When the Goods and Services Tax was announced at midnight, VIPs stayed awake, citizens had a sleepless night and many businessmen lost their sleep. Bengalis have been worried for a while because now a 5% GST will fall on rosogolla and sandesh. Clearly even a spoonful of sugar is now not available to make the bitter medicine go down. Sweets with a saffron or silver coating will now have to bear a 18-20% GST tax: there’s very little meetha with the khatta. Not that there’s much khatta available either for those keen on namkeen. With a 12% GST on snacks, the chips are down and the dhokla is khokla.
From tryst with destiny to tryst with tax, it’s now been seven decades of filling applications for a better India. On August 14, 1947, Nehru gave his famous speech saying “While the world sleeps India awakes to life and freedom.” Of course, Chacha Nehru got his clock slightly wrong in that famous speech because according to GMT, it was actually early evening in London and the former imperialist rulers were wide awake when India woke to new life.
Moving along from Nehru’s Discovery of India, we now have Narendra Modi’s New India where event management will soon become a government ministry. Freedom at midnight circa 2017 was designed to be an event marked by band baaja baarat complete with fairy lights draped on Parliament, flower arrangements and choreographed moments. Quipped the internet wag, is GST a Government Self-promotion Tax?
In these taxing times, we still don’t know how many MPs will disclose their real assets if not their real estates, but that did not stop them from lining up to celebrate their freedom at midnight moment even though they all looked uniformly gloomy.
The Congress of course chose to miss the party because party vice-president Rahul Gandhi likes to party in Europe on his birthday rather than muck in with the sweaty hordes in hot and humid Delhi. But spare a sympathetic thought for the amiable Dr Manmohan Singh. Key architect of the GST, he too was forced to fall in line with his party and miss the GST party. Now if only Dr Singh’s event management had been a practised political art form in 1991, the year of the biggest reforms. But for that you need to be a chatur bania and not a genial sardar.