Shed the lagaan mindset
Shed the lagaan mindset
Apropos of the column “Towards a taxpayer-friendly income-tax regime” (FE, January 27), tax theorists had been advocating an expenditure tax as against the relatively porous income tax. But complete replacement of the income tax with a sales tax or value-added tax would unacceptably shift the tax burden to lower income groups to whom subsidies do provide some relief. But, dual pricing brings its own problems. In six decades, we have reached close to a 15% rate for GST as also on services to ensure a wide catchment. Even if one reckons an optimum of 30% composite tax burden in a developing economy, we would be left with around 15% for personal and corporate incomes with tailored tax slabs addressing social equity. Exemptions, a carry-over from the era of command-economy, must be discouraged—barring just a few, such as the ones on the dividends at the hand of the investor to boost equity participation and on small savings to generate investment. While the salaried sector is an easy catch, the self-employed, many times in number, tend to take on a lesser tax burden. The increasing shift to digital money transactions and an effective cross-data grid will no doubt improve collections, but it is as relevant to approach taxation as a participative inclusiveness in progress, rather than from a lagaan mindset of the Raj days.
R Narayanan, Ghaziabad
Stop education sharks
There must something terribly wrong with a society that is unable or unwilling to prevent students from committing suicide or being killed for reasons beyond their control. The purported suicides of three women students of a medical college in Tamil Nadu are inseparably linked to the blatant commercialisation of education. The occurrence of similar tragedies involving students in the state is on the rise with the state government looking the other way. The so-called professional colleges are run with minimum investment for maximum profit. It is no less lucrative than brewing illicit liquor or usury, or even blackmail. The high status accorded to the so-called educationalists in our culture is an added bonus for those running educational institutions. Rapacious individuals masquerade as educationalists and run educational institutions to make easy money. What ought to have been a noble vocation is reduced to a base business venture. This is a corollary of state’s retreat from its social responsibility of providing education to all. Sometimes, parents pledge or sell their properties or avail loans or borrow money to meet the educational expenses of their children. But the quality of education imparted in most of these institutions is so abysmal that their “products” often go abegging in the job market. For the greedy managements, the students are just the means for them to make money. The government must stop education sharks from exploiting the aspirations of students and their families.
G David Milton, Maruthancode (TN)