Breaking News
Friday, February 25, 2011

Info Post
(Published in on 25 February 2011, retrieved from

(Image Courtesy: Unauthorised reproduction of this image is prohibited.)

“The Congress never cares about salaried people,” a friend said to me, as we debated the relative evils of the two main contenders for the Centre in 2009, “it’s always the aam aadmi and the business leaders.”

The words have come back to me often over the past couple of years, as I do the math on my taxes, read about farmer suicides, and watch scam after scam unfold.

All of us have got so used to seeing the Prime Minister’s long-suffering, careworn face on television and in newspapers that his stoic willingness to accept his own shortcomings has become as much an irritant as his longing to be Caesar’s wife.

Meanwhile, the various petty interests that make up Parliament continue to hold the session to ransom, funded by our tax money. While the BJP mumbles that the Winter Session could have been saved if the Congress had been more cooperative on the subject of a Joint Parliamentary Committee, the majority party’s own MPs have been screaming slogans about Telangana during the Budget Session.

So, aside from drama, what can We the People expect from the Parliament?

Ahead of the Union Budget for 2011-2012, the government has announced plans to provide incentives on farm loans – yet another attempt to make the lives of the aam aadmi easier.

But, clearly, nothing has worked so far. More farmers are leaving their families with funeral expenses and posthumous loans every year. Put the question to the government, and chances are that they will tell you the statistics are distorted by the increase in population.

Those of us who read the papers really only care for one statistic from the Budget – the Income Tax limit. For nearly two years, we’ve been hoping the recommendations of the Direct Taxes Code (DTC) Bill will come into effect. This would exempt up to Rs. 2 lakh from tax, while Rs. 2-5 lakh will be taxed at 10 percent, Rs. 5-10 lakh at 20 percent, and more than Rs. 10 lakh at 30 percent.

Naturally, we can trust the government to have loopholes in place for those who make over Rs. 10 lakh an hour. But if the marches being conducted by senior citizens pleading for tax relief and release of pension funds on time are anything to go by, Pranab Mukherjee has some work to do for the salaried class.

Perhaps figuring out what our tax money has been spent on over the last year will give us some perspective on the benefits we need.

First, there was all the work that needed to be done to make India look pretty for the Commonwealth Games debacle.

Almost at the same time, our legislators at various levels decided they were too poorly paid to carry out the all-important functions of the nation and state, and gave themselves a salary hike.

As elections approach in several states, the ruling governments have got into a tizzy, building skywalks and escalators and flyovers we don’t need, distributing freebies to the ‘poor’, and honouring themselves at sundry functions.

For a while, our ministers went on an ‘austerity drive’, paying for cattle class and pressuring airline companies to upgrade their tickets; now, their focus has turned to better pursuits.

Our own expenditure has gone up, and the now-famous e-mail forward about onions, petrol and beer having the same price tag has proven that the needs of the unemployed, office worker and student are on a level.

Private companies have been whining about recession since the word became fashionable in the West, sometime early in 2008. Our salaries haven’t gone up. Schools and colleges, though, have pruned their seats and hiked the MRP of each unit, which means we spend more money trying to educate our children.

Newspaper articles come out every now and then, proving that it makes more sense to stay unemployed and claim BPL benefits than take up low-paying jobs in some states.

As there is no such reprieve for those of us who are unfortunate enough to have taxable incomes, we can only hope the dizzying figures that the 2G scam has made famous have altered the parameters of poverty.


Post a Comment