My wife and me were travelling for attending some wine-related event along a western suburb route in Mumbai recently.
It was 6:30 PM on a Saturday and the traffic was horrendous. We were chatting and talking about everything under the sun. As usual, the talk veered around to the traffic, lack of governance in law enforcement, and the terrible state of Mumbai roads, especially in the suburbs.
On a particularly rough stretch of the road, my wife turned around and asked me a pointed question – why should we pay taxes, when the government seems to be taking care of high-profile people only, even ensuring that the road stretches in front of the famous peoples’ homes are maintained well and smooth, while the proletariat are left to suffer………
I thought about that observation for a moment, and realized that the protests for various things in India have not reached the stage of non-payment of taxes for getting what the citizens want in return. Yes, taxes are paid for ensuring country’s development, not just for keeping some important people happy and paying the wages of millions of government workers who are yet to learn to respect the citizens and their normal needs.
We talked further about the taxes and their impact on a poor country like India – is the money really flowing to develop the infrastructure and the environment and make India a better place for its citizens ? all its citizens ? not just for the rich and famous ??
For a globalized city like Mumbai, which pays over 40% of India’s income and corporate taxes, the situation on the roads leads one to believe we are firmly rooted in the third world. I am not just referring to the broken roads, lack of pavements, enforcement of traffic signal rules, et al. I am also talking about the thousands of people who have made Mumbai roads as their homes – the slum-dwellers who sleep on the pavement (or whatever is left of it).
It behooves all of us to think seriously and purposefully to advise the government on the right steps it has to take in resolving some of these intractable issues. If we are not able to do so, what is the use of all our educational qualifications, experience and money ?
Let us think !
13th January 2013