Kargil Martyr’s family still waiting for fulfillment of Government’s promise

A DECADE ago, Indian Armed Forces fought one of the toughest battles in Kargil against Pakistani soldiers and terrorists. The enemy was uprooted and it became an embarrassment for the enemy who declined to accept the bodies of its nationals.

How many of you remember the name Saurabh Kalia today? If you don’t, then for your reference, he was one of the first casualties in the Kargil war. Saurabh Kalia of 4 Jat Regiment, was the first army officer to report incursion by the Pakistani army on Indian soil had along with five soldiers – Sepoys Arjun Ram, Bhanwar Lal Bagaria, Bhika Ram, Moola Ram and Naresh Singh had gone for a routine patrol of the Bajrang Post in the Kaksar sector when they were taken captive by the Pakistani troops on May 15, 1999.

They were brutally tortured for weeks before their mutilated bodies were handed over to Indian authorities on June 9, 1999. Saurabh Kalia was posted in Kargil as his first posting after passing out from the Indian Military Academy and did not even live long enough to receive his first pay packet as an officer. The supreme sacrifice made by Saurabh and his team has faded away from our memory.

Then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee assured the nation that he will take the issue of barbaric treatment of the Prisoners of War (POWs) by Pakistan on international stage. But ten years down the line, this has ended as just another promise made by our government.

NK Kalia, father of Captain Kalia said in an interview, “Of course, his supreme sacrifice has made us proud but what has exhausted, disappointed and dejected us is that the nation, for which he has sacrificed his life least bothered to highlight the plight of war crimes at the international fora.” The family is running from one office to another to ensure that no other POW meets the same fate as the six heroes did. But the history of Indian government has been such that they forget these heroes as soon as they are in a safe zone. They did it after 1971 war and repeated it in 1999. “Is this the way the government treats its heroes?” If the same thing would have happened in America and Israel, culprits would have been brought to justice.

But this is India. Like always, we remember Armed Forces and other Security Agencies when we are in trouble but have rarely stood up for our soldiers. A soldier performs his duty and never expects to get recognition for the same. But as a grateful citizen, we must stand up for him. Don’t forget that we are sleeping happily with our family because few men are awake at the borders, toiling and battling for us. Hope that government will take some action and do something for POW at international level.

Congress MP denigrates success of Operation Vijay

THE APATHY and shamelessness of our politicians is yet again highlighted by the comments made by Rashid Alvi, a Congress member of Parliament. In an interview to correspondent of Headlines Today, he said “Kargil isn’t a thing to be celebrated. The war was fought within our territory. We didn’t even come to know when the Pakistani army crossed over and built bunkers inside our territory. It’s only the NDA, which may celebrate.”Union Coal Minister, Sri Prakash Jaiswal asked, “When is Vijay Divas celebrated?” to the same channel.

 

Later, live on the channel, he was remorseless even when accused; by father of Kargil martyr Vijayant Thapar, of politicising the war.

I must tell this fellow that Kargil was due to the failure of intelligence and other reasons. The enemy occupied the nation’s territory and it was imperative to dislodge the enemy. The battle, which was fought saw the supreme sacrifice made by our soldiers. Let us not politicise the war for personal gains. You must acknowledge the bravery, commitment and patriotism of the soldiers.

This so-called MP must understand that every day, there are so many patriots dying to save the nation. Let’s not use the soldier of this country as a punching bag. Every year, since Kargil at least 400 security personnel have died in action across India. We are fighting a war within the territory and on borders. Is their martyrdom less significant?

It might be for you, Rashid Alvi but not for majority of population in India. You cannot hurt the sentiments of a billion people. Please refrain from politicising the issue. Alvi, while putting a question to Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit, last year referred to Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK) as ”Azad Kashmir,” little knowing that India’s policy is to call it PoK. This is what he knows about India and her geography.
 
The MP’s like him are a danger for this nation.

It is a humble request to Alvi that he must render apoplogy to this nation and realise his mistake.

We need to learn to honour our brave soldiers.

