Noel Ellis's Official Blog

I wield the pen to explore the vastness of the human mind

Category: TAXES

PERCEPTION & REALITY

I was sitting in a closing meeting of ISO certification the other day. The lead auditor was a Bengali and a senior citizen. He appeared to be very transparent and upright, the way he had spelt out conduct the audit. At the end of a two day gruelling process we all were awaiting the pearls of wisdom from him.

In the industry, I find that all these ISO certifications are a must if you really mean business. There are some companies which have a clause inserted in their business plan that they won’t do any business with companies without these certifications. It is not surprising though all these auditors have a standard check list, in addition they get hold of your standing operating procedures and then start picking holes in your system one by one. At the end of the day every Industry fears for a thing called NCs (non-compliances) which are Major NC and Minor NC. Let me not get into the nitty-gritty’s now.

I also happened to find out that there are quite a few agencies that do this accreditation and most of them are based in US of A or UK. Isn’t it surprising? An industry in India is being certified to the satisfaction of these countries that have no clue how our industry actually functions.

Manpower is the first thing which is axed in all industries. They want a lean mean fighting machine. Asking for overtime is a taboo. Working late is routine and expected. You have to be multi tasking with ten hands of Goddess Durga. The work which should be done today should have finished last week. The reports and statistics need to be produced in past tense. The beauty is that people still produce them. Aim is to show you are working basically covering your backside by sending mails.

Let’s come to social accountability. Is anyone responsible for the manager category? The whole system is worker oriented. It is assumed that the industry would be taking care of its managers automatically. The truth is very far from it. Then comes the union bazi, well lesser said the better about it. In all my experience, I have only seen union leaders taking the goonda approach or are kept shut with money depending upon the number of workers and the size of the industry. People talk about food basket, minimum wages, statutory compliances, safety procedures etc. Do they really mean what they say?

Problem with us Indians is that we want to ape what the US manual says without giving it due thought about comparative resources which are made available there. Their mind set, their culture needs to be taken into considerations. Above all they are far more honest and far less corrupt than us.

Environment is an issue; the watch dogs want every industry to produce only oxygen and pure water as its waste. One micron this side or that side there will be hell to pay. Issue doesn’t end here as these microns are managed by cash or kind. The boiler inspector will not even boil a cup of tea in the container but certify things as if they are straight out of the sauce pan. I was not aware that a job like a lift operator needs a certificate from an authorised institution, like a drivers licence. More are the compliances more is the outflow of cash, plus stay in company guest houses on the house.

I got cheesed off at this auditor mentioned about retired “sarkari karamchari”. As per him they only take a hefty pension without having worked. His brother gets a good pension working at “CHEETOROUNJAAN LOKHOMOTEEBS”. Then he started off on the income tax he has to pay. All of that is eaten up by government people especially the forces. These were the pearls which ultimately fell. I lost my shirt and told him that friend I gave my yesterday for your today. If you cannot be grateful for our services then you have no business to utter what you are uttering. The irony was many of the employees started agreeing that all their taxes are eaten up by government people especially from the forces and why are they penalised for it.

I walked out of the hall feeling hurt, that imagine what the civilian psyche is. As if they are the only ones paying to run this country. They seem to be ashamed to pay tax for the forces. They will never understand what each person in uniform went through. These people have been static, lived in a secure environment, getting hefty pays and getting the best of facilities with his family, with children getting best of education, contributing zero to nation building.

I really felt sad about the knowledge these people have about the forces. Should I waste time to teach them about what the armed forces are all about? I wonder!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

LOTUS LOTUS EVERYWHERE

Today, I think there are only four out of 29 which are BJP free states. When are they going to be conquered, well let me not conjecture? Slowly and steadily they have been taking objective after objective in military parlance. In case they have not been able to destroy and decimate the opposition, they have been able to get enough foot hold to make their presence felt and even align with a few to form governments even if they are diagonally opposite in ideologies. Now, sooner or later the lotus is going to change its colour from pink to saffron.

A few things which I want them to achieve if they want to really do justice to the mandate they are getting. I know they have not been able to create jobs, I know they have not been able to sort out Pakistan or China. “Achhe din” are nowhere on the horizon. Well, that should not deter them to sort out Kashmir at least. They need to bring in uniform civil code. If nothing else they should do away with reservations of any kind.

