A King with a depleted Treasury eats into the very vitality of the citizens and the country – Kaultiya (Arthshasthra, Part II)
It’s quite late at night and yet it seems that the sun has not set on my household. Guess we are not running on IST today – out of respect to the people who are arriving from other time zones I guess. The mood is upbeat, the phone rings incessantly, the home smells of warm and delicious curries, the bedspreads are all crisp and colourful, the car has a full tank and other intricate details if I sit to list down, one post will not do justice I guess.
Amidst all the preparations there’s a person who’s debating on how to put across a few words to the only living-in child of the house. She hovers around her room, tidies the already tidied cushions, clears her throat, makes small talk, while her deviant child types on her laptop, but doesn’t start the ‘real talk’. “Ma kichu bolbe?” (Ma do you want to say something?) was enough to get her to place herself on mat soft mattress and start what I knew was to come but had thought would be avoided. Like always I was counseled to be a bit patient to the people who were arriving and try and control my urges to throw back words at them. While she explained that she knew I always almost always right in my defenses and approaches, she feared family discontentment and so approached me. Earlier I would have refused to accede to her request, request her to side with me, but this time I just smiled and assured her that her request would be honoured – I have grown up Ma, now I don’t argue I just blog :)!
It irks me when people who have lived their entire lives in this country come back to compare it to the more developed country where they have shifted their base. It irks my parents more that I raise such issues that spoil the holiday mood. It saddens me that majorly I am misunderstood and tagged as stringent nationalist, when I don’t protest out of the feeling of patriotism that I harbour. I am not against people who work aboard or decide to live there. I have full respect for all such people. Neither I am a frog in a well that is un-appreciative of the developments in other lands. In this little quarter life that I have lived, I take pride in calling myself a globetrotter who’s had the opportunity to witness the confluence of many cultures and walked up the pathways of both developed and emerging economies. But that is a different travelogue, which I keep for some other day.
Today, what irks me is this very misunderstood reaction of mine to protest every time roads are criticized or the overseas visitors undermine facilities and products here and compare it to their high and mighty life back at what they have now come to define as ‘home’. I am a loyalist to the nation, but my protests do not emerge from there. I simply believe that we have the right to criticize when we are actually contributing to object of criticism – I believe only tax paying citizens have the right to criticize the misshapenness in the country.
My theory emerges from a simple fact that you cannot approach a court for a stomach ache which a particular bad cake gave your friend activating your consumer rights, for it is only the consumer who’s paid for it who can go – right? Then how can an observer who merely contributes to the debates affecting his country join in criticizing the government, which he is not a part of?
Working in a Bank with the financial year-end approaching, tax issues galore at my work place. There are concerns about the unequal gender slabs, there are tips exchanged on tax saving policies and there are investments, which are re-accounted for. All this suits me fine, but just then when I see a worthy young colleague who’s just bought his own apartment, filling out ‘rent receipts’ – to save tax he calls it and to evade tax I scream, somewhere it bothers me.
I admit that earning money is never a child’s play and having a dependant family makes things worse. But then again I also feel that tax evasion is not the solution to the above problem. I feel the above is an outcome of the common mass feeling that the tax money is like a waste, which is forcibly taken from each working citizen (falling above the prescribed slab). I feel the above arises from the feeling that the tax money is wasted and used to fit the whims and fancies of the government bureaucrats.
I am not an advocate from the side of the government, but I still raise a concern? Do we really think that we pay enough to cover all expenses? The truth is the true government budget is way beyond achieving even if we all pay our taxes religiously. But that doesn’t mean that we avoid paying what is due from us. I am also not of the eligitarian approach that people with higher salaries be taxed more than people with lower salaries. I only believe that the country, which has given me, my basic identity deserves a bit more respect for its financial needs than it receives. To me the country, which has given me the right to own property, has the right to demand tax from me. It is to understand that if we are to take our citizenship for granted we would be committing the same mistake as our spouses do after x years of marriage. We think that the relationship is to stay forever. We forget that it is indeed a privilege to be loved the way he/or she loves us, just like we forget that it is indeed a privilege to have a passport and an identity, which we call our own.
And if you are to argue about the corrupt politicians who eat away all your money I suggest you visit your whining child’s school one day. When your child complains about a particular class prefect who’s made life miserable for him, we try to probe if at all it is our child’s problem, because didn’t he a few weeks ago proudly proclaim that he had selected his friend to be the class prefect? Not voting or improper voting also leads to the similar situation. Just like it is us who maketh or breaketh our house, it is we who do the same to our nation. And if you thought your vote or your handful of tax doesn’t make any damn difference to the nation’s economy I think its time you revisited this childhood story which correctly reminds us that “If you wish to take wine, you must give it also”- Water Not Wine!

As of now I leave you with this quote by Javed Akhtar as I remind you again to pay your taxes:

Bedoshta hoon aaj toh ilzaam kisko doon? Kal maine hi buna tha, yeh mera hi jaal hai.

(If I’m helpless, whom shall I accuse today? The web in which I’m caught, I wove it yesterday)