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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.


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.