You make us wear saffron, no issues we shall consider it as an Indian uniform. You make us do yoga, no worries again, as churning my stomach, twisting and entangling my hands with my feet is a distant dream for me. You want us to chant shlokas, no sweat; the only thing is that someone will have to explain to most of us what it means. We will sing Vande Matram, we will shout Jai Hind. We will stand for Jana Gana Mana without debate. The only problem with me would be to change to a complete vegetarian; Thori gunjaish rakhna bhai is main. I promise to eat my vegetables and salads with curds in the afternoon. Actually with age catching up I have no choice but to listen to the doctor’s advice.

The experiment stage of BJP government is over. This I say in case of GST and de-re-monetisation. Now any further experiments would be at the peril of something. Can we have free flow of goods between states? Can we have better storage of grains and cold store chains for all perishable goods? Can we have better policing? Can we have better politicians? Can ladies be safe? Can education be abundant and free? Can law and order be maintained? Can judicial cases be disposed off quickly? Can we eliminate the corrupt and corruption? Can we breathe pure air, drink pure water and milk? Can we get unadulterated medicines? Can medical treatment be affordable for all? Can everyone have a home? Can everyone have dal-roti at least? Can we all communally unite under the lotus?

I have asked for too much. I am being too idealistic. So let me then get down to mother earth in true Indian style. Let me move with the current, manipulate what I can, influence where I should, lick and get my work done, butter the correct side of the toast or maybe butter both sides, get a Tigrrum (jack) for all my needs, bribe my way through, get hold of a good lawyer to see me through in any court, get a good CA to help me file zero income tax return. Get hold of someone in the police who can bail me out in crisis, last but not the least get hold of a mai-baap the politician, who’s one word on telephone or a letter on his letterhead will do the trick. If still I am stuck then use his paplu (personal staff) for that personal favour.

Nay, I can’t do that. It is not in my blood. I would rather die than do all the above. However, how can I contribute my bit to nation building? I pay my taxes and EMI regularly without default. I obey traffic rules. I wear my helmet and seat belt as a drill. I have linked anything and everything to my adhar card. I do swach bharat from my heart. I motivate people to be good citizens. I use the shauchalaya even if I have to bear the stink in the sulabh. I save water, petrol and electricity as much as I can. I do not litter and sometimes I admonish people who litter as their birthright. I plant trees for the environment. I am sure there would be many like me.

Well, any party and its ideology don’t matter to me but what matters to me are my fellow citizens, their welfare, safety and security. If the lotus can achieve it, I am for it but if I have to bear the brunt of paying for someone who runs away with my hard earned money from my paid taxes, I will not tolerate it. Can I do anything about it? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

WATCHMEN AND AUDITORS

Malya’s and Modi’s have taken this country for a ride because our chowkidars were sleeping. At least king of good times gave good times to many. I wish I was in his circuit when his times were good. At least my beer belly could be blamed on someone. I would love to enjoy at least a few weeks of your hospitality. Thereafter, let people blame you for swindling, I won’t even think of writing about it. That’s a promise.

Mr Modi, jewellery wale, I have fallen in love with diamonds. I always want to give one diamond piece to my wife every year. Till now I have never been able to go beyond one tiny earring. Today, the situation is such that I don’t even step into a jewellery shop. Basically for two reasons, one that hope this jeweller will not scoot moment he has made enough. Two, I just can’t afford it. May I request you to present a fistful of diamonds to let my wish come true? I know you have a heart of gold.

Coming to your name sake who is running this country. He is definitely doing sewa of all the gareeb, shoshit, vanchit, peerit only. I the common man is nowhere on his agenda. The moneyed men, he has on his cross wire is perfectly fine with me. The man who is actually bearing the brunt of this firing is the middle class. I don’t even have money to book my ticket and run to Bangkok. On second thoughts why should I run, I never did any hanky-panky. I am actually taxing myself by paying all sorts of taxes. Why am I on PMs Sniper’s scope? I don’t know.

