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GST for gaming, casino and racing needs a differentiator, not a disruptor

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The final word is not yet out on the GST for online gaming, casinos, and race courses.  The ministerial panel on casinos, race courses, and online gaming will meet on July 23 in Bengaluru and on July 24 in Goa to get a clear perspective on the taxation of horse racing and casinos. It is reliably learnt that the Bangalore Turf Club will make a presentation to the GOM on various aspects of racing and the issues of GSt related to racing. In Goa, the GOM will visit some casinos to get a first-hand feel of the business and the way it operates.

The GOM has time till August 10 to submit its final report. One must remember that serious differences had cropped up among the members and two previous meetings remained inconclusive over the rates and whether it should be applied uniformly across the three sectors—online gaming, casinos, and horse racing. 

So what happened in those two meetings? The 47th GST Council, held in Chandigarh, had given time till July 15 to the GOM on online gaming, casinos, and race courses to iron out the concerns and sticky issues and submit their reworked report.

The GOM last met virtually on July 12, under the chairmanship of Meghalaya CM Conrad Sangma, but could not conclude its report. Now, the Twitter timeline of Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is full of arguments against the absurdity of clubbing everything together for valuation and tax treatment under the GST ambit. India’s political and sporting cognoscenti have said the move could have far reaching consequences on the sectors, especially online gaming that is considered a power driver for the nation’s economy.

A government which is skilled enough to differentiate the GST rates for roti and paratha is claiming not to be able to differentiate between skill-based games and pure gambling. The approach seems to be that if a part of the target segment cannot be brought up, the rest of the segment should be pulled down. At the press conference on June 30th, the FM said “Whether it is horse racing or online gaming or casinos, the common thread that the Committee highlighted is that they are part of betting and gaming… In other words, they are essentially gambling. There may be an element of skill in it or an element of chance in it. But essentially, all the three are gambling,” 

If this is the case, then India can never become a gaming superpower, a term used by none other than the country’s Prime Minister. Narendra Modi recognised the potential of the online gaming industry and said India has the potential to lead the world in the digital gaming sector.It is not gambling. The online gaming industry has emerged recently owing to technology innovation and growing smartphone & internet penetration. According to the All-India Gaming Federation, it has a potential to create around 60,000 highly skilled jobs and attract over Rs. 20,000 crores of FDI in the next few years. A KPMG report said that the Indian online gaming industry was worth Rs 13,600 crore in FY 2020–21 and is likely to reach Rs 29,000 crore by FY 2025.

Sitharaman has herself in the last Union Budget announced the setting up of the AVGC promotion task force to look at ways to build domestic capacity and also to serve the global demand in the Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming, and Comic (AVGC) sector. G (Gaming) is an important letter in the term AVGC and one that probably has the most potential of the four sectors. Now the nation expects her to move away from the tunnel vision of some officials. Once again, this is not gambling. This is no sin.

Now, it is genuinely a tough road for the group of ministers. They are stuck in limbo due to fresh differences among the members. Everyone is asking on what grounds the same norms should apply to all three categories. Some of the members said each category required a different valuation calculation mechanism, and some of the members agreed, arguing it would be wrong to put everything in the 28 percent bracket.

Some of the members have already explained how some other nations handle their GST on online gaming. What is the government saying? The chairman of the GoM is pushing the members to agree to a single value mechanism to ensure compliance and make enforcement easy.

But it is not acceptable to the industry. The GoM said online gaming be taxed at the 28 percent slab “on the full value of the consideration, including contest entry fee paid by the player for participation in such games without making a distinction between games of skill or chance.”

This puts online gaming in the highest tax slab of GST along with other goods like aerated drinks and luxury cars. And it is clear that such high taxes will kill the gaming industry. The existing tax slab for online gaming stands at 18 percent and the amount taxed is not on the full consideration of transactions. With an estimated value of $1.5 billion, the gaming industry in India is expected to be worth $5 billion in the coming years.

The new regime would charge 30% of the entry fee, plus a 115 percent surcharge.Currently, an 18 percent tax is levied on the platform fee and gross gaming revenue (GGR). It means the GST council is looking to tax not just the revenue platforms are collecting but the entire value of transactions deposited with them by the players.  If this happens, the tax burden will increase multifold.

Consider this one. The imposition of GST on GGV (gross gaming value) will result in a nearly 900 percent increase in taxes, effectively killing the emerging gaming industry. In the US, a flat tax is deducted on earnings from e-sports and online gaming, but the exact rate depends on which state you are in. 

Online gaming is usually taxed at 10 percent in most states. But 30 percent tax is imposed on any winnings through online gaming and esports winning. In the UK, a variable tax slab is applied, starting at 15 percent for the first $3.5 million earned on the GGR, and going up to 50 percent for amounts over $17.8 million earned. While winnings on gambling are tax-free in the country, tax rates for e-sports are set at 40-45 percent.

Now the situation is slightly more complicated in the EU. The revenue tax rate is set at 15-20%, while winnings are taxed at rates ranging from 15 to 50%, depending on the amount and the member state. All eyes on the Bengaluru meeting.

