Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Government of India Announces Major Relief on Deadlines and Compliance

Nirmala Sitharaman and Anurag Thakur at Yesterday's Press Conference (source: PIB)
In yesterday’s press conference via video conferencing, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in English and her deputy Anurag Thakur addressed the media and clearly stated that the aim of these announcements was to help companies and individuals to ease out worries sitting in the mind of the people with respect to various kinds of regulatory requirements. Ms. Sitharaman noted that as efforts of the lockdown to flatten the curve for the Covid-19 spread are being undertaken, she also assured everyone of an upcoming economic package. The first step however, as Mr. Thakur stated, was to ensure that the first step is taken in the direction of addressing statutory and regulatory compliance related issues.

Relief on Income Tax Compliance and Regulation Deadline for filing IT returns for FY18-19 have been extended to 30 June 2020. Moreover, a reduced interest rate of 9% shall now be levied till 30 June 2020 instead of the mandatory 12%.

On the delay in deposit of TDS, only reduced interest of 9% will be charged till 30 June 2020. Further, all other notice dates on filing etc. stand extended to 30 June 2020, as also the Aadhar-PAN linking date.

Vivaad se Vishwaas scheme deadline has been extended to 30 June 2020 and from now to 30 June 2020, there will be no 10% additional charge. Also, with respect to due dates for issue of various stages of intimation and compliance with the other regulations where time limit was expiring in March, the deadline has been extended to 30 June 2020.

Compliance Deadlines Extended, Penalties Waived Off on GST The last date for filing March, April and May 2020 returns and composition returns have been extended to 30 June 2020 in a staggered manner. Further, companies with less than ₹5 crore turnover will not be charged interest, late fee or penalty. For larger companies above ₹5 crore, these charges shall be waived during first 15 days; post which only reduced interest at 9% shall be charged. Also, the date for opting for composition scheme now stands extended to 30 June 2020.

Sabka Vishwas Scheme Extended for Customs and Central Excise; No Interest
Sabka Vishwaas Scheme deadline has been extended from 31 March 2020 to 30 June 2020. During this period, no interest shall be levied for this period for those with turnover less than ₹1.5crore.

Compliance and Regulations under MCA Requirements Relaxed A moratorium on MCA-21 Registry from 1 April to 30 September 2020 has been brought in, and there shall be no additional fee charged for late filing. Also, the mandatory requirement on Board meetings is being relaxed by 60-day period for next two quarters. The Companies Auditors Report Order 2020 shall now be applicable from FY2020-21 instead of 2019-20. Another important announcement was that the absence of Independent Directors from all meeting altogether during the year 2019-20 shall not be seen as violation.

More Relaxations on Directorship Norms, Smoothing Operations Newly incorporated companies who are required to file commencement of business within six months are being granted an extension of another six months to comply with this requirement. Also, Company Director inability to comply with the minimum residency requirement of 182 days under Sec 149 of companies Act shall not to be considered as violation. Also, the deposit reserve requirement of 20% shall now have to be complied with by 30 June 2020, and the deadline for investing 15% debentures maturing during particular year into specified instruments also stands extended from 30 April 2020 to 30 June 2020

IBC Provisions Relaxed for MSMEs Threshold for default has been raised from ₹1 lakh to ₹1crore to prevent triggering of insolvency proceedings against MSMEs with immediate effect. Further, the government will keep track of the situation, and if needed, it will suspend Sec 7, Sec 9 and Sec 10 of IBC after 30 April 2020 for six-month period.

Compliances Eased to Combat Supply Disruptions in Fisheries Sector In major steps for the fisheries sector, the validity of all sanitary import permits (SIPs) for import of shrimp root stock and aquaculture inputs that were expiring between 1-15 April 2020 shall be valid for another three months. Further, up to 1-month delay in arrival of consignments are to be condoned and shall be overlooked. Rebooking of quarantine cubicles for cancelled consignments in Aquatic Quarantine Facility in Chennai shall be allowed without additional booking charges. Also, the period taken for verification of document, grant of NOC for quarantine shall be shortened from 7 days to 3 days

No Banking Charges, Digital Transaction Favoured Debit card holders can withdraw cash from any bank ATM free of charge for next three months. There is complete waiver of minimum balance requirement fee on bank accounts as well. Moreover, the bank charges for digital trade transactions for all trade-finance consumers are being reduced.

