Today’s Important Prelims Bits
Article 246A and Article 279A
In News: The Supreme Court in a recent judgment held that Union and State legislatures have “equal, simultaneous and unique powers” to make laws on Goods and Services Tax (GST) and the recommendations of the GST Council are not binding on them.
(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in articles 246 and 254, Parliament, and, subject to clause (2), the Legislature of every State, have power to make laws with respect to goods and services tax imposed by the Union or by such State.
(2) Parliament has exclusive power to make laws with respect to goods and services tax where the supply of goods, or of services, or both takes place in the course of inter-State trade or commerce.
Explanation—The provisions of this article, shall, in respect of goods and services tax referred to in clause (5) of article 279A, take effect from the date recommended by the Goods and Services Tax Council.]
Note: This article in its present form was not debated in the Constituent Assembly. This article was introduced by the Constitution (One Hundred and First Amendment) Act, 2016, with effect from 16th September 2016.
- 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 notification for bringing into force Article 279A with effect from 12th September, 2016 was issued on 10th September, 2016.
- As per Article 279A of the amended Constitution, the GST Council which will be a joint forum of the Centre and the States, shall consist of the following members: –
- Union Finance Minister – Chairperson.
- The Union Minister of State, in-charge of Revenue of finance – Member.
- The Minister In-charge of finance or taxation or any other Minister nominated by each State Government – Members.
- As per Article 279A (4), the Council will make recommendations to the Union and the States on important issues related to GST, like the goods and services that may be subjected or exempted from GST, model GST Laws, principles that govern Place of Supply, threshold limits, GST rates including the floor rates with bands, special rates for raising additional resources during natural calamities/disasters, special provisions for certain States, etc.
Public Health and Management Cadre (PHMC)
In News: India’s States need to act quickly in setting up a public health and management cadre for a healthier society.
- The ‘public health and management cadre’ is a follow up of the recommendations made in India’s National Health Policy 2017.
- NHP 2017, taking cognizance of the fact that a multidisciplinary workforce is required for managing various programs under National Health Mission. It envisaged creation of a multidisciplinary Public Health Management Cadre (PHMC) in all states/UTs.
- At present, most Indian States (with exceptions such as Tamil Nadu and Odisha) have a teaching cadre (of medical college faculty members) and a specialist cadre of doctors involved in clinical services. This structure does not provide similar career progression opportunities for professionals trained in public health.
- It is one of the reasons for limited interest by healthcare professionals to opt for public health as a career choice.
India’s ethanol blending policy
In News: The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved amendments to the National Policy on Biofuels, 2018, to advance the date by which fuel companies have to increase the percentage of ethanol in petrol to 20%, from 2030 to 2025.
- Ethanol, or ethyl alcohol, is a hydrocarbon that when burnt can generate heat and power engines.
- India’s ambitious policy is to produce ethanol-blended petrol (EBP) and to bolster the country’s energy security. Plans is to substitute 20 per cent of petrol in vehicles with EBP by 2025
- The gains are potentially significant as ethanol can be sourced from sugarcane, molasses, maize, which given India’s agricultural base, can substantially reduce India’s dependence on petroleum.
- Immense benefits can accrue to the country by 20% ethanol blending by 2025, such as saving Rs 30,000 crore of foreign exchange per year, energy security, lower carbon emissions, better air quality, self-reliance, use of damaged foodgrains, increasing farmers’ incomes, employment generation, and greater investment opportunities.
- It takes much more ethanol to power a vehicle’s engine than petrol.
- It also leaves residual by-products that can corrode and damage the vehicle which is why, while vehicles can be run on ethanol, they need to be tuned accordingly so that they don’t compromise on efficiency and usability.
How does this affect engines?
- When using E20, there is an estimated loss of 6-7% fuel efficiency for four wheelers which are originally designed for E0 and calibrated for E10, 3-4% for two wheelers designed for E0 and calibrated for E10 and 1-2% for four wheelers designed for E10 and calibrated for E20. ]Car makers have said that with modifications in engines (hardware and tuning), the loss in efficiency due to blended fuel can be reduced. To compensate the consumers for a drop in efficiency from ethanol blended fuels, tax incentives on E10 and E20 fuel may be considered. The test vehicles worked well in several test-situations, the report noted.
In News: It is important to increase the number of biosphere reserves in South Asia to ward off a doomsday ecological scenario.
- Key Points:
One of the best mechanisms that has been created is the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, created in 1971 by UNESCO.
- Biosphere reserves are places where humans live in harmony with nature, and where there is an effective combination of sustainable development and nature conservation.
- They represent pockets of hope and proof that we are not inexorably headed towards a doomsday ecological scenario, provided we take appropriate action.
- In South Asia, over 30 biosphere reserves have been established. The first one was the Hurulu Biosphere Reserve in Sri Lanka, which was designated in 1977 and comprises 25,500 hectares within the tropical dry evergreen forest.
- In India, the first biosphere reserve was designated by UNESCO in 2000 within the blue mountains of the Nilgiris. It stretches across the States of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala.
- The network has gone from strength to strength, and it now counts 12 sites, with Panna, in the State of Madhya Pradesh, as the latest inscription in 2020.