We pay tax so that the Government provides us with infrastructure needed for leading a comfortable and quality life. These infrastructures are, for example, uninterrupted quality power supply, water supply, good roads, security of life and property, quality health and education service.
The demagogic speeches of politicians, often delivered loudly and with great flourish, may hold the captive crowd spell-bound but are the voters convinced of the politician’s promises and the truth in his tirade against his rival? In India, as I know, the poor, gullible voters are convinced of the promises, believe the vituperative tirade and vote such a politician to power. And then they remain in this democratic trap for five years!
Before and after Independence, we have seen and experienced this universal phenomenon of democracy in India and also all over the world. That is the unique feature of democracy and that is what makes it vulnerable to fall into the hands of unscrupulous politicians, who may even destroy democracy.
I have seen this from the days of Nehru to the present days of Narendra Modi. What happened to Nehru’s ‘Tryst with destiny’ and ‘Redeeming of the pledge’ in a midnight speech on the night of Independence made with great rhetoric and admired by the whole world? “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” said a political pundit, John Acton. After the first five years in Office, Nehru’s government became susceptible to all the ills that any government with such popular support suffers from — effete administration, racial and religious discrimination in pursuit of strengthening the vote-bank and corruption.
Considered by his countrymen as a most learned and noble leader, who once famously said that any corrupt person must be hung by the nearest lamp-post, Nehru was seen condoning corruption of his colleagues in the government like Partap Singh Kairon, Chief Minister of Punjab and V.K. Krishna Menon, Defence Minister, for example. Just as beauty of a woman, even Cleopatra was not spared, fades with age, the power of a politician too gets enfeebled with years in power.
And then, where does that “boast of heraldry, the pomp of power” end? For Nehru, it ended with 1962 China War. For Indira Gandhi, with the Emergency she imposed on our country and later with the Operation Blue Star. Likewise with all the successive Prime Ministers after her, with one exception I would make for P.V. Narasimha Rao.
In a senseless pursuit of power, our country which was divided on the basis of Hindu and Muslim religion, was kept that way even after Independence with a perceptible hiatus between Indian Hindus and Indian Muslims to the point some sections of Hindus began suspecting those in power, read Congress, of building a Muslim vote-bank through Muslim appeasement instead of giving a quietus to the mutual suspicion between Hindus and Muslims by bringing Muslims to the mainstream of society in the true spirit of secularism.
Unfortunately, the Congress thought calling Hindu political leaders, other than those in the Congress Party, as Communal is Secularism. So the Congress succeeded in dividing the country once again as Secularists and Communalists. Hindus in Congress, Muslims and other minorities and leftists, who supported Congress became Secularists and all Hindus who supported and are sympathetic to Hindu unity under BJP, RSS or other organisations became Communalists.
See where we have come to at present after 70 years of Independence and democracy — a state of equality before law for all citizens irrespective of race, caste or religion under Narendra Modi. This is the true meaning of secularism, not pampering one religion against another.
But sadly, old habits die hard for old political parties. They will see intolerance where there is none. They will see Communalism where there is none. Come elections, they will visit temples to get Hindu votes but will divide the Hindu society taking advantage of the pernicious caste system prevailing in it.
Thus, the dance of democracy goes on in our country and let us celebrate our democracy despite the erratic behaviour of our politicians. We are lucky that despite many acrimonious political battles and corruption, politicians of all shades respect and in fact love Secularism and democracy, though not Socialism. I want the word “socialistic” removed from the Constitution and replaced with the word “welfare” which has a human spirit in it while the word “socialistic” is too materialistic and even discriminatory among people who produce the wealth of a nation and those who merely consume it.
Now, be that as it may, the reason for these rambling thoughts is a WhatsApp message forwarded to me a few days back about paying tax to our government. The title of the message is, “Why do Indians resist paying tax?”
A good question I thought and read it from the beginning to the end. It was a question posed to our Prime Minster Narendra Modi, who had promised to deposit Rs. 15 lakh in every Indian citizen’s account (illegal immigrants excluded, I hope) after getting lakhs of crores of rupees stacked away in foreign banks by our corrupt politicians and rich people. Of course, we are all waiting for that “socialistic” windfall like the Biblical manna from heaven. But let us wait. Now the WhatsApp letter:
This is what we honest citizens feel about our Governments — Central and State. On behalf of professionals and businessmen, I am sending you some facts. Please try to understand.
We are not doing Tax “Chori”… this is tax saving (a bit of evading too). This is to ensure security of our family, kids and their future for any adversity.
- We bought Generators/Inverters in our houses, because Govt. failed to provide constant electricity.
- We installed submersible pumps, because Govt. failed to provide water.
- We hired own security guards, because Govt. failed to provide security.
- We send our kids to private schools, because Govt. failed to provide good education in public schools.
- We headed for private hospitals to avail proper care and treatment, because Govt. failed to provide good public hospitals.
- We bought cars because Govt. failed to provide good transportation.
Finally…, what the taxpayer gets in return at the retirement, when he needs most to survive? Nothing, no social security.
But instead all his hard-earned income resource is used by Government to distribute subsidies and freebies in the name of welfare schemes among masses to buy “free votes” to those who don’t pay any taxes.
Above all, what does the Government do with our (tax) money?
Open Courts, which do not give judgement.
Open Police Stations, which work for politicians only and not protect citizens.
Open Hospitals, which do not treat us well.
Build roads wherein 40-100% of money spent goes in vain due to corruption. Endless list…
Like western democracies, if Indian Governments could provide all the above, why would anyone save taxes ?
We all know that the major tax revenues collected from us are consumed by Government officials and politicians (billions of dollars are lying in foreign banks).
A manufacturer works at a margin of between 2% and 10% whereas government needs 30% of his income to cover its expenditure. How fair is it all? That’s the reason no one wants to pay taxes.
We save taxes for our necessities, family, for our old age, for our safety, security and this phenomenon is the sign of failure of Government in discharging its own functions fairly and efficiently. Government alone is responsible for this.
But on the other hand what do we do?
If and when Govt. announces that Rs.1,000 crore is required for Indian Army or floods or earthquake victims, the same amount will be deposited within couple of days by these “Tax- Savers” only. We will come forward with open hearts.
My dear friends, if you agree with this opinion, please forward this until the Government realises its responsibilities.
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