NEW DELHI— Mindless’ demonetization, ‘unscientific’ Goods and Services Tax (GST) and COVID lockdown have sounded a death knell to the Indian economy.
In a YouTube interview with `Ek Sawal Ek Jawab’, prominent journalist Rishikesh Bahadur Desai advised the Modi government to learn taxation from Ramayana for the benefit of the people. The interview was conducted by veteran journalist Syed Tanveer Ahmed.
“In Ramayana, Lord Rama tells his brother that the tax collector should be like Sun. He should collect more water from the pond and less amount from a pitcher. I think BJP, which considers Lord Rama its role model, should adopt this mode of taxation,” he said.
Desai said demonetization was a mindless decision that hit the economy very hard. “Demonetization was a mindless decision. It did not go to the cabinet. A thinker from Maharashtra gave advice to PM. Its damages were long-term. We still face its consequences. India is a very strong cash-based economy. Either there is a lack of awareness or there is no facility for a cashless economy. Though it has increased, yet it is not significant,” he said.
The prominent journalist also noted that GST was unscientific which did not help the economy. “There are 20 different taxes. For example, there is 18 percent GST on Agri-wheat cutter, while only 0.02 percent is levied on gold jewelry. Similarly, there is 22 percent GST on oxygen concentrators, while only 0.03 percent is levied on uncut diamonds. But people are not talking about it,” he said.
Desai said lockdown added the last nail in the coffin. “There are instances in the world where many countries controlled COVID without imposing a lockdown. The government must introspect,” he said.
Calling for emulating America’s `Lead’ initiative, he said there is a movement in the US wherein people only use the products grown or manufactured in an eight-kilometre radius from the place of their residence or office.
“For example, if a bridge is constructed in a Bangalore city. Only that material will be used which is available in an eight-kilometre radius. Otherwise, the work will not be executed. We need Lead movement in India as well. So many people in India eat New Zeeland apple, but its benefit goes to someone else,” he said.
Desai also batted for village-level self-sufficiency and self-reliance. “Gandhi Ji also called for self-reliance. Youth should not leave their villages and instead, stay back and earn their livelihood. In India, only 20 percent of people go for higher education and 80 percent cannot afford it,” he said.
He also called for renewed cooperative movement to help the economy to grow. “Let me tell you that all Swiss banks are cooperative banks. Such is their strength that when Greece suffered a financial crisis, it took loans from these banks to resurrect the economy. India has 700 districts and each of them has a unique capability of producing something. Some are known for handicrafts, some for horticulture, and some for handloom. We need to infuse new life to this movement,” he said.