Friday, September 8, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



The “crorepati” question

CAN you really become a crorepati? Never? At least not by participating in the TV programme "Kaun Banega Crorepati?" Why? Because the prize money is not exempted from income tax, and the effective rate of income tax is 34.5 per cent (maximum rate 30 per cent plus 15 per cent surcharge).

Even if you answer all 15 questions correctly and become eligible for the prize money of Rs 1 crore, the net amount you will be able to retain is Rs 65.50 lakh. Suppose you don't have any other income except the prize money, your total tax liability will be Rs 34,20,100 (ignoring deductions and tax rebates, if any) by applying slab rates; leaving Rs 65,79,900 with you.

Caution: If the IT Department treats this prize money as income specified under Section 115BB of the IT Act, the effective rate of tax will be 46 per cent (specified 40 per cent plus surcharge 15 per cent) and the "crorepati" will be left with Rs 54 lakh only.

Therefore, it is the moral duty of the organisers of the programme to bring this tax factor to the knowledge of the masses. Alternately, they should increase suitably the prize money, considering the tax factor. Till then the programme should be renamed KBCBT (Kaun Banega Crorepati Before Tax).

So, when you reach question No 15 please phone your tax consultant.



Three areas of darkness

THIS has reference to Mr Hari Jaisingh's article, "The malaise in the polity: three areas of darkness" (The Tribune, September 1). The people have no other way to set right the errors of omission and commission when justice and fairplay become a casualty and also a doubly-cursed tragedy.

In a parliamentary democracy, when such a situation arises the people punish guilty politicians by voting them out. In many states, poverty blocks the electorates’ way for electing honest and upright candidates. Tricksters among them manage their success in elections in those areas where hunger and poverty are deep-seated. In the electoral system, as stressed time and again by the Chief Election Commissioner, Dr M.S. Gill, a lot of reforms are needed to set the system on an even keel.

In the context of the match-fixing phenomenon, the author rightly states: "These heroes have now virtually been reduced to zeros. This is all because of the business of greed which moves on without a comma, a semi-colon or a fullstop." Unfortunately, some of the cricket heroes have reduced the game of cricket to merely an exercise to collect huge amounts of money by hook or by crook. They have defamed the game itself.

As a result, cricket lovers all over the world have also lost interest in this game. It would be befitting if a moratorium was announced on playing cricket throughout the world until the probes set up to go into the match-fixing episode held the real culprits accountable.

It is a tale full of sound and fury that the country has yet no policy to deal with the cases like that concerning the sandalwood smuggler and deadly brigand, Veerappan, who has kidnapped and held the Kannada filmstar, Rajkumar, hostage. Veerappan is almost running a parallel government from the forest, Sathyamanglam, and is a law unto himself. Isn't that the activities of such underworld and mafia dons send wrong signals overseas, including our next-door neighbour, Pakistan?

No conflicting issue ought to be allowed to acquire a chronic posture that establishes a bad precedent. It does not behove for a great country like India to turn a blind eye to underworld elements and their activities of any sort to take roots within the country

Bijhari (Hamirpur)

STRANGE DRAMA: It is strange that Veerappan is only visible to Gopal, not to the police, the forest guards and others in uniform who go about their job blindfolded. So, Gopal, whether you like it or not, is handcuffed to history. The Central government is witnessing the drama of Veerappan who is "revolutionising" Indian politics by simplifying it: if you kidnap, well, you may change the way the Cauvery flows. Similarly, foreign mercenaries had been trying to shape Veerappan type of a alternative paradigm for India.

Ultimately, the Supreme Court had to step in and fill the vacuum by its landmark judgement and put the things in right perspective. The moot point is: who should govern the country? The gravity of the situation demands that we steer clear our narrow mindedness and concentrate our energy on going in for the right persons to lead the country.


 Benefits to ex-servicemen

Recently the HP government curtailed the benefit of seniority and increments in respect of ex-servicemen. Now they will be given this benefit from the date they do their postgraduation or any other degree course. This decision was absolutely essential and hence praiseworthy.

Earlier those benefits were given to the ex-servicemen from the date they began their military career, whether as a matriculate or under-matriculate. In what respect this practice was initiated by the previous government is still beyond anybody's comprehension. It was necessary to invalidate the previous decision.

The previous decision was a grave injustice to those who did spend the most precious years of their life on completing their degree course as a regular student. It is a sort of cheating in the sense that a student is allowed to supersede his teacher both in terms of money and promotional benefits.

This decision by present government should be viewed in proper perspective.

Badhani (Hamirpur)

Minister's verbal orders

This refers to the item "As desired by Mantriji" in the column "From here and there" (Aug 21). The Union Ministers have the tendency to give verbal orders to their Private Secretaries so that they can wriggle out of a sticky situation if there is a judicial or executive investigation into a sensitive case.

In Punjab this practice was common at least in the case of the late Partap Singh Kairon, Chief Minister. Whether the verbal orders recorded on files by his Secretary/Private Secretary were recorded faithfully or not, I cannot say. In the case of Haryana, I know the Secretary to a certain Chief Minister who recorded orders on his behalf, on his own, without the knowledge of his boss.

Here reminiscently I am aware of the position obtaining in the erstwhile State of Patiala. Such orders, known as "Roznamcha Orders", were as a rule later confirmed by the ruler, even though no official could ever dare issue a fake order in the name of the Prince.



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