Monday, March 23, 2020

India Discovers Its Innate Hinduness in the Garb of Janata Curfew

The Janata Curfew witnessed on 22 March 2020 was more than a success. Glitches here and there apart, the manner in which an entire nation chose to stand up and acknowledge the people who help it was truly unprecedented. This is a moment that will be remembered in popular history and will become a part of folklore in the years to come, and will perhaps make Narendra Modi into a tour de force, a legend in some senses.

What made is very interesting to note however was the innate Hinduness of society that came out that evening at 5pm. It started five minutes earlier, but went on fifteen minutes. Whatsapp groups had already started to circulate the temple aarti bell and shankha sounds to play - not suprisingly, that was the predominant sound that people responded to with enthusiasm. The atmosphere was nothing short of eclectic. Those who have attended vibrant aartis would recall how the powerful sounds really vibrate with the aatma, making you go into a deep meditative state.

People joined in, playing their own shankha from their kitchens, pooja ghar, temples, and brought out their bells, big and small, along side plates and metal pans to add to the melee of sounds. It was as if a humongous aarti was ongoing to Devi Jagadamba, seeking Her blessings in the fight with the deadly pandemic that has taken the world into its fold in the most sinister way possible. In this aarti, the entire nation stood up to do their bit of the seva for Jagadamba, pleasing Her, the Kolahala Priya, to come and drive away all the evil, to chase it away to its destruction and to save Her children from the crisis.

Well yesterday, She did not disappoint, as the vibration and positive vibrations that one felt within did not disappoint anyone who wished to seek Her blessings. But what seemed clear yesterday was that India need not fear - its innate Hinduness will always give it reason to be joyous. And one man certainly has the nerve of this nation, and can connect to its people in ways unimaginable, such is he blessed.

Leaving you with the sight from my own society to end this post. And frankly those who were making fun of it - the joke's on you dolts.

Friday, March 6, 2020

Rama Lives in Penury While Jesus Thrives in Jagan Reddy's Andhra Pradesh

Jagan Mohan Reddy and his YSR Congress party has time and again shown its keenness to prop up Christianity, which Jagan personally adheres to. However, when it comes to celebrating the native Hindu traditions of Andhra Pradesh, it seems the government develops an ostrich like mentality, and buries its head in the proverbial sand.

The annual Bhadradri temple’s Sita-Rama wedding festival, celebrated on Rama Navami, has always been a sight to behold. Lakhs of devotees from across the country throng the temple in Bhadrachalam Andhra Pradesh to view this divine sight. The Jagan Reddy government has apparently declined to allocate funds for the Kalyana Mahotsavam this year, despite being a state festival for Andhra Pradesh.

Speaking to a Hans India reporter, a senior temple official was quoted that even though the Seetha Rama Kalyanam was declared as state festival, all they get is a pair of silk robes and pearls costing about ₹20,000.

The temple, the official said, earns about ₹2 crore/month, but of that ₹90 lakh goes to the staff salaries and about Rs 40 lakh to the Telangana State Endowments Department towards the payment of goodwill fund, leaving the temple with only ₹60 lakh.

Ongoing Land Encroachment Scam Abetted by Government?

The story also revealed that Bhadradri Sri Rama has agriculture land admeasuring about 917 acres. Of this, most of the 847 acres in Purushottapattanam of East Godavari district in Andhra Pradesh is under encroachment and the case is pending before the High Court. The government has not taken any steps to remove encroachments and restore ownership. Similarly, temple lands to an extent of nine acres in Pathabandla and another 5.25 acres in Jaggavaram in West Godavari district, 3.87 acres of land located in East Godavari of Andhra Pradesh is under encroachment, with no support on recovery from the government. Similar was the case with its land holdings in Telangana.

