India’s leading television channels and newspapers had headlined the possibility of a series of ‘consensuses’ in the ranks of the depleted opposition leading to the safe passage of the Goods & Services Tax [GST] bill pending in the upper house – the Rajya Sabha last week. Its references have “disappeared” from the headlines with sudden mysteriousness as did the AN32 IAF aircraft over the Bay of Bengal 4 days before this blog was written.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged political parties to pass the bill which seeks to streamline India’s fragmented tax system with a single levy. Indian businesses have been lobbying for the single tax rate as it would reduce costs, particularly for shipping goods across state borders. The bill was passed by the Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Indian parliament, last year, but it has been stuck in the upper house of parliament, or the Rajya Sabha, where Modi’s BJP does not have a majority.”
“There is a broad consensus, with a few reservations. Tamil Nadu being a manufacturing state has opposed the bill. Congress wants a cap on tax rate in the constitution bill but it is not feasible and advisable… The GST bill is pending for the last eight years.”
Is Naidu being economical with the truth?
As per the current system prevalent in India local taxes’ rates range between 5% and 14.5%. That is what one reads on paper. When translated into action, evasion of commercial taxes is the most happening thing.
“India’s current, corrupt, convoluted taxation system and its applicability are more confusing than the explanation of geometry’s backbone – the Pythagoras Theorem penned in Double-Dutch and Triple-Greek,” remarked a Delhi wag at the Press Club of India’s bar, the other day.
The National Democratic Alliance [NDA] regime claims the passage of the bill would improve India’s GDP by at least 2%.
India copies most of its laws – the United Kingdom – where Value-Added-Tax or VAT is in vogue for nearly 2 decades. Its salient features excerpted from the relevant Wikipedia dossier:
Value-added tax (VAT) is a consumption tax levied in the United Kingdom by the national government. Introduced in 1973, it is the third largest source of government revenue after income tax and National Insurance. It is administered and collected by HM Revenue and Customs. The relevant law is – the Value Added Tax Act 1994.
VAT is levied on most goods and services provided by registered businesses in the UK and some goods and services imported from outside the European Union.
The current default VAT rate is the standard 20% ad valorem since 4 January 2011.
Under EU law, the standard rate of VAT in any EU state cannot be lower than 15%.
VAT is tax levied on sale of goods and services by those who raise invoices upon getting paid.
Examples: A lawyer’s or an accountant’s or a political advisor’s or a PR agency’s fee could be £100 plus VAT. The grocer’s bill for monthly supplies for home could be £200 plus VAT. A restaurant bill could be £24 plus VAT. Selling and buying sans an invoice is an offence in the UK. And VAT has to be clearly mentioned in every memo – cash/credit-card-swipe-record and/or credit invoice. At least 95% of transactions are made through credit and/or debit cards or cheques or internet banking.
Its critics say the system is loaded against the consumer.
The producer who has paid VAT on raw materials to create the finished product gets a refund on the tax. So do the stockists/wholesalers and retailers. The final burden falls on the consumer whose pay-out covers the taxes on each mark up from factory to point of sale.
Illustration: A 1 litre bottle of potable drinking water may cost £0.25 at the factory and end up at £2.40 at the final point when sold through a retailer. Of this, the consumer would have ended up paying £1.40 as VAT on a product that costs a mere £0.25 originally. Along the way, every outlet would have collected its profit margin and have the option of only paying corporate tax at the end of the year after a lot of tax-planning through experienced chartered accountants.
No such luxury is available to the end-user.
[Figures are merely illustrative and artificially kept arithmetically simple.]
In the United Kingdom, there is no guarantee as to whether the money paid by the consumer finally as VAT – thereby underwriting the burdens of all the industrialists and their distribution networks’ movers and shakers – is put to proper use at all. Worse, the collection methods themselves leave a lot unsaid.
A simple catechism to explore the viability of GST in India – fashioned on VAT in vogue elsewhere in the globe:
Lawyers, finance-professionals, PR agencies et al have a sizeable portion of their dealings done in cash. Reasons for the same is a criminally bent, corrupt section of the judiciary, tax authorities and parliamentarians.
Would anyone in his/her right mind, honestly reflect the fees and collect GST through printed invoices as mandated by the GST bill if and when it comes into effect?
Most of the groceries and other knick-knacks are sold through small, family run outlets who never issue cash memos. The outlets themselves buy their supplies from stockists, paying in cash.
In that scenario, what would be the chances of the stringent GST clauses producing tangible results in letter and spirit?
Answer: Close to zero!
The ruling NDA is currently accusing UPA constituents of meaningless and vain obfuscation. The leading constituent of the opposition UPA – the Indian National Congress avers that the NDA had done the same in the past. Both entities deny the charges.
On the basis of the facts stated above and the distinct prognosis scenarios pointed out earlier, are the political moves to get the law passed or the conspiracies to delay its passage in the Rajya Sabha perceivable as serving the interests of the voting public?
The answer: NO!
So, what, pray is this exercise all about?
