Category: Politics

Corruption, Corruption, Corruption…

Everyone thinks about it, talks about it and everyone has an opinion on how to resolve it.There is no doubt that this evil is not only creating an impediment in our nation’s progress, but it is also making us morally empty. How can we teach our kids to do things that are morally right and at the same time cannot be followed by us practically? It is not that we don’t have a desire to fight, but a common man’s common sense prevails. There is a trade off that one does, and very often this trade off prevails and goes against our inner conscience. So, is there a solution to this disease called corruption?

I think corruption comes in two varieties; one is like 2G, CWG and coal-g corruption, where a common man is not affected directly and other form of corruption exist in form of a citizen when he or she interacts with different Government Service Providers and Departments. The term ‘public servant’ is actually a biggest joke and it is actually public who becomes servant, though normally payment is given to servant, but here servant has to give money. This is strange but not funny.

I would like to quote from Archimedes Doric speech of Syracuse- “Give me a place to stand and with a lever I will move the whole world”. The beauty of using a lever is that it uses minimal force to get maximum result. Can we apply this principle to our endemic issue of corruption? I think we can.

People have been offering various solutions for this problem, such as the Jan Lokpal Bill, making tough laws for fighting corruption etc… In my opinion these are not the solutions but may be like antibiotic medicine to treat an infection. When I say solution to the corruption problem I am referring to second type of corruption- that affects the common person. First of all it is very difficult for current legislature to make a law that will negatively impact their own interest. In the corporate world this is termed as the conflict of interest. So, how can we even think that a law will be made that will be effective enough to curb and eradicate corruption. May be we will see some form of law which will help in reducing corruption to some extent, but this will definitely have some other provisions that will further negatively affect the common man.

In my view if we have to choose a single reason why corruption exists in India I can pinpoint to one reason and that is how the political parties are funded. In India, like any other country fighting election requires money and we all know that all funds do not come from the sources that we call as legal sources. If we have to solve the corruption problem we will have to address the funding issue. Anyone working in government sector will confess that there is chain of commands, there are targets given to various departments and PSUs to raise funds for the ruling party. This is an open secret.

I am of the view that let political parties be openly funded. Let us constitutionally allow lobbying. People may say that this will tilt the lawmakers towards the lobbyist. Well, the situation is no different today. On the contrary today this is so secretly practiced that we don’t know about it. The lobbying will create a national awareness and ultimately no matter how hard lobbyist tries, if it is something that does not favour the majority, it will never see the light of the day. This single step will bring transparency into the system. I will not claim that this measure will completely solve the corruption problem, but it will definitely address a major part of it. When political parties are legally and openly allowed to take money, the incentive to take money under the table is reduced drastically. The black money that is being circulated will come down drastically. The parties will no longer be dependent on the executive machinery to provide them the required funds. And if one can add one more radical idea to eliminate the limit of money that a candidate can spend in election and allow them openly to fund their election
campaign this will go a long way in diminishing this menace. Even more radical is to permit candidates to pay the voters. Voters are also now smart enough to know what is good for them. It is a win-win situation for everyone. And a solution that is a win-win for everyone has a high probability of getting implemented.

I understand that this is such a monumental topic and people have different approaches and solutions towards it. But in my opinion the prior mentioned cause is one of the key causes of corruption that is affecting all of us.

 

The author is a Software Entrepreneur and

Consulting Editor, Intellectual Post


Arvind Patil
An article by:
Arvind Patil

Why LBT is not desirable

The Local Body Tax (LBT) has been proposed as an alternative to octroi. There are serious flaws
in the process of LBT implementation.

1. LBT is levied on each transaction, thus effectively increasing the prices for the end consumer. Thereby the LBT is inflationary in nature.
2. In principle LBT is like another form of VAT. There is no rationale behind why it should not be treated like another form of VAT.
3. The LBT is not based on self assessment. This means it is subject to scrutiny by municipal officers. This will only lead to more corruption as it gives discretionary
powers in the hands of municipal officials.
4. It is bringing several goods and services in its scope which were not previously covered by octroi.
5. It will result in increase in record keeping, thus raising the administrative cost of the traders.
6. It doesn’t address issues such as if a end user comes to a shop and sell his/her old computer (sale of old and second-hand goods). Now, how is one supposed to tax this?
7. There are various trades where the original bills are not available. Hence, one needs to address this scenario first before one can even think of levying such tax. For example wholesale distributors of Kolhapuri chappals procure their footwear from artisans. These artisans do not furnish invoices in most cases.

