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The Hindu continues to peddle the North-South divide based on lies peddled by Communist Party leader and JNU prof: 15th Finance Commission report and the truth

The Wire started this lie. The Business Standard picked it up. Not to be left behind, Shekhar Gupta called North India as a tax burden on South India. The Hindu has been running it ever since. Divisive politicians have been using these lies to propagate their own agenda. How many more times will The Hindu continue to publish the same lies? 

Just about 15 days back, The Hindu published an article on an imaginary North-South divide and we had given a detailed rebuttal to it. In the conclusion of that article, we had written that “It is tiresome to listen to their repeated lies but then it is also important to repeatedly counter their lies too.”

Looks like someone at The Hindu took this conclusion seriously and wanted to test if we would really repeatedly counter their repeated lies! And so, on the exact same topic, they publish yet another tripe on October 20th.  This time, they interview two known suspects – one is a former Finance minister from the Communist party (Thomas Issac) and another is a former professor from JNU (Balveer Arora). 

Thomas Issafc, who sadly was a Finance Minister once, opens his argument with an outright lie – that there are only two criteria defined by the Finance Commission on how to devolve funds to the States. 

We have repeatedly busted this lie but there just seems to be no end to the freedom that The Hindu and their ilk provide to these serial liars. The 15th Finance Commission has the following 6 criteria on which it decides how best to devolve the funds to the states in India. 

Income Distance and Population from the 2011 census are just 2 of those criteria. States that have done well on Forest and Ecology, Demographic performance and Tax Effort actually get rewarded better by the 15th Finance Commission – which is basically the key demand of these folks! It is intriguing to see this ilk assume that the people of this country will not have access to such basic information, and therefore they can simply publish lies and get away with it. 

The opening argument of the other interviewee, Balveer Aurora, is even more hilarious. In his infinite wisdom, he says – “if the population basis is being shifted from 1971 to a new figure, the weightage of the population can be adjusted. It is not written in stone that it has to remain the same”. 

Guess what – the weightage to the population in the 13th FC report was 25%. That report used the 1971 census as a reference (Yes, even for the period 2010 to 2015, we used the 1971 census as a reference!). The weightage to the population in the 15th FC report was 15%. That report used the 2011 census as a reference (Finally, the much-needed correction was made). So, when the population basis was shifted from 1971 to 2011, the weightage given only to the population had already been adjusted from 25% to 15%. How does the former Professor from a reputed university like JNU miss such basic information before making such banal arguments? 

After years of providing a platform for such hate mongers, The Hindu decides for the first time that they will ask a factual question on this subject – and hence pose the question to Thomas Issac:

Thomas Issac goes on a verbal tirade that doesn’t answer the question. He continues to claim that “Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu” are at a loss. This argument that states are at a “loss” has been made by politicians from other states too. KCR’s son, KTR, for example, claims that while Telangana paid 3.68 lakh crores to the central government, it only got back 1.68 lakh crores in return. He went to the extent of calling everyone who countered this fallacious argument “ignoramuses”. 

This set me thinking. In this particular example, the INR 3.68 lakh crores is the amount that people of India, specifically residing in Telangana, have paid as Tax directly to the Government of India. From this amount, a total of 1.78 lakh crore rupees have been transferred to the Government of Telangana, by the Government of India. KTR makes it sound like 3.68 lakh crores is the tax paid by the government of Telangana to the government of India. Thomas Issac also sounds similar in his arguments.

Let’s for a moment just buy this argument. If Telangana paid 3.68 lakh crores to the Government of India, how come only 1.78 lakh crores have come back to the government? Because this amount does not include the 1.08 lakh crore spent directly by GoI on roads in Telangana alone. It does not include the 1.58 lakh crore spent directly by GoI on procuring Paddy and Cotton from Telangana alone. It does not include the nearly 1 lakh crore spent on Infrastructure such as railways, power, energy, irrigation etc for Telangana alone. It does not include thousands of crores spent on welfare scheme beneficiaries in Telangana alone. A rough calculation pegs this amount to about 8.3 lakh crores! 

Am sure such similar numbers exist for Kerala too. The reason so many numbers for Telangana are known is that Union Minister G. Kishan Reddy released a detailed 320 slide presentation with all these numbers to counter the baseless arguments of KCR and his family. The moot point is that these divisive politicians and media are framing the debate in terms of a balance sheet of money alone. And in the garb of making an argument, they are simply falling back on the same lies again and again. 

The Hindu has been at the forefront of spreading these lies. Pompous editorials and Op-Eds questioning even the “constitutional propriety” of the 15th FC began back in 2018. In fact, this particular article even made the argument that the terms of reference for the 15th Finance Commission could have been silent on which population census to use. The Wire started this lie. The Business Standard picked it up. Not to be left behind, Shekhar Gupta called North India a tax burden on South India. The Hindu has been running it ever since. Divisive politicians have been using these lies to propagate their own agenda. How many more times will The Hindu continue to publish the same lies? 

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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S. Sudhir Kumar
S. Sudhir Kumar
Obsessive eater, Compulsive sleeper, Repulsive Writer

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