Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 15 February 2023

Draft Geo-heritage Sites and Geo-relics Bill

GS Paper -2 (Acts and Bills)

The draft Geo-heritage Sites and Geo-relics (Preservation and Maintenance) Bill, as notified by the Ministry of Mines is aimed at providing for the declaration, preservation, protection and maintenance of geo-heritage sites and geo-relics of national importance, for geological studies, education, research and awareness purposes.

What are the Geo-heritage Sites and Geo-relics means?

  1. According to a 2016 press release by the Ministry of Mines, the Geological Survey of India (GSI) declares geo-heritage sites/ national geological monuments for protection and maintenance.
  2. The GSI or the respective state governments take necessary measures to protect these sites.
  3. The GSI, under the Ministry of Mineswas established in 1851 to investigate and assess coal and other mineral resources of the country through regional-level exploration.
  4. The draft bill defines Geo-heritage sites as “sites containing geo-relics and phenomena, stratigraphic type sections, geological structures and geomorphic landforms including caves, natural rock-sculptures of national and international interest.
  5. It also includes such portions of land adjoining the site,” that may be required for their conservation or to access to such sites.
  6. Geo-relic is defined as “any relic or material of a geological significance or interest like sediments, rocks, minerals, meteorite or fossils”.
  7. The GSI will have the power to acquire geo-relics “for its preservation and maintenance”.
  8. The 32 geo-heritage sites spread across13 states include the volcanogenic bedded Barytes of Mangampeta in Cuddapah district of Andhra Pradesh, the Akal Fossil Wood Park in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan and others.

What does the Geo-heritage Sites and Geo-relics Bill say?

  1. Due to the absence of any legislation in the country for the protection, preservation and maintenance of the geo-heritage sites, these are increasingly threatened with destruction not only by the natural causes of decay but also by population pressure and changing social and economic conditions which is aggravating the situation.
  2. It states that the fossil wealth of dinosaur remains of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, marine fossils of Kutch and Spiti oldest life forms stroma to lites of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh are of great geo-heritage and geo-tourism value.
  3. The world’s oldest metallurgical records of gold, lead and zinc in Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh are still preserved but are under great threat.

About preservation in the bill:

  1. It would authorise the Central Government to declare a geo-heritage site to be of national importance. This would be under the provisions of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 (RFCTLARR Act).
  2. Through a public notification in the Official Gazettethe government would spell out what areas were to be acquired by it, and objections to this can be raised within two months.
  3. The Bill imposes a prohibition on construction, reconstruction, repair or renovation of any building within the geo-heritage site area or utilisation of such area in any other manner, except for construction for preservation and maintenance of geo-heritage site or any public work essential to the public.
  4. Penalties for destruction, removal, defacement or contravention of any direction issued by the Director General, GSI in the geo-heritage site are mentioned.
  5. There is a penalty of imprisonment which may extend to six months or fine which may extend to Rs.5 lakh, or both. In the case of a continuing contravention, additional fine of upto Rs.50, 000 for every day of continuing contravention may be imposed.

Criticisms of the bill:

  1. The need for the preservation of such sites, and particular laws for them, has been felt for long, there are concerns over the distribution of power as mentioned in the Bill.
  2. It points to how the GSI has the authority to acquire any material of geological significance, including sediments, rocks, minerals, meteorites, and fossils, as well as sites of geological importance.
  3. The issue of land acquisition for the purpose of safeguarding these sites could also lead to issues with local communities.


Dayanand Saraswati birth anniversary

GS Paper -1 (Personalities)

The Prime Minister paid tribute to Dayanand Saraswati on the 200th birth anniversary of the social reformer, hailing his contributions towards the fight against social discrimination and untouchability. “Evils that were falsely attributed to religion, swamiji removed them with the light of religion itself.

