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Friday, March 23, 2018

Parliament passes Payment of Gratuity (Amendment) Bill 2018

‘Gratuity’ ~ the dictionary meaning is :  a tip given to a waiter, taxi driver, etc. It also means :  sum of money paid to an employee at the end of a period of employment.  Every employee looks forward to peaceful retirement as they near the homebend !!

For topic of the day – it is about Employee benefit (social security !) .. ..  Gratuity is a benefit received by an employee for services rendered to an organisation. For companies covered under the Gratuity Act, this benefit is paid when an employee completes five or more years of service with the employer. The Gratuity Act applies to establishments employing 10 or more persons.  The primary objective of providing a gratuity scheme is to provide a retiring benefit to the workman who have rendered long and unblemished service to the employer and thereby contributed to the prosperity of the employer.

In Western Nations the concept of Social security is "any government system that provides monetary assistance to people with an inadequate or no income." Social security is enshrined in Article 22 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states: Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.

In economic parlance, Gratuity is a defined benefit plan given by the employer to the employee parting for the services rendered.  In India, we have a statue - Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972 - an Act to provide for a scheme for the payment of gratuity to employees engaged in factories, mines, oilfields, plantations, ports, railway companies, shops or other establishments and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. It was  enacted by Parliament in the Twenty-third Year of Republic of India and called  Payment of Grataity Act, 1972.

Section: 4 of the Act states :  Payment of gratuity. (1) Gratuity shall be payable to an employee on the termination of his employment after he has rendered continuous service for not less than five years, - (a) on his superannuation, or (b) on his retirement or resignation, or (c) on his death or disablement due to accident or disease: Provided that the completion of continuous service of five years shall not be necessary where the termination of the employment of any employee is due to death or disablement: Provided further that in the case of death of the employee, gratuity payable to him shall be paid to his nominee or, if no nomination has been made, to his heirs, and where any such nominees or heirs is a minor, the share of such minor, shall be deposited with the controlling authority who shall invest the same for the benefit of such minor in such bank or other financial institution, as may be prescribed, until such minor attains majority.

As per Section 4(1), the completion of continuous service of 5 years is not required where termination of employment is due to death or disablement. In such case mandatory gratuity is payable. Gratuity is paid at a rate of 15 days wages for every completed year of service or part thereof in excess of Six months. The wages here means wages last drawn by the employee. The "15 Days Wages" will be calculated by dividing the last drawn wages by 26 and multiplying the result with 15.

The good news for employees is that  Parliament has passed the Payment of Gratuity (Amendment) Bill which will increase the ceiling of tax-free gratuity amount to Rs 20 lakh from Rs 10 lakh. Further, this will allow the government to increase the gratuity ceiling from time to time without amending the law.

The amendment bill is seen as a  long awaited change, much expected to bring private sector employees at par with their public sector counterparts as far as gratuity ceiling is concerned. The gratuity amendment act, once it comes into force after receiving Presidential assent and publication in the Official Gazette, would provide greater defined benefit advantage for employees as it is likely that income tax limits are increased as it has been the case in the past. The amendment also gives flexibility to the Government to extend the ceiling in the future by mere notification as opposed to the requirement of an amendment.

The amendment further  allows the government to fix the period of maternity leave for female employees as deemed to be in continuous service in place of the existing 12 weeks  enhancing the maximum maternity leave period to 26 weeks.

The enhancement in ceiling could mean  that  tax liability will be nil in respect of  any amount upto Rs.20 lakh as gratuity. After the Amendment bill comes to force, the government may raise the limit of Rs. 20 lakh further to increase the cap in gratuity amount as and when the need arises without having to change the law. Amount of gratuity is directly proportional to the tenure of service, and also to the last drawn salary.  According to the  formula, the time period of over six months or more is considered as one year.

Section: 13 of the Act categorically states that :  No gratuity payable under this Act and no gratuity payable to an employee employed in any establishment, factory, mine, oilfield, plantation, port, railway company or shop exempted under section shall be liable to attachment in execution of any decree or order of any civil, revenue or criminal court.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
23rd Mar 2018.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Boult and Southee skittle out England for 58 - Auckland Test

In 8 balls Dinesh Karthik’s career has changed ~ now perhaps he has more fans than ever before ! ~ Test Cricket is no slambang – no T20 this, yet .. today a pink ball proved to be not so pink as England was skittled out for a paltry 58 inside 21 overs. 

