Monday, July 8, 2013

Lack of Intel Coordination - Leads to Ignorance and it costs

Ignoring the Intel Information seems to the in thing for Indian Security System.  We have seen that in the past in multiple cases and when we have seen the Intel getting a success, we get to see that another agency ridicules the operations.  So the end of it, the Intel Agency prefers to Pull out of the Future such cases.

Taking the case of recent serial blasts at Bodh Gaya, another instance where the Intel shared was ignored and the result is for us to yet witness another series of blasts with 9 explosions.  As if the Mumbai Train Blasts, the 26/11 in Mumbai, Godhra Carnage, Akshardham incident in Ahmadabad, Parliament Attacks and various other acts of terror were not enough to yet have another case. And this time involving the Holy Shrine and that too from altogether a different sect/religion that promotes peace more actively.  

It surely is a gruesome act of terrorism, but then more heinous crime is actually by the State Police Force to have ignored the Intelligence passed on by the IB and others.  Every time when we dwell in the case, we are lead to the failure of basics, Ignorance towards the IB inputs and not heeding to the warning aired.  It is now becoming a trend for one different agencies to just ridicule each other and waste the time and efforts invested by one agency and the end result "Blood Bath".

If that was not something that was already hurting us, there is another case where the investigative agency has gone an extra mile to ridicule the effort from another Intel Agency in a case that is now haunting the entire Security System.  The Intel Agency has voiced the concern highlighting that if this would be the case, they would put a stoppage in cooperation after passing on the information. Ah as if after receiving the information the agencies which are supposed to work, work!!

The whole system for that matter is flawed.  No Coordination, No Cooperation, No Mutual Respect and on top of that Different Operative Environment and Political Bosses.  Yupp, the stuff that hurts the most is the delay in the modernization and centralization of the Domestic Security Operations at the center and the state level.  The Country that leads in the IT Service Space providing services to the Western World, is a case study in its own for not having the Well knit Information Sharing Network.  A Country that can drive the usage of Modern Day technology by its Domestic Security Agencies, but the officers are still using the age old systems to communicate. In the process, even if the Information on probabilistic event may reach them, they care less to even acknowledge and/or read it.  Forget taking an Action on it.  Result, lost momentum and rather than Proactively Blocking the Terrorism, they end up investigating in in reactive mode and then prove that the culprit is the actual culprit.  Situation Gives us the State Guests like Afzal Guru and Ajmal Kasab, who live on the hard earned money of the tax payers!!!

So what is required?  I did state above Modernization and Centralization.....But then, what are the steps to be taken there?  Not just better armory, it would also require an overhaul of the system as well as the Domestic Security Forces to ensure that the terrorists wouldn't be able to carry out Terror Attacks...Detials in the next Post!!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

New Income Tax Filing Rules in India - For Salaried Individuals

The article referred above is pretty elaborate article form the perspective of helping us in deciding our way forward for filing the Tax returns.  The major change this year is directive from CBDT to all the Tax Payers in India with Income more than INR 500,000 to file Income Tax online.  As already covered in the article on Economic Times, there are many online portals that charge anything between INR 200 to INR 4000 to do so.  However, from the perspective I look at it, it would be better to take help from a CA to prepare your Tax Return and then File it through an online portal.  I for that matter do the same and my favorite site to file my returns is Income Tax India's online Portal.  Once I get the acknowledgement (ITR-V), I then send the same by Speed Post to CPC Banglore. Year on year, I had been doing the same and never faced issues.  It has been an awesome experience with my CA preparing my returns for me and then I myself keying in the information to the Portal using the ITR-II.  Simple & easy, though ITR-II is more comprehensive, but saves a lot time from scrutiny as you provide as much information as you need  to.

This leads to the second change, why ITR-II and Why not ITR-I or Sahaj / Saral?  The reason being, the complexity of income earned - from salaries, from dividends, from house rent, agriculture etc. (ok, not that I have so many sources, mentioned them to align the thoughts that Income from Multiple sources would tend to require ITR-II). Though the overall amount may be negligible and may not impact Income Tax majorly, but then using ITR-II one can declare the same in bit more elaborate manner than what they would do in case of Sahaj or Saral .  Specifically this year when there is a rider from CBDT that anyone who has already availed the exempt of more INR 5000 or more on Income Tax, they would need to file returns using ITR-II. The referred article also provides for this information, but leaves that out with highlighting the ambiguity there.

