Indiblogger

Friday, 1 August 2008

Thank God I Filed (TGIF) my tax returns


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Thank God I Filed (TGIF) my tax returns before 31st July 2008. I am an ordinary salaried income tax payer who can never escape the clutches of the taxman. Even a hundred rupee increase in my salary is correctly accounted and appropriate deduction is made. I abhor paying a penalty because I did not fill a form that contained details of my income.

Out of curiosity, I tried to find out how many people in India file their returns and believe me or not, it is only 30 million who file their tax returns and 20 million of them are hapless salaried employees like me. The forms to file the tax returns are called SARAL and after nearly a decade of filing tax returns, I am wondering whether the meaning of SARAL as understood by me is correct or not.


I don’t want to delve too much into the divine intentions behind insisting on a tax return to be filed by a salaried employee except that you can further tax him for small capital gains and FD interest he/she earns. Salaried employees are the easily available flogging horses, so put in a penalty clause if they don’t file their returns by a certain date. It is such an innovative method to earn additional tax revenue.

I wonder what would happen if for a year or two, the tax department gives a “tax returns holiday” and goes beyond those who are at large and not paying taxes. It anguishing to note that even farmers who cultivate strawberries are exempt from income tax. Taxes should be collected from farmers who grow cash crops. I don’t think any of the small grocers pay income taxes nor do the vegetable mandiwalas neither the building contractors nor the small hoteliers nor the taxi owners. If at all they do pay, it would only be a token amount to keep away from the eyes of the taxman.

To say that there are only 3 crores people in India with a taxable income is the most absurd statistic. If that was true, how come the parallel economy is bigger than the national economy? How did the talks of bribery reach a crescendo during the current trust vote? Why is there so much benami property in the country? Why does not the IT Department instead of worrying about mundane tax returns concentrate its efforts on mapping each property in the country to its owner and demand for source of income to buy that property? Why does not the IT Department go to the streets and find out the real income tax offenders?

It is very easy to make the hapless salaried class pay through their nose and drain them till the last pie but that would never result in a transparent and efficient tax system. It is a shame that even after 60 years of Independence we are not able to do away with black money. The salaried person is pre-occupied with many issues on hand. Most of them have an extracting 9 to 6 job on his hand. He has to pay extra for the loans due to increasing interest rates because nobody will write off his loans or compensate his family if he commits suicide unable to bear the burden. He is sufficiently squeezed don’t wriggle him more. If you want an exact picture of the tax potential of this country, dear, taxman, get out of the comforts of your office and into the streets, you will find an Alibaba cave every nook and corner of this country. Not filling a tax return on time is not a crime neither on the financial or physical security of the nation.

Thank God I Filed (TGIF) my tax returns


IndiBlogger - Where Indian Blogs Meet


Thank God I Filed (TGIF) my tax returns before 31st July 2008. I am an ordinary salaried income tax payer who can never escape the clutches of the taxman. Even a hundred rupee increase in my salary is correctly accounted and appropriate deduction is made. I abhor paying a penalty because I did not fill a form that contained details of my income.

Out of curiosity, I tried to find out how many people in India file their returns and believe me or not, it is only 30 million who file their tax returns and 20 million of them are hapless salaried employees like me. The forms to file the tax returns are called SARAL and after nearly a decade of filing tax returns, I am wondering whether the meaning of SARAL as understood by me is correct or not.


I don’t want to delve too much into the divine intentions behind insisting on a tax return to be filed by a salaried employee except that you can further tax him for small capital gains and FD interest he/she earns. Salaried employees are the easily available flogging horses, so put in a penalty clause if they don’t file their returns by a certain date. It is such an innovative method to earn additional tax revenue.

I wonder what would happen if for a year or two, the tax department gives a “tax returns holiday” and goes beyond those who are at large and not paying taxes. It anguishing to note that even farmers who cultivate strawberries are exempt from income tax. Taxes should be collected from farmers who grow cash crops. I don’t think any of the small grocers pay income taxes nor do the vegetable mandiwalas neither the building contractors nor the small hoteliers nor the taxi owners. If at all they do pay, it would only be a token amount to keep away from the eyes of the taxman.