As per my thought process following is the way in which the LBT should be designed and implemented:-

1. Make it self assessed. Once, assesses have declared the tax, no further question should be asked.
2. Decrease the percentage to say 1% and link it with VAT filing.
3. LBT should be charged only when the goods enter the city limits. It shouldn’t matter how many times goods changes hands when sold within the city limit.
4. In order to make a trader or a shopkeeper comply one can see how much octroi one has paid in previous years.

We cannot have one system replaced with another system that is more inefficient. Finally we all understand the relevance and requirement for having a reasonable resource mobilization system to fund the ever growing
financial needs of the states municipal corporations. However in this
mission LBT instead of being a step forward in the area of urban financial management is proving to be a backward and regressive tax.
The author is a Software Entrepreneur

and Consulting Editor, Intellectual Post


Arvind Patil
An article by:
Arvind Patil

The Megalomaniac

The other day there was a headline on TV. A brave attempt of speaking up through a Facebook post culminated into a couple of females being beaten up, a clinic turned into a junkyard and a politician watching the entertainment over a cup of tea. Well perhaps that post had struck a deep chord with the violent instincts of our so-called secular Netas, but it just shows that ‘freedom’ and ‘India’ are not synonymous. Young ministers are elected to cabinet but the neck of the youth itself is throttled.

A middle class man comes home from work and watches these headlines as his wife serves him food. “Yeah well, at least its not me” he thinks with a smirk. That’s the root cause of all this turmoil. We just ACCEPT everything blandly. We never question anything. From childhood we’re taught to live with what we see. Few who have the guts to rise up are beaten back into the crowd. Well, to see how they do it, let’s take a ride through the day of a typical Indian Neta.
For the sake of humor of a 16 year old, let’s call our Neta ‘The Megalomaniac’.
*
So, The Megalomaniac’s day begins with a cup of tea in the garden of his ‘never-had-before-the-elections’ bungalow. As he takes a sip, a group of his ardent followers read out the day’s headlines to him. A couple of them throw a few abuses at the opposition. One of them tells him about his colleague being arrested and being let off on bail and The Megalomaniac grins. After the morning’s bite of entertainment, he gets into his ‘never-had-before-the-elections’ luxury car.
The party headquarters is as usual adorned with five year old posters and banners still wishing leaders “Happy Birthday”.

As there is a constant ‘K’ across the field of mathematics, there is also a ‘K’ across all government institutions: The portrait of a smiling Gandhi. This man is forever calm and smiling, seemingly unaware of the dealings going on in the room before him. The serenity on his face seems as if nothing at all has happened, as if there have been no scams and wrongdoings in the country.
The Megalomaniac walks in with a swagger which is symbolic of him being one of the few who had been given the ticket. Jealous looks follow his back as he walks down the corridor and his human brigade along with him. Entering the party president’s office with a smile, he sits down on the half a century old furniture and therein begins a long discussion about future activities.
*
Shouts and screams fill the council hall as the congregation debates on a bill for the scheduled and backward classes. The Megalomaniac along with other members of his kind is loudly expressing his party’s stand on the bill. Completely unprecedented of a public leader, few of the members in the house stage a walkout and the house is adjourned in chaos.

After a brief snack with his followers, The Megalomaniac proceeds to his constituency in style. As his car nears his office, a few people, touted as ‘The Common Man’ come running over expressing their grievances and needs. Smiling kindly at them and bringing his hands together to display assurance, he steps into his air conditioned cabin.

The evening passes by and he returns home as his son leaves the house on his sports bike. Over dinner, his wife appears out of nowhere and tells him about the day’s shopping trips. Treating her like a part of the wall, he watches talk show host Arnab Goswami scare the living daylight out prominent members of society with his questions and curses the time he has to appear on the show.
His pillow bears the heavy weight of a great mind at work as he goes to bed.
May god bless The Megalomaniac for his services to society, and may India be a country where facts are accepted more than promises.

 

The author is the Executive Editor, Intellectual Post


Ziauddin Sherkar
An article by:
Ziauddin Sherkar