Monday, November 11, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Lessons for good governance from the Badal raj

There is no doubt that the Shiromani Akali Dal headed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal is facing testing times. An increasing number of corruption cases against his former ministers have caught everyone unaware. Though a Chief Minister for the third time, Mr Badal failed to learn from the past. Indeed if he is serious about continuing in politics, he must ponder on some of the points given below:

1. Never play gamble with both the natural and non-natural assets of the state just for petty considerations. Maharaja Ranjit Singh used to charge even chullah-tax and you went on giving free power, free water, no octroi etc. Revenue is the core of good governance and the very lifeline of a state’s health. It is unprecedented that government properties are sold for a song.

2. Kautialya has given some rules of governance for a king which are very much applicable even today. The most golden saying goes that a good king must be aware and cautious of sycophants. Those forming the inner circle of the king must be honest, sincere and hard working, not always ready to praise the king and his style of functioning. Unfortunately, Mr Badal’s men fall in the second category and look, he had to pay a price for it. Bibi Jagir Kaur, Langah, Tota, Kohar, Pherurai, etc., along with their kith and kin have brought a bad name to Mr Badal simply because they are persons with no integrity and are full of greed and lust for money. Mr Badal should disown these persons and let them face the law for their dirty deeds.


3. Appoint people of integrity to all posts, especially those dealing with the public. A bad choice for the post of Vice-Chancellor means not only playing gamble with the destiny of thousands of students, but also hundreds of employees.

4. Common citizens are emotionally related to the availability of some basic services like drinking water, reliable electricity supply etc. A Chief Minister must give special attention to these sectors to earn the public’s goodwill.

5. When one is in public life, morality should always be the prime objective. Be a role model for all others and having an army of over 1,000 policemen for personal security will never make you that.

6. Make it a point that our ministers may have to wait for a while to meet you, but not a common man and never take lightly either a complaint or a suggestion made by the public. Periodically review the performance and efficiency of your team, and never hesitate to take action in case of those guilty. No one is God, so never shy to admit any mistake either on your part or on the part of your team.

7. Finally, don’t mess with religion. It is the purest thing belonging to one’s heart. Penetrating dirty politics into religion can be a heinous crime in the eyes of a common believer. Never in the history of the S.G.P.C., things like liquor, money, lucrative offers etc had any role to play (at least during Jathedar Tohra’s term), and now politicians have degraded the things to such a worst possible that Sikhs feel ashamed.

There can be many lessons for Mr Badal to learn from his five-year rule. He must throw away his too-generous attitude towards his party colleagues and be bold enough, when it comes to the very basic principles. People are not fools, as the politicians use to take them earlier. They may not be vocal but the power of silence can even throw the mightiest.


The missionary zeal

This refers to the news item “Justice Pathak lauds Tribune’s objectivity” (October 18), reminding the readers of high standards of ethical and social values which the founder of the paper, Sardar Dayal Singh Majithia, had cherished. True and good words have been spoken by the Chairman of The Tribune Trust, the General Manager and the President of the Tribune Employees Union. In spite of the missionary zeal the paper is holding on to the best traditions it has maintained since its inception 122 years ago. The people of the region, particularly Punjab, seem immune to the clarion calls through its writings. There is hardly any impact of such valuable writings on the minds of the people of Punjab.

I candidly hold that there is something wrong somewhere. I have been a regular reader of The Tribune for the last 50 years and have offered comments that rarely got published. Some of the editorials and articles are without solutions to problems confronting the organs of democracy in this country. Suggestions for reforms are wanting.

At the same time I suggest that some ways of boosting the readership by nominal sops should be explored. This will not only increase the readership but also improve the English language, which is fast deteriorating. The General Manager has rightly pointed out in his speech the reduction of revenue on account of advertisements in the print media.

RIKHI DAS THAKUR, Palbhu (Hamirpur)

Taxing the tax-payers

If accepted, the Kelkar Committee’s report on direct taxes is likely to create a topsy-turvy in the manner in which we manage our personal finances. In the name of transparency and simplification of taxes, the tax-payers will be taxed heavily.

Apparently, rationalisation of the income-tax slabs is welcome, but there is a lot between the lines. Divesting the masses of an opportunity to save the tax the legal way will not lead to any increase in the disposable income. Rather, it will lead to a marked reduction in the money in their pockets. Most people have made long-term commitments for saving such as investing in insurance etc. With the sudden scrapping of Section 88, they will be at a major loss as they cannot stop saving nor will they get tax exemption.

Similarly, the proposed withdrawal of the incentive on housing loans will be disastrous for consumers as well as bankers. Probably, housing finance is the only growing area and banks will find no viable and safe lending opportunities. In the scenario of limited finances and lesser off-take of money from banks, demand will not increase and the economy will go even more sluggish, may be doomed.


Tax maze: a way out

The recommendations of the Kelkar Task Force are quite remarkable and show a clear path amidst the maze and haze of the present taxation/exemptions leading virtually to no gain, on loss from the existing position.

However, there is a scope for further simplification to reduce the workload of the over-burdened IT Deptt like (a) the salaried class and pensioners can be exempted from filing returns and taxes deducted by the employers should suffice.

(b) There should be a 1/6 scheme to take one out of the tax net, say on attaining the ripe old age of 70 years, pensioners aged 65 years, widows, handicapped personnel, those having physically/mentally challenged dependents, persons suffering from diseases like cancer etc.

(c) There should be no tax on bank interests, dividends etc — if inescapable, the taxes can be deducted at source only.

There is need to control the parallel black economy by vigilance at the sources where such money is generated. The agricultural income of big farmers needs to be ploughed back into the economy. All perks be quantified and taxed, if within the tax slabs

Last but not the least, since such recommendations may come only after another decade or two — perhaps the slabs may need upward revision at this stage such as — (a) gross income up to, say 1.5 or 2 lakh — nil tax (b) 2 to 5 lakh — 20% (c) beyond 5 lakh — 30%



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