Jai Hind

Mayawati: Vision of Development and Handbag!

MAYAWATI’S STATUE-BUILDING spree has been termed as a demonstration of her narcissism. Remember that Uttar Pradesh  is one of the most underdeveloped states in the country. In the last assembly elections, the people of Uttar Pradesh had given their Behenji an entire term to rule them. They believed in her “Sarv Jan Hitay Sarv Jan Sukhay” slogan and delivered their mandate. I have “serious objections” to those who are raising the point that Behenji is wasting our money. We must understand that every politician has his/her own vision.

Maywati's Statue
Maywati's Statue

Mayawati seriously believes that development can be achieved through building statues. So that is what she is doing. There might be a power crisis in the state but the people should not worry because the electricity that will “light the statues” will also give their homes some light. Something is better than nothing. She might not be doing anything to bring investments to the state, but her decision to erect statues has generated employment for hundreds.
This was the precisely the reason why Ambedkar Park was razed and a new monument was erected in Lucknow in memory of Manyawar Kanshi Ram. Nawab Siraj-ud-Daula had the same objective in mind when he ordered the building of the Imambara after his people were unable to make ends meet after a bad drought. What’s wrong with it? Elephant statues await you in Lucknow. The elephant is a symbol of power. Mayawati is powerful and so is the state of Uttar Pradesh. The state has a population that exceeds even that of neighbouring Pakistan.

To ensure that we remain powerful, we pay no heed towards the population problem and it ensures that the  state plays a big role in the country’s politics. This is the precise reason that we have a “developed” state and why it is scaling new heights. The power and water crisis, lack of infrastructure, investments, and law and order, are just the words used by politicos. But by now, we have “adapted” to it. So who cares for these “words”. Do remember to contribute towards the fund of Behenji’s birthday. You could end up risking your life.

The state might not have any jobs for its students but it has ensured that the state becomes an old age home with children moving to other states for employment. This must be a way to control the population of the state. The new parks and statues will attract more tourists and will increase the wealth in the “Sarkari Khajana” for more “such developmental schemes”. The curriculum of the state board may see some changes as well. We need some reforms in education and it will be great to have a dedicated lesson on “Mayawati and her development vision for Uttar Pradesh.”

Twenty years down the line, I will walk on the lanes of Lucknow with my kids. They will gawk at the statue of the lady with a handbag. I will tell them that it was our Behenji who made this state developed and  prosperous. The parks that we enjoy, were built under her regime. 

But that bag which you see carries MY MONEY.

Truth behind Ranbir Singh Encounter must be Revealed

THE CONTROVERSIAL encounter of Ranbir Singh took place on July 3 and police says that he was riding a motorcycle with his two friends when the police stopped him at a check post. The three men got into an altercation with a sub-inspector, who had asked them to stop and then fled into a nearby forest after snatching his service revolver.

Later they were intercepted at the forest and Ranbir was gunned down in an encounter, while other two managed to escape. However, Uttarakhand Inspector General of Police NA Ganapati gave a different version. He said when the police opened a suspicious-looking bag that the boys were carrying, a countrymade revolver was found in it. The boys then overpowered an police official, snatched his revolver and fled, he said. Thereafter an encounter took place. Some police officials said that the trio was part of a gang that extorted money from businessmen.

Background of Ranbir Singh:

The family told the reporters that Ranbir Singh was a bright student and has no criminal record. According to Ranbir’s father Ravinder Singh, his son is innocent. “Show me his criminal record. The police just killed him to get medals. The police are threatening me now,” he said, sobbing and trying to console his wife. He went to Dehradun to join his office. There is a prime witness, who refutes policemen’s claim.

Autopsy report:

The autopsy report of Ranbir is out. The post-mortem report suggests that Ranbir’s body was brutally tortured and there were signs of multiple fractures. The body bore mark of 12 bullet injuries. These reports have gone against the police version of encounter and it appears that he was brutally tortured before being shot dead.