The fall of wickets would give you a different story :  1-6 (AN Cook, 4.2 ov), 2-6 (JE Root, 6.2 ov), 3-16 (DJ Malan, 8.1 ov), 4-18 (MD Stoneman, 9.4 ov), 5-18 (BA Stokes, 10.3 ov), 6-18 (JM Bairstow, 11.2 ov), 7-23 (CR Woakes, 12.6 ov), 8-23 (MM Ali, 13.4 ov), 9-27 (SCJ Broad, 15.4 ov), 10-58 (JM Anderson, 20.4 ov)

~ ignominy was shining on the face when England were 27/9 ~ but Craig Overton, one of two Somerset fast-bowling twins,  playing his 3rd Test scored an unbeaten 33  - and that made the England coach Trevor Bayliss berate England batting.  I have read about smaller totals, this one was embarrassing !

If put into bat on a cloudless afternoon,  and  tormented by some exemplary bowling by the left-arm paceman Trent Boult, who finished with six for 32 & his partner Tim Southee taking  four wickets in a variety of ways,  was not enough, NZ scored runs briskly.  There was some movement for Boult, in particular, but it was as if the batsmen were playing blind man’s buff after someone had mischievously plastered glue on the soles of their boots.  Most of the humiliating records were averted thanks to a cameo from Overton, who seemed to be able to pick up the pink ball rather better than his colleagues. There was one superb flat-batted six off Boult as well as a few, crisp drives in his unbeaten 33 but Anderson could not keep him company for long. Despite that last-wicket partnership, England could not reach their previous lowest score against the Kiwis, which was 64 at Wellington in 1978 when Geoffrey Boycott was the captain.

Trent Boult, who could barely keep the smile off his face in the post-day press conference, claimed career-best figures of 6 for 32 while Tim Southee bagged four - they were the only two bowlers needed to clean up a feeble England. Then Kane Williamson, their best Test batsman, ensured they capitalised with a delectable, unbeaten 91 that stretched New Zealand's lead to 117.

Away,   South Africa fast bowler Kagiso Rabada has been cleared to play in this week’s third Test against Australia by the International Cricket Council. The 22-year-old’s two-match ban has been overturned after his charge of “making inappropriate and deliberate physical contact” with the Australia captain, Steve Smith, during the second Test in Port Elizabeth was downgraded following an appeal. The South African barrister Dali Mpofu successfully argued at Monday’s six-hour hearing that the paceman did not deliberately make contact with Smith’s shoulder during a fiery send-off. Rabada has instead been found guilty of “conduct that is contrary to the spirit of the game” and has been fined 25% of his match fee and received one demerit point – reduced from his initial punishment of three. That leaves Rabada on a total of seven demerit points, one short of triggering an automatic two-match suspension, and he is available for the third and penultimate Test, which starts in Cape Town on Thursday. The series is currently level at 1-1.

In Test Cricket – the lowest total is New Zealand’s 26 in Mar 1955 made at Auckland against England in Test 402; India’s hour of shame  is ‘42’ –at Lords in June 1974 when they were bowled out in 17 overs.  

At Eden Park in 1955, Len Hutton's team finished their triumphant tour by setting up a world record – dismissing  New Zealand in the second innings for 26, the lowest total in the history of Test cricket.  In that 2nd innings only B Sutcliffe the opener made 11; there were 5 zeroes.  Tyson took 2; Statham took 3 – Appleyard took 4 for 7 in 6 overs. 

Long before Dhoni, Ajit Wadekar had taken India to newer heights with Series win over West Indies and England (on tours) – but sadly that tour of 1974 was a disaster…. It is reported that India reached there in a bitterly cold England in April as the leading side in the world. In the previous three years they had won series in the Caribbean and England, and then defeated England at home. Their superb quartet of spinners (Bishan Bedi, Chandrasekhar, Prasanna and Venkat) backed by some top batsmen (Sunil Gavaskar, Ajit Wadekar, Gundappa Viswanath) made them a formidable team, albeit one lacking any real seam prowess. Ten of India's 12 three-day warm-up matches were drawn, largely because of what Wisden described as "outrageously unkind" cold, wet weather, which was a hallmark of the summer. Against Essex and Surrey, the tourists won with Abid ali taking wickets.  

In the first Test, at a damp and chilly Old Trafford, India lost by 113 runs.  The ignominy was complete in that Test no. 740 played at Lords in June 1974.  England piled up  629  - with Dennis Amiss scoring 188; John Edrich 96; Mike Denness 118 and Antony William Greig scoring 106.  The bowling card would put Indian bowlers to shame :  Abid ali 22-2-79-2; Madanlal 30-6-93-0; Chandra 9.3-1-33-0; Prasanna 51-6-166-2 and Bishan Singh Bedi 64.2-8-226-6

Indians started soundly with a century partnership between Sunil Gavaskar (46) and Farokh Engineer (86) – the first wicket falling at 131 was no indicator of the things to come; Gundappa Vishwanath made 52; Eknath Solkar, the brilliant fielder made 43 and Indians were all out for 302.   Indians following on suffered their worst being all out for ‘42’ (technically for 9 as Chandra was absent hurt) – Only Solkar reached double figures with 18 and remained unbeaten.   Arnold had figures of 8-1-19-4; while Chris Old had 8-3-21-5.