In India, tax evasion is a national sport says a Bloomberg report:
India loses 14 trillion rupees ($314 billion) from tax evasion annually, depriving it of funds for investment in roads, ports, and power, says Arun Kumar, author of The Black Economy in India. General government tax revenue is an estimated 18 percent of India’s $1.5 trillion in gross domestic product, the lowest among the four BRIC nations, International Monetary Fund data show. With so little revenue coming in, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is now attempting India’s biggest overhaul of the tax code in half a century.
Only about 12.5 million Indians — or 1% of the total population—paid tax on their earnings in fiscal 2013. Although 28.7 million filed tax returns that year, 16.2 million got away without paying any tax, data shows.
Dalit leader and Bahujan Samaj Party [BSP] supremo Mayawati was referred to very unprintably by Dayashankar Singh, recently sacked senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader in Uttar Pradesh around the start of the Monsoon Session of Parliament. He was promptly expelled from the party.
The end result is that Mayawati has virtually become the rallying point to unite against the BJP in the election bound north Indian cow-belt state of Uttar Pradesh. Modi’s reported foe within the Union Cabinet – Finance Minister Arun Jaitley tacitly eggs this opposition unity on, as can be discerned from reports.
The bitter fact, India Today pointed out recently, is that Dalits are worse off despite 68 years of India’s independence.
Mayawati was almost buried in the quicksand of UP politics till Dayashankar put his foot into his mouth.
The Bharatiya Janata Party’s performance in Uttar Pradesh has been beyond belief. But equally incredible, if in reverse, is the Bahujan Samaj Party’s devastation in the State.
The BJP’s conquest is as epic as the BSP’s fall. The BJP has bettered the best predictions with a humongous 71 seats — 14 more than its 1998 high of 57. With a zero score, the BSP has done worse than the worst forecast, regressing 30 years to the time it was born. Perhaps even this does not fully capture the BSP’s ignominy because, in contrast to today, 1984 was a year of hope and optimism: it marked the start of a remarkable political journey for which there are few parallels.
Dayashankar is yet to be arrested, despite the filing of a First Information Report.
Despite being notorious for its violent means of protest in the past, the current agitation against the slur against Mayawati has been very peaceful, as is indicated in a report in The Hindu. Excerpts:
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) workers called off their agitation in Lucknow against former Uttar Pradesh BJP vice-president Dayashankar Singh for his abusive remarks against their party chief Mayawati. Police promised to arrest Singh within the next 36 hours.
Lucknow District Magistrate Raj Shekhar told BSP workers that a manhunt for Singh was on following registration of an FIR at the Hazratganj police station.
Following the categorical and time-bound assurance, BSP leader Naseemuddin Siddiqui said the agitation was called off.
Should one suspect that one of India’s cleverest politicians and former wrestler Mulayam Singh Yadav – in a desperate bid to keep the BJP out – stage-managed the slur on Mayawati through Dayashankar and got the opposition to make a serious attempt to unite temporarily in UP?
Would that be the germination of a plan to prepare the ground for the 2019 elections against the ruling National Democratic Alliance led by Narendra Modi?
If true, is that a pathetic attempt to con Indians’ senses?
The Navjot Singh Sidhu drama has taken a queer turn following a revelation by a senior Punjab BJP leader Vijay Sampla. Operative excerpts from a Press Trust of India report indicate the ex-cricketer is still part of the party:
Cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu, who resigned from Rajya Sabha membership recently, is still in BJP and does not have any “personal grudge” against the party, Punjab BJP Chief Vijay Sampla said.
“Navjot Singh Sidhu is still in the BJP. Therefore the question of his return to the party does not arise. He is still in BJP and he has not resigned from the membership of BJP,” Sampla, who is a minister of state in Modi government, told reporters in Chandigarh.
Should one assume that the whole thing was a chimera to divert attention from other vital issues as Sidhu is a known media personality judging several reality shows on television channels?
If this isn’t a pathetic attempt to con the senses of India, what else can it be?
Indian Air Force AN-32 aircraft, travelling from Chennai to Port Blair went missing above the Bay of Bengal with 29 people on board on July 22 2016. The plane took off from Tambaram air base in the outskirts of India’s 4th largest metropolis Chennai at 8.30 am. It went missing from the radar at 9.12 am, 280 km east of Chennai.
According to reports, the aircraft was flying at a height less than 30,000 feet above mean sea level.
The acronym AN stands for Antonov – a sturdy Russian aircraft.
The plane’s basics:
Capacity: 42 paratroopers/50 passengers/24 Casualties on stretcher with three medical personnel
Length: 23.78 m (78 ft 0¾ in)
Wingspan: 29.20 m (95 feet, 9½ in)
Height: 8.75m (28 feet, 8½ in)
Wing area: 75 m² (807 ft²)
Empty weight: 16,800 kg (37,038 lb)
Maximum take-off weight: 27,000 kg (59,400 lb)
Power-plant: 2 × ZMKB Progress AI-20DM turboprop, 3,812 kW (5,112 ehp) each
Maximum speed: 530 km/h (286 knots, 329 mph)
Cruise speed: 470 km/h (254 knots, 292 mph) (econ cruise)
Range: 2,500 km (1,350 nautical miles)
Service ceiling: 9,500 m (31,165 feet)
Reference: Taylor, John, W.R. Jane’s All The World’s Aircraft 1988–89. London: Jane’s Information Group, 1988. ISBN 0-7106-0867-5.
