Saturday, February 03, 2007

If we have more billionaries now, poverty will end by 2040

This is the argument the Indian Finance Minister seemed to making when he was interviewed by the BBC. Apparently only 25 percent of Indians live under $1 a day (about 250 million people). They will all come out of poverty via "trickle down" and of course, the call centers, the magical salvation for us all!

Actually the BBC interview was quite wrong in trying to connect Tata Steel's take over of Corus directly to India's poverty. This is one of the simplicities I so abhor..Tata is simply playing the game according to the current rules and doing well at it. The Finance Minister's job is to assess, and if necessary, alter the rules of the game so that it promotes public interest, and at the very least, to minimize possible conflicts between public and private interests. The least the BBC could do - rather than telling the world how deeply they care about India's poor rather than Ratan Tata's economic prowess, was to ask the FM about taxation. How was he planning to tax the newly created wealth? Does not require great progressive vision, does it? For the longest time, Indian governments have figured out excellent ways to deduct tax-at-source, mostly for middle-class Indians. But agrarian incomes, professions, and businesses remain disproportionately undertaxed vis-a-vis the working middle class.

Another simple question: is he doing anything to protect real wages from falling? The National Sample Surveys raise some important concerns in this regard. Stay tuned

1 comment:

ishani said...

Hey!!! We're already paying enough taxes...please don't put such ideas into FM's head at this pre-budget critical juncture.