It all happens in a game !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
22nd Mar 2018

Human error and rain intervention sees WI qualify !!!

Scotland were 105-4 in the 32nd  over when Windies off-spinner Ashley Nurse rapped Berrington's pads and umpire Paul Wilson raised his finger after lengthy deliberation.
Although the ball deflected into the off side, replays showed it had struck Berrington in or just outside the line of leg stump and would have gone past the stumps with the spin.

Berrington was unable to review, with the International Cricket Council electing not to use the decision review system in this tournament.   Earlier, the  Scots made a sensational start when the excellent Sharif (3-27) had Gayle caught behind with the first ball of the match, then removed Shai Hope in his second over. Doubt why you are reading this ??

I remember that Clive Lloyd tour immediately after the World Cup 1983 which Kapil Devils won – the 4th Onedayer at Keenan stadium, Jamshedpur in Dec 1983 – Chetan Sharma made his debut.  Those were days when 250 was a match winning total and WI went on to make 333/8 in 45 overs with contributions in tons coming from Gordon Greenidge and IVA Richards.  Such was the total dominance of West Indies those days ~ and it is hard to digest that it took a human error and help from rain enable them qualify for the World Cup.

The score card would never reveal the actual happening.  West Indies 198 (48.4 overs): Lewis 66, Samuels 51; Sharif 3-27, Wheal 3-34.  Scotland 125-5 (35.2 overs): Berrington 33, Munsey 32no; Roach 2-20, Nurse 2-35. West Indies win by 5 runs (DLS)

It usually rains on around 191 days a year in Edinburgh, where Scotland play much of their international cricket. Harare Sports Club sees, by comparison, around 73 rainy days a year, and one of those days brought a soggy end to what was shaping up to be a thrilling match between West Indies and Scotland. Chasing 199, Scotland were 125 for 5, five runs behind the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern par score, when the rain came down. The result means West Indies have booked their place in Sunday's final, and thus the World Cup in England next year.  Eventually, the West Indies simply seemed like undeserving beneficiaries of two lucky breaks, one courtesy a human error and the other through nature’s diktat, as they booked a spot at next year’s World Cup at the expense of a devastated Scotland team, who for most parts of the day looked all set for a fourth World Cup appearance.
For, if Scotland had lost one less wicket at the point a heavy drizzle turned into a mini-storm and forced the players off, they would have been ahead by three runs on the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern (DLS) method and therefore been adjudged winners. Instead at 125-5 in 35.2 overs, they were five runs behind.

Scotland's hopes of reaching the 2019 World Cup are effectively over after West Indies won a rain-affected game in Harare to qualify for the tournament. The Scots needed another 74 off 14.4 overs when the deluge intervened, Kyle Coetzer's side trailing by five runs on the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern (DLS) method. They had earlier bowled the Windies out for 198, Safyaan Sharif and Brad Wheal both taking three wickets. Richie Berrington hit 33 after Scotland were reduced to 25-3 in reply. But his controversial dismissal, given out lbw to a ball that replays appeared to show was heading down the leg side, proved costly as Scotland's hopes of a fourth World Cup appearance - after reaching the 1999, 2007 and 2015 tournaments - were ended by the weather.

Zimbabwe will take the second and final qualifying place if they beat UAE, who are already eliminated, on Thursday. A shock defeat for the hosts would see the winner of Ireland against Afghanistan on Friday go through.

More Cricket shock – elsewhere downunder in the 1st  Test (D/N), England tour of Australia and New Zealand at Auckland.  England have been bowled out for 58. Ben Stokes made his return to Tests, albeit largely as a specialist batsman amid concerns regarding his workload and fitness for the longer format. He missed the Ashes, which England lost 4-0, due to a police investigation after his alleged street brawl in Bristol. England captain Joe Root also confirmed he will move up to No. 3, which meant James Vince was dropped after a sub-par Ashes.  Overton finished the highest and perhaps has the highest individual proportion of an innings as the scorecard of Cook, Stoneman, Root, Malan, Stokes, Bairstow, Ali, Woakes, Overton, Broad, Anderson reads :   5,11,0,2,0,0,0,5,33,0,1.  Trent Boult has figures of 10.4-3-32-6; Tim Southee 10-3-25-4.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
22nd Mar 2018.

Google honours woman researcher on radioactivity on seawater with a doodle

Most days begin with Google and today Google is honouring a woman scientist who did pioneering work in her field – and then inspired many more like herself to do the same – with a doodle.