To say that there are only 3 crores people in India with a taxable income is the most absurd statistic. If that was true, how come the parallel economy is bigger than the national economy? How did the talks of bribery reach a crescendo during the current trust vote? Why is there so much benami property in the country? Why does not the IT Department instead of worrying about mundane tax returns concentrate its efforts on mapping each property in the country to its owner and demand for source of income to buy that property? Why does not the IT Department go to the streets and find out the real income tax offenders?

It is very easy to make the hapless salaried class pay through their nose and drain them till the last pie but that would never result in a transparent and efficient tax system. It is a shame that even after 60 years of Independence we are not able to do away with black money. The salaried person is pre-occupied with many issues on hand. Most of them have an extracting 9 to 6 job on his hand. He has to pay extra for the loans due to increasing interest rates because nobody will write off his loans or compensate his family if he commits suicide unable to bear the burden. He is sufficiently squeezed don’t wriggle him more. If you want an exact picture of the tax potential of this country, dear, taxman, get out of the comforts of your office and into the streets, you will find an Alibaba cave every nook and corner of this country. Not filling a tax return on time is not a crime neither on the financial or physical security of the nation.

Thursday, 31 July 2008

Indian Television in the 80s




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One channel, no remote, limited hours of viewing, mostly black and white television sets, Government controlled content - for today's generation it would seem the most mundane form of entertainment but not for those who were television viewers in the 80's. Doordarshan was the only TV channel of the 80s and half an hour before the telecast this was the screen which greeted viewers

Beginning of the telecast meant this animation

I always feel that the programme content of the 80s though amateurish was far more intelligent than today's. Hardly, we used to get 6 or 7 hours of programming a day. The best thing about the telecast was it used to wind up at 10 pm. The most frequent program was "Sorry for the interruption". Despite, all the technological glitches the content was truly "rainbow stuff".

Serials were not gauche and unethical like now. The characters of "Chutki" and "Nane" from "Humlog" are still etched in the minds of viewers. The introductory and closing comments of Ashok Kumar in the same serial are mandatory content of most mimicry shows. The standards of comedy achieved by "Yeh Jo Hain Zindagi" are yet to be paralleled on Indian television. "Mr.Yogi" was a comedy of its own genre. Lajoji and Master Haveli Ram from "Buniyaad" are immortal. I don't find in today's television a single serial "Rajini" featuring Priya Tendulkar which represented common man's problem in an entertaining and educative format. The simplicity of narration and content in "Khata Sagar" endeared to every viewer's mind and soul. "Nukad" was a masterpiece and an all time great "Malgudi Days" brought to life its characters in the same way as described in the novel.

Even the mythological serials like Ramayan, Mahabharat, and Alif Laila were good in content. Foreign serials like "Old Fox" "Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" and "Oshin" were equally stupendous. The "Tele-match" special from Germany which used to be telecast during rain delays in cricket matches was entertainment in its own right.

Movie telecast thankfully was limited to three a week i.e. one each Hindi, local language and National Award Winner (any language). The content was highly censored and hence fit for family viewing. There used to be an air of expectation for Sunday evening films so was the wait for the twice a week Chitrahaar and Sunday mornings Rangoli.

Sports telecast were limited to important events like Olympics, Asian Games, Wimbledon and India featuring cricket matches. This is one aspect which today's television scores because the quality of India content those days was very pedestrian. During live telecast, there used to be frequent satellite outages and cricket match coverage in India used to be done with a single camera.

News was largely Government controlled and at times containing minutest details of the programme of the Prime Minister. People like Tejeshwar Singh, Gitanjali Iyer, Minu, Mita Chaudhary, Salma Sultana and others were masters of the language. One good thing about the news those days was it used to be once in a day and unlike today's nauseating 24 hour breaking news channels. News used to be details of events that have happened unlike today where the personal, political and business interest of the media group is presented as news. It was in late 80's that direct coverage of election counting was introduced and also the projections and I abhor the day.

The quality of social messages during those days was very good. Who does not remember the animated film "Hum Sab Ek Hain" in which the didi explains to his brother the importance of being united. The concept of "Mile Sure Mera Tumhara" was path breaking and still echoes in my ears. The one message I despised the most was promoting the use of "Iodine Salt". It was very badly conceptualized, shot and ran for ages. Advertisement and social messages had a great mix but that was possible because Television was state controlled.