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Independence Day: West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee joins dance and folk artistes

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Mamata Banerjee

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee hoisted the national flag in Kolkata on Monday. On the occasion of Independence Day, Banerjee also joined artistes during their performances.

Meanwhile, artistes across the eastern state were seen performing at the event where CM was seen first cheering and lauding the performances. Earlier, Banerjee also extended her wishes on the 76th Independence Day.

“On the completion of 75 years of Independence, India must awaken to the real essence of Independence. We must stay true to the vision of our forefathers and keep the aspirations of our future generations at heart. My heartfelt greetings to all my fellow citizens. Jai Hind!,” CM Banerjee tweeted.

Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ campaign. He called upon the people of the country to join it. PM Modi said that the tricolor not only has three colors, but it is also a reflection of our commitment to the present, our past glory, and our dreams for the future.

However, Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav is an initiative of the government to celebrate 75 years of Independence. The national flag will be hoisted in every house of the country till 15th August.

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UK approved Modern vaccine targeting Omicron

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Omicron

The updated Moderna vaccine against COVID-19, which targets both the original form and the Omicron variant, was approved by the UK on Monday, making it the first nation to do so. The bivalent vaccination produced by US pharmaceutical company Moderna as a booster for adults has received approval from the Medicine and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

The Medicine and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) authorised the vaccine for adult booster doses “after it was found to meet the UK regulator’s standards of safety, quality and efficacy” and to elicit a “strong immune response” against both strains, according to a statement.

Clinical study data that indicated the booster elicited “a significant immune response” against both Omicron (BA.1) and the original 2020 virus, according to the MHRA, were the basis for the agency’s approval.

The MHRA also highlighted a preliminary analysis in which it was discovered that the shot produced a strong immunological reaction against the two currently predominant Omicron offspring, BA.4 and BA.5.

MHRA chief executive June Raine said in a statement, “The first generation of COVID-19 vaccines being used in the UK continue to provide important protection against the disease and save lives.”

“What this bivalent vaccine gives us is a sharpened tool in our armoury to help protect us against this disease as the virus continues to evolve.”

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Srinagar encounter update: Police Constable Sarfaraz Ahmad killed in J&K’s Srinagar

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Kashmir

Police Constable Sarfaraz Ahmad who succumbed to injuries during the encounter died on Monday. The encounter broke out in the Nowhatta area of Srinagar on Sunday.

Taking to Twitter Jammu and Kashmir police said, “Police personnel namely Ct Sarfaraz Ahmad R/O Batote Ramban who was injured yesterday during an anti-terrorist operation, succumbed to his injuries & attained #martyrdom. We pay rich #tributes to the #martyr for his supreme #sacrifice made in the line of duty. @JmuKmrPolice”

Earlier, the police officials seized the vehicle (scooter) used by two LeT terrorists and one AK-74 rifle, and two grenades.

“Vehicle (scooter) used by two #terrorists of #terror outfit LeT seized from the incident site. Besides, one Ak-74 rifle and two grenades have been recovered. Search still going on,” the Jammu and Kashmir police.

Meanwhile, the officials informed about Ahmad’s injuries during the combat. “In the ongoing encounter, one police personnel namely Constable Sarfaraz Ahmad, resident of Batote Rambon got injured. He was evacuated to the hospital for treatment. One terrorist also got injured. Search still going on. Further details shall follow,” the Jammu and Kashmir said.

However, further details are awaited.

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Children rejecting foreign toys reflect “AatmaNirbhar Bharat”

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Narendra Modi

On the 75th Independence Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered a speech from the Red Fort’s ramparts, saying that even a 5-year-old child would not play with foreign toys, reflecting the spirit of independent India in him and the fact that “Aatmanirbhar Bharat” runs through his blood.

He said, “I want to salute the little children between 5 and 7 years of age. The nation’s consciousness has been awakened. I have heard from countless families that 5-7-year-old children tell their parents that they do not want to play with foreign toys. When a 5-year-old child makes such a resolution, it reflects the spirit of self-reliant India in him and ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ runs through his veins.”

The PM also praised the Indian toy business in his monthly “Mann ki Baat” radio show in July, stating that exports had increased to Rs 2,600 crore from Rs 300-400 crore.

Last year, the prime minister urged people to be “vocal for local toys,” noting that India imports roughly 80% of toys, with millions of rupees flowing to foreign countries. He stressed the importance of changing this situation.

Modi had made a pitch for boosting the nation’s position in what he called the “Toyconomy,” or the economic aspects of the toys and gaming industry, noting that India’s share of the global toy market, which is estimated to be 100 billion dollars (over 7.5 lakh crore), is only about 1.5 billion dollars (over 11,000 crore).

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Celebrating India’s achievements at 75

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Statue of Unity

As India celebrates 75 years of Independence, India has channeled her civilizational strengths and cultural diversity into a brand new shared future, and opportunities for achievement, progress, and prosperity for its billion-plus citizens. Here is a list of what we have achieved since 15 August 1947.