Government action:

Uttarakhand government ordered CID probe after there were allegations that the encounter might be faked.After the autopsy report, eight police officials, including SSP Sinha have been suspended.

My personal opinion is that there must be an inquiry by central agency at the earliest. If this encounter is fake then the case must be dealt with utter seriousness. The crime of murder is even more heinous if committed by the police.

The officials involved must be tried for murder along with those who tried to cover the case. The police is there to protect the citizens and not to kill them for some vested gains. This case calls for a speedy trial and a clear and quick justice.

The family is shocked after loosing their son for no fault. This case should be an eye-opener for all the officials, who feel that the life of common man carries no value. I am not running into conclusions but circumstantial evidence against police is too strong. We must support the family of Ranbir because the similar thing can happen to us as well. We must ensure that the case does not die its natural death and it becomes another instance of short public memory.

 

Have we forgotten Kargil already?

Kargil makes me sad. I served in Ladakh long before Kargil happened and know that terrain very well.
A lot has been written about the conflict which includes the lessons that the Indian Army  should learn and what we should do to avoid another Kargil. Therefore, I am not going to write about matters military, but matters that are more relevant for our countrymen, especially our leadership and people.

For any nation, the soldiers are its assets. You can replace a weapon or buy new weapon systems but it takes years to train a soldier and make him fight as part of a group that is willing to sacrifice its life for protecting the country.

It takes years to train a combat pilot or a sailor. Soldiers, sailors and airmen give ‘their today for your tomorrow,’ which I quote from the graves in Kohima, Nagaland, left behind by the British after World War II, but still taken good care of. They continue to pay their debt of gratitude to those who laid their lives in that war, fought so fiercely for a tennis court in Kohima.

The Americans too care for their armed forces personnel. Their leaders show genuine concern and match their promises with action. Their veterans are the blessed lot and, what they get for what they gave is something the veterans in India can only dream of.

America is a land of dreams but they convert their dreams into reality especially, when it comes to taking care of the men and women who fought to protect their freedom in all corners of the world. Love, affection, respect and genuine concern shown for the armed forces personnel in these countries and in many more countries in the world is what we need to study and more importantly, emulate.

In our country, soldiers are remembered only in times of need. When Kargil happened many in our country were unaware of what happened and many did not care since it did not affect their daily lives. Yes, there was some war happening in a far off land beyond Srinagar . In any case, the Valley has seen so much of action, it was assumed that it was one more of such action, may be slightly larger in scale like the Taj and Oberoi hotels in Mumbai  that were attacked by terrorists last November.

The general reaction of the public is: Some soldiers died and in any case, soldiers are meant to die for the country. So what if a body of a soldier who belonged to your city or town is brought for cremation? It is just another dead body and don’t we see so many every day in our towns and cities?

So what if a soldier’s widow and children are struggling for their livelihood after he laid down his life for the country? After all, so many widows are languishing in our country and one more does not matter. The soldier’s widow cannot get a ration card. Many others also do not get one, it hardly matters…

That is the general apathy, even to the family of the soldiers who laid down their lives. If the soldier is disabled in war, people think it is nothing that affects them.

The enormity of the situation, the lessons learnt and the corrective action that were needed after Kargil were discussed and forgotten. Kargil is a blur in our memory, an event of history to be forgotten only to be remembered when reminded that we need to celebrate Kargil Diwas! Sadly, we have even stopped doing that!

It is not selective amnesia but permanent dementia. And as for the soldiers who were disabled or who lost their lives, less said the better.

India and Indians need to change their attitude towards its soldiers, both serving and retired. Indians need to remember the families of those who made their supreme sacrifice in conflicts like Kargil or anywhere while performing their duty. We need to pamper our armed forces personnel not because they wore that uniform for 30 years, suffered deprivation, found it difficult to make both ends meet while running two establishments when separated from family because of service conditions.

We need to because a nation which forgets its soldiers and which lets its bureaucracy dictate terms to the leadership to manage the armed forces in the manner that suits them or prove their supremacy, which ignores their genuine demands, is bound to suffer when the time of need comes again. History strangely repeats itself.

