destination india

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

let their tribe increase

India is certainly unique in all respects. It is reported in the media that we are ranked 8th in terms of number of billionaires, with countries like Italy and UK behind us! This is after inclusion of an NRI steel tycoon. If he were to be excluded and, even if only resident Indians were to be considered, our rank would be 13th.

The information generates a feeling of goodness all round.

These are official figures and do not take into account undisclosed incomes of our politicians, screen celebrities or players. Money keeps flowing into their coffers – it’s a one way street. Income tax sleuths put on a show to impress lesser mortals. It is a wonderful game involving people from all walks of life. We have the Income Tax officers and staff along with representatives of the media to conduct the raids first hand. Then, in the late night slots, we get a group of knowledgeable persons debating on the plus and minus aspects. To make the effects livelier, we are linked to reporters on location and are shown the haggard faces of the suspect and his family as the raid is in progress. That is the end of the evening’s entertainment! Drama over, they all retreat to their respective corners.

Experience has shown that Income Tax people prefer to come after a commoner who is honest and is forced to pay tax based on the logic of ‘tax-them-at-source’. First deduct, then let them put up reasons why they should get a part of it refunded.

We have as many as thirteen official billionaires in our midst. We also have people who survive on ant’s eggs and raw herbs. We disown starvation deaths and pass them off as ‘deaths due to illness resulting from lack of nourishment’. It is agreed that wealth is not generated overnight. It has taken us more than half a century to arrive at the magic figure of 13 – let us hope that the next 13 will arrive in lesser time. Let us pray that their tribe increases so that some Good Samaritan may come up some day to share the riches. A wonderful feeling could, then, really take off.

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