No ideological victory
BJP leader and finance minister Arun Jaitley’s claim that JNU Students Union president Kanhaiya Kumar’s speech, after his release from prison was a “victory for BJP” is like claiming victory by saying that ‘no dust has stuck to the moustache despite the fall’. It is factually incorrect to say that Kanhaiya Kumar went to jail for raising anti-India slogans. He was booked under the charge of sedition and sent to prison because what he said was not to the liking of ABVP and BJP. To put the record straight, Kanhaiya Kumar delivered almost the same speech after his release from prison with the same azadi slogans, albeit with more rhetorical flourishes, as the one he did on February 11. His stand on what he meant by ‘freedom’ and ‘patriotism’ remained the same. His incarceration did not diminish his passionate opposition to virulent nationalism represented by the Sangh Parivar. For some reason, Jaitley deems it necessary to call the Left-leaning students of JNU as ‘jihadists and Maoists’. May be, it is because they do not subscribe to BJP’s conception of nationalism based on religious identity. Arun Jaitley must be magnanimous enough to admit that ‘patriotism’ defined by Kanhaiya Kumar does not sit comfortably with Hindu nationalism espoused by the ruling party. So the claim that BJP has won the “ideological war” in the JNU row makes no sense.
G David Milton
Maruthancode (Tamil Nadu)
A cesspool of surcharges
Apropos of the editorial “Indian Cess Service”(FE, March 5), the sharing of central revenue with states is being regularly done as per the recommendations of the successive Finance Commissions. However, as per the said federal arrangements, any revenue earned by the Centre in the shape of any cesses and surcharges is not required to be shared by it with the states. No wonder then that the central government is taking frequent recourse to the imposition of various cesses like Swachh Bharat cess, Krishi Kalyan cess and infrastructure cess and surcharges on the income tax. Interestingly, the Budget FY17 has revised the rate of surcharge on income tax to 15% from the current 10% on any income earned beyond R1crore. These initiatives may be aimed at the so-called speeding up of development. But the fact remains that the Centre often resorts to such soft practices for conveniently bringing some additional revenue to its kitty without being bothered about sharing with the states. The editorial reveals that the share of revenues from cess and surcharge has risen from just 7.22% of the total tax collections in FY13 to 12.94% in FY16 and is projected to be 13.8% in FY17. Is this not a cunning tactic to refurbish central resources? There is no likelihood of their withdrawal in near future as they have proved to be milch cows for the Centre. One therefore feels that there should be a pre-determined period, say, of 1-2 years for a cess’s applicability, beyond which it should be withdrawn.
The Madras High Court has ruled that co-habitation for a long time is admissible as proof of marriage in the absence of evidence like wedding invitation and photographs. A law needs to be enacted if the Madras High Court verdict should be applicable in all cases to recognise live-in relationships as tantamount to marriage. Legalisation of live-in relationships is not desirable. If at all live-in relationships should come to be a norm, full-fledged debate must be conducted in Parliament and a fair decision has to be taken in this regard.