That is what is happening now. Why should the ex-servicemen (ESM) ever need to demand their legitimate rights? Why is the country’s leadership not doing its duty to meet their legitimate demands without them asking for it? Do they not have any duty to perform towards the soldiers and their families as the soldiers have performed in silence, asking for nothing in return? Are the words honour, loyalty, duty applicable only to men and women in uniform?

The current ESM agitation which was characterised by many of them undergoing fasts in many places or returning their medals, including the ones awarded posthumously to the gallant officers and soldiers who died fighting in Kargil does not happen any where but in India.

The ESM have been forced to come out in large numbers onto the streets, shouting slogans to attract attention. The country as a whole has forgotten them and it is a pity that the ESM need to remind our countrymen to remember them by adopting agitation as the means to achieve their end.

Sadly, what they are asking for is One Rank and One Pension — a small price for what they have given to our country for so long.

Why is it that our nation has pushed its veterans to this state of helplessness that today this apolitical force is taking sides with political parties to make their demand met? Does our country’s leadership realise that the armed forces which had remained apolitical so far are now becoming politicised? Surely this is not a healthy trend.

The answers to all the question is known to all of us. Yet we are mute spectators because it does not affect the civil population in any manner. If war is an instrument of State policy, the armed forces are the means to achieve that policy when the time comes. Kargil is one more event in our history. The soldiers in and out of uniform are not. They are the ones who make that history happen.

Can Kargil rekindle the hearts of every Indian to make a pledge to give our soldiers the dignity and respect and give their legitimate demand without them asking for it? Surely that is not asking for much, unless we are a thankless nation.

Wriiten by: Colonel A Sridharan VSM (retd)
Source: Rediff

This happens only in India

Welcome to India, that is Bharat, the land of eternal contradictions. Blessed are the souls of this country who have the good fortune of living with contradictions, with a majority of them even making a virtue out of it.

Life in India could very well be compared to the movies of Manmoham Desai of yore, who made so many successful movies, a lot many of them with the star of the millennium – Amitabh Bachchan. Although critics – God bless them – rubbished these movies as escapist, trash and without any head or tail, the audience lapped them all as they made them see pleasant dreams at least for three hours that they were in the theatres.

Day in and day out, we are told that we are the largest democracy – whatever that may mean for ordinary folks — that we are on the way to becoming an economic superpower even while people die of hunger and farmers commit suicide. That we have the best Constitution in the world, irrespective of the fact that the number of constitutional amendments carried out therein may soon overtake the original provisions of the Constitution and it may ultimately not only lose its letter but the spirit as well.

Prudence, however, demands that we don’t get carried away by all this rhetoric. We must learn to take all these as snippets from Manmohan Desai’s movies and enjoy them as we read about them or listen to such things. Taking these things seriously could be highly injurious to health and even life.

Our Parliament and State Assemblies are show cases where our elected representatives are provided a stage to display their histrionics and they do so to their full potential. They shout, create ruckus, throw chairs and microphones at each other, even politicise issues requiring humane considerations, deflect issues to avoid serious discussions, overawe others of their ilk with their lung power and to top it all, generally remain absent from the house itself. And then, in their spare time they pass some legislation. However, spare time and knowledge of some of these worthies needs augmentation, the same are generally not wasted in going into details of most of the bills passed by them.

Our much maligned MPs are law makers of this country. A look at their awe inspiring record in the field of law would convince even the diehards about their credentials in this field. Don’t believe it? Well then how about these statistics? Out of approximately 545 odd members of present Lok Sabha, allegedly, 29 have been accused of spouse abuse, seven have been arrested for fraud, 19 have more than three criminal cases pending against them, 117 have been charged and are being investigated for crimes like murder, rape, assault, extortion and robbery, 71 cannot get credit or loans due to bad credit histories, 21 are current defendants on various law suits and 84 have been involved in various other offenses and have paid fines.

