Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

GST

GST came into effect on 1/7/2017. It is not One Nation One Tax. It has taken over or done away with 17 taxes including Amusement and Entertainment Tax (except levied by local bodies), Excise, Additional Excises, Octroi and Service Tax. Other taxes continue. GST has different tax rates for different goods and services and with cess added the tax rates may be forty even though the government claims there are four tax rates – 5%, 12%, 18% and 28%. For Coca Cola the tax is 28% + 12% cess making it 40% tax.
GST has been good for chartered accountants and tally programmers. Their demand and income has gone up. Octroi is abolished. It is good for traders and transporters. In some restaurants customers received bills with Central GST and State GST.
There is confusion about rates. Some have raised questions about rates. Cashew nuts are charged 5%. Almonds are charges 12%. Almond merchants say almonds are nuts so rate for cashew nuts and almonds should be same. By that they mean 5%. Such disputes are good for lawyers.
Some traders have not used computers. They are unable to comprehend GST. They will need services of professionals.
Some say GST has brought more work. Previously, it was a Quarterly Return. Now it is three Monthly Returns and an Annual Return.
Textile was free from tax. Now it is 5% GST on cotton and 18% GST on man-made fibre. In Surat textile traders are on strike. In Maharashtra, especially in Bhiwandi, many power looms have shut down.
Many women are opposed to 12% GST on sanitary napkins. Government has justified the tax on the ground that previously there was excise and VAT on sanitary napkins which is equal to 12% GST and women did not know about it.
Car companies decreased the prices of cars after GST came into effect. Maharashtra Government increased Motor Vehicle Tax.
Banks had Service Tax rate of 15%. GST is 18%.
Some shopkeepers have problems because their buyers do not accept their receipts. They want receipts in a different format.
Confusion and uncertainty should be over within three months.

Dalit versus Dalit

It is Dalit versus Dalit contest for the office of the President of India.
On 19/6/2017 BJP announced Ram Nath Kovind as its presidential candidate. On 22/6/2017 Congress announced Meira Kumar as its presidential candidate.
Ram Nath Kovind is a Dalit in Uttar Pradesh and an OBC in Gujarat. His status in other states is not known. He is presented as Dalit. When his name was announced the question was “Who is Ram Nath Kovind?” Most people had not heard of him.
Nitish Kumar is a slippery customer. He is an opportunist, an unprincipled and unscrupulous politician. He wanted opposition parties to put up a joint candidate. He met Sonia Gandhi on 20/4/2017. Sonia Gandhi called a meeting of opposition leaders on 26/5/2017. Nitish Kumar did not attend that. Sharad Yadav represented. Next day Nitish Kumar met Narendra Modi at a lunch hosted in honour of visiting Prime Minister of Mauritius, Pravind Jugnauth. Something happened between 20/4/2017 and 26/5/2017. May be Nitish Kumar suggested Kovind’s name and Modi agreed. On 21/6/2017 Nitish Kumar called a JD (U) meeting and it was decided to support Ram Nath Kovind. It was a setback for Congress and allies.
Congress and allies did not declare their candidate. They said they were in favour consensus and it is for the government to approach them. If the BJP candidate is suitable they will not oppose. A BJP committee met opposition leaders but did not mention any name.
Once Kovind’s name was announced Mayawati said it was difficult for her to oppose him unless a Dalit candidate opposes him. Ram Vilas Paswan said anyone who opposed Kovind is anti-Dalit. Gopalkrishna Gandhi was out as a candidate. The choice was for a Dalit. Four names were in circulation. Bhalchandra Mungekar, Meira Kumar, Prakash Ambedkar and Sushil Kumar Shinde were discussed. She is a retired IFS officer, former minister, and was Lok Sabha Speaker. As Speaker, she is well-known for saying “Please sit down. Please sit down. Baith jayiye. Baith jayiye.” She is from Bihar and daughter of Jagjivan Ram. Lalu Prasad Yadav appealed to Nitish Kumar to reconsider his decision to vote for Ram Nath Kovind and said it will be a historic blunder. Mamata Banerjee who was opposed to Meira Kumar agreed to support her.
Shiv Sena was in favour of Mohan Bhagwat and M. S. Swaminathan. On 19/6/2017 Uddhav Thackeray lashed out against choice of Ram Nath Kovind. Next day Shiv Sena decided to support Ram Nath Kovind. In 2007 and 2012 Shiv Sena had not supported BJP’s candidates. It supported Congress candidates. Congress was in power at the time. Now BJP is in power. Not supporting BJP candidate can be costly.
It is good there is a contest for the office of President. It would have been better if the contest had more than two candidates. Most parties do not have 100 electors as members and not possible for them to field a candidate.
BJP has all NDA allies on its side. AIADMK, BJD, JD (U), TRS and YSR Congress are on BJP’s side. BSP, DMK, Left Front, NC, NCP, RJD, RLD, SP and TMC support Congress. Vote strength of Ram Nath Kovind is around 62.8% and of Meira Kumar is around 34.6%.
On 23/6/2017 Ram Nath Kovind filed his nomination papers. Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, Lal Krishna Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Ram Vilas Paswan, Sushma Swaraj, Nitin Gadkari, Ananth Kumar, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Vijay Goel, Manohar Lal Khattar, Vasundhara Raje Scindia, Raman Singh, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, and Yogi Adityanath, E. K. Palaniswami, K. Chandrasekhara Rao, and some others were present.

Foolish Captains

It is foolish for a cricket captain to elect to field after winning the toss. Yet many times captains elect to field after winning toss and mostly lose. The theory is that it is easy to chase a target than set up a winning total. The reality is that there is no pressure when batting first and the team batting first mostly wins. If a team cannot defend the total it has scored it is unlikely it can chase a target and win the match.
On 18/6/2017 in Champions Trophy final Virat Kohli won the toss and elected to field. The result was a disaster. Pakistan scored 338/4 in 50 overs. India were all out for 158 runs in 30.3 overs. This is the latest instance of a foolish captain.
On 4/6/2017 Pakistan’s Captain Sarfraz Ahmed had elected to field. There was rain. India scored 319/3 in 48 overs. Pakistan had to score 288 in 41 overs. They were 164 all out in 33.4 overs.
In 1975, 1979, 1983, 1987, 1992, 1999, and 2003 World Cup finals the team batting first won the match. In 1987 India’s Captain Kapil Dev in World Cup semi-final against England elected to field and lost by 35 runs. In 1996 India’s Captain Mohammed Azharuddin in World Cup semi-final against Sri Lanka elected to field. Sri Lanka scored 251/8. India began the chase. After second wicket fell India lost wickets regularly. It was 120/8. There was crowd trouble. Match referee Clive Lloyd awarded the match to Sri Lanka.
In 2003 World Cup final against Australia, India’s Captain Sourav Ganguly elected to field. Zaheer Khan bowled the first over and conceded 15 runs, 8 of them extras. India lost the match.
A captain should elect to bat after winning the toss and enforce follow on whenever there is opportunity. If a team can chase a target and win, it can also set up a target and win. If a captain does not enforce follow on and the team loses after enforcing follow on there is something wrong.
It was not all doom and gloom for India on 18/6/2017. India defeated Pakistan 7-1 in Hockey World League semi-final at Olympic Park, some miles away from Oval where India lost. India’s Kidambi Srikanth defeated Japan’s Kazumasa Sakai 21-10, 21-19 and won Indonesian Open Premier Super Series title in Jakarta. Our TV channels put all their eggs in cricket basket. They should put some eggs in other baskets. Anchors had taken Indian cricket team’s victory for granted and had arranged for discussions after the match. India lost. Discussions cancelled.

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