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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

(Published in The Sunday Guardian, on 25 March, 2012, retrieved from http://www.sunday-guardian.com/investigation/in-defence-of-you-pranabda)




Image Courtesy: Sunday Guardian, illustration by Sandeep Adhwaryu)



Dear Pranabda,
It was with the mien of a martyr that you said you weren’t concerned about Saturday’s headlines, as long as your budget helped shape headlines a decade later. And those won’t be “MNREGA beneficiaries to pay 50% tax”. As Will may have said, “You are Sir Oracle, and when thou ope thy lips, let no dog bark!”
I write this partly because I don’t think you were cruel enough to be as kind as you must, and partly because, as a student of science, literature and journalism, I’m as qualified to advise you on economics as most of your government’s ministers are to run their ministries, and I pray you take me as seriously as you expect us to take them. Hence, I suggest you bring in the following levies next year:
Defiance Tax
Your newfound love of Shakespeare must have taught you that “They are as sick that surfeit with too much, as they that starve with nothing.” In your wisdom, you’ve ensured that most of us will pay more to go to work than our companies can afford to recompense, by making cars, cycles and footwear more expensive. Of course, there are those fools who’ll walk barefoot to work, and the likes of me, who work from home, staring at their laptops all day. Under the Defiance Tax, the former lot can be sorted out by increasing service tax on pedicures and VAT on foot creams. The latter must be cured by fixing VAT on prescription eyewear at the fourth power of the lens power.
Seduction Tax
Now that your excise on platinum and gold has made proposals and weddings more expensive, we must work under the assumption that people will simply date. You’ve effectively killed long-distance relationships by hiking mobile bills, air fare and train fares. Eating out has got more expensive too, which means couples are left with fewer options to amuse themselves. Therefore, Seduction Tax. Since the prices of lipstick and lubricant have gone up anyway, do carry this to the finish. We all know lingerie begs a rise. I mean, people who have the time to undress before fornicating must be affluent. Also, as matchsticks have got cheaper, we must compensate by increasing taxes on scented candles.
Protection Tax
Just in case these “dissentious rogues” decide to “rub the poor itch” anyway, let them “make [them]selves scabs”. All means of contraception must have VAT placed at 200% of MRP. Hehe, talk about a copper-T-bottomed plan! (Incidentally, every time you mentioned “UID”, in my optimism I heard “IUD”.)
Special Labour Tax
Now, we know there are those who will cross all those hurdles, and go-forth-and-multiply. For these, I say, introduce the Special Labour Tax. The first baby a couple has must be taxed at 50% of their combined CTC, and every subsequent baby at an additional 25%.
Malodour Tax
Pranabda, I congratulate you on making basic hygiene high-maintenance by pushing up the costs of soap, cosmetics and washing machines. But there are those who will “fall into the unclean fishpond” of their body odour, and they must pay a Malodour Tax. You know, to “bid them wash their faces, and keep their teeth clean.” This will naturally require you to bolster the police’s sniffer dog force, but surely this can be factored into your defence budget?
Digestive Tax
And still, there are loopholes that enable tax evasion. For instance, with adult diapers getting cheaper, people can simultaneously strike lingerie off their shopping lists and put their partners off sex. The diapers will also help them brave the effects of cheaper coffee, and as long as they sit home watching their gigantic TVs, which are now lighter on the pocket, sniffer dogs can’t get at them. This can be fixed with Digestive Tax, which will be calculated in accordance with the sewage production of each neighbourhood, and footed equally by its residents.
I hope you will implement these next year, and not “remain as neuter”. Thus shall we turn churches into chapels, and princes’ palaces into poor men’s cottages.
Love,
Nandini
P.S.: I left out the Wikoogle Tax for internet research. You know, I got all the Bard’s quotes from...oh, you know, you clever man, you!

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