| PICTURE SPEAK |
| "Black Money Boom", December 19 |
"Black money can be curbed and taxation justified if under-the-table payments at government offices and splurging by politicians in power are stopped."
Sudhakar P., on e-mail
Currency of Corruption
It is a well-known fact that the biggest generator of black money is the unorganised sector, which includes the film industry, political parties, real estate, small businesses, middleman and moneylenders ("Black Money Boom", December 19). The size of the black economy would be at least 70 per cent of the size of the unorganised sector, excluding agriculture-related activities outside the tax net. Therefore, it is necessary to regulate and minimise unorganised activities.
Shaun Venkat, on e-mail
Unaccounted wealth can be controlled but not completely eliminated from the system. We need innovative solutions like vat and special benefits for those whose tax declarations increase over the years. Government-sponsored investment instruments, which mobilise funds for priority sectors of our economy, should also aim at mobilising the unaccounted wealth, but without victimisation of investors who come forward with their undeclared incomes.
Navneet Dhawan, Delhi
The root cause of black money is illogical and too many laws applicable to even a small entrepreneur or a professional. A good portion of one's income goes into the government's pocket in the shape of taxes, excise and customs duty, and indirectly as taxes included in the prices of commodities bought every day, stamp duty, entertainment tax, service tax and toll tax.
Mahesh Kumar, Delhi
Investments in real estate and numerous benami deals happen with the patronage of the political class, whom the law hardly touches. As a first step in checking black money, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram's department ought to concentrate on politicians.
R.K. Sudan, on e-mail
Voluntary disclosure schemes send a wrong signal by rewarding tax evaders. The Income Tax Department is concentrating on the salaried class, while allowing big evaders to escape.
M.M. Gurbaxani, Bangalore
It is time we abolished giving advertisements in media for people to pay their taxes and used that money to get hold of them.
Alok Chandna, Karnal
The only solution to the menace of black money is to scrap the Income Tax Act, which has been used to harass only genuine taxpayers. About 20 countries have no income tax. The scraping of the tax regime will make the entire money available in banks for development purposes. The government can earn revenue through vat and uniform expenditure tax.
Subodh Saxena, Delhi
The main culprit is corruption and measures needed to tackle it are: reducing red tape and paper work at government offices, simplifying procedures, prohibiting appointment of people with dubious record to higher positions and immediate redressal of complaints by the public about wrongdoings by government servants.
Om Julka, Cleveland
It is astonishing that an intelligent and experienced person like K. Natwar Singh failed to read the writing on the wall ("Exposing the Natwar Connection", December 12). The day Natwar was divested of the external affairs portfolio it became clear that he was a persona non grata as far as the Congress and the UPA Government were concerned. Natwar's claim that he stepped down to prevent a deadlock in Parliament does not hold much water. Going by the same logic, Sonia Gandhi should also resign as chairperson of the UPA since the Opposition is demanding her resignation and stalling Parliament.
K.R.P. Gupta, on e-mail
Paul Volcker is one of the conservative Republicans who try to undermine the credibility of anyone who opposes them. How can one do business with a dictator without paying him bribe? Does the US never give bribes to any dictator? I am not defending corruption but one has to see who is accusing Natwar and why. Is it because he opposed the nuclear deal with the US? Or because Saddam Hussein hated America and did not give contracts to US companies?
Paresh Gandhi, on e-mail
What is the criterion for becoming an ambassador? Aniel Matherani is described as a person who used to hang around the Congress party office and was close to Natwar. It seems patronage and not competence is the qualification for the post. The prime minister should review all ambassador appointments made under Natwar.
Anjali Sreekumar, Thiruvananthapuram
Has any politician ever been convicted of a crime? Some time ago the CBI had pleaded in a Delhi court that it wanted to drop the case against Satish Sharma, a Congress politician close to the Gandhi family, because it did not get the requisite cabinet approval to prosecute him. The court also agreed. This case will also meet the same fate after crores of rupees have been wasted on covering it.
Udita Agrawal, Delhi
A Finger in Every Pie
Central and state ministers are often seen fighting elections for sports organisations ("The First Pawar Play", December 12). It seems running a ministry is a child's play or these ministers are so efficient that they can do justice to both their ministry and the sports body they head. A law should be enacted to bar ministers from heading other organisations.
Sudhir K. Bhave, Mumbai
| ANGER AND DESPAIR |
Uma Bharati has been short-changed in being denied the chief minister's post in Madhya Pradesh after she had been acquitted by the court ("Sanyasin Scorned", December 12). It is but natural that she is unhappy with the BJP leadership which wants to crack the whip.
D.B.N. Murthy, Bangalore
No party can survive without discipline. The BJP has done the right thing by sacking Bharati from the party.
K.R. Parvathi, Wayanad
Bharati is an honest and forthright grassroots leader unlike anyone in the BJP. This gives her moral superiority.
Madhu Singh, Ambala
On paper, most cities have a floor space index (FSI) of two, but in reality it is four in Indian metros (Cities of Joy", December 12). Huge apartment blocks and commercial complexes routinely violate parking, open space and safety standards. Without any word for the disastrous chaos this may lead to, Hafeez Contractor prescribes an FSI of 16 and compact, high-density cities. What we need is deregulation in terms of repealing the Urban Land Ceiling Act, the municipalities creating and managing basic services and public transport systems. Merely increasing the FSI will not solve the problems.
E.F.N. Ribeiro, Delhi
Their Own Undoing
The prime reason why left parties are on the decline is that they have ignored the voice of the people ("The Party is Withering Away", December 19). Many left intellectuals downplay the interests of the people once they have attained a high stature. Those claiming to be nation oriented are hankering for the seal of approval from foreign powers even if that means deviating from their ideals. Such contradictions ensure that the gap between leftists and the interests of the nation exist forever.
Arvind K. Pandey, Allahabad
Lessons Not Learnt
In spite of the rejection by the people of Bihar, Lalu Prasad Yadav has not realised his follies ("BJP will use Nitish to communalise Bihar", December 12). He is still under the impression that he can keep on fooling the people. It is ridiculous that he wants organisations like the People's Union for Civil Liberties to investigate the "atrocities" committed on the candidates and voters during the election.
K.R. Sivaramakrishnan, on e-mail