Be that as it may, the desh ke chowkidar reminds me of security guards in most of our housing societies. Invariably they are old, retired and looking for some time pass in their twilight years of life. One guard’s wife confessed to me that “Buddha doesn’t sleep at night; he will do a good job guarding your assets”. We in India select or rather elect our own security guards. Their performance is generally far below expectations. They may not have the requisite qualifications or temperament and they do not have a magic wand either. Last seventy years we have been experimenting with our chowkidars. It should not take us a hundred to finally decide whom to keep.

A typical security wala is given a chair, a danda, a head gear and a tie. He sits there day and night looking at his mobile or gazing at people passing by. The only thing he actually secures is his attendance register, where he signs and shows it to the supervisor. He is never briefed except one odd day a trainer comes and makes him do savdhan, vishram. Poor chap will not know how to wear a belt even. He will invariably be wearing plastic shoes. Shaving is out of question. Half the time he would be on an errand of someone, either to walk the dogs or get dhaniya & paneer. He does look forward to some bakshsish on holi & Diwali and maybe someone who can give him a bottle of cold water and a left over meal.

The buildings security is actually ram bharose or on the street dog who has adopted the building. Who comes, who goes & who does what, is not the guards concern? He is only responsible to open the water connections at the correct time or all hell will break lose. Now, if the society is India and the guard is anybody’s guess. What should we expect?

Today, all these frauds are blamed on audit. Well lesser said the better about audits. It is the same whether it is a safety or a security audit. Yes, audits are conducted on paper. When a tragedy happens army is called to build foot over bridges where as the audit reports bite dust for years.

Financial audits are also a kind of hog wash. Auditors are supposed to find irregularities and suggest remedial measures. Audit reports run into many pages. Presentations are made, follow ups are done. Sometimes, dictates’ that not more than three audit observations will be accepted. Non compliances are an absolute no-no. Auditors are “entertained & looked after”. A fee is set. This is at whose cost?

Now that an audit regulatory body has been made, the government can refer cases to them. My view is that this is cosmetics to give employment to a few. Initially as a new broom there will be lot of sweeping. Slowly they too will be put into place.

Do we need an efficient, non corrupt chowkidars and auditors? Or do we need people who understand and know how to manipulate the system. They constantly keep the poor common man guessing, confused, illiterate and divided? When will we understand this simple thing? I wonder!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

DREAMING OF BUDGET 2019

As budget is approaching I am getting a little excited. At least this year I hope to add a few bucks to my savings without the government poking its nose and sniffing out every rupee I save. Not that a single pai is hidden from them. Everything is in their knowledge and everything is taxed, my pay, my pension, my FDs, even my arrears too have been “axed” at source. I actually get a little sceptic when I do not see achhe din (AD) on the horizon even after being taxed so heavily.

Definition of AD will vary from person to person. A farmer will give you a very different story; a soldier will tell you his version. For an industrialist it is the EBITDA (Earnings before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortisation) or whatever that means, for me is what have I saved at the end of the month after paying all undy-fundy taxes and EMIs.

I, the common man needed a roof on my head that meant I take a home loan that meant I live from EMI to EMI. The bank is charging me exorbitant interest. After having paid my loan for ten years now I still find I have yet not paid the full interest back. By when will I pay the principal amount, intrigues me?

Just in case I kicked the bucket the banks insisted that you insure every EMI. I did that at a premium. Then one fine day the bank approached me that the interest rates have reduced will you be interested in changing your plan. My face lit up and I fell for it and I paid a premium again. When I checked the bank’s website recently it still doesn’t say that the tenure of your loan has been reduced. I spoke to my inner self and decided to just stay happy. At least I have a roof on my head.

The story doesn’t end here as I stay far away from my home. I pay society & maintenance charges every month. If I miss out they charge me interest. Besides they have installed an electricity meter recently, though I have yet not fitted a single light bulb but have to pay the electricity bill with a penalty. I think I will have to live with it.

The situation today is that during the good old days gol-guppa’s were ten to a rupee which is exactly the opposite today. I wish the value of my money too would have sky rocketed the same way. The only saving grace is that our thelawala doesn’t charge GST but go to a restaurant you have no choice but to pay for the sake of your country.

