Friday, November 8, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Kelkar report: all exemptions should not be withdrawn

The Kelkar Task Force on tax reforms has suggested Rs 1 lakh as the income tax exemption limit to have only two slabs for income tax and to withdraw all deductions/exemptions. Exemptions/deductions/rebates should be reduced, and not entirely withdrawn.

Many will go off from the records of the income tax office if the basic exemption is fixed at Rs 1 lakh. For example, a firm earning Rs 1,80,000 (before partners’ salaries and interest on capital), having two partners, may become a proprietary firm. One will earn Rs 90,000 and he will pay Rs 90,000 as salary to another. Thus, three files may go out of the records of the Income Tax Department.

A family of many tax-payers can show a total income of say Rs 3 to 4 lakh a year, and still not pay any tax. It will also have a negative effect on the 1/6 scheme.

There is no mention of tax rates for firms/companies in the task force report. A lot of increased filing fee, additional fee and penalties has already restricted assessees from running their business through a private limited or limited company.

There will also be a negative effect on deposits with the LIC/PPF/NSC/ICICI bonds etc., by the assessees, if the exemption limit becomes Rs 1 lakh. The government is indirectly helping the assessees by encouraging them to invest in tax-saving schemes for their future security. Assessees not only save tax, but also contribute a large amount to the nation, exceeds many times over the tax payments.


There should not be any penalty, but a higher rate of tax should be charged. For example, if the rate applicable is 20 per cent it can be one and half time more (i.e. say @ 30 per cent) to replace penalty.

S.K. HANS, Jalandhar

Kisan Express

The residents of towns like Jaitu, Kotkapura, Faridkot and Ferozepur have been waiting for the extension of Shatabdi Express between Bathinda and New Delhi up to Ferozepur. But the Railway Minister has announced another train, Kisan Express, from Bathinda for New Delhi via Sirsa-Hisar-Rohtak instead of starting it from Ferozepur junction, the divisional headquarters of the Railways.

People living in Ferozepur, Faridkot, Fazilka, Muktsar, Kotkapura and Jaitu have relations in Sirsa and Hisar, all towns being part of the old Punjab. There is no express train for such stations, only one passenger train runs between Fazilka and Rewari. Due to a heavy rush, this train needs more compartments with clean toilets. It will be more beneficial to the Railways and passengers if Kisan Express is run on the Ferozepur-New Delhi via Sirsa-Hisar instead of the Bathinda-New Delhi route.


Strange bedfellows!

The recent frantic and shamelessly greed-ridden parleys a la barter being indulged in by those aspiring to get themselves parked into the power-saddle in J&K clearly illustrates that it is as much a matter of connivance as of convenience. After all, isn’t it politics that makes strange bedfellows?! More like bed-pans, if you ask me.


Ban on Sikh jathas

The ban on Sikh jathas to Pakistan, especially to attend Guru Nanak Dev’s Gurpurb is inexcusable. The government should stop interfering in the religious affairs of the Sikhs. Even at the height of the cold war, Soviet-US exchanges continued.

After living 32 years abroad as an Indian citizen, I am ready to become a US citizen so that I can visit places of worship anywhere without the interference of the Big Brother in Delhi.


Defence awards

Conferring the Param Vishisht Seva Medal (PVSM) on Air Marshal M.S. Sekhon, who was compulsorily retired for seeking patronage of the Chief Minister for promotion, was improper, to say the least. But then the awards for distinguished service have become so routine that they have lost their value. These are mostly distributed on the basis of rank: PVSM for Lt Gen, AVSM for Maj Gen and VSM for Brigadiers and a few Colonels. It seems meritorious service is the monopoly of the generals. There was a time when JCOs and NCOs of the Army used to be awarded with VSM. Now that these lower classes have been downgraded as PBOR (personnel below officer rank), they are no more considered capable of rendering vishisht seva.

It is strange Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, who had described “Air Marshal Sekhon as a disgrace”, inducted Sekhon into the Congress. But the CM was only imitating the BJP leaders who welcomed former Congress Minister Sukh Ram to the NDA after having held Parliament to ransom for his removal from the Cabinet.

The fact is armed forces’ culture at the top has completely changed from uprightness to sycophancy. The young officers, like those who sacrificed their lives in Kargil, all start service imbued with patriotic fervour. But in an atmosphere of politicking and patronage, those who stick to the ideals are pushed out of the ladder and those ready to compromise only survive. Sekhon is not an exception but the rule, and is only a victim of political rivalry. Earlier, a Major General, who had got his promotion through manipulation when Mulayam Singh was the Defence Minister, was also awarded PVSM.

N. KUNJU, Delhi

Vital information leaked?

I was surprised to read the news item “Battle-hardened boys” (Oct 25) divulging information regarding the Indian Army’s sensitive training programme to the recruits at 14 Gorkha Training Centre, Subathu. The commandant is reported to have told the media persons that the training methods have gone hi-tech and the recruits use guns which emit a laser signal. The jacket has receivers which catch all laser signals.

Though the modernisation of our forces is praise-worthy, but leaking out such vital information is not in the interest of the country’s security. Our enemy may develop similar items to torpedo our weapons.

In a cantonment like Subathu the Army confiscates the cameras of tourists who wish to take pictures of the natural scene or of the statue of a Gorkha soldier installed at the entrance of the town. But Army officers sold greeting cards depicting the same statue a few years back. Not only this, the commandant banned the entry on a public road in the name of defence security whereas the fact was that the road was being used for a stroll by his family.

Even the public conveyance used by individuals and the public transport on this road were stopped when the commandant wished to pass by that path... on the pretext of security.

The same authorities did not allow a religious Gugga fair last month on a ground where it had been a tradition for more than a century on the pretext of security. However, it required a lot of intervention to satisfy the ego problem of the authorities.

The elected representatives have little say in the cantonment board which rules under the outdated Cantonment Act of 1924. The citizens had to approach a court for the restoration of their democratic rights, besides taking help of the media. Many cases are pending in court.


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