Impressive, isn’t it? Well, our law-makers are blessed with many more virtues. It would, however, be rather impracticable to count all of them in this limited space. Quite appropriately, these law makers are fully qualified to make laws because none of these laws are applicable either to themselves, or to law-breakers or even to the agencies charged with enforcing the law. The laws are usually applied to harass ordinary law abiding citizens only.

To keep themselves updated with the laws framed by them as well as to maintain their reputation, our law-makers routinely get involved in various scams or keep rubbing the law on the wrong side. There have been scams like ‘Questions for money’, where these worthies were found to have been demanding money for asking questions in Parliament. Then there was an expose by the Star News during 2005, code named ‘Operation Chakarvyuh’, showcasing MPs demanding and taking a cut out of their own quota of MP Area Development Fund. In a country where generally one scam is unearthed per month, the public has become quite sensitised to such happenings.

Whenever a scam occurs – which is rather frequent – we invariably get to hear with great alacrity, the by now famous six words from the government, “The law shall take its course” and then the same government very promptly concentrates all its energies to ensure that the law does not take any course at all. The way an inquiry is ordered, terms of reference of the inquiry are framed and all sorts of hurdles are placed in front of the inquiry commissions, are all indicative of government’s mind set towards a particular scam. Past record of the scams is a definite proof that the law has hardly been allowed to take its course in democratic India especially if the alleged offenders were from political community.

The latest example in this regard is the alleged bribery attempt during the vote of confidence by Manmohan Singh’s government, where the Parliament was brought into ridicule by the members who displayed currency worth lakhs of rupees, alleged to have been offered as bribe. True to its form, the Parliamentary panel appointed to probe the scandal, could not pinpoint the offenders. Apparently ‘Scamocracy’ – pardon the slip – it should be democracy, albeit Indian ishtyle, has spread its roots or rather tentacles far and wide in our country.

The government is supposed to govern but politicians being at the helm, governance is given the back seat. Recourse is taken to populist measures which supposedly have the potential of translating into instant votes, governance be damned. We thus, have a situation where most of the laws are not enforced. At times the executive is forced by the judiciary to implement the existing laws. The government then tries tight rope walking or circumvention of the laws to somehow put a spanner in court’s directive and perpetuate the wrong by making the illegal, legal. The biggest example that comes to mind is the sealing/demolition drive in Delhi.

Favouritism, nepotism and corruption have ensured that the building bye laws are violated by those who have the money, muscle power or the right connections. The result — mushrooming of illegal structures/buildings and running of factories/commercial establishments in residential areas. With Executive abdicating its responsibilities, the courts had to move in. Directed by the court, the executive had no option but to get on with the demolitions.

Majority of population in Delhi were happy about these demolitions but people with money and muscle – two resources needed the most during elections – were thoroughly indignant with the ruling dispensation and they worked out an impressive opposition to daunt the government. The government, who in the first instance only, should have ensured that no laws were violated, became rather hesitant to enforce the directions of the court. Instead of ensuring enforcement of court’s directions , the government and politicians of all hues then got engaged in the exercise of circumventing the laws, either by amending the Master Plan of Delhi or if required, by bringing about amendments in the building bye laws.

Elsewhere, the government keeps creating feel good atmosphere by regularly presenting vote catching gimmicks, like trailers of Manmohan Desai’s movies. An occasional raid on the premises employing child labour and so called ‘release’ of a number of child workers is given out as an achievement of the state. All this is done without providing any alternate job to the needy children. Our great democracy never bothers to find out the compulsions which force the children to work and earn for their families as it would then be obligated to remove those compulsions. This certainly is not a vote catching exercise and hence, not worthy of government’s attention.

Most of the children are forced to earn at very young age because of family compulsions – there may not be any other male member, the father or both the parents may be dead, there may be acute poverty in the family etc etc. Right to education and banning child labour are good slogans but what is their importance for the families whose very sustenance is at stake? Without any social security system in place, the children ‘freed’ or ‘released’ from child labour either turn to begging or stealing.

