Ru­ral Res­i­dents and Ten­nis Fans Reap a Bumper Crop of Pre-Poll Sops

Digi­ti­sa­tion is seen as be­ing the best way of show­ing tax evaders and hoard­ers of black money the sarkari oongli, in more ways than one

The Economic Times - - Front Page - JUG SURAYA

In what could be de­scribed as an ath­letic poll-vault, fi­nance min­is­ter Arun Jait­ley pre­sented a Bud­get with ayes firmly fixed on the bal­lot boxes, par­tic­u­larly those lo­cated in the boonies, which wit­nessed much re­joic­ing at the largesse doled out to them.

The var­i­ous ru­ral up­lift schemes an­nounced by the FM were ap­plauded far and wide from those who deemed them­selves ben­e­fi­cia­ries of these pi-in-the-sky pro­grammes. These in­cluded the in­hab­i­tants of a vil­lage called Green­wich, lo­cated in the taluk­dar of Lower Man­hat­tan.

As one lo­cal put it, “Though the guy didn’t specif­i­cally men­tion us, I guess we’re en­ti­tled un­der the Uni­ver­sal Ba­sic In­come wheeze, since Uni­ver­sal by def­i­ni­tion in­cludes us, as does the Ba­sic ne­ces­sity of hav­ing an In­come.”

Mean­while, the Ten­nis As­so­ci­a­tion of In­dia heaved a heartfelt sigh of re­lief. As a spokesper­son for the or­gan­i­sa­tion said, “This talk about raising the tax on ser­vices re­ally had us wor­ried. I mean, it’s the thin edge of the wedge, isn’t it?

“You tax ser­vices, and be­fore any­one knows it, you’ll start tax­ing fore­hands, back­hands, vol­leys and lobs too. Then where’d we all be? Cer­tainly not at Wim­ble­don, or Flush­ing Mead­ows, for that mat­ter. For­tu­nately, san­ity — or Sa­ni­aty — has pre­vailed and ser­vices are not to be pe­nalised.”

The af­fil­i­ates of the In­dian Ten­nis As­so­ci­a­tion, the Bad­minton Board of In­dia, and the Squash Sam­me­lan of In­dia, also voiced their ap­proval of an FM who had taken note of the fact that not all rack­ets are anti-so­cial ac­tiv­i­ties that needed to be busted.

How­ever, the FM didn’t pro­vide fun and games for all. While an­i­mal rights ac­tivists ex­ulted at what was ob­vi­ously an en­dorse­ment of their views, pro­po­nents of Jal­likattu were cha­grined at the FM’s de­ci­sion not to put a damp­ener on the stock mar­kets by im­pos­ing further taxes on them.

“He’s ob­vi­ously not a sports lover, for he’s done noth­ing what­so­ever to tame the bulls, who’ll have a field day romp­ing about with no one and noth­ing to re­strain them. What a wimp!” said a Jal­likattu fan, on con­di­tion of anonymity, adding that this was yet an­other in­stance of the North-South di­vide, with north­ern­ers of the Hindi heart­land lord­ing it over south­ern­ers and their age-old cul­ture, cus­toms and prac­tices.

The cor­po­rate world of In­dia Inc re­mained un­der­whelmed by the fi­nance min­is­ter’s avoid­ance of a core is­sue of con­cern. As the CEO of a com­pany (name with­held at own re­quest) com­mented, “He’s en­sured that we con­tinue to have what IT tax by not cut­ting the rate of cor­po­rate im­posts to 25%.”

How­ever, the pro­posal to dis­man­tle the For­eign In­vest­ment Pro­mo­tion Bored was greeted with en­thu­si­asm by the cor­po­rate sec­tor. “By do­ing this, the FM has re­moved a ma­jor fac­tor that was keep­ing for­eign in­vestors com­pletely dis­in­ter­ested in up­ping their ante in In­dia,” said a mar­ket an­a­lyst who did not wish to be iden­ti­fied.

Rev­enue of­fi­cers in charge of in­di­rect taxes were also up­beat that lit­tle men­tion was made of goods and ser­vices tax (GST), a mea­sure which would marginalise them. “GST? VAT non­sense! It’s a to­tal ex­cise in fu­til­ity,” said a spokesper­son who asked not to be named.

The push to­wards a fully digi­tised In­dia was also warmly re­ceived by all those in­volved in rev­enue col­lec­tion. Digi­ti­sa­tion is seen as be­ing the best way of show­ing tax evaders and hoard­ers of black money the sarkari oongli, in more ways than one.

An ace Bud­get, sort of

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