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Too Much, Too Soon

Too Much, Too Soon

Over the past few months, the Indian government has gone through with a series of legislations each more bewildering than the other, but carried out in the interest of the nation and its great people nevertheless.

Yet with fiscal more than any other aspect of the ‘radical reforms’ introduced creating confusion of all sorts, it has been the common man who has had to bear the brunt of the government experimentations.

But then, it has always been the  aam aadmi, the most convenient mascot of Indian governments over the years, who has served as the guinea pig in all such trials by the fire.

The matter of the  Aadhaar Card for instance never seems to leave the ‘judicial domain’ with that parchment of paper purported to be the unique identity of every Indian citizen embroiled in some legal controversy or the other right from its inception.

For example, in August 2015 the apex court makes an observation that the Aadhaar card is not mandatory. But in the same judgment it is made necessary to use Aadhaar for LPG and PDS systems. And then the spree to make Aadhaar mandatory for tax returns by the government in violation of the Supreme Court which deems it non-obligatory. Really confounding! Presumably the common man’s unique identity is at risk.

From day one, black money has featured high up there in Modi-sarkar’s order of priorities. In an apparent bid to bring back the illegally hoarded money from tax havens abroad seems to have kept the government busy to the point of being obsessed.

As if the promise of a bonanza of Rs. 15 lakhs on recovery of the ill-gotten wealth stashed away in foreign banks was not enough of a motivating factor, enabling every single citizen of the country to operate a bank account of his own through the  Pradhan Mantri  Jan Dhan Yojna, though not without merit,  has the country’s banking system today as alien to the common man as it was in the earlier years.

The Indian version of debit/credit card, very similar to international cards as Visa/Master, RuPay Card was launched by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) with the intention of integration of payment systems in the country. These cards were issued to all Jan Dhan account holders. However, it does appear that the claim that RuPay has an equal market share as the other cards in the financial market is a bit far-fetched!

The demonetization exercise aimed at curbing the black money generation in the country, while causing unending woes to the general public, has further put the aam aadmi out of circulation.

The ‘sanction’ against existing currency notes and introducing new ones, once again in a bid to check undisclosed earnings and terrorist funding, had the country in a spin. Not that the introduction of new 2000 and 500 currency notes had any telling effect on the exact purpose it was actually envisaged for. Within days of introduction of the new notes, counterfeit ones were already in circulation defeating the very purpose of the whole exercise.

Then the Beef-ban controversy! With the government initially all but ‘suggesting’ what the countrymen should be eating and not, the ‘extraordinary’ notification last month restricting the sale of cattle for slaughter in animal markets has put a big question mark over the future of not only consumers of beef but also allied industries that depend on the country’s animal markets.

The ‘beef-politics’ has been criticized and condemned in no uncertain terms by people across all sections of the society. Citing the high values of secularism that the country has always stood for, the Modi-sarkar is being hauled over the coals for its overtly professed love for Hindutva ideologies which has brought in the enactment of a number of laws that the minority religious communities in India are finding detrimental to their cause, their very existence.

It is being further claimed that for a country that takes prides in its unity in diversity, it comes as a rude shock that a particular community is asserting its superiority over another with the political might it has managed to create for itself.

For long now a feeling that Hindus are becoming strangers in their own land has been gaining ground with every passing day. Distressed at the spate of terrorist attacks on the country where more often than not members of a particular community were being indicted for their complicity in the crimes, a call to rise to the occasion and safeguard their religion may be the catalyst for the simmering discontent that has manifested itself in such a fashion.  

Politics has no doubt played an assertive role in these ‘hate promotions’ leading to cries of intolerance, which again is being seen as an assertion of the political power of the government of the day.

So all the programs and the legislations have been an upshot of these attempts by the government to act assertive which has seen it enacting laws which they find is in the interest of the nation, no matter what the detractors have to say about the sarkar’s working.

For that matter, acting in the arbitrary manner that it has, the BJP-government also stands accused of implementing policies which it once opposed tooth-and-nail. The FDI policy was ushered in 2015 after being objected to in 2012. Aadhaar after being opposed by it in 2010 was implemented in 2016.

Finally the haste shown by the government to usher in the Goods and Service Tax to replace the current complex structure of multiple indirect taxes! The BJP was bitter opponent to the tax reform in 2011. And now in 2017, it has made a virtual U-turn!

A few lines circulating in social media should give one a concise picture of the muddle the government is letting itself into.

Coming 1st July India will become the first country to implement a law where the rules, the concerned software, businessmen and professionals, and the government systems are not ready for it. Yet the penalties for non-compliance are already in place!

In spite of the government seeming to be on course to fast track the entire process to achieve targeted GST implementation effective 1st July, it must be said that with the confusion and ignorance over the finer details prevailing, GST could fester into a messy swamp.

(Published on 03th July 2017, Volume XXIX, Issue 27)