Children programs were not far behind. "Giant Robot" and "Star Trek" were the introduction of sci-fi to me. "Spiderman" on Sundays at 5:30pm meant deserting of playing grounds for us. "Discovery of India" was a great way to understand Indian History apart from the mundane textbooks. Quiz Master by Siddharth Basu on Sunday nights enthralled and educated a whole nation.

Nostalgia apart, television in the 80s was entertaining, educating and enabling. Though it was of limited duration telecast the joy it bought was unlimited. It was not like television of today brash and bent upon higher TRPs. Those days will never be back again but one can recall with pride that Television of the 80s was never an Idiot Box.

Dont let human intelligence to be eclipsed


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August 1, 2008 happens to be solar eclipse. Modern Science has found that Solar Eclipse occurs when the moon temporarily comes between the sun and the earth. It is a beautiful celestial event known for its diamond ring effect. However, some sections of the population which refuse to grow up will be governed by superstition and scoff at those who will try to explain that it is pure science and does not occur because Rahu and Ketu two demons of Indian Mythology swallow the sun. Very shortly an Indian satellite Chandrayaan-1 is going to be launched to the moon and going by the track record of ISRO it can only be a grand success. These people cause pain not only to themselves but also to many unwilling family members. In addition, they have a liberal dose of doomsday predictions for those who don’t believe in their irrational ideas.
Another popular reason for not eating on the day of eclipse is as the sun rays were covered by the moon, the atmosphere becomes polluted. Therefore, for the whole day -- about 12 hours of the day time -- people observe fast and do not eat any food in the polluted atmosphere. I find this reason hilariously stupid on two accounts. One I don’t know what type of vessels were available when this stipulation was made but today you have vessels made of thermal ware, flasks, surgical steel, microwave ware, porcelain, food grade plastic, etc, etc. Dear Superstition Samarats, just have a look and decide whether these rays would affect food as much they used to during great great …..grandfather’s time. Secondly, not eating in a polluted atmosphere, this might have been applicable ages ago when the atmosphere was clean and free. Today, if we have to stop eating in a polluted atmosphere, we better be ready to die starving.

Lets learn to move ahead in life. These superstitions have no logic and an insult to human intelligence. It is better that they are consigned to the recycle bin and deleted for ever. Who is joining me for a cup of tea and samosa at the peak of solar eclipse?

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Balu is Taklu - its official


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It was happening over the last one year, I could see it, I tried every trick in the book to reverse the process but now I have to acknowledge that I am going bald. I used all the hair oils available in the market, changed my hair do but every day when I got off my bed or finished a hair bath realized that it was a case of “hair today, gone tomorrow”. Recently I had a haircut and realized that it was no use hiding the secret at the top. Even if I hide it is too obvious for all to see.
My mom used to tell me when I was young to oil the hairs but I did not listen. In the last year, I have used more hair oil than I have done for the last 36 summers. I should have listened to the well meaning advises of many of my friends not to apply hair dye when the hairs started going grey. I did not heed to their advice not to take too much tension.
“Losing hair” in Tamil is treated as nothing lost but ask a man who has lost his hairs he will tell you what it means. Already your face, graying hairs show off your age, add to this hair loss, you are a confirmed “UNCLE”. Life is going to change drastically for me. There are many things which I can no longer indulge in mainly flirting. Very soon my visits to the barber shop will become as uncommon as sensible business being done by our elected representatives. I have to face the ridicule of all the friends whom I have taunted for going bald. Shopkeepers will stare at me if I go to buy a pocket comb.

On the flip side, I had a hair style which mostly resembled of a person who has just got up from his bed. My hairs used to never stand in one position for a long time. Very soon I will be saving time to taking breaks from my work and blogging to comb my hair. When I go bald, I can grow the French Beard which would give me that villain look which I have always been yearning for. The phrase “tearing my hair” will become inapplicable for me. I can get the wise look without being one. The ayurvedic doctor will lose his monthly sale of two hair oils and “special” shampoo and I can invest the saved money in shares. These days shares are cheaper than rice and hair oil, you see.

Whatever it is I am going bald, that is the way of life. I am not giving up yet; I have gone for a really short hair cut to look young. I don’t believe in that philosophical adage “grey gracefully and bald boldly”. Whoever reads and first responds to this blog, will get all the unused quantities of hair oil and dye, I have with me. If there is a song “Singh is king” why can’t I write “Balu is Taklu”

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Banglaore, Karnataka, India