This could be a very boring start of this writing because I’m going as back as 1947 and recall the era, our big achievement of independence. There had been several big and small revolts against the British which gave them hard time in easy functioning but failed to throw them out. Only when it became a masses movement and the then mango people joined, Britishers knew it was time for them to go. Mango people were hesitant of joining revolutionaries. They sympathized and many times helped them but did not think of taking upon themselves this task of freeing India. How could they think they could move a whole empire that ruled many countries of the world, fight armed soldiers or even hold a gun for a while? But one man Mr. M.K. Gandhi told them that all wouldn’t be necessary, just tell British regime to quit India. Say it loud, clear and collectively, he added.
Simplicity and righteousness played very important role in convincing people to join the freedom movement. People weren’t confused; they had a planned routine of Prabhat Feri’s, meetings, boycotting videshi good, protesting, getting beaten up and ending up in jail. In this movement they had to give up comfort, good clothes, lot of traders forgot the word profit for some time. People felt good about themselves, and confident that they are doing the right thing. This was I think the most important part of movement, a sense of being right.
Back to 2012…..
The other day there was news about Gas cylinders that if you have two kitchens in a house and if you could prove that to your gas distributor you can avail 12 subsidized cylinders instead of 6. This loophole in the new regulation of 6 restricted subsidized cylinders was discovered by some families and they rushed to claim it with their gas distributors. Even in swanky apartments builders normally don’t think of giving two kitchens. Haven’t seen any real estate advertisement yet which says three bedroom + two kitchen, hall. When joint families decide to live together it is either owing to space issues in cities which mean they definitely can’t have two kitchens. Or out of bonding and love where they don’t need two kitchens (families cook together, live together?). Two kitchens in Indian context mean either there is veg/non-veg divide or there is serious saas –bahu or sasur –jamai tention which is explosive in nature as much as a cylinder. So this means the new rule did not consider people below poverty line, nor NGO’s who were expecting some leniency from government but they are ready to cater to the above two groups. In practice, people will still find this loophole as some relief and try desperately to prove they have two kitchens. And if they don’t have it means bribing someone at the gas distributor’s office. Limitation of six subsidized cylinder a year per family has been a blow for bigger families with limited income.
Like Rahul Gandhi, I too don’t like stamp duties. They are stupid of a kind and great pain to think of letting go a figure that is in lakhs (if property is in lakhs). You pay this amount even if it is your first ever owned shelter in this world to a government who should be helping you in building one but discourages you every time by raising the states percentage in it. Then you have service tax and many other taxes which are supposed to be used for public good but are never really accounted for. You see sick public units, damaged roads, escalated price of incomplete infrastructural projects, filthy scams and you know even this raised stamp duty is inadequate to fill this loss. So when we see this grand loot of our money what we middle class do? Undervalue the property. At least at middle class level we don’t think it is this thing which is called black money. Undervaluing property and accepting money in cash is so rampant in this country, don’t we know?
In a way we protest being robbed of the money that is hard earned in every way possible. If we cannot avoid taxes on salary income we hide our supplementary income source. Our one previous makaan malik narrated how he recieved once an electricity bill of Rs. 200000 for the same flat we were now staying in. It was a one BHK accommodation and difficult to imagine room for appliances that could possibly make this amount of bill even assuming a whole year or two period. The flat owner finally settled it by paying a good amount of bribe that would still be lot less than Rs. 200000. So that’s how we deal with situations. Why didn’t he fight back? Why can’t we say no to taxes that we know are unjust? I know that in no country on this planet people like paying taxes. But there is no system in here except election to communicate with this government, taxes are so a one way thing. Or ask for an explanation on mismanaging our funds. And elections don’t help either because opposition parties are so similar.
So we continue to live like a stealer in our very own country. Try to survive the thoughtless regulations, find loopholes, escape taxes, steal electricity, water, find ulterior ways to earn living and just continue breathing. I’m not saying that greed doesn’t play a part and everything is just survival instinct. Whatever the reason -they harm our moral power, lower our voice in protests and make you want forget many of the scams especially if they are small scale.
If I did it you did it and so we feel that easy to forgive our politicians. We need to get out of this feeling of either as a robber or a victim in our own country. Whenever we hear about new taxes or any other regulations we need to discuss about it in our friend circles, group, and relatives. Voice our opinions and instead of finding loopholes, challenge them. In times of strong medium like internet this is not impossible. And after our say, without any more excuse pay sincerely.
So how do we start?