View from New Delhi: Taxpayers and JNU Controversy

Sections of Indian taxpayers will do well to pay attention to the huge waste of national resources going on under Prime Minister Modi's watch than targeting the students of Jawaharlal Nehru University for their opinion.

Posted on 02/17/16
By Shubhda Chaudhary | Via ViewsWeek
(Photo via FB post by Pashupati Nath)
(Photo via FB post by Pashupati Nath)

Amidst the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) row, the Indian taxpayers have surfaced as ultra-nationalists and utterly self-righteous. According to them, beneficiaries of subsidies should not voice dissent, and if they do, they will be easily labeled as ‘parasites’, along with being ‘anti-nationals’.

 

Yet, most tax-payers do not have any qualms with IITs (Indian Institutes of Technology) and IIMs (Indian Institutes of Management) that massively contribute to India’s rising brain drain, but instead their products are considered as ‘idols’.

 

The former CFO and head of HR at Infosys, Mohandas Pai, wrote an opinion piece in which he stated “Students should pay the full cost of education if they wish to focus on politics and not on their studies.” But can Pai criticize, as he himself made a fortune in the industry of information technology which enjoyed a tax holiday from 1991 to 2011.

 

Neeraj Thakur (one of India’s leading financial journalist) points out how under Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) scheme, IT companies were not only exempted from paying the corporate tax that ranges between 25% and 33%, they were also provided cheap land to set up those parks. Vineet Thakur (a scholar of International politics) states that 36.5 trillion rupees was the corporate ‘karza maafi’ two years ago (for the previous nine years) and RBI (Reserve Bank of India) has added Rs 114,000 crores for the past three years. One day of corporate ‘karza maafi’ is more than the entire budget of JNU.

 

But why aren’t the taxpayers complaining about Rs 114,000 crores in taxes going to bad debts, Rs 98,000 crore to bullet train, Rs 2,000 crore to Shivaji statue, Rs 3000 crores to Sardar Patel statue, Rs 35 crore annually on Modi’s foreign trips, 32 crore on yoga day, Rs 50 crore on the anniversary of NDA government, one crore rupees on failed “selfie with daughter” campaign? Or about Rs. 280 crores reportedly spent by the government of India to subsidize the air fare of 100,000 Hajj pilgrims? Or for that matter, the tax-payers money going for VIP visits?

 

Nishtha Jain rightfully questions: “And you are talking about the paltry money spent on a JNU student which is way less than the cost of a suit worn by Modi. By the way his famous name suit cost Rs 10 lakhs while per unit cost of JNU student is Rs. 233,194.”

 

This kind of understanding stems out from two already accepted ideologies. Firstly, as if the parents of JNU students themselves don’t pay taxes, no matter whether they are Hindus, Muslims, Christians or Dalits! This grave misunderstanding is endowing this superiority to the deluded tax-payers of today who believe that they are the most self-righteous of the lot. Secondly, the second misconception is that JNU graduates, perhaps, themselves don’t pay taxes after leaving the Alma Mater. Where does this kind of misconception surface from? Is it the lack of knowledge or just attempt to bandwagon and foolishly criticize the JNU students, on whatever account that might be?

 

In the current JNU row, what is more important is to debate how the police, dressed in plain clothes, could enter the university and arrest Kanhaiya Kumar, the President of JNUSU on the draconian charges of sedition and criminal conspiracy when they had no evidence. Secondly, ‘sedition’, cannot be charged until and unless a mob is incited for violence, which certainly was not the case in JNU.

 

So, dear taxpayers, please shut-up! You should be much more concerned where your money is being spent, rather than just targeting JNU. It does not serve any purpose.

 

Shubhda Chaudhary is a PhD Scholar in JNU. She specialises in Middle Eastern Politics.
Can be reached at 
shubhda.chaudhary@gmail.com

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