Dayanand Saraswati (1824-1883)

  1. He was one of the most influential figures of 19th-century India.
  2. A believer in the supreme authority of the Vedas, he established the Arya Samaj in 1875, leading a reform movement within orthodox Hinduism.
  3. Among his various beliefs included a rejection of idolatry and the overly ritualistic traditions of Hinduism, support for women’s education, denunciation of child marriage and an opposition to untouchability.
  4. His magnum opus, Satyarth Prakash (1875),emphasised the “return to Vedic principles” that Dayanand Saraswati believed “had been lost” over time.
  5. The book uses the language of religious revivalism – hearkening back to a ‘better’ ancient past – in order to fashion a modern religious philosophy and organisation, capable of competing against the increasingly proselytising Christian missionaries.

Hinduism under 19th-century colonial rule:

  1. From the 18th century, as the British got ever so entrenched in India, they brought with them missionaries to spread the Christian faith.
  2. As part of the West’s “civilising mission”, missionaries provided an ideological justification for what was an exploitative imperial project.
  3. reason for the success of Christian missionaries in the Indian subcontinent was the nature of native culture and belief systems at the time.
  4. This departure from the true Sanatan Dharma (what he referred Vedic religion as) resulted in practices such as idolatry, untouchability, sectarianism, sati, primacy of the priestly class, etc. becoming commonplace.
  5. For missionaries, these so-called ‘regressive practices’ provided not only the reason for their “civilising” mission, but also an audience for their message among populations worst treated within the traditional Hindu fold.

Founded Arya Samaj and Vedic Schools:

  1. He founded the Arya Samaj in 1875. This was a monotheistic Hindu order that rejected the ritualistic excesses and social dogmas of orthodox Hinduism and promoted a united Hindu society on the basis of Vedic teachings.
  2. Even before the establishment of the Arya Samaj, Dayanand Saraswati had founded multiple Vedic schools.
  3. They modelled on missionary schools that were increasingly popular among Indians; these Gurukuls provided an Indian alternative, based on principles of the Vedas.
  4. For Dayanand Saraswati, this was crucial to break the monopoly of Brahmans on Vedic knowledge.

Dayanand’s philosophy:

  1. He preached respect and reverence for other human beings, supported by the Vedic notion of the divine nature of the individual.
  2. Crucial among his “ten founding principles of Arya Samaj” is the idea that all activities must be done for the benefit of humankind as a whole, rather than individuals or even idols and religious symbols.
  3. This universalism was directly antithetical to the caste system. While Dayanand did not fully oppose the institution of caste itself, he advocated for significant reform within it.
  4. Citing the Vedas, he claimed that caste is not supposed to be hereditary but rather on the basis of an individual’s talents and disposition.
  5. He was against the practice of untouchability, which he believed was an outcome of centuries of Brahmanical domination. Crucially, he advocated Vedic education for all castes.
  6. His views on women were also against the grain of orthodox Hindu thinking at the time. He campaigned for the education of women as well as against ‘regressive practices’ such as child marriage.


SC Upholds J&K Delimitation Commission

GS Paper - 2 (Polity)

The Supreme Court dismissed a challenge to the constitution of the Jammu and Kashmir Delimitation Commission to readjust constituencies in the new Union Territory. The J&K Reorganization Act which created the two new Union territories assigns the role of readjustment of constituencies to the Delimitation Commission under the Delimitation Act, 2002… a law made under Article 3 can always provide for readjustment of the Constituencies in the newly constituted States or Union territories through the Delimitation Commission.


  1. There is no illegality associated with the establishment of the Delimitation Commission under the order of SC in 2020.
  2. “Once the Delimitation Commission was established, there is nothing wrong if the central government extended the period of appointment of the Chairperson till the task of delimitation/readjustment was completed”.