The topic of exempt as mentioned is quite an ambiguous one as the industry experts themselves are deliberating whether the exemption of HRA, LTA, Conveyance Allowance etc would be counted as contributing to the exempt of INR 5000. But as I read the new directive, I would opine that the exempt here is with reference to the exemption received on heads other than the ones available to the Salaried individuals.  LTA and Conveyance Allowances are specifically availed by the Salaried Individual and hence they are the ones would be in a dilemma "Why use ITR-II".  Income from Business and Partnerships etc anyways require one to use ITR-III.  So the answer lies in the List of Exemptions as available on the website of the Income Tax department or you can download it by clicking here. That should help resolve the ambiguity and the confusion as left out for in the article.
NOTE*** - It would still be better to refer your trusted CA, as I am not a qualified CA, but am just sharing my experience and my own study. Please treat this as a reference that you may use as starting point and not as the final authoritative information.  Please once again, "DO NOT treat this as an Authoritative Information"

Monday, July 1, 2013

Inter-Connect Rivers - Control Damage by Floods & Address Water Shortage

While following news on Floods across Northern and Eastern part of India, I interacted with many people on the various forums.  There have been quite a few comments that were politically driven but then there were quite a few which stood real merit. One such observation by one participant is to inter-connect the rivers across India.  Indeed a good point that stands a merit to be considered, but needs to be critically reviewed for impact on the Ecological Sensitivity and Balance. 

Benefits that would be derived from the Project to Inter-connect rivers can be well listed as - 
  1. Rain Water would not just drain out and can be Harvested in the small and mid-sized damns that would be built to store and divert the water.
  2. Some of the Dams may be designated for Hydel Power Projects, thus generating electricity that can address the electricity shortage problem to some tune
  3. Project on Dams as well as Power generation would help generate jobs across the country
  4. Plantation projects should be considered for ensuring that the deforestation caused by building dams does not bring in ecological dis-balance.   These Plantation farms need to be located at the periphery of the water catchment area of the dams
  5. Human as well as Wild-life being displaced due to these projects need to be rehabilitated to newer areas in a fashion that they do not load the existing habitats and do not unbalance the ecology
  6. Clear rules to be set out for Water distribution from these dams to the original course of the river and the diversion canals as created
  7. Periphery of 5 kms around the catchment area of the dams to be declared as Eco-Sensitive and NO-Development Zone. Human Habitat must be prohibited in those areas
Additional Steps that would be beneficial and need to be taken should be with regards to the Study that needs to be conducted to ascertain the old course and the new course of a river that is was following earlier and is now following. This would help in ensuring that any human habitat on or around the old course is moved out from there.  We have already witnessed that when flooding occurs, rivers do change their course and shift to the older one along with the newer. E.g. Kosi Floods in Bihar couple of years back and the Alaknanda as well as Bhagirathi in Uttarakhand during the recent floods there.

Considerations and the Problem Areas that would need to be addressed during the project would include but not necessarily be limited to - 
  1. Interconnect for the rivers would require Dams to be built to divert the water.  This would lead to the extended coverage of human habitation as well as forests
  2. Displaced Villages would need Rehabilitation and that may cost more load on existing villages or the forests
  3. Interconnects would traverse though various Villages and Forests, another reason why the displacement would be more
  4. Interconnects would change the ecological balance in the Forests as the animals would suddenly find a new development that they would need to adjust.  There had been a case where couple of Elephants lost their lives due to one such development
  5. States owning the Dams withing their territory would regulate the water they release to the interconnect as they would like to ensure that the people of that state would get enough supply before the water is released - More stories of Karnataka - Tamil Nadu sorts
  6. When the upstream states would see heavy rains and the water levels there would rise, they would certainly open the barrage to let the water pass through to the downstream state, that may save them from the flood, but the downstream state would face flood situations as the people there would not be prepared for they may not witness as much rain....Regular Feature between Haryana and Delhi...

So to sum it all, the Interconnect River Project would need a very careful and elaborate study and planning.  including - 
  1. Villagers who would be impacted would need to be Consulted as well as Compensated.  Buy in from the Villagers would be very critical otherwise we would witness more oppositions as faced in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.  
  2. The states involved would need to ensure that they do not end up in conflicts over water and the water sharing formula as coined at the start of the Project are honored
  3. Upstream states when releasing excess water to control flood need to communicate it to the downstream states so that the damage assessment is well taken care of by the down stream states and the damages are contained with timely mitigation steps
  4. Last but not the least, the Involved officials would need to ensure that they RESPOND to the MET Department Notes and Warnings to ensure timely response and communication within the administrative wings. This will help reduce the overall damage that may be caused.
Update: ET Article link added below - 
Though the Dam is pegged to be lasting only for 61 years, the last slide of the Presentation on ET highlights some of the benefits as being derived as mentioned in the article above