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Inset : Nirmala Sitharaman

2012-2021: Retrospective Tax Gone, But The Ghost May Remain For Some Time

The Income Tax Department lost the Vodafone case because it didn’t contest well in the Supreme Court, held the lawmakers. And to address this, the then Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee introduced the retrospective tax in the Income-tax Act in 2012, though he was not happy with the decision when he understood the implications. (Vodafone was asked to pay $3.79 billion, including $2 billion in tax, interest and penalties – a claim called incorrect by an international arbitration tribunal). The retrospective tax is gone, but its ghost may remain. Seasoned observers say the decision to do away with the controversial tax provision is purely a political one. The Central Board of Direct Taxes officials maintain that income arising out of the sale of assets on Indian soil must be taxed in India, and they will keep doing so. Now that the I-T provision is gone, it would be interesting to see how the existing cases are handled by the taxmen. The Income-tax Act is a powerful piece of legislation that gives the tax department immense powers to deal with any case in the way it wants, if it is decided at the top level of the Board. The companies involved in the retrospective tax cases may feel happy that the provision has been quashed, but they should wait for some more time before it turns out to be a final respite.
PK Puruvar

PK Purwar

Beleaguered BSNL’s 4G Plans Stuck In Limbo As Rival Telcos Rev Up For 5G

State-owned telecom behemoth Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd’s (BSNL) plans to launch 4G, at a time when private operators are on the verge of rolling out 5G services, seems to be jinxed. While the latest in the series is a Tata Consultancy Services-led consortium seeking changes in product specifications, in July BSNL’s board did not approve upgradation of its base transceiver stations (BTS) in two zones. The proposal to upgrade BTSs, supplied by Nokia in southern and western zones, did not get approval at the board meeting held on July 23, 2021, which was chaired by BSNL chairman and managing director PK Purwar. This was despite the proposal, which was estimated to cost a modest Rs 550 crore, was approved by BSNL’s management committee on July 1. However, its board, including two members from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and directors of BSNL, did not agree to the proposal and the agenda has been deferred to the next board meeting, which should take place before September 30, sources said. The mini-ratna firm was expecting the launch of 4G services, along with the Union Cabinet-approved revival plans, to help in its turnaround. For BSNL unions, this is a feeling of déjà vu, as there was a string of rejections to the PSU’s 4G equipment procurement and upgradation plans, the prior one being in December 2019.
Parth Jindal

JSW Group’s Parth Jindal Showers Rs 2.5-Cr Wishes On Tokyo Olympics Champions

Parth Jindal is pleased as punch after Tokyo 2020 Olympics returned seven medals, including the first Track and Field gold, thanks to the tall and strapping Neeraj Chopra directing the World Athletics approved Javelin made of steel/aluminum or aluminum alloy to a distance of 87.58 metres, that usually the 100m sprinters on track run in probably under a flat nine seconds. Parth is the Founder of Inspire Institute of Sport and JSW Sports, but most importantly a sports lover keen to create a good space for non-cricket sports persons ambitious of wanting to excel in running, throwing, jumping in addition to team sports. He owns the IPL franchise, Delhi Capitals. The medal winners have been hailed as the new stars on the Indian sports horizon and awarded money which they deserve. If money can act as an incentive to motivate and perform, why not? Parth’s JSW Group has announced Rs 25 million (Rs 2.5 crore) to the medal winners and their coaches. Chopra will receive Rs 1 crore, wrestlers Ravi Dahiya and Bajrang Punia, Rs 20 lakh and Rs 15 lakh, Badminton ace PV Sindhu and boxer Lovlina Borgohain Rs 15 lakh each, Weightlifter Mirabai Chanu, Rs 20 lakh, and each member of the men’s hockey team, Rs 2 lakh. The coaches and support staff have been handsomely rewarded. Hopefully many more corporates would follow suit.

Rahul-Rohit’s Run Feast In England Lifts India’s Opening Gloom

India’s unlikely opening pair of Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul, eternally on Test comeback trails, have forged into a fine combination to be the bedrock of India’s campaign. They have added 257 runs so far in five innings in the English summer, including the WTC final. While Rahul put his name on the coveted honours board at hallowed Lord’s, Rohit is yet to make his first century away from home even as he improves his away average that is at least 50 runs worse than his imposing 79.50 at home. Standing a foot outside his crease is Rohit’s adaptation of the Virat Kohli technical template for English conditions while Rahul stays crease-bound and yet masterful in his ability to drive the ball through the offside and in the classical V. Dark skies with hints of moisture to aid swing and seam of a virtually black Test Dukes ball and pitches that are spicier than ever before and offering variable bounce are the challenge India’s openers are facing up to with elan. India’s batting dominance thus far has also been helped along by the presence of Ravindra Jadeja as the batting all-rounder, which comes at the expense of the controversial omission of Ravichandran Ashwin. Crucially, India have been on top of England after the disappointment of the WCT final.

ICC Sponsorship, Design Contests Lined Up to Boost Skoda's 2.0 Strategy

The year 2021 seems to be an important one for Skoda Auto, the European auto giant, as they have unveiled the 2.0 strategy. For starters they have announced a unique design contest for all its new cars to be globally unveiled in India later this year. The winners of this contest will get to meet their head of design at Prague, Czech Republic. Realizing India loves cricket, the company is investing in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup as broadcast partner. It may be recalled that Škoda made its first major inroad into football sponsorship by agreeing a deal with Spanish LaLiga club Espanyol. Its strategy seems to be to sponsor the most popular sports. For ICC, besides Skoda, they have already signed another auto client on board besides Nissan who are the sponsors for global cricket events till 2023. ICC has also opened Expression of Interest for media rights opportunities for various non-exclusive media rights in relation to public screening. To popularise the sports globally, they have also introduced bids to get bidders to package attractive content on any inflight or on board entertainment on aircraft, ship or train. These commercial initiatives by ICC are to boost the popularity of cricket globally by 2032 and open the door to the sport’s entry in the Brisbane Olympics.


Technology Cannot Disrupt Original Content Provider: Short Post Editor

They say time flies. How true!  Today is our #SecondAnniversary. Two years back at the height of Covid-19 Pandemic when lockdown was the way of life we took a leap of faith and launched Short Post (Jan 28, 2021), the first-of-its-kind website in the country that focuses on Authentic Gossip. The Oxymoron is deliberate. Well, the response has been quite encouraging. That’s what has kept us going. Till date we have posted close to 2000 stories in the areas of Politics, Business, Entertainment and Sports. Each insightful story of around 225 words has been contributed by Senior Editors. There is a sense of satisfaction of creating a new segment in the market – authentic gossip — and in the process creating a brand (in a limited sense), creating demand (readers) and creating supply (writers). Well known advertisers — IDFC FIRST Bank, ICICI Lombard – supported us.  And that really boosted our confidence. Thank you!

So here we are raring to go.  But, when I look at the media landscape the disruption is indeed fast and furious. Technology is playing a very big role in how content will be consumed. In the past, we have seen how social media has disrupted the media world. Now, everybody is saying the same thing about ChatGPT. It has reached 1 million users in five days. Its scorching pace of growth is indeed frightening and will disrupt the media industry big time. My limited argument is can it do investigative stories, write gossip items using the digital world ecosystem. Unlikely. Clearly, the original content has to be created first — only then can ChatGPT do the magic. That’s what we promise to do – focus on original content.

Before I sign off, I am reminded of an old advertisement of the early sixties: “Avis is only No.2 in rent a cars. So we try harder”. Likewise I can say, we are two years old and we are trying even harder to be relevant to you readers.