Thursday, 10 May 2012

Pranabda ko gussa kyon aata hai

Statutory Warning - This post has language which may be offensive to some. Reader discretion is advised !

Why is the  Finance Minister  an angry old man  - approximate translation of the title of this post for non Indians. He is one of the most mature and level headed politicians in India. And yet, these days, he is behaving like an "old f&*% with that perpetual scowl on his face" - you can see zillions of this category in any apartment owners' association in India. Either he has gone a bit batty or has let Ramamritham loose - both of which are awful developments for India

I am referring to their collective antics relating to the tax laws in India. The Vodafone story is now well known and is the subject of an earlier post of mine. Pranabda is simply being extremely churlish and petty in pursuing this. I continue to be amazed that they are going after Vodafone (which was the buyer in this transaction and made no capital gain) rather than the seller, Hutchison Telecom, which is really the company they should go after. If Ramamritham has any b*&@$, he should take on China.

But they haven't stopped there. They are loudly defending the retrospective changes they have brought into the Income Tax law . In this process, they are also overriding bilateral tax treaties with many countries. Nonsense regarding sovereignty and the right of Parliament to enact any law it pleases is being spewed. They are seeking to impose GAAR (General Anti Avoidance Rules). In layman's language, GAAR  simply means that you as a tax payer have to prove your innocence (the taxman is simply going to assume that you are guilty). Fantastic. Grrrr.

I can understand the pressing need to raise revenue - given that they are spending money like water on doles and giveaways and simply borrowing their way to nirvana. Even grant for a minute that curtailing expenditure is a non option (wow).  But is this the way to raise money ?

Only 35m Indians pay Income Tax. That's 3% of the population. Is really 97% of India poor ? How about getting some more people to pay instead of screwing those who do ?? Just look at the fantastic (and mostly ill gotten) wealth in property most of which is in suitcases. How about tightening the noose on those. Even today you can earn Rs 10000000000 crores as "agricultural income" and not pay any income tax at all. Why not tax that ?

The relationship between the taxman and taxpayer is one of extreme confrontation in India - anybody who has been at the receiving end of attention from Ramamritham knows this. Laws are draconian and the concept of guilty until proven innocent is well engrained. Dispute resolution in a sensible way is non existent - everything is confrontation. With the latest scowl on Pranabda's face, its only going to get worse.

When will we ever learn that making laws simple and fair , keeping tax rates reasonable and letting economic activity boom is the surest way for governments to increase revenues. Pranabda knows all this - he is a wise and extremely experienced minister. And yet, look at what he has become.

Will the Pranabda of old resurface please ?

For a more level headed and saner piece on this issue, read here.


Deepa said...

I am thinking, how do you get more people in India to read things like this. These decisions need to be discussed in a more informed and thoughtful forum than our zoo aka Indian parliament.

(Btw that 'old f$&% in the apartment owners association' just hit home!)

Ramesh said...

@Deepa - Our parliament is worse than a zoo. There is simply no serious consideration of any issue - which is supposed to be the reason a parliament exists. Where are the stellar parliamentarians of yore - Vajpayee, Piloo Modi, Feroze Gandhi, etc etc. Having said that, the US House of Representatives or the Senate is also virtually the same - the only difference is that in one you see dhotis and in the other you see suits. Serious arguments and considered debates are, alas, extinct.

Bindu said...

It is sad to see all these stalwarts turning senile and adamant as they grow old. And the young ones sadly seem to be no better.

sriram khe said...

Ramesh, it really doesn't matter, does it, whether it is the world's largest democracy or the second largest--garbage by any name stinks the same :)

Don't give our Congress people any ideas about wearing dhotis; they might end up having a toga party, like they used to as college students!

The problem, however, is the one that Churchill articulated a long time ago .... that the other systems that humans have tried out suck even worse.

A few years ago, when a colleague asked me why I write newspaper columns and blog, I said that in addition to a delusional thought that I have something to say, I find the whole process quite cathartic. After writing, I am less agitated by whatever the issue was that bothered me, and then I am ready for the next one ...

So, blog away .... good for your health ...

BTW, what is your fascination with Piloo Modi? :)

ps: This photo of Pranab Mukherjee's is apt for the discussion :)

Ramesh said...

@Bindu - Welcome to this space and thanks for your comment. Its really sad to see the stalwarts turn senile, isn't it.

@Sriram - Totally agree with your comment. Yes Churchill was absolutely right - every alternative stinks more. And truly - there's nothing like a good full throated rant to make you feel better. See my next post; another example. Blogging is certainly good for my health !

And what a classic photo :)

Appu said...

As i read in another blog, Pranab da should be made President to save Indian economy ;)

Ramesh said...

@zeno - Yeah; kicking upstairs is usually a good way of solving a problem !!

Deepa said...

@Ramesh- I could not agree more! One real big eye opener was the election campaign.

Sandhya Sriram said...

I am one terribly aggrieved party. my salary TDS return was wrongly filed and then, this was rectified later. but then, the mistake was taken cognizance of but never the rectification. and now, so many of my refunds have been adjusted for the tax that i have already paid and i am sure there are millions of Indians who are aggreived. wish there was a reverse GAAR. can you make all these tax guys guilty unless proved innocent? can we give them criminal punishments for sleeping over genuine files.

Ramesh said...

@Sandhya - This is an example of the worst sort of harassment. Why should they even look at salaried employees, when TDS rules are so stringent. You should approach the IT ombudsman and harass the Dept back.

Sh. A. K. Basu, Income Tax Ombudsman
(Ph:080-25538389(O) Fax:25538390)
4th Floor, ‘A’ Block, 4th Floor, ?A? Wing, Kendriya Sadan, Koramangla, Bangaluru-560017

Vishal said...

Total lack of direction and logic at the top, Sir! this vote polity is an interesting subject and Ramamrithams are the ones who know how to maximize their personal wealth and let parties work on the model of vote polity.

Blame it on system and blame it on us the people who re-elect the candidates on the way to robbery!

Pranabda is wise that is why looking for presidential post now. Will need to think nothing then. Aur fir gussa bhi nai aayega at least 5 years.

Ramesh said...

@Vishal - Ysh. I think Pranabda has got tired and wants to spend a few years without any tension in cossetted luxury. He certainly deserves it.

Ramesh said...

@Vishal - Yeah. I think Pranabda has got tired and wants to spend a few years without any tension in cossetted luxury. He certainly deserves it.

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