On 1 July, if all goes to plan, the country would have formally transitioned to the goods and services tax (GST) regime. By the sheer path-breaking nature of the tax reform initiative, which for the first time economically unifies the country, GST will have a special place in India’s modern economic history. What about Budget 2017? For several reasons it, too, is a watershed moment.
Firstly, advancing the schedule is more than just a break with a colonial hangover. It actually gives an administration a full year to spend the money it has earmarked for various projects; of course it also means more work for our bureaucrats, who have long been used to a nine-month spending cycle.
Second, there is a fundamental reset to the nomenclature—plan and non-plan have been abandoned and instead replaced with revenue and capital expenditure. But this is much more than just a change in classification. The idea is to move to an outcome-oriented approach and the finance minister has announced that the Niti Aayog will monitor it.
Third, this budget is the likely template for the future. Given that GST rollout is imminent, the finance minister wisely chose not to tinker with the indirect tax rates. And most don’t realise, but the movement in indirect tax rates and slabs inevitably generate the news and hype about budgets; which is probably why most people came away feeling underwhelmed.
In that sense this year’s budget, sans tax rate changes, was sanitized to begin with. It focused on spending and listing out the government’s priorities within the fiscal sector: social sector with a particular accent on the poorest of the poor, farmers, rural sector and roads.
Going forward, this will be the likely contour of future budgets. Not a bad thing really. After all it is time Parliament and the country focused on government spending—so far it has been in the news mostly for the wrong reasons, like misappropriation of money.
Fourth, this budget has renewed the new-found focus on agriculture; especially the emerging agriculture economy, which includes new alternatives like horticulture, dairying and so on—all of which are vulnerable to market volatility. The Indian farmer is probably the biggest risk-taker in India right now, but the least rewarded; they are a proud people who don’t want largesse (as some commentators seem to think). By promising the introduction of derivatives as a hedge against price volatility and delinking perishables from the shackles of the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee, the budget has set the ball rolling in integrating farms into the market economy (read that as the formal economy, with its attendant advantages).
Fifth, and finally, this budget marks the flowering of the federation. The 14th Finance Commission set the stage for the govt. to walk the talk on cooperative federalism, and the last two budget did precisely that; GST is just another example of how the centre and states are beginning to do things in tandem. And with the shift to outcome-based budgeting (as explained earlier) the allocations of public money has moved from departments to stakeholders—like states and the third tier, panchayats and urban local bodies (though this is very inadequate at the moment).
Darknet, also known as dark web or darknet market, refers to the part of the internet that is not indexed or accessible through traditional search engines. It is a network of private and encrypted websites that cannot be accessed through regular web browsers and requires special software and configuration to access.
The darknet is often associated with illegal activities such as drug trafficking, weapon sales, and hacking services, although not all sites on the darknet are illegal.
Examples of darknet markets include Silk Road, AlphaBay, and Dream Market, which were all shut down by law enforcement agencies in recent years.
These marketplaces operate similarly to e-commerce websites, with vendors selling various illegal goods and services, such as drugs, counterfeit documents, and hacking tools, and buyers paying with cryptocurrency for their purchases.
Anonymity: Darknet allows users to communicate and transact with each other anonymously. Users can maintain their privacy and avoid being tracked by law enforcement agencies or other entities.
Access to Information: The darknet provides access to information and resources that may be otherwise unavailable or censored on the regular internet. This can include political or sensitive information that is not allowed to be disseminated through other channels.
Freedom of Speech: The darknet can be a platform for free speech, as users are able to express their opinions and ideas without fear of censorship or retribution.
Secure Communication: Darknet sites are encrypted, which means that communication between users is secure and cannot be intercepted by third parties.
Illegal Activities: Many darknet sites are associated with illegal activities, such as drug trafficking, weapon sales, and hacking services. Such activities can attract criminals and expose users to serious legal risks.
Scams: The darknet is a hotbed for scams, with many fake vendors and websites that aim to steal users’ personal information and cryptocurrency. The lack of regulation and oversight on the darknet means that users must be cautious when conducting transactions.
Security Risks: The use of the darknet can expose users to malware and other security risks, as many sites are not properly secured or monitored. Users may also be vulnerable to hacking or phishing attacks.
Stigma: The association of the darknet with illegal activities has created a stigma that may deter some users from using it for legitimate purposes.
AI, or artificial intelligence, refers to the development of computer systems that can perform tasks that would normally require human intelligence, such as recognizing speech, making decisions, and understanding natural language.
Virtual assistants: Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant are examples of virtual assistants that use natural language processing to understand and respond to users’ queries.
Recommendation systems: Companies like Netflix and Amazon use AI to recommend movies and products to their users based on their browsing and purchase history.
Efficiency: AI systems can work continuously without getting tired or making errors, which can save time and resources.
Personalization: AI can help provide personalized recommendations and experiences for users.
Automation: AI can automate repetitive and tedious tasks, freeing up time for humans to focus on more complex tasks.
Job loss: AI has the potential to automate jobs previously performed by humans, leading to job loss and economic disruption.
Bias: AI systems can be biased due to the data they are trained on, leading to unfair or discriminatory outcomes.
Safety and privacy concerns: AI systems can pose safety risks if they malfunction or are used maliciously, and can also raise privacy concerns if they collect and use personal data without consent.