States should have power to levy and collect income tax

27/11/2017

According to the Constitution of India, income tax is a central subject. The Central Govt has only a few offices in states that too in cities and large towns. On the other hand state governments have offices even in remote villages. For example Village Administrative offices (VAO) which issue various certificates like income certificates, Community Certificates, Nativity Certificates etc, are located in all revenue villages. So, it is easy for state governments to know if any particular individual or company may have taxable income. The VAOs can maintain and update data on those having taxable income. This will minimize and almost eliminate the need for raids by income tax officers.

Further, instead of the central government collecting income tax and transferring part of the same to states, the state governments themselves can levy and collect the same. In order that the people are not taxed too much, the Finance Commission can suggest maximum central and state tax rates which together should not exceed the current or reasonable level. This is similar to the central and state GST.

In this context, it will be appropriate to state that the income which is invested for productive purposes like establishment of factories, transport organizations, commercial farming, service industries etc. which generate considerable employment, should be exempted from tax. After all the governments which collect taxes, are expected to use the money mostly for employment generating activities.

It may be added that in United States, most of the states levy income tax in addition to the Federal Government.

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Bharat Ratna Award- need for cash benefits

26/12/2014

Bharat Ratna is the highest civilian award of India , conferred “in recognition of exceptional service/performance of the highest order in any field of human endeavour” It consists of a Certificate and a Medallian. At present there is no monetary grant  and there are no cash concessions like free air/train/bus travel for self and attendants,  These need  to be extended to Bharat Ratna and Padma awardees, though they may not require these, but as a token of  the country’s gratitude these could be considered. The awardees should also be extended courtesies of invitation for all major local government functions and the government officers should show due courtesies whenever the Awardeed contact them personally or otherwise.  Bharat Ratna  holders are appropriatelyincluded in the Table of Precedence. Padma Awardees should also be included in the Table oir  Precedence at appropriate places.

The Awardees are not permitted to suffix or prefix the awards to their names as per the constitution. There appears to be no good reason to deny this.


Amendments to the Constitution of India

28/02/2010

During the leadership of the former Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, the constitution was amended to describe India as a “… Socialist, Secular …” country. The word “socialist” remains in the constitution, though the country has not followed socialism for at least the last 20 years. Thus there is no need to retain this word in the constitution.

Amendments to the constitution become frequent, even if not necessary, when the ruling party has two-thirds majority in parliament. This is one of the reasons as to why the central government should preferably be a coalition of many parties. Big majority for a single party could lead to dictatorial tendencies on the part of its party leader.

Of course, the constitution is not sacrosanct and in fact, it needs to be amended for purposes such as the following:

  1. To divide states into smaller ones for administrative efficiencies
  2. To include languages such as Gond, Kurukh and Bhil in the 8th schedule with a view to preserve and promote these languages spoken by substantial numbers of people
  3. To transfer some subjects from the central and concurrent lists to the state list
  4. To prescribe the number of times one can hold the high offices of the President, Vice-President, Prime Minister and Chief Minister
  5. To restrict the government from putting money in cash or in kind directly into the pockets of individuals, by way of  imposing a ceiling or some other way, in order that the ruling party does not resort to such welfare schemes with a view to win future elections
  6. Opening branch courts of Supreme Court and High Courts to minimize the inconvenience to litigants
  7. Making regional languages as High Court languages
  8. Raising the age for voting to 25 as at the age of 18, one is not in a position to to decide on the merits of different ideologies, or the suitability of different contestants  (the original age was 21)

Telangana

12/12/2009

According to the Constitution of India, the Parliament has the power to create Telangana by law. However, the Bill to be introduced in the Parliament has to be referred to the Legislature of Andhra Pradesh (AP) for expressing its views thereon, as the area and boundaries of the state of AP are proposed to be altered. It is not necessary that the Bill should be passed by the Legislature of AP. The Members of the AP Legislature lose the chance to express their views or objection by resigning from the Legislature.

It is for the people of Telangana to decide whether to remain as part of AP or have a separate state. It is not for the people of rest of AP to decide whether unwilling Telangana people should be allowed to have a separate state or not. Of course they have right to voice their objections like how they would be economically affected, how the divided AP would lose its revenue, how they would lose the important institutions that are available in Telangana area, how they would lose their importance by not having Hyderabad as its capital etc. They can seek assistance from Telangana or/and from the Central Government due compensation for their expected loss. They can also seek full access (as at present) to the educational and other facilities available in Telangana area for a specified time- i.e. till such facilities are created in AP.

The Central Govt/Telangana should safeguard the interests of divided AP to the maximum extent possible. But the Central Government should not feel it obligatory to obtain “no objection” from AP Legislature. What the Central Govt should consider now, is not “whether or not” to accede to the demand for separate Telangana state but how to safeguard the interests of divided AP.


Disaster prevention and management

18/10/2009

Natural disasters like cyclones, floods and droughts are almost  a regular phenomenon in one part or the other in India.  Recently, there had been a few earthquakes also. Cyclones, floods and drought have led to huge losses of lives (human and animal), properties and agricultural crops.

A division in the Central Home Ministry handles matters relating to disasters. Considering the magnitude of loss of lives, properties and crops, this arrangement is not satisfactory.  Disaster prevention and management should be included in the concurrent list of the 7th schedule to the Constitution of India and separate  Ministries for Disaster Prevention and Management should be created at the centre and state governments. These Ministries among others should on a continuous basis be engaged in

  • Digging canals and taking river water to lakes; digging new lakes; deepeing existing lakes. Water from the river should be taken in  canals to lakes as far as possible
  • Strengthening the banks of the river, constructing walls on the banks
  • Constructing sea walls near the coast to prevent water from sea waves entering the nearby dwellings
  • Conducting research on increasing the recharge of  ground water
  • Establishing research and development centres for designing of houses which can withstand earthquakes

These Ministries should also be in charge of relief and rehabilitation of  people affected by disasters- both natural and man-made.