When GST was introduced in July 2017, our restaurant bills started showing 18% GST. Many folks started sharing the bills online and slowly a narrative was sought to be built that we are paying an exorbitant tax, now that GST has come! It was amazing to me that how could we forget that just a day earlier, we were paying 21% in taxes (VAT, ST, ST on VAT!). Today, that particular tax is 5% only. If we were so cynical and outraged about being taxed at even 18%, have you ever wondered why we don’t celebrate the lower taxes we pay now?
We outrage when we have new knowledge of 12% tax on Sanitary pads. Yet, we do not acknowledge the fact that these were earlier taxed at 15% and then don’t celebrate when the tax is bought down to 0%. We outrage when our politicians fight against each other, but never celebrate when they come together for 31 times in 20 months to implement the biggest ever tax reform of Independent India.
We outrage when GDP growth sees a temporary dip, but don’t celebrate when the growth picks back within the year. We outrage when don’t find a place in the top 10, but don’t celebrate when we become the 6th largest economy in the world. We outrage when we are ranked 144 in ease of doing business, but remain cynical and don’t celebrate when we reach 77.
We outrage with memes when our Prime Minister travels abroad. We don’t celebrate when India pioneers innovation through International Solar Alliance. We don’t celebrate when India enters into “Currency swap” agreements with major powers like Japan and the UAE. We outrage when our Prime Minister affectionately hugs other leaders, but we don’t celebrate the many unprecedented benefits of the visits by our Prime Minister.
We outrage on “Made in China” but don’t celebrate “Make in India”. Look around us – today we have almost every major automobile company manufacturing in India (Ford, Nissan, Honda, Hyundai, Suzuki, Volkswagen, General Motors, Mercedes etc); almost every mobile company is now manufacturing their phones in India; Boeing has begun to manufacture in India; Khadi sales are up – yet we remain cynical when someone comments on Make in India.
We don’t celebrate the fact that thousands of Indians gained employment while constructing the world’s tallest statue of India’s tallest leader. We don’t celebrate the fact that the tourism potential of the world’s tallest statue will create immense opportunities in the lives of many poor. Instead, we outrage. We outrage because our definition of helping the poor is still restricted to giving them free money, so we remain cynical and ask – but how will this help feed the poor?
We outrage on bad loans to industrialists, but don’t celebrate when more than ₹80,000 crores of that money come back into our banking system. We outrage on a loss of ₹5000 crores, but don’t celebrate when Jan Dhan accounts bring in nearly INR 85,000 crores into our banking system.
We outrage on demonetisation, but don’t celebrate the cancellation of more than 3 lakh bogus companies and their directors. In fact, our media told us that the cancellation of licenses is a veiled threat to comply with the law! We outrage on our informal sector, but don’t celebrate the nearly 8 lakh additions per month to EPFO. We outrage on taxes, but don’t celebrate the nearly 3 crore additional tax returns filed. Neither do we celebrate the savings due to the reduction of the taxes. We outrage on lack of jobs, but don’t celebrate the spirit of crores of Indians who have enthusiastically embraced entrepreneurship through MUDRA, Standup India, and Startup India.
We outrage on Air India’s losses, but don’t celebrate when 35 new airports are made operational. We outrage on Air India’s pricing, but don’t celebrate UDAN which enabled lakhs of common people to take a flight journey for the first time, and many times. We outrage during accidents, but don’t celebrate the significant strides made in making Indian Railways safer.
We outrage when India’s National Security Advisor is made to head a key security agency, but never celebrate the efforts he has put in to prevent terrorist attacks in the country. We outrage on how AFSPA is misused, but never celebrate when a conducive situation gets created to withdraw it.
We outrage when we lose internet connectivity for 5 minutes, but never celebrate when more than 1 lakh of our villages got connected with an optical fibre network. We outrage when drought comes, but don’t celebrate innovative programs like Jal Yukt Shivir or Mission Kakateeya. We outrage on poor medical facilities, but don’t celebrate when more than 2.5 lakh fellow citizens get free dialysis treatment.
We outrage on linking Aadhar to our bank account, but don’t celebrate the INR 90,000 crores saved by the government of India, by linking our Aadhar to our bank accounts. We outrage on politicians living in lavish bungalows, but don’t celebrate when nearly 1500 of them are evacuated.
We outrage and ask “Where is my tax money going”, but don’t celebrate when our fellow citizens living in 18,000 villages get access to electricity for the first time. Leave aside outrage, we couldn’t even acknowledge the fact our friends from the northeastern states didn’t even have basic rail and road connectivity as recently as 4 years back. And we are so busy outraging that we forgot celebrating when our friends from North East get roads and railways for the first time.
In the months of October and November, fuel prices touched historically high prices. Today, in December, fuel prices are below what we used to pay in 2013. If you were outraged and cynical about our polity for high prices, shouldn’t you be equally appreciative and celebrate of the low prices today, just in a matter of weeks?
I can go on and on. We outrage. We never celebrate. I only hope that the next time we outrage, we pause for a bit and think twice. Maybe we have more cause to celebrate than outrage.