Everyday, when I go to the mess of my hostel, I see people castigating the government of not doing enough. They say that ‘Swachh Bharat’ isn’t working, and that ‘Make in India’ is also not showing the desired success. Drivers of auto-rickshaws I commute in often criticize govt for doing nothing to tackle pollution. And of course, society complains that there are very few parks and bus stands. If people do come across parks and bus stands, then they complain that they are in a pathetic shape.
Well, I agree to all of them to some extent. The ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ or ‘Make in India’, et al. – none have been able to emulate the success that PM Modi had envisaged. The targets seem too far-fetched and unrealistic at the moment. And, all of the 1.27 billion Indian citizens have the right to demand an explanation.
Or, don’t we?
It was hard to digest the fact. But, PM Narendra Modi confirmed the horror for me. When he overtly said that just over 24 lakh Indian citizens report an annual income of over ₹10 lakh, I was taken aback!
What about the rest of the India? In fact, a total of 2.87 crore individuals filed income tax returns for 2012-13 – of which 1.62 crore did not pay any tax at all. Government data reveals that just 1% of the Indian population pays taxes.
So, do all Indian citizens have the right to complain and question? Yes, they did vote and allow the parliamentarians to rise to the seats of authority. But, parliamentarians need a lot of money to run the nation and relieve it of all the bugbears biting it in the present. And, voting someone to the power is, in no way, the same as giving money to the government. And, without taxes, I don’t see how else the major chunk of money is going to come?
Just over one percent taxpayers can’t keep paying for running the entire nation and its operations. This is not just impossible, but also unjust! Yes, the Ambanis, Tatas and the Birlas have a lot of money. Indeed, they can manage to shell out a lot of their money as contributions to the nation. However, that alone would be not at at all close to the money needed in the present scenario. Also, the question is not about one’s capabilities. Rather, it is about one’s own sense of responsibility towards the nation. Why should someone else be paying for the others?
The day before yesterday, I met Mr R. K. Gupta who is a resident of Faridabad. He is now 68, and had retired some years ago from his service of over 30 years at the Oriental Bank of Commerce. He turned out to be a very insightful and charismatic person. Guess what! At the age of 67, he applied for a PhD, and is presently pursuing that. His elan and zeal to learn and keep moving ahead inspired me like nothing else.
But, it was something else about him that left me wondering. He has retired from active service and yet reports a taxable income of over 10 lakh! That is the sense of honesty and integrity that filled me with pride to have come across this flamboyant man. He is earning mainly through various investments, and from a book that he wrote on working capital finance. I realized that a small chunk of the 24 lakh individuals consist of these older men and women as well.
Even people of his stature and age are paying taxes and wish to contribute to India’s growth. But, what is the ‘other India’ doing? The ones with the gaudy cars and other stuff?
I see all these Audis, BMWs, Hondas and Bullets. I see a sleuth of opulent Indians walking all around me. These people walk with iPhones in their palms and Levis Jeans covering their legs. They live in flats or houses worth over a crore. They spend several hundreds and sometimes thousands at restaurants and hotels for dining. And, if the aforementioned statistics are to be believed – most of these brand ambassadors of ‘Shining India‘ are not paying taxes that they are supposed to!
That’s a scathing piece of reality.
Earlier, we blamed Manmohan Singh – and now, many of us castigate Modi. But, how many of us actually deserve that prerogative to question them? After all, one man of integrity can not be the panacea to all our maladies!
Let’s do some simple mathematics. There are over 127 crore of us. Maybe there are 70 crore who are below 18 years of age, or maybe not. But, still, the count remains above 55 crore. Maybe 15 crore of them are old and not earning any more. This brings down the count to almost 40 crore. The onus is actually on the 40 crore individuals to do justice and elevate our nation – pay taxes and be a part of the growth. But, a massive chunk of over 38 crore of this population has been running away from responsibly doing what is of utmost importance at the moment.
We Need To Realize That It’s A Do Or Die Moment!
Our India is currently at a do-or-die phase. We are teeming with young citizens who are aspirational, but also impatient. This ‘young force’, including yours truly, wishes to be the next big name in the list of millionaires and billionaires. Some of us wish to be the Prime Minister, or the President, the next Dr. Kalam, or even the next Ambani, maybe! For fulfilling each of these aspirations, we need affordable education, internet, skill development and several other resources.
And, each one of these parameters need urgent attention and action. Why? Because if this gigantic young population doesn’t get fair opportunities to excel in life and realize their dreams, a disaster won’t be very far away. If such an enormous chunk of our population won’t have access to jobs, businesses, a quality education and life, they are going to take to the streets and the rest need not be explained. The situation will become very dismal indeed.
And, thus we simply can’t wait and watch any more. We need to stand up and take some actions. And, the first and foremost action needed in this direction is for all of us to own up and pay our taxes. That way, the government will have more to spend and develop. I agree that there is rampant corruption in the extant system, which is a great bottleneck in our road to success.
I know that many of the citizens don’t believe that their money will be put to the right use. But, do we have the option to wait for corruption to lessen and development to begin? No, we don’t! It’s an alarming moment. We have to work on both fronts simultaneously. The present may seem bright – but the future is absolutely unpredictable. We may turn out to be in a great shape ten years from now, perhaps. But, can we be sure about that?
So, let’s not just only complain and impugn the governments. What is even more important is the realization that we don’t have an ‘equal’ – but even ‘more important’ role to play out here. Let’s not just see NDTV or Zee News and brood over how the nation is deteriorating, anymore. Once we know what’s wrong, let’s try to make amends and correct the wrongs.
The reader may say that it’s easy to sit in a comfortable and warm room and type out a few words. Well, if my post can influence even one other person to own up, my purpose will be served. Further, if that one person could influence someone else to own up as well, it would be even better! Many of the readers may already be paying the taxes they are meant to pay, which is appreciable. Some may not yet be eligible to do that. But, the others (you know who you are) should please note the gravity of the situation.
The author can be found here.