It is ironic that a state festival cannot get any funds from the state government, whereas funds are available for stipends to Church pastors across the state. In September 2019, the Jagan Mohan Reddy government had passed a government order as per which ₹5,000/month would be paid as an honorarium to Christian pastors. As part of the election manifesto, Reddy had also promised ₹10,000 to ₹35,000 for maintenance of temples; however, that money is clearly nowhere to be seen, given the apathy of the temple.

What is even more outrageous is that just four months ago in November 2019, as a bonanza for Christians, Jagan Reddy’s government had decided to enhance the financial assistance from ₹40,000 to ₹60,000 for pilgrims visiting Jerusalem in Palestine whose annual income is up to ₹3 lakh. For those pilgrims whose annual income is above ₹3 lakh, the permissible financial assistance was to be enhanced from ₹20,000 to ₹30,000.

Controversy regarding the support to evangelical mafia is nothing new. In December 2019, news stories had surfaced that the Jagan Reddy government’s schemes were allegedly aimed at encouraging ordinary Andhra citizens to convert. Scholars like Dr. Gautam Sen of the London School of Economics was quoted on persistent anecdotal evidence of frequent accounts of travellers suggesting conversion of ordinary Andhra citizens to Christianity, despite their Hindu names and no outward signs of their newly acquired Christian faith.

“Money and other services are clearly being offered and the Jagan government’s intervention in favour of Christians is fuelling the spate of conversions. Jagan Mohan Reddy has proved to be a stronger evangelist than his father Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy,” Dr Sen was quoted by the Sunday Guardian.

Minority appeasement of a new kind is clearly being pursued, and actual number of Christians is certainly being underreported in Andhra Pradesh. With an evangelical agenda being pursued by the Jagan Reddy government, it is indeed depressing to note that sites with significant cultural and religious significance for Hindus are being neglected in the name of appeasement.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

How Maulana Kejriwal Stoked Delhi's Communal Cauldron

Picture Credit: Abhijit Majumder

Several news media establishments were gloating over the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) victory, and making pointed references to Hanumana bhakti of Arvind Kejriwal. References were being made about Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) being happy about this demonstration of Hindu-ness by Arvind Kejriwal.

Truth, however, could not be farther away from facts. Arvind Kejriwal and AAP indulged in minority appeasement and communal polarization to secure minority votes in Delhi. They seemed to have repeatedly engaged tactics to fan communal passions, both in Delhi and in Punjab. Here are some instances that highlight their efforts. Frankly, this emboldening came at the back of the continued hankering for Muslim votes. Kejriwal left no stone unturned with his tacit involvement, a few instances of which are shown below

July 2014 - Posters came up in Okhla with Arvind Kejriwal’s photos, saying he will ensure a re-investigation of the Batla House encounter. Kejriwal denied it at the time, even questioning the police about its inaction against Amanatullah who was putting up the posters.

February 2015 – Amanatullah Khan, after coming to power, demanded re-investigation into Batla House encounter, put up posters.

March 2016 – Amanatullah Khan booked for hate speech, asked for the releasing a cleric arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on suspicion of having Islamic State links.

January 2019 - Arvind Kejriwal announces salary hike for Imams of all mosques in Delhi

July 2019 – Hauz Qazi Durga temple of Old Delhi was vandalized. AAP MLA Imran Hussain was accused of instigating the mob that undertook this provocative action. However, the party took no action against Hussain.

December 2019 – Seelampur – Abdul Rehman who led violent anti-CAA crowds in the Seelampur Jaffrabad region, was rewarded with an election ticket by Arvind Kejriwal's party. I do not know any other way to read this story.

December 2019 – Manish Sisodia spread fake news, accused Delhi Police of setting bus on fire to deflect criticism from their core votebank, who had indulged in blatant rioting that month in and around Jamia Nagar, Nizamuddin and Bathla House.

December 2019 – Despite the Shaheen Bagh instigation by Amanatullah Khan was again given the ticket for this place like Abdul Rehman.

Such actions only embolden the virulent anarchist elements. Had Kejriwal been truly serious about governance, such minority appeasement actions would never have occured.


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