voluntarily a part of a tax regime choose to say he will pay his taxes only in the certain way he wants to? Does he have a right to choose?

“Yes, it is my right to choose a career. It is my right of choice to be a transgender. But away from these societal rights, when a citizen is part of a tax regime, can you say that I will pay taxes only the way I want to do it... Is there a right of choice in the limited context of tax laws?” Justice A.K. Sikri, who heads the Bench also comprising Justice Ashok Bhushan, asked.

The question from the Supreme Court came even as the petitioners claimed that the mandatory linking of Aadhaar to PAN under the newly-included Section 139AA of the Income Tax Act is a “direct invasion” by the state into the citizens’ right to make free, voluntary and informed consent.

Critics argued in the Supreme Court that Section 139AA is a “chilling trajectory the State has taken to dilute civil liberties.”


BBC Thamizhosai (hindu)

It is saddening to read about the closure of the Thamizhosai BBC Tamil Radio service (Tamil Nadu, “After 76 years, BBC Tamil radio to go off air”, May 1). During the India-Pakistan wars of 1965 and 1971, BBC Tamil was neutral and extensive in its coverage even though BBC was biased against India. During the 1967 general election, when the Indian National Congress’s popularity declined considerably, BBC was again objective. I recollect programmes such as “Paattondru Ketten”. Whenever an important event took place in India or Tamil Nadu, BBC Tamil was among the first to contact VIPs and air their opinions. The station also played a crucial role in presenting the ground reality in Sri Lanka by interviewing Sri Lankan Tamil politicians.

Trump on Paris pact (hindu)

U.S. President Donald Trump’s statement on China, Russia and India “having contributed nothing under Paris Agreement” is like the pot calling the kettle black. It does not behove a country such as the United States to say such things as it is one of the largest carbon emitters in the world and will continue to be so. It is for the U.S. to bear the cost of correcting the course of climate change as it is a world leader. It needs to lead by example.

Handling China (.hindu)

India could well have “cancelled” the official visit of the Dalai Lama to Tawang, positively responding to Chinese sensibilities. The whole world recognises Tibet to be more or less Chinese territory. In response to India’s stand, China “retaliated” by giving Chinese names to a few cities in Arunachal. India could well have ignored this Chinese “prank” but “trumpeted it as a form of cartographic aggression”.

India did have two great moral moments as a nation state when it gave asylum to Tibetan refugees including the Dalai Lama after the Lhoka uprising in 1959, and to a million Bengalis after the genocide in Bangladesh. But today India is on shaky moral ground. India seeks globalisation of power rather than globalisation of ethics or moral values. Granted, China “has been problematic for India and even for the idea of India, but this subject cannot be treated as a security or a foreign policy problem. India and China are two large land masses, two large nations, two of the oldest civ…

Aadhaar concerns and some consolation (.hindu)

Everything revolves around the biometrics, so without biometric verification connectivity to UIDAI it will make no sense

Sometimes it seems very few people know what Aadhaar is all about. So there is a need to explain what it is and dispel some risk perceptions, while confirming others.

First up, what is Aadhaar? In essence it is a number. The card’s job is only to record the number.

How does this number help? It means any place that is equipped with biometric verification linkage with the UIDAI database can verify that I am indeed who I say I am. It’s an identity proof – the number together with biometrics. That is all it is.

Once a number is assigned to a “name-biometrics” combination, all other names a person has used become inoperative, in theory. All official documents will eventually need to be matched and, where necessary, rectified and reissued. It might involve phenomenal cost, but that is another story.

What makes Aadhaar secure? Basic personal security in the tech world de…

The art of movement, and its beauty (.hindu )

If rhythm is a form of considered movement, then you understand the world in terms of motion

My childhood was peppered with various dance lessons: instructions on form, rhythm, and movement. I would spend hours watching the grace with which more accomplished dancers moved across the floor, the way their hands made complicated, elaborate signs in the air, the way the tip of their feet lightly touched the ground, the way their eyes swiftly dismissed any imperfection, visible or perceived.

Movement is beautiful, and it is intrinsically linked to the beauty we come to associate with all sentient creatures: the human body, the cheetah, the gliding fish.

The dance lessons gave me a glimpse of the strange relationship that stems from understanding culture, the accepted movements within that standard, excelling at it, and hence being beautiful.

Cognitive science has associated movement with sense, and suggested, for many years now, that the relationship between the two is largely determined …

The scale of progress, so far ( .hindu)

Is the process of a voluntary national review of Agenda 2030 helpful?

Agenda 2030, a comprehensive development agenda, was adopted in the United Nations General Assembly by member states on September 25, 2015. It is ambitious enough to address several socioeconomic concerns and make the development process inclusive. However, since it’s not binding on member nations, there is apprehension that it may end up becoming another of the Millennium Development Goals, which were only partially achieved. The High-level Political Forum comprising the political representatives (heads of states or ministers) of the members meets every July at the UN in New York to review progress on Agenda 2030. The Voluntary National Reviews (VNR), which are voluntary and country driven, form the basis of this review.

The UN website says: “The voluntary national reviews aim to facilitate the sharing of experiences, including successes, challenges and lessons learned, with a view to accelerating the implementati…

India should have its own policy on Afghanistan, says Hamid Karzai (.hindu )

The former Afghan President on U.S. doublespeak on Af-Pak, elusive peace, and why India must stay invested in his country

For years, former Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai has been outspoken in his criticism of U.S. action in the war on terror. But in the aftermath of American forces dropping a massive 22,000-tonne ‘MOAB’ — its biggest non-nuclear bomb — in the country on April 13, he has criticised the Ashraf Ghani government too, the first time he has been this vocally critical of his successor. In an interview to The Hindu during a visit to Delhi, he explains his comments, as well as his hopes for Indian engagement in Afghanistan in the future. Excerpts:

You have come out very strongly against the U.S. bombing in Nangarhar province. Given that the GBU/43B MOAB (Massive Ordnance Air Blast) was claimed to have been used to target ISIS Khorasan, that everyone seems to agree is a major threat to Afghanistan, why are you objecting?

I am objecting for two reasons. One, that the Ameri…

The long arc to Ankara (.hindu )

Recep Erdoğan’s visit came as a reminder of the heavy lifting needed to fix India-Turkey ties

It was a visit which had been in the making for quite some time. But when it eventually happened, few in India and abroad took note of it, with the result that nothing much changed as a consequence.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was in India earlier this week and tried to give a boost to sagging ties between Delhi and Ankara. His visit came against the backdrop of his narrow win in a referendum on April 16 which gave him sweeping executive powers as President giving rise to fears about a lack of adequate safeguards for democratic rights in Turkey. Given his growing regional and global isolation as he seems intent on dismantling the secular traditions of Turkey, Mr. Erdoğan has been trying use Islamism to shore up his credibility.

His visit to India was also informed by this larger agenda. Ahead of his trip, he had suggested a “multilateral dialogue” on Kashmir, even offering to medi…