Indian Premier League (IPL)

Indian Premier League (IPL) is an Indian professional T20 cricket league established in 2008. Lalit Modi proposed the idea of IPL and superheaded the IPL effort. It was founded by the Board of Control of Cricket in India in 2007. It is usually held between March and May of every year. In a high-profile ceremony in New Delhi, the first season was slated in 2008. The first season of IPL was won by Rajasthan Royals, captained by Shane Warne. To date, there have been fifteen seasons of the IPL tournament. Moreover, there are 10 teams they are; Chennai Super Kings, Delhi Capitals, Gujarat Titans, Kolkata Knight Riders, Lucknow Super Giants, Mumbai Indians, Punjab Kings, Rajasthan Royals, Royal Challengers Bangalore, and Sunrisers Hyderabad. The teams representing different Indian cities compete against each other. IPL is the most-attended cricket league in the world which revolutionized the game.

Success of Unified Payments Interface (UPI)

India’s Unified Payments Interface (UPI) has become the best-performing real-time ecosystem in the world with nearly 6 billion transactions a month. According to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, India’s digital economy could create $1 trillion in economic value in 2025. Earlier on 11 April 2016, NPCI conducted a pilot launch with 21 member banks by Dr. Raghuram G Rajan, Governor, RBI at Mumbai. On 25 August 2016 onwards Banks started to upload their UPI-enabled Apps on the Google Play store. These are the top seven UPI apps used in India; Google Pay, PhonePe, Paytm, BHIM App, Amazon Pay, BHIMSBI Pay, and MobiKwik. Meanwhile, from 21 banks in April 2016, the total number of banks linked to the UPI platform as of Feb 2022 is 304.

Vaccination Drive of India

The ongoing COVID-19 vaccine drive in India rolled out the world’s largest COVID-19 vaccination drive. The COVID-19 vaccination drive in India was started on 16 January 2021 across 3006 vaccine centers in all its states and union territories. The vaccination drive in India has been initiated with two types of vaccines: Covishield and Covaxin, being manufactured by Serum Institute of India Ltd. and Bharat Biotech International Ltd. On the first day itself, 1,65,714 people were vaccinated and were administered to a sanitation worker at All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi. As of now, 2,08,25,13,831 vaccines have been administrated to the people. Earlier, on 30 January 2020, India reported its first case of COVID-19 in Kerala.

Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM)

The Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), also called Mangalyaan was launched on 5 November 2013 by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). It is a space probe orbiting Mars since 24 September 2014. The Mangalyaan was launched from the First Launch Pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre (Sriharikota Range SHAR), Andhra Pradesh. For the launch Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket C25 was used. Mangalyaan was the world’s cheapest mission to the red planet which cost just Rs 447.39 crore. “Unlike the Mars mission, which was a one-time project when cleared, the GSAT program envisages launching several more satellites. Therefore, the money saved from its launch is with Isro to be used for future satellites,” a senior official said. The spacecraft instruments which were used are Mars Color Camera, Lyman Alpha Photometer, Thermal Imaging Spectrometer, Mars Exospheric Neutral Composition Analyzer, and Methane Sensors for Mars.

Statue of Unity

The Statue of Unity is the World’s Tallest Monument and is the most prolific creator in recent times. The Statue of Unity is dedicated to one of India’s founding fathers, and the country’s first Deputy Prime Minister, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel with a height of 182 meters. It has been created as a tribute to the ‘Iron Man of India’. The Statue of Unity is divided into 5 zones out of which 3 are accessible to the general public. It can accommodate 200 visitors at a time and location at a height of 153 meters. It is located at Sardar Sarovar Dam, in Kevadia, Gujarat.

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Har Ghar Tiranga: 44 million Tiranga Selfies uploaded so far

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Har ghar tiranga

On the Har Ghar Tiranga website, nearly 44 million people have posted selfies with the Indian flag, and the government has changed the caller tunes on phones to urge more people to follow suit.

Culture ministry official stated, “Our aim is to run it throughout the day to promote the Har Ghar Tiranga movement and encourage people to upload selfies with the flag.”

The website reports so as of 11:59am, 44963700million selfies have been submitted, and the number is increasing every second, the official stated.

Additionally, the website has been pinned with more than 50 million digital flags.

Amit Shah, the home minister, as well as the cricketers Sachin Tendulkar and Rohit Sharma and the actors Amitabh Bachchan, Rajnikanth, and Anupam Kher have also posted selfies.

The union government has contracted with roughly 200 manufacturers, including small and medium-sized businesses and self-help organisations, to produce the flags in order to have them displayed in 200 million homes between August 13 and August 15 in honour of 75 years of independence.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi officially commenced the government’s 75-week countdown to the 75th anniversary of Independence from Sabarmati Ashram on March 12, 2021.

These events, which are spread over 28 States, 8 UTs, and more than 150 countries, are centred on 5 major themes that guide our commemorative and festive endeavours. (Freedom struggle, [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]).

The movement, a ministry of culture initiative to commemorate “Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav” celebrations for India’s 75th year of independence, will help “deepen our bond with the national flag,” PM Modi said in a tweet

Taking to Twitter he wrote, “This year, when we are marking Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, let us strengthen the Har Ghar Tiranga Movement. Hoist the Tricolour or display it in your homes between 13th and 15th August. This movement will deepen our connect with the national flag,

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