As all eyes of the nation would be fixed on the upcoming Union budget where finance minister Arun Jatley will present the revenue and expenditure of the nation for the ongoing year. Middle class working citizens are pining hopes that the income-tax exemption limit would be raised. Obviously, that would be a good and sincere gesture to help the needy.
Yet my point is how about minimising the income gaps between Indian elites and the have-nots. From one side, the haves are grabbing newspaper headlines for their ranking on the billionaires’ lists, and on the other, farmers are making it to the front pages of the same broadsheets by resorting to suicides. A recent Oxfam report exposed the vast and growing gap between the rich and the poor, showing that the 62 richest billionaires (1 per cent) own as much wealth as the poorer half of the world’s population. The responsibility lies wholly and solely on the broad shoulders of Indian elites to behave much more responsibly than their western counterparts of the 20th century. Come on, dear rich fellows, we need true reforms in the public funding of the education system and transparency in tax collection. There must be a genuine hike in ‚super-rich’ tax this time.
India is supposed to be the world’s fastest growing large economy at 7.3 per cent in 2016, but that is not enough. The country’s tax-to-GDP ratio, at mere 11 per cent, presents a dim scenario — it is insufficient to meet the challenges of inequalities. If this can’t be 100 per cent, at least our finance minister must endeavour to bring it near 50 per cent or thereabout, as in the US and European nations.
What we need now is ‚responsible citizenship sense’ to turn our nation into an economy where the difference between the haves and have-nots would be among the world’s lowest. This alone would be the greatest achievement of any democratic nation that has been colonosid for centuries and emerged as the first nation to de-colonise the big income gap.