This is a crucial year for the government so I also expect it to be a popular budget. After all it is a question of our votes for elections 2019. I can be rest assured there would be some more taxes. I am hopeful though I should get some relief on the direct taxes that I pay. Some slabs will be tampered with, some good English will be spoken in the parliament, some boo-booing will happen and the budget will be passed. Rest of the sessions will be drowned in the usual hungama that happens. Common mans “uncommon representative” would do a “peaceful but boisterous” protest. Parliamentary proceedings will be disrupted. Sessions will be adjourned in the garb of democratic rights by loud sloganeering and walking out to have their hot cuppa tea, can’t expect much from them.

Cigarette smokers will stock up fags as they know particular brands will be in short supply. The pan wala will ensure more than adequate stocks are available including home delivery but at a premium. Same will be the case with wine shops. Everybody knows that these are two items will be taxed to the hilt. Will it reduce the number of smokers and drinkers is a different matter altogether?

Somehow, the common man is the biggest stake holder in the unorganised sector as per the PM. From a labourer to a fisherman, to a helper in a garment shop, to an outsourced housekeeper everyone has big hopes from the government. The industrialist, the entrepreneur, the auto wala to a bus river to a brick klin worker all want to live well, all want to educate their children, all want safe drinking water and good health services above all they all want to save a little for the marriage of their children, if not the rainy day.

If DAVOS will help I have no issues, if BHRAMOS will help I have no issues either but if every Indian has to vote for a “false promise” of achhe din then I have an issue. If communal politics will be the foundation of our democracy then I have an issue as well? Will someone clarify? I wonder!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

CHAI LASSI AND KHICHIRI WHEN MIXED MAKES GST

I am totally enlightened after a marathon session of changes in the GST announced by the FM yesterday on TV. So far so that even if I don’t like to pay even a pai as tax I have been motivated to pay advance GST till the time this government’s tenure is over. You may ask me why? Well, let me pay it and be done with it. Tomorrow if the council decides to increase the rates I will just have to pay only the difference, in any case if tax rates are lowered I am on the safe side. Thora ziada de bhi diya to koi vanda nahi.

I used to love saying abracadabra, as what will come out of jaitley ki kaitley is never known. The kaitley is symbolic for dishing out chai, isn’t it. Naturally when his boss is an expert on this beverage his FM better dole out the best but I found him making lassi earlier and now it is khichri of kinds.

Actually my mind got all mixed up with this fresh GST announcement. I also found GST being diluted in a way or was it catering for some state elections. The spiced up concoction which was laid for the country turned out to be unpalatable for many. Thus as the lady of the house does on the quiet, once she gets the taste of it she tells the bai thora pani daal do. Two things happen then. The same now can be eaten with ease by more people & many can be satisfied with the quantities given out. The choice is spicy khichri, less spicy khichri or watery khichri. You better eat what is served. Right!

In the same breadth, I have an apprehension that if the govt finds that the tax collection is reducing now, as now government will be collecting Rs 20,000 crores less, so how will this loss be made up. Possibly some khichiri ingredients might be tempered with. Say if you can afford a room of more than Rs 7000 a night clearly indicates one is in the top bracket of pay packets, therefore, the government may tell you to pay additional before you check in. Government will make up its numbers by hook or by crook. I have decided I will find a relative or a friend in case I have to go somewhere, Jaitley ji you can keep spicing up your khichiri, I will find a jugad to circumvent it.

I have also decided not to use after shave. Sir, I shall go back to the good old days to use “Fitkari” after shaving. Perfumes I cannot afford. I shall try not to smell bad so you better provide me AC trains to commute. Reduced taxes on Chewing gum may only reduce bad odour from my mouth.

You will be glad to know that I don’t pay any “sin” tax. I kicked the habit of smoking and drinking long ago. The beauty is that you cannot charge me tax for calling you names. Till date I tried my best, worked hard and sincerely paid my taxes. I could never reach the figure of One crore including assets and property in my name. Business acumen I do not have but the only business I love to do is to love my country. A few lakhs which I have saved for enjoying in future I might as well use up fast or else tomorrow you might levy another tax on me.

