What Is Expected From The Budget Of 2021?

What Is Expected From The Budget Of 2021?

Union Budget, also known as Annual Financial Statement would be presented on 1st February 2021 at 11 AM. With the big day nearing, industry representatives have started voicing their concerns and expectations from this year’s budget. Will these expectations be heeded? Well, only time will tell that. Until then, let’s look at what industries are expecting from Budget 2021.

Crux of the Matter

Present Day Need
Let’s start by taking a look at the present-day needs.

Expectations Of Individuals

  • Raising the basic tax exemption limit.
  • Reduction in the non-corporate income tax rate.
  • Increase in ‘Standard Deduction‘ amount (at present stays at ₹50,000).
  • Introduce separate limit for deduction of principal repayment of housing loan.
  • To focus on employment for reviving the economy.

Real Estate

  • To increase the affordability of housing by expanding the Income Tax reduction benefits to first-time buyers.
  • Removing or easing taxes on notional rental income.
  • Streamlining the insolvency process for Real Estates for quick adoption of resolution plans.
  • To increase last-mile funding for the completion of mid-income housing projects, to spur its demand.

Insurance

  • Reducing GST rates on Insurance Premium (most products lie in 18% tax rate).
  • Tax Exemption on Home Insurance.
  • To increase the penetration of Insurance amongst Tier I and Tier II cities with higher tax fee slabs in Section 80C. (Currently exemption up to a limit of ₹1,50,000).

Read more about GST here.

Tourism & Hospitality

  • The Federation of Association in Indian Tourism and Hospitality (FAITH) has proposed the creation of National Tourism Council of Chief Ministers headed by the Prime Minister along with Tourism Minister.
  • To make export earnings tax free
  • Income Tax exemption on travelling within India or Income Tax credits for up to ₹1.5 lakh in order to boost domestic tourism.

Automobiles

  • Luxury carmakers expect a reduction in GST rate (at present stands at 28% GST and additional Cess up to 22%).
  • Measures to promote investment in Electric Vehicles and its ancillaries.
  • The reintroduction of the 15% additional deduction for capital expenditure on plant and machinery under Income Tax Laws.

Aviation

  • Bring aviation turbine fuel under the GST regime.
  • Restricting GST on the travel industry to 5%.
  • Lowering Income Tax rates for travel companies.
  • To increase the baggage allowance from ₹50,000 to ₹1 lakh, subjected to duty-free shops.

Print Media

  • To remove custom duty on newsprint imports, which at present stays at 5%.
  • To increase the advertisement rates paid by the government by 50%.

Food Service

  • To reduce GST on home delivery food from 18% at present to 5%.
  • This recommendation comes with an intention to bring parity on rates between dining in (which is at 5%) and food delivery (18%).

Read about the budget of 2020 here.

Curiopedia
  • The first Union budget of independent India was presented by R. K. Shanmukham Chetty on 26 November 1947. Morarji Desai has presented 10 budgets which is the highest count followed by P Chidambaram’s 9 and Pranab Mukherjee’s 8.
  • Until the year 1999, the Union Budget was announced at 5:00 pm on the last working day of the month of February. All that budgets seemed to do was to raise taxes, a presentation in the evening gave producers and the tax collecting agencies the night to work out the change in prices. It was Mr Yashwant Sinha, the then Finance Minister of India who changed the ritual by announcing the 1999 Union Budget at 11 am.
  • In 2016, departing from the colonial-era tradition of presenting the Union Budget on the last working day of February, Minister of Finance (India) Arun Jaitley announced that it will now be presented on 1 February. Additionally Rail Budget, presented separately for 92 years, merged with the union budget.

New Findings Of Chandra X-Ray Observatory

New Findings Of Chandra X-Ray Observatory

In 2020, astronomers added a new member to a family of exotic objects, i.e the discovery of a magnetar. NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory has made new observations, stating that the magnetar also acts as a pulsar. But what’s a pulsar? A magnetar? Well, let’s demystify this space jargon!

Crux of the Matter

What Is The Chandra X-ray Observatory?
Called one of the great observatories like Hubble telescope, it is a space telescope launched aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia in 1999, during STS-93 by NASA. It is sensitive to X-ray sources 100x fainter than any previous X-ray telescope, enabled by the high angular resolution of its mirrors. 

