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The Hindu Editorial

13-January-2024

1. A case diary for the Indian police

Topic: GS2 – Governance – Government policies Issues arising out of their design & implementation.
The topic is crucial for UPSC as it addresses challenges in India’s police system, a vital aspect of governance and law enforcement.
Context:
  • The article discusses challenges and reforms in India’s police force.
  • It covers a police conference in Jaipur, highlighting issues such as public trust, federal-state discord, technology integration, disparities in recognition, and the persistent influence of politics on policing.
Conference in Jaipur: A Stocktaking Exercise
  • Three-day conference in Jaipur in the first week of January.
  • Attendees were police officers at the Director General of Police level from across India.
  • Focus on Information Technology as a core agenda.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the conference and interacted with officers individually.
Growing Importance of Law Enforcement
  • Indication of growing importance attached to law enforcement in the country.
  • Emphasis on the high stakes that the administration has in efficient policing.
Challenges in Public Image and Trust
  • Police still struggle to earn the trust and confidence of the majority of the populace.
  • Public image of the police remains abysmal.
  • Citizens are hesitant to seek help from the police unless in extreme distress.
Federal Issues and Discord
  • Growing discord between the Centre and Opposition-led States.
  • Perception of the Indian Police Service (IPS) as a ‘permanent irritant’ to some states.
  • States prefer their own recruits due to perceived control issues.
Technology Adeptness of Police
  • Police have become more technology-savvy.
  • Increasingly educated lower echelons in the police force.
  • High unemployment rates driving individuals to opt for police jobs.
Disparities in Recognition and Opportunities
  • IPS officers receive disproportionate attention and glory.
  • Lower ranks, like constables and sub-inspectors, lack opportunities to display talent.
  • Argument against the IPS and the need for restructuring to narrow the gap between ranks.
Need for Education and Empathy
  • Lack of effort from IPS officers to educate those at the lowest levels.
  • Calls for DGPs and their subordinates to spend time teaching ranks.
  • Emphasis on knowledge, integrity, and genuine empathy for the common man to improve the police force’s image.
Shadow of Politics in Policing
  • Persistent issue of the politicization of the police force.
  • Difficulty in insulating policemen from political influence.
  • Recognizing the intertwined nature of this issue with the democratic system of government.
  • Ensuring independence and autonomy for the police force is a long-term challenge.
Practice Question: How can the Indian police force address the challenges of public trust, federal-state discord, and technological integration for effective governance? Discuss with policy recommendations. (250 words/15 m)

2. Strong direct tax receipts create a fiscal cushion and room for more reforms.

Topic: GS3 – Indian Economy – Issues relating to mobilization of resources
Crucial for UPSC as it addresses India’s fiscal health, revenue trends, potential tax reforms, and implications for fiscal consolidation.
Context:
  • The article discusses India’s strong fiscal performance, with direct tax collections at 81% of the target, anticipating surpassing the Budget estimate.
  • It suggests potential tax reforms and highlights positive implications for fiscal consolidation.
Direct Tax Collection Performance:
  • As of January 10, 2023-24 direct tax collections reached ₹14.7 lakh crore, meeting 81% of the target.
  • Represents a 19.4% YoY increase, leading economists to anticipate surpassing the Budget estimate of ₹17.2 lakh crore.
Revenue Mix and Projections:
  • GST inflows and non-tax revenues, including a substantial dividend from the central bank, are expected to exceed Budget expectations.
  • Overall revenues likely to surpass Budget projections despite relatively subdued excise duty revenues.
Direct Tax Breakdown:
  • Corporate taxes increased by 12.4%, while personal income taxes showed a robust growth of 27.3%.
  • Record-level filing of income-tax returns, reaching 8.2 crore by December 31, contributing to revenue growth.
Fiscal Consolidation and Reform Opportunities:
  • Positive revenue trends offer comfort for the government’s fiscal consolidation efforts, potentially mitigating concerns about missing the deficit target of 5.9% of GDP.
  • Creates an opportunity for the government to undertake more tax reforms, especially in simplifying the taxation system for corporates and individuals.
Possible Tax Reforms:
  • Suggestion to minimize multiple withholding tax rates for firms to a handful or even one, reducing disputes.
  • Consideration of lowering Tax Deduction at Source (TDS) and Tax Collection at Source (TCS) rates, while maintaining intelligence gathering.
  • Evaluation of mechanisms to encourage better life choices aligned with public policy goals, such as promoting retirement savings and health insurance.
GST and Potential Reconsiderations:
  • Call for reconsideration of the 18% GST levy on health insurance, especially considering potential financial strain on lower- and middle-income households during health crises.
  • Anticipation of a broader rationalization of GST rates.
Policy Outlook:
  • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman signals no major moves in the Interim Budget 2024-25.
  • Revenue buoyancy encouraging policymakers to keep reform options open for the new government. 
PYQ: Explain the salient features of the constitution (One Hundred and First Amendment) Act, 2016. Do you think it is efficacious enough ‘to remove cascading effect of taxes and provide for common National market for goods and services? (250 words/15m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-2 2017)
Practice Question: How can India’s robust direct tax collections impact fiscal consolidation, and what tax reforms could enhance revenue sustainability? Discuss. (150 words/10 m)
 

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