Rich people travel to isolated destinations enjoying nature ~ Bikini Atoll is an atoll** in the Marshall Islands which consists of 23 islands totalling 3.4 square miles (8.8 km2) surrounding a 229.4-square-mile (594.1 km2) central lagoon. Bikini and Eneu are the only islands of the atoll that hosted a permanent population. Bikini Island is the northeastern most and largest islet. Before World War II, the atoll was known by its German name, Eschscholtz Atoll.
Pic credit :

Operation Castle was a United States series of high-yield (high-energy) nuclear tests by Joint Task Force 7 (JTF-7) at Bikini Atoll beginning in March 1954. It followed Operation Upshot–Knothole and preceded Operation Teapot. Conducted as a joint venture between the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) and the Department of Defense (DoD), the ultimate objective of the operation was to test designs for an aircraft-deliverable thermonuclear weapon.

Operation Castle was considered by government officials to be a success as it proved the feasibility of deployable "dry" fuel designs for thermonuclear weapons. However, one test in particular, Castle Bravo, resulted in extensive radiological contamination of nearby islands (including inhabitants and U.S. soldiers stationed there), as well as a nearby Japanese fishing boat (the Daigo Fukuryū Maru), resulting in one direct fatality, and then continued health problems for many of those exposed. Public reaction to the tests and an awareness of the long-range effects of nuclear fallout has been attributed as being part of the motivation for the Partial Test Ban Treaty of 1963.

After the Bikini Atoll nuclear tests in 1954, the Japanese government asked the Geochemical Laboratory to analyze and monitor radioactivity in the seawater and in rainfall.  A Japanese fishing trawler had been downwind from the tests at the time they occurred, and its occupants became ill from the effects. The woman of the day - Saruhashi found that it took a year and a half for the radioactivity to reach Japan in the seawater. Today’s google doodle honours that woman who helped clean the seas of nuclear bombs.  Saruhashi's commitment to inspiring other women scientists was as remarkable as the work she did herself.

Katsuko Saruhashi, a Japanese scientist did pioneering work in her field – and then inspired many more like herself to do the same. Saruhashi's list of achievements is vast and wide. Chief among them is work she did to test how nuclear fallout was moving in the seas, and use it to show that tests of nuclear explosions in the ocean should be limited. But Saruhashi's achievements weren't only scientific, and the list of work that others went on to do as a result of her inspiration is even longer. She also worked incredibly hard to ensure that other women got a chance to make the breakthroughs she did, explaining that it was her mission to make the field she worked in more equal.

"“There are many women who have the ability to become great scientists," she said. "I would like to see the day when women can contribute to science & technology on an equal footing with men.” Her work in that area has been recognised with, among many others things, a prize named in her honour. When she retired in 1980, her colleagues gave her five million yen – and she used that money to establish the Association for the Bright Future of Women Scientists, which has rewarded Japanese women scientists working in the natural scientists with a prize every year since.

Today on her 98th birthday, Google pays  tribute to Dr. Katsuko Saruhashi for ‘her incredible contributions to science, and for inspiring young scientists everywhere to succeed," it wrote on its page. Before she did the work she would go on to be remembered for, Saruhashi was already breaking through barriers. She was the first woman to earn a doctorate in chemistry from the University of Tokyo in 1957, for instance, and she would continue such achievements by becoming the first woman to win a prestigious geochemistry award.  The specific work that was to define her scientific life was begun after the US started testing nuclear weapons at Bikini Atoll. In response to that, the Japanese government wanted to know whether exploding the warheads was affecting the water in the ocean and in rainfall, and commissioned the Geochemical Laboratory, where she worked, to analyse that.

She made use of the understanding of accurately measuring water but turned it to explore the way nuclear fallout spread through the water. She found that the pollution was taking a long time to make its way through the ocean – but that eventually it would spread out and mix with the water, moving across the world. It was those findings and others like it that helped contribute towards stopping the test of nuclear warheads in the ocean. And it was some of the first work that explored the way that nuclear fallout spreads over the world – a field that would go on to become terrifyingly relevant in accidents like those at Chernobyl or Fukushima.   Saruhashi would go on to explore the other dangers posed by rain and water, including work on acid rain. 

The word atoll**  comes from the Dhivehi (an Indo-Aryan language spoken on the Maldive Islands) word atholhu,  meaning an administrative subdivision.  Oxford English Dictionary’s first recorded use in English was in 1625 as atollon – Charles Darwin recognized its indigenous origin and coined, in his The Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs, the definition of atolls as "circular groups of coral islets" that is synonymous with "lagoon-island".

Interesting woman !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
22nd Mar 2018.