I find that what you do is smart jiggrey-poggrey of words. The council you have created is responsible for all that you announce and not the government per se. The centre has 1/3rd votes, rest 2/3rd are with the states. Every state has one vote irrespective of its size. Decisions are made by 3/4th majority. 18 states you already have in your kitty. Life is balle balle for the government. BJP states cannot say no, centre government votes are secure then if you mix water in the khichiri or ghee makes no difference. Even if the Khichri becomes all meshed up due to overcooking that no ingredient is recognisable makes no difference either as there is no way one can avoid it.

My only humble submission to you is sir; I don’t mind you experimenting with the country’s money. However, the common man needs respite from exorbitant prices of everything. He wants to taste this khichri but the poor fellow is not capable to reach the dining table. The government can if it wants to add the best of tarka but why is the government taking back so much tax from us. Besides why are the basic ingredients like dal, chawal, namak, haldi getting out of hand of a common man? I wonder!!!!!!

JAI HIND

IN CONVERSATION WITH CATHERINE

Catherine and I were driving down to Alibaug over the weekend when we struck up a conversation. I was listening to the stereo and my wife was appreciating the music system and the stereo effects. Catherine was not enjoying the drive at all; actually the same was the case with me. Reasons were many. One was the dilapidated condition of the road and the pot holes. Besides, the village dogs accosting us barking at their loudest and snarling with their dirty teeth. Hens along with their chicks thought the road was for them.  Worst of all was the chaotic traffic jams. Above all the weekend crowd who were pouring into our territory by the dozens. They were blocking traffic in garb of purchasing something or asking for directions in these narrow alleys. Quite a frustrating kind of a drive it was all in low gear.

I ignored her and kept my concentration on driving but there were pieces of the conversation which kept striking me again and again as she asked me the first question. Have you paid road tax? I said yes and that to a hefty amount. After a pause she asked me, why are there so many pot holes then? I had no answer. She told me, Noel, please take me out on a long and majestic drive, where the road surface is smooth, maybe on expressways where the thrill of driving can be enjoyed. It appears that here every time we venture out she is worried about checking out how long will the suspension hold and she told me that this way it won’t take long to give away. I just kept quiet and listened.

The next question she asked me that do you pay toll tax? I told her yes and where ever my ID card works I don’t. She said never mind, you have actually paid life time toll tax by serving the Indian Army, so I won’t ask you again, however, she continued to say that where does this toll money  collected  from the other vehicles disappear. I said I don’t know and continued focusing on the oncoming traffic and the huge potholes.

I was wondering to myself, that last year I saw lot of work going on this road. I used to have a smooth ride but where has the road vanished. This must be happening year after year and taxes which were being collected going down the drain. I again started to listen to the stereo and this time I changed the channel of my choice. I got lost in the music and lyrics as we were getting close to our destination.

Catherine was in a chirpy mood and threw another question at me. She said do you pay income tax? I replied in the affirmative. I am sure that some portion of that must also be allocated to the development of infrastructure in this country. I said surely it must be the case, I am not sure of the percentages. She appeared to be questioning the government head on. She continued to quiz me, see why there are so many accidents on the road? I said reckless driving! She said yes, just then two bikes whizzed past overtaking us from the wrong side and missed hitting us by a whisker. The basic reason is that the infrastructure is not being planned as per our expansion of population she said. I could not agree with her more. Her observation was that our population is exploding and so is purchase of vehicles but government is not making better and broader roads. I said yes. After a while she said, it is time for the government to wake up and I just kept mum.

A little ahead Catherine again poked me. I said now what and she said, you pay income tax, professional tax, GST and all the other taxes which the tax man can think of. I replied to her that it appears that you have got hold of a book on finance. She wanted to know where each and every pie went. I actually didn’t know. I looked at the setting sun from out of the window and thought to myself that yes she is right; over these years I couldn’t even hide one paisa of my income and all my taxes go down the drain, without much of accountability and returns.

At last Catherine blurted, I don’t want to be a dented and painted car for no fault of mine. I told her that I shall definitely convey her concerns to the people who matter. I then requested her to just keep quiet for a while as my wife watched the moon rise from the other side. I switched over to John Denver singing “Country Roads, take me home”, on the car stereo.

JAI HIND

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