Apropos of the editorial “Serving GST” (FE, January 23), the concluding remark, “While the central government is committed to pushing through GST, it cannot be at any cost—it is better not to have a GST than to have a bad GST,” is sage advice. The GST legislation is indeed full of troubles. Let us, for the sake of argument, have the GST rate for different services be different. Will it lead to higher collection, or be simple to administer? Tax on services as indirect tax is a stolen or borrowed idea. Earlier, it was a direct tax. If we have GST on services, whether there is one rate or two rates or three rates, it should be treated as a direct tax. In direct taxes, there is no concept of input tax credit or Cenvat or any adjustment against the taxes collected. If it is made so, the collection of GST on services will far exceed even the collection of personal income tax and, to some extent, corporate tax. But the sky WILL fall in India if GST on services is introduced as a direct tax. When a maid servant can pay tax on services at the rate of 15%, our industrialists are financially well off enough to pay service tax at the same rate without input tax credit. We should try to make GST a simple tax by introducing GST only on petroleum products, tobacco products and alcohol at the same rate and GST rate on other items be only 2%, but without any GST credit. It will be easy to implement and will make GST a litigation-free legislation.
RSS’s reservations about quotas
As the political arm of the RSS, it won’t be easy for the BJP to distance itself from RSS’ propaganda secretary Manmohan Vaidya’s ill-timed call at the Jaipur Literary Festival for a review of the reservation policy. It is indisputable that the RSS leader had made out a case for phasing out caste-based reservation, even though it was couched in a convoluted language. He is reported as saying that caste-based quotas are not supposed to be permanent. There is nothing new or unknown about the stance of RSS on the issue of reservation. But raking it up on election-eve is bound to send the wrong signals to the electorate. It sets the stage for the Opposition parties in UP and other poll-bound states to ask the numerically superior lower caste voters whether they want the continuation or termination of the reservation policy adopted for their emancipation and empowerment. The lower caste people see reservation as a means to an end—the end being a fair share of the national pie. For them, reservation in education and employment is co-terminous with social justice. It is essential to rectify the historical injustices with some measure of success. It (bhed-bhav, to borrow from Vaidya) cannot be dispensed with till such time all communities get ‘proportional representation’ in educational and job opportunities. The end of reservation will mean the restoration of 100% reservation for the upper castes. RSS and BJP are not imbued with a desire for social justice to support reservation despite their patent on patriotism. The Sangh Parivar is a pro-upper caste entity to the core. It came up with mandir to counter Mandal. Its predicament is that it is not in favour of reservation, but it can say so only obliquely and not openly for fear of losing lower caste support.
G David Milton
Don’t silence PETA
This in reference to Union environment minister Anil Madhav Dave’s comment that his government was considering the demand to ban the NGO PETA. Many pro-Jallikattu protestors demanded a ban on PETA, too. After Greenpeace India, Lawyer’s Collective, etc, PETA seems to be the next target of the Indian government. Points like FCRA violation, foreign-funding, anti-nationals, etc, shall be raked up. Sadly, the otherwise self-proclaimed “progressive” Dravidian parties too will join hands with the BJP in banning PETA. The DMK has also reportedly dubbed the PETA as “anti-national”. Is silencing dissent the ideal solution?