Capital times – 3

I attended a book release function on Monday, 23rd. It was a book on taxation, and was released by Sri P Chidambaram, Finance Minister of India. Speaking on the occasion, Mr Chidambaram tried to allay the apprehensions that people have about taxes. Quipping about the comparison that is made between death and taxes (the two inevitable things), he said that there is “life after taxes”. Putting taxation in perspective, he quoted the adage that taxes are the price that one pays for ‘a civilised society’. Amen for that.

The next day’s front page in most local newspapers carried reports of this gang of biker-thugs who ran amok in the heart of the capital. And this apparently is not uncommmon. Around 150 or 200 bike brigands struck terror at Connaught Place, late hours of Sunday night / early hours of Monday morning. They harassed common people, beat up a cameraman, refused to pay at an eatery, fought with the police…Some 45 of the brigands were arrested.

The same papers carried another article about the previous day in one of the state assemblies where the Chief Minister got into an argument with the leader of opposition.Things became very heated, and the CM went on to say that he would expose all the opposition leaders misdeeds and make him “repent having come out of his mother’s womb”..
One is not surprised anymore when one reads of scuffles in the legislature, mikes being thrown etc.

Well, I did go to dictionary dot com to figure out whether they had a new definition for the word ‘civilised’. Doesn’t look like it. Still talks of ‘a high state of culture and development’, and ‘marked by refinement in taste and manners; cultivated speech’…

So, if taxes are the price one pays for a civilised society, we have two choices. Increase the tax rate steeply, and hope that the price is adequate. Or change the definition of the word ‘civilised’.

Any suggestions?


3 Responses to “Capital times – 3”

  1. Srinivasa Says:

    Excellent article written in the spirit of ‘The law is an ass’ which your late lamented father, Dr V Gaurishankar, would have appreciated keenly as would anyone else with the knowledge of law or of Charles Dickens πŸ™‚

    This sets me on another train of thought. Recently in 1995, I used to go about saying that “Three things are inevitable – Death, Taxes and the Year 2000”. In fact I once did a 16 city tour of the US on this platform. Year 2000 then was the price one paid for a civilized (i.e., computerized) society. We i.e., my fellow travelers in the Year 2000 gravy train and I, almost said that though not so effectively. But then we were engaged in making converts not debating points.

    But this civil society also has its biker gangs in the form of programmers who do not unit test code (resident primarily offshore), who open data base connections inside iterative procedures and do not close them πŸ™‚ etc.

    We need to defend civil society against the depredations of such marauders. As someone once said, ‘dharmo rakshati rakshitah’, samskara and civil society can protect each other. So we need coding samskara for offshore programmers, not coding standards. The latter is just like hiking taxes – it merely gives rise to large scale evasion.

    Coding samskara is a set of interlocking mutual obligations between programmers and the computerized societies. They nurture each other.

  2. gkamesh Says:


    Lovely comment. I really like the ‘coding samskara’ bit. This is a deep one and deserves some deep thought. For one, perhaps we need to consider whether the word ‘offshore’ needs to be dropped from the dictionary. What is offshore in the e-world?


  3. krishashok Says:

    πŸ™‚ Kamesh,
    One of our esteemed competitors has already beaten us to that definition I am afraid. They are saying – “Forget offshore or nearshore, we will find the rightshore for you”

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