Full circle: Looks we’ll have to revisit civil disobedience

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‘I like to pay taxes. With them, I buy civilisation’ – Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

Yes, taxes are meant to make civilisation possible, affordable, and practicable. In India, though, they only end up being victims of corruption.

Only 3% of India’s population pays taxes. The minorities, the business class, the farmers, and politicians, absolutely do not. Many a flourishing CA can take the credit for facilitating this. But that would be doing them injustice. It’s actually the lawmakers who create policies that gratify, indiscriminately, businessmen, and rich farmers, by creating policies and laws that eliminate the need for them to pay taxes. Don’t even get me started on Vijay Mallya. Taxes are the burden of the salaried class, unfortunately.

Anyway. A ray of hope. However anecdotal this may seem, Premlata Bhansali has burst on the scene in Mumbai, time will tell if this was just a flash in the pan. Read here: http://www.mumbaimirror.com/mumbai/crime/Ticketless-traveller-tells-TC-Arrest-Mallya-first/articleshow/51504447.cms

But for the time being, she’s made a point. The woman in question was returning on train from Elphinestone to Bhuleshwar, and did not buy a Rs.10 ticket. She was stopped by a Ticket Checker, who imposed a fine of Rs.260 on her. And our lady, she did what? – Refused. Point blank. Saying what? First ask Vijay Mallya to pay back the Rs.9,000 crore. And what I truly admire is, she argued with the cops for 12 hours straight.

Apparently, even her husband’s counselling her was to no avail. She wanted them to arrest her so that she could go on a protest like Anna Hazare. She is a mother, and she lives in a well-to-do community and family. When taken to the magistrate, she still refused to pay the fine and chose to go to jail for seven days instead.

I feel sorry for Ms. Bhansali on one hand, since her civil disobedience, while truly full of spunk, will predictably go unnoticed. Ours is a society of ethical, environmental, moral, social, logical disobedience. Civil disobedience is far out. However, this woman taking such a strong step, all by herself, is nothing short of inspirational on some level. Yes she wilfully¬†committed the ‘crime’ of not buying a ticket. She resisted paying the fine when caught.

This news is close on the heels of one on February 3 that spoke about a High Court judge Arun Chaudhuri saying citizens should stop paying taxes if government fails to curb corruption: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nagpur/Dont-pay-taxes-if-government-fails-to-curb-corruption-HC/articleshow/50826888.cms

To quote Justice Chaudhuri, who was giving verdict in a case of embezzlement of funds at banks, “Terming corruption as a “hydra-headed monster”, the judge said it is high time citizens came together to tell their governments that they have had enough. “The miasma (unholy atmosphere) of corruption can be beaten if all work together. If it continues, taxpayers’ should refuse to pay taxes through a non-cooperation movement,” said Chaudhari.

“The taxpayers are in deep anguish. Let the government as well as mandarins in corridors of power understand their excruciating pain and anguish. They have been suffering for over two decades in the state. There is an onerous responsibility on those who govern to prove to taxpayers that eradication of corruption would not turn out to be a forlorn hope for them,” stated Chaudhari.

His words not only on the point but also extremely auguish-ridden.

I wonder what inspired Premlata’s taking such a stance.

And finally, why I am talking about it. That’s because these mandarins in our political power circles have now decided to shave off the only large chunk of forest around this big melting pot that is Mumbai – the Sanjay Gandhi National Park. 22 acres of forest land that acts as the lungs of this crazy supermetropolis called Mumbai and quite simply, keeps it sane and functional. And the Mumbaikars’ silence has been priced at¬†– A train station and some “DEVELOPMENT”. And guess who’s paying for it all? The taxpayer of course. And many times over too. Because our politicians forget that there’s an infrastructural cost and there’s environmental, social cost too. Because “Development” costs big. Unlike civilisation. Civilisation is a quality. Development is measured in things.

They won’t “DEVELOP” the existing tracks and trains or build flyover or install CCTVs or provide clean toilets and clean drinking water. They will cut off trees. Because that will not bring them moneybags.

Time to do something about all this crap.