Aircraft going missing is old news and is always meant to fool the public.
The search would be called off soon, it was announced.
In 1968, a Russian built AN-12-BL-534 aircraft carrying 98 defence personnel crashed near the Rohtang pass.
The likelihood of Pakistani involvement was not ruled out, said a report in the Indian Express.
This isn’t the first ‘AN-32 mystery’.
On 25 March 1986, an Indian Air Force An-32 disappeared over the Indian Ocean on a delivery flight from the Soviet Union (via Muscat, Oman.) No trace was ever found of the aircraft or its three crew and four passengers. Reference: Ranter, Harro and Fabian I. Lujan. “ASN Aircraft accident: Antonov 32 K2729 Jamnagar, India.” Aviation Safety Network, 2004.
July 15 1990 saw an accident involving an AN-32 aircraft that left 5 occupants dead. It had taken off from Tambaram airbase. Despite the passage of 26 years, the final report as to what led to the crash is yet to be finalised by India’s Ministry of Defence, a report published by Aviation Safety Network said.
All the 13 people on board were reportedly killed.
Almost immediately after the crash, India inked a $US400 million deal with Ukraine for an An-32 fleet upgrade. The upgrade, reports said, could extend the life of the aircraft by nearly 15 years.
The question to be asked is:
Why has the ‘black box’ of the AN32 aircraft not been located so far?
A flight data recorder [FDR], colloquially known as a black box, [actually sporting orange-coloured skin] is an electronic recording device present in every aircraft since 1967. It facilitates the investigation of aviation mishaps.
The flight data recorder (FDR) is a device that preserves the recent history of the flight through the recording of dozens of parameters collected several times per second. The cockpit voice recorder (CVR) preserves the recent history of the sounds in the cockpit including the conversation of the pilots. The two recorders give an accurate testimony, narrating the aircraft’s flight history, to assist in any later investigation.
The FDR and CVR may be combined in a single unit.
International Civil Aviation Organization has specified that the FDR-CDR unit should be capable of surviving conditions in worst air-accidents. They are designed to withstand an impact of 3400 g and temperatures of over 1,000 °C (1,830 °F) as required by EUROCAE ED-112.
A modern FDR is governed by ICAO Annex 6 which makes reference to industry crashworthiness and fire protection specifications such as those to be found in the European Organisation for Civil Aviation Equipment documents EUROCAE ED55, ED56 fiken A and ED112 (Minimum Operational Performance Specification for Crash Protected Airborne Recorder Systems).
The ARINC Standards are prepared by the Airlines Electronic Engineering Committee (AEEC). The 700 Series of standards describe the form, fit, and function of avionics equipment installed predominately on transport category aircraft. The FDR is defined by ARINC Characteristic 747. The CVR is defined by ARINC Characteristic 757.
ARINC Characteristic 757 stipulates that pilots cannot access the controls or switches associated with the CVR and its operation is fully automatic. The recorder system is powered through a 1-ampere 115 Vac circuit breaker. It carries a label RECORDER POWER/FLT. It is located on the co-pilot’s sidewall circuit breaker panel. When the plane crash lands on water, the CVR’s self-contained battery, an electronic module and appended transducer get activated automatically. The unit emits ‘pings’ [pulsed acoustic signals] at intervals of 2 seconds each for the next 30 days incessantly at depths up to 20,000 feet. The pings are heard all over the world through most communications’ satellites. India has 84 of them.
According to the Wikipedia dossier, the Bay of Bengal occupies an area of 2,172,000 square km. Average depth is 2,600 m (8,500 feet). Maximum depth is 4,694 metres or15,400 feet.
Simply put, there is virtually no way that the plane can ‘go completely missing’ as the Indian regime wants its public to believe.
If the pilots had lost control, the plane would need at least 5 minutes to touch the sea, giving the pilots enough time to transmit the Mayday signal.
So far, no report has surfaced.
The alternative cause for such a disappearance is that the plane could have been shot down by yet to be identified enemies.
The simple questions that need answers:
Did a stealth enemy submarine shoot the IAF plane down causing it to suddenly disappear from the radar screens?
Did such a missile have a chemical powerful enough to melt the CVR?
Is that why one is unable to locate the debris and the CVR?
If the answers to the 3 questions are in the affirmative, the original queries should be asked again:
Is there an eerie link between the “vanished state” of the GST bill awaiting the nod in Rajya Sabha and the “disappearance” of an IAF AN32 aircraft over the Bay of Bengal?
Is there an “enemy action” angle that is being hidden by India’s defence establishment?
Have Indian politicians reached a consensus to con the senses of the common public over vital issues that stumble the progress of Bharat?