Archive for August 2013

Taxation for dummies – A comparative study on government taxes and gang protection money!

August 9, 2013

Few days ago, an article in “The Hindu” read as follows –

“Extortion gangs have been forcing hawkers to shell out money on a weekly basis

Certain groups are partly redefining the dynamics of commerce on the Marina. These are extortion gangs that demand money from vendors for letting them ply their trade. These groups – which call themselves sangams – have put a payment system in place. Every week, a vendor has to part with Rs. 30 as protection money.

Sometimes, vendors end up paying this pre-set weekly amount to more than one extortion group. “When I set up shop five years ago, I paid Rs. 5,000 to a person who designated the spot where I could set up shop. Today, there are many more gangs. They have divided the beach among themselves and each gang exercises control over shops in their section,” said a sandwich maker.  “…continue reading the article here.

If your blood temperature shoots up to 212 degrees fahrenheit or if your blood pressure skyrockets to 180 systolic / 110 diastolic and you get an insatiable itch to take a pen and paper to write to “The Hindu” or to Mr.Saidai Duraisamy or to Mr.S.George,  condemning the extortion and giving them a piece of your mind, hold on.

Please put down that pen and have a glass of cold water. Take a few deep breaths.

Now, you need to understand a few basic things about the principle of taxation before you start wasting ink and paper to put down your strong condemnations and keeping the Postal Department going. (By the way, a condemnation is the easiest way to protest against an atrocity. It gives you the satisfaction that you too have done something against an injustice while sitting in the comfort of your home. Just like this.)

Local Dada - Gang Representative

Local Dada – Gang Representative

Prime Minister - Representative of the Govt.

Prime Minister – Representative of the Govt.

As defined in Dictionary.com a “Tax” is

“a sum of money demanded by a government for its support 

or for specific facilities or services, levied upon incomes, property, 

sales, etc.”

Breaking it down,

  • pay the government for protection to do business
  • provide the govt. a cut from your income for protection
  • pay the govt. for using the roads
  • pay the govt. for buying a house
  • pay the govt. for eating out

Compare this to the gangs and their demands of protection money. Just changing one word, ‘Government’ to ‘Gang’, the framework applies like a shoe in cinderella’s feet.

“a sum of money demanded by a gang for its support or for

specific facilities or services, levied upon incomes, property, sales, etc.”

The  only notable differences between taxes and protection money are that

  • Taxes are approved by the legislature while protection money is not
  • Men in suits demand taxes with a smile while protection money is demanded by men in local attire with a frown!

And the key similarity between the government and the gangs is that neither of them protect and help the people when they need it.

Disclaimer – This post is merely a sarcastic attempt in comparing and presenting facts. I don’t condone or condemn the gangs or the governments, for the fear of being punished by either or both of them (hey..thats one more similarity between the gangs and the government!!)

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Awesomest Road Signs – Where can you find it? India, ofcourse!!

August 1, 2013

Until a few years back, when I was living in a suburb of Chennai famous for its temples and dusty unpaved pathways, the term “Road Sign” to me meant  pretty much what “Ice Fishing” means to a Libyan. Only thing about a Road that’s tangible in those parts of the town is “road tax” that all vehicle owners pay to the government. Coming from such a background, when I went to college in the city, I failed to notice the road signs most of the time and fell pray to the ingeniously criminal ways in which the Chennai traffic police laid traps using the road signs. I then learned that the two most important road signs in Chennai city are the ‘No Entry” and “No Free Left” signs.

Important Sign no.1 - No Entry

Important Sign no.1 – No Entry

Strategically placed behind a tree or a lamp post, these signs usually don’t fall in the visual spectrum of the passing vehicles, especially if one is driven by a guy from the dusty unpaved pathways suburb. And when the vehicle misses the road sign and turns left on a “No Free Left” road, one can meet the pound to pound equivalent of a Spanish matador. In case you don’t get it, I’m referring to the Chennai Traffic police here who jump on the middle of the road without a care in the world and catch the handle bars of a still moving motorcycle and stop the traffic violator, all with the ease of a Spanish matador taking a large-ass bull by its horns.

el matador de Chennai

el matador de Chennai

Heard about the term “Culture Shock”, used to describe the strangeness in ways of a new foreign land? Well I experienced it first hand on my first visit to the US when I saw a multitude of road signs everywhere. Further shocking was the fact that they had to be taken seriously and if not Uncle Sam’s long arm wouldn’t hesitate to take out a hefty fine for the violation, that is if you’re still alive after the accident that you get into by violating the road sign.

But nothing quite prepared me for the awesomeness of road signs within India itself, on the mountainous border states in the north. I learnt that road signs can have genres too. Patriotic, romantic, quirky, witty, cheesy…you name it and we’ve got it. And what better way to ensure the motorists listened to the road signs than when they are put up by a bro!!

Touching an emotional chord!

Touching an emotional chord!

Scare Tactics

Scare Tactics

A little advice to the passenger as well!

A little advice to the passenger as well!

And then there is patriotism with a tinge of secularism!

And then there is patriotism with a tinge of secularism!

Sometimes just plain facts are useful too!

Sometimes just plain facts are useful too!

This is the land of love!

This is the land of love!

Can't say I don't agree.

Can’t say I don’t agree.

And then there is good old prohibition!

And then there is good old prohibition!

And ofcourse, for the philosophically inclined.

And ofcourse, for the philosophically inclined.

And even if these signs don’t convince you to follow the road signs, you’ve got to atleast listen to your authority, especially if its your BRO!!

BRO – Border Roads Organisation

BTW, before you leave, you can leave your feedback by liking or rating this post.

If you think your friends too need to undergo the mokkai, you can also share it in FB, Twitter, Pinterest etc etc.. Thats why all these colorful buttons are there.

Disclaimer: I gathered all these pics without moving my butt from my chair thanks to the internet. But if you have copyrights issue with these pics, please do let me know.


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