Known as the Advanced X-ray Astrophysics Facility (AXAF) previously, it was later renamed after the Nobel Prize-winning Indian-American astrophysicist Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar.

What Is A Magnetar?
It is a star which is made up of tightly packed neutrons, formed from the collapsed core of a massive star during a supernova.

How Is It Different From Other Stars?
Also called a magnetic star, it has the most powerful magnetic field in the universe. For context, Earth’s magnetic field is 1 Gauss, a refrigerator magnet is 100 Gauss while a magnetar measures a million billion Gauss! This intensity heats the surface to 18 million° F.

How Was The Latest One Detected?
Using NASA’s Neil Gehrels Swift Telescope in 2020. Dubbed as J1818.0-1607, it is the youngest (500 years old) and 31st known magnetar, out of the 3,000 known neutron stars.

How Is This Age Estimation Done?
Based on how quickly the rotation rate is slowing and the assumption that it was born spinning much faster. This one spins faster than any previously known magnetar, rotating once every 1.4 seconds.

What Did Chandra Find Out Then?
It gave astronomers the first high-resolution view of the magnetar, revealing a point source where it was located, 21,000 light-years from Earth and how it gives off radio waves.

Only 5 magnetars have been recorded like this, making them 0.2% of the known neutron star population. Moreover, J1818.0-1607 is also converting energy more efficiently from its decreasing rate of a spin into X-rays, and this efficiency matches the range of pulsars.

What Does This Mean?
The magnetar has properties similar to a “rotation-powered pulsar,” a neutron star which gives off beams of radiation, detected as repeating pulses of emission as it rotates and slows down.

Curiopedia
  • NASA’s series of Great Observatories satellites are four large, powerful space-based astronomical telescopes launched between 1990 and 2003. They were built with different technology to examine specific wavelength/energy regions of the electromagnetic spectrum: gamma rays, X-rays, visible and ultraviolet light, and infrared light.
  • Edwin Powell Hubble was an American astronomer. He played a crucial role in establishing the fields of extragalactic astronomy and observational cosmology. The Hubble telescope is named after him.
  • Riccardo Giacconi was an Italian-American Nobel Prize-winning astrophysicist who laid down the foundations of X-ray astronomy. In 1976 the Chandra X-ray Observatory was proposed to NASA by Riccardo Giacconi.

North Korea Exhibits New Missile As Message To Biden And US

North Korea Exhibits New Missile As Message To Biden And US

North Korea has unveiled another missile (nothing new in that). Interesting is the fact that the unveiling occurred just a week before Biden’s inauguration as the US President. In that light, let us take a look at how the US-North Korea relationship was under Trump regime and how it alternated rapidly.

Crux of the Matter

New Missile Unveiled
North Korea recently unveiled a new type of “submarine-launched ballistic missile” at a parade. It has been described by the NK media as “the world’s most powerful weapon.”

Message To Biden?
The recent development has come days before Joe Biden takes charge as the US President from 20th January. Besides unveiling the new missile, North Korea Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un also called to be wary of the US “no matter who is in power” there.

“Our foreign political activities should be focused and redirected on subduing the U.S., our biggest enemy and main obstacle to our innovated development.”

Kim Jong Un on the US

Previously

  • North Korea had unveiled an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in October 2020.
  • The ICBM is reportedly able to hit even the US with a nuclear warhead.


Trump-Kim Era
Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un shared an alternating relationship in Trump’s tenure. The relations were tense as Kim accelerated NK’s nuclear programme while Trump continued with his ‘unusual’ diplomacy.

  • August 2017: Trump tweeted that “[North Korea] will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen” if they make any threats.
  • September: Trump, at the UN General Assembly, claimed that the “Rocket Man [Kim] is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime“.
    Kim called him “mentally deranged” in response.
  • November: The US officially designated North Korea as ‘state sponsor of terrorism’ – NK was removed from the list in 2008.

Button Battle

In January 2018, Kim claimed that the entire US was within its nuclear weapon range and that he has a “nuclear launch button” on his table. Trump had retaliated by claiming that he had “much bigger” and “more powerful” button on his desk.

Love Over Letters
However, their relation improved drastically with an exchange of ‘letters’.