Ideally, the social security system in the country should ensure that no child is forced to earn his living. Since in a country like India, it is nothing but a dream, the government, instead of banning child labour altogether, should regulate it by framing laws in this regard that would ensure proper remuneration and reasonable working hours.

Right to information bill has been passed with great fanfare. While it is a welcome step, it would, for a majority of the people, remain a feel good factor only. With a headstrong bureaucracy fiercely determined to maintain its stranglehold, it is indeed a job to get the desired information. How many people would take recourse to law, against denial of information to them, considering that the law itself follows a pretty labyrinthine trail which is tortuous and unending, is a question that alone would determine its efficacy. 

Our democracy is full of endless anecdotes, snippets and mutually contradictory situations. A lot many feel good laws exit on the statute book. Nobody, however, has the will or the inclination to ensure that these laws are implemented. Politics and politicians have all become self serving. The general public has no option but to live on the dreams woven by the politicians, much like the celluloid dream merchants, and feel good that ‘Mera Bharat’ is indeed ‘Mahan’.

Source: http://www.merinews.com/catFull.jsp?articleID=15710720

Was this what the Government was waiting for?

The worst terror strike has hit Mumbai where official figures say that the casualty is up to 200 while actual figures could be much higher. On Sunday, I went to Nariman Point where a candle light vigil was being organized to offer condolences to the dead and show an obvious anger against the government. As the procession started, the people that had gathered there said that they will be moving to Taj. I was surprised when I came to know that they didn’t have any plans to go to CST. Then I realized that it was because the firing at CST left over 50 “common people” dead. (Official figures)

There was difference in the treatment meted to the people rescued from Trident and other places. While people rescued from Trident were taken to Breach Candy Hospital, common people were taken to Government Hospitals. I don’t have any problem with that because had the elite been shifted to government hospitals, that would have created more pressure on the doctors. But the contrast in “services” to the relatives of deceased was something very sad. A friend of mine who was at a hospital where a post mortem was being conducted said that,

“Humko pata hai saab humne achche kapde nahi pehne hain, angrezi nahi bol rahe hain isiliye hamare ko body nahi de rahe hain.”

The one thing that this terror strike has done is that it has shaken the elite class of the city and country to believe that even they are not safe anymore. Elite India has for the first time been shaken out of its slumber as terror has attacked what were so far its impenetrable citadels. For the first time, the talk of terror has come out of the dinner tables for the elite. A man who was in Oberoi that fateful night was in middle of a conversation with his colleague when all of sudden sound of bullets were heard. His colleague said that it might be a terrorist strike but that man could not believe and said “These things do not happen here”; unfortunately, that night it did happened. And all of sudden, they are feeling vulnerable. So no wonder the elite are enraged.

Shobha De in a TV show screamed on top of her voice that enough is enough. But I feel enough was long before this attack in Mumbai. The enough was when series of bombs exploded in Ahmedabad, enough was when busy markets in Delhi were blown a day before Diwali, enough was when Jaipur was attacked, enough was when series of blasts left hundreds dead in local trains in 2006. Did any one remember that a series of explosions rocked Assam barely a couple of months back. The news of those blasts found little mention in our newspapers. The “enough” my dear friends, was already “much more than enough” long long back.

So what is the difference this time?

The difference this time is the target. The target has moved from the rickshaw pullers, the daily wage earners, the commuter on a local train; even the middle class executives to the elitest in the city. Those deaths didn’t matter to most of the politicians, didn’t force the Home Minister to resign or the need to step up the security, reforms in police, special forces, etc, never grabbed so much attention. Not even ONE of the rigorous actions or similar ones that have now been taken now were taken post any of these past attacks. The voices of the common man were repeatedly ignored and even the people discussing the terror matter on the dinner table and then leaving for dance party didn’t support those voices whole heartedly. But now they are direct targets and this has forced the government to prove at least, that it is acting this time around.

