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’.