  • September 2018: Trump claimed that he and Kim “fell in love” as “he wrote me [Trump] beautiful letters”.
  • June 2019: Trump visited North Korea – became the 1st US President to do so.

The Result?
No actual progress came though. with denuclearization talks proving unfruitful. It was witnessed in June 2020, when North Korea formally announced to cease attempts to establish diplomatic relations with the US over continued economic sanctions.

The 2016-20 period for the 2 nations witnessed several missile tests and threats by North Korea. Talks with the US also ultimately failed in the period, with several points of tension reminding people of the Korean war.

In 2020, Kim Jong Un declared that North Korea will develop strategic weapons to ensure the security of its state until a lasting peace-keeping mechanism is ready. Read about it in detail here.

Curiopedia
  • Ballistics is the field of mechanics concerned with the launching, flight behaviour and impact effects of projectiles especially ranged weapon munitions such as bullets, unguided bombs, rockets or the like. A ballistic missile is a missile that is guided only during the relatively brief initial phase of powered flight and the trajectory is subsequently governed by the laws of classical mechanics.
  • Huolongchushui (Fire dragon) were the earliest form of multistage rockets and ballistic cruise missiles used in post-classical China. The name of the weapon was used to strike fear into enemy troops.
  • North Korea’s human rights record is often considered to be the worst in the world and has been globally condemned, with the United Nations, the European Union and groups such as Human Rights Watch all critical of the country’s record.

CES 2021: From Covid-19 Tech to Gaming Vests

CES 2021: From Covid-19 Tech to Gaming Vests

Considered one of the greatest tech events in the consumer electronics industry, the CES 2021 was fully digital, due to the ongoing pandemic. Apart from LG using a virtual human as a speaker and a star-trek like AI pet being launched by Vanguard Industries, let’s see other innovations unveiled to avid fans.

Crux of the Matter

What Is CES?
CES or Consumer Electronics Show is organized by the Consumer Technology Association.

  • Dates: January 11 to 14 (2021).
  • Attendees: 182,000 (2019).
  • Product Categories: IoT, AI, smart cities, robotics, etc.

Project Hazel
It is a smart face mask made by Razer, with built-in N95 respirators and Chroma RGB lighting, to allow others to see your face even in the dark. It also uses mics and amps for voice clarity and its charging case features sanitising UV lights, for disinfecting after every use.

The Flying Cadillac
It is General Motors’ Flying taxi and it can transport a single passenger at a speed of 88.5 kmph. Being electrically powered, it is set to be a zero-emission air taxi service.

Robot Butler
Made by Samsung, it helps with daily house chores like doing dishes in the dishwasher. It can also examine exactly how much force is needed to grab specific objects.

Toto Wellness
It is a smart toilet that can analyse one’s stool to determine whether she is healthy or not and it comes with a companion app, that recommends dietary changes to improve digestion.

Moxie 
Developed by Embodied, Inc, it is an animated companion, that is able to respond to natural language while perceiving eye contact, facial expressions, and other behaviors in a child. It can even recall people, places, and objects. 

As per the launch, it “helps build social, emotional, and cognitive skills through everyday play-based learning and engaging content developed in association with child development and education experts.”

Oticon More
Made by Oticon, Inc, it is the first hearing aid with Deep Neural Network tech and has been trained with 12 million real-life sounds, rather than lab-constructed sound algorithms.

Other Innovations Revealed

  • NINU Perfume – personalise scent with an app
  • bHaptics tactical suits for gamers
  • Samsung’s Solar powered remote control
  • BeFC SAS’ Bioenzymatic Fuel Cells 
  • Cubios Inc.’s WOWCube entertainment System
  • ChiliSleep’s OOLER with water-powered temperature control system
  • GoSun’s Flow pocket device to sanitize water
  • Typewise keyboard with a honeycomb layout for two-thumb typing
  • LG’s rollable smartphone

Curiopedia
  • The Burj Khalifa was constructed by Samsung. Samsung built the tower in a joint venture with BESIX from Belgium and Arabtec from the UAE.
  • Razer Inc. is a Singaporean–American multinational technology company that designs, develops, and sells consumer electronics, financial services, and gaming hardware. In October 2020, Razer announced it was launching a new virtual prepaid debit card starting with its home country Singapore in January 2021.
  • The first CES was held in June 1967 in New York City. It was a spinoff from the Chicago Music Show, which, until then, had served as the main event for exhibiting consumer electronics. The event had 17,500 attenders and over 100 exhibitors; the kickoff speaker was Motorola chairman Bob Galvin.