But you still observe the difference, we are having candle light processions at Taj and Trident but no one has bothered to go to CST and pay homage to the victims of the same terror attack that has changed the face of Mumbai. It is a bit ironic but I feel much safe now because I am virtually irrelevant in this war. The blood and death of the common man is just a “common phenomenon” which takes place every other day in some part of the country. The new targets are the hypocrites who have felt the pain of the common man for the first time and that has made them throw their toys out of the cot because now their own cot is rattling.

Whatever be the case, the good news is that for the first time we have felt that we need to do something to ensure safety and protect the “common citizen”. Probably, we were waiting for something like this to happen before we could show a will to combat the bloody terrorism. I don’t have any problem even if the government is acting under the pressure of the elite, because for me, my country comes first. Nation is above everything and I am there to support everyone who wants to fight this terror menace but yes my heart does weep for all the victims, be it at CST and Wadi Bunder or at Taj and Trident.

In all of this, let’s not forget our security forces and those brave unsung heroes who risked their lives to save others.

Budget 2008- What to expect?

The Annual Budget is just a month away. Whether it is the poorest of the poor or the richest Billionaires, all of them want a reduction in taxes. With this the last budget of the coalition government, will it be a dream one or will the FM play safe?

With just a month to go for the Annual Budget of 2008-09, it is time to speculate as to what changes can be expected in this edition of the Budget. The Indian economy has been sanguine with GDP growth of 9.25% in2006-07, inflation below the danger mark and sustainable interest rates. But what changes can be expected in this edition. Will there be any measures to counteract the effects of the recession of the US Economy? Will RBI step in to control the gargantuan influx of capital income into the economy. Well, the Finance Minister will have a lot of points to ponder on as he sets out to unleash his last budget of this term.

One thing that we cant ignore is that this will be the last budget of the current coalition Government. The United Progressive Alliance is due for its Lok Sabha elections in 2009 and with the dispute over the Nuclear Deal with the Left, the coalition has been on the Brink of Divorce. Thus, the Finance Minister might not give a budget that could stir up a political storm and bring the ruling government down. He would rather play safe. We can expect a popular budget with the aim of appeasing specifically targeted sections of the Voting Community. Thus vote bank politics could again play a vital role in this year’s Annual Budget.

P. Chidambaram had indicated that there could be a significant revamp in the taxation schemes. The Direct taxes could be reduced from the existing 33.6% inclusive of surcharge to about 25%-30%. Thus, the reduction in the Direct Taxes would come as a sigh of relief to the several individuals as well as corporates who are affected by the Direct Taxes. Reducing the tax rates could also provide an incentive to taxpayers to declare their entire income honestly so that the overall tax collections can be improved. Plus the Surcharge on tax which is paid by Individuals and association of people who have an annual income greater than Rs 10 lakh is expected to reduce. Currently, there is 10 per cent surcharge on personal and corporation income tax which may plummet in this budget. It could come down to as low as 5%. Partnership firms and domestic organisations, whose income is greater than Rs 1 cr will also benefit from this.

The recession of the US Economy has meant that the rupee has appreciated to a great deal. The exporters are feeling the brunt as their profit margins continue to go down. It is predicted that this trend is likely to continue. The RBI is expected to address this issue through its monetary policy and tax cuts in order to reduce the load on the exporters can also be expected. The fiscal deficit is expected to be scaled down to al little above 3% of its GDP. The FRBM Act that is the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management is proposed in this Budget. With respect to the fiscal deficits, the FM will also have to ensure that investments do not fall drastically.

It is a known fact that India has failed in having a World Class Infrastructure and has also not succeeded in providing adequate quality services in Education, Healthcare, Water Supply and Sanitation. The challenges of infrastructure will require large amounts of funds. It is believed that in this current eleventh five year plan from 2007 to 2012, we would need to invest almost US$500 billion to meet the infrastructure alone. This current budget could ease regulatory issues in order to facilitate building up of a World Class Infrastructure.

Lets just hope that Budget 2008 turns out to be the least taxing not just for the Finance Minister but also for the billion plus citizens of India.