Legal and Constitutional rules

  1. “Articles 2 and 3 of the Constitution enable the Parliament to create new States and Union territories. The two new Union territories have been created.
  2. The notifications drew their power specifically from Section 62(2) of the 2019 Act. Section 62(2) provided for the readjustment of constituencies to be carried out by the Delimitation Commission.
  3. The petitioners had argued that only the Election Commission of India, under Section 60 of the 2019 Act, was empowered to conduct the delimitation exercise.
  4. The Article 170 of the Constitution barred delimitation exercise on the basis of the 2011 census. It has to either happen on the basis of the 2001 census or await “the first census after the year 2026”.
  5. The petitioners had questioned why Jammu and Kashmir was “singled out” for delimitation in the 2021 notification.
  6. The March, 2020 one had constituted the Delimitation Commission chaired by former Supreme Court judge, Justice Ranjana P. Desai, for the delimitation of Assembly and Parliamentary constituencies in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir as well as Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Nagaland.
  7. The government had countered that there were two alternative mechanisms to carry out delimitation for the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. By virtue of Sections 60-61, while the power to determine delimitation was conferred on Election CommissionSection 62(2) and 62(3) conferred powers to carry out delimitation on the Delimitation Commission.
  8. The Home Ministry and the Election Commission of India had argued that the delimitation orders already acquired the “force of law”.
  9. The ECI and the Ministry had maintained that the delimitation order had already been brought into effect from May, 2022. The delimitation order cannot be “re-agitated” in a court once it had gained finality by publication in the gazette.


‘Transfer pricing’ rules and BBC issue:

GS Paper -3 (Economy)

The Income-Tax Department surveys at the premises of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in Delhi and Mumbai were conducted in view of the BBC’s “deliberate non-compliance with the transfer pricing rules” and its “vast diversion of profits”.

More about the news:

  1. The surveys were looking into “manipulation of prices for unauthorised benefits, including tax advantages”.
  2. The BBC has been “persistently and deliberately violative of transfer pricing rules, it has “deliberately diverted a significant amount of the profits”, and has not followed the “arm’s length arrangement” in the allocation of profit.

Transfer pricing:

  1. party may transfer goods or services to another party for a price, which is known as a “transfer price”.
  2. The commercial transactions between different parts of a multinational group may not be subject to the same market forces that shape the relations between two independent firms.
  3. According to the I-T Department, “transfer pricing generally refers to prices of transactions between associated enterprises which may take place under conditions differing from those taking place between independent enterprises”.
  4. Transfer pricing refers to the “value attached to transfers of goods, services, and technology between related entities, and between unrelated parties that are controlled by a common entity”.

Working mechanism of transfer pricing:

  1. The I-T Department says:“Suppose a company A purchases goods for 100 rupees and sells it to its associated company B in another country for 200 rupees, who in turn sells in the open market for 400 rupees.
  2. “Had A sold it (the good) directly, it would have made a profit of 300 rupees. But by routing it through B, it (A) restricted it (profit) to 100 rupees, permitting B to appropriate the balance.
  3. “The transaction between A and B is arranged and not governed by market forces. The profit of 200 rupees is, thereby, shifted to the country of B.
  4. The goods are transferred on a price (transfer price) which is arbitrary or dictated (200 hundred rupees), but not on the market price (400 rupees).”

Effect of Transfer pricing:

  1. According to the I-T Department, the parent company or a specific subsidiary tends to produce insufficient taxable income or excessive loss on a transaction.
  2. “For instance”, the I-T says, “profits accruing to the parent can be increased by setting high transfer prices to siphon profits from subsidiaries domiciled in high-tax countries, and low transfer prices to move profits to subsidiaries located in low-tax jurisdiction.

Example of it:

  1. group which manufactures products in a high-tax country may decide to sell them at a low profit to its affiliate sales company based in a tax haven country.
  2. That company would in turn sell the product at an arm’s length price, and the resulting (inflated) profit would be subject to little or no tax in that country. The result is revenue loss and also a drain on foreign exchange reserves.
  3. The “arm’s length arrangement” that the BBC has allegedly violated:
  4. Section 92F(ii) of the Income Tax Act, 1961 defines arm’s length price as “a price which is applied or proposed to be applied in a transaction between persons other than associated enterprises, in uncontrolled conditions”.
  5. Section 92C(1) says arm’s length shall be determined by the “most appropriate” among the following methods:

(a) Comparable uncontrolled price method;

(b) Resale price method;

(c) Cost plus method;

(d) Profit split method;

(e) Transactional net margin method;