As Shady Practices In Digital Lending Rise, RBI Forms Committee For Regulation

As Shady Practices In Digital Lending Rise, RBI Forms Committee For Regulation

With pandemic hitting in 2020, and subsequently the economic crisis hitting individuals, the scheme of micro-lending was assumed to be a resort. Well as seamless as it seems, the consequences end up to be frightening. Let us understand the nuisance around the unregulated area of digital lending, and how RBI’s working committee can take the step of regulating this sector.

Crux of the Matter

RBI Committee
On 13th January 2021, RBI announced the forming of a working committee chaired by Jayant Kumar Dash, Executive Director of RBI,  to regulate digital lending through loan applications. 

Amidst the public outcry and growing concern for unethical and illegal loan practices executed by loan app users, RBI is forming the group to study the digital lending activities of both regulated and unregulated players of  financial sector.

What Is Digital Lending?
Prominent as PayDay Loans or Fringe Banking, Digital Banking is the practice of lending money through digital channels, web platforms, or phone applications & employing technology for authentication & credit information. It is only a 4-year old industry in India.

Digital Landing Overview In India

  • ₹800-1200 crores of loans disbursed every month.
  • Loan Book of around ₹5500 crores.
  • 60%+ loans are offered to citizens residing in Tier I cities.
  • The age group of borrowers: 20-35 years.
  • Loan tenure lies between 3-6 months.
  • Majority of borrowers fall in the income bracket of ₹1 – 5 lakhs.

Illegitimate Lending

Type 1: Shadow Operations

  • Lendersregister under the Companies Act, develop a mobile application, and start commercial lending.
  • Peddle 7-30 days loans. Interest rates are 200-500% (annualised) or 0.5-1.5% per day.
  • Reportedly, these apps have Chinese servers with Indian names.

Type 2: Through NBFCs

  • Tie up with inactive NBFCs, that lend their name in return for a commission of 1-3% of the disbursed loan.
  • The sponsors of such loans are nationals from China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Malaysia.

The Lending Flow

  • Step 1: Users download the app from Google Store.
  • Step 2: On loan application, users need to upload a scanned copy of Aadhar card and/or PAN card.
  • Step 3: Unlike the formal processes, no e-signature or OTP authentication is required.
  • Step 4: Users submit a selfie to authenticate themselves. Some ask for signing on a white paper and uploading the same.
  • Step 5: Loan is approved instantly and money is disbursed.

Dubious Doings

  • Loans not backed by one’s own NBFC.
  • Seeks access to borrower’s phone, gallery, contacts, and emails.
  • No official documentation of repayment schedule.
  • Up to ₹100 is the processing fee for a loan of ₹1000.
  • 15-30% of recoverable dues go to a collection agent.

Instances Of Social Shaming
Collection Agents harass through:

  • Endless calls to borrowers & their relatives – contacts accessed from the phone book of the borrower.
  • Threat texts on Whatsapp followed by abusive phone calls.
  • Sexual harassment and verbal abuse to women borrowers.
Curiopedia
  • A debt spiral refers to a situation where a country (or firm or individual) sees ever-increasing levels of debt. These increasing levels of debt and debt interest become unsustainable, eventually leading to debt default.
  • Peer-to-peer lending, also abbreviated as P2P lending, is the practice of lending money to individuals or businesses through online services that match lenders with borrowers. Peer-to-peer lending companies often offer their services online and attempt to operate with lower overhead and provide their services more cheaply than traditional financial institutions.
  • Bad debt occasionally called ‘Uncollectible accounts expense’ is a monetary amount owed to a creditor that is unlikely to be paid and for which the creditor is not willing to take action to collect for various reasons, often due to the debtor not having the money to pay, for example, due to a company going into liquidation or insolvency. There are various technical definitions of what constitutes a bad debt, depending on accounting conventions, regulatory treatment and the institution provisioning.