Government levies a Swachh Bharat cess of 0.5% on continual services. Inventing new tax plans on continual services to generate money for new schemes is not a good idea. A responsible government should identify fund lapses, improper utilisation of funds, surplus funds, and one-time tax heads to route money to new schemes. The Swachh Bharat cess is a prescient warning that we might soon see additional tax on continual services to generate funds for other central schemes.
I was a member of the 50-member delegation that visited Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 14, to discuss declassification of the secret Netaji files. The meeting became historic as the prime minister announced that he was going to declassify the files. He also acknowledged our request and said he would write to the heads of foreign states to declassify the Netaji files they have. He further stated he would discuss the matter directly with Vladimir Putin during his Russian visit this December.
I am apolitical – neither a Gandhi bhakt nor a Modi bhakt. I have been critical of Modi’s lack of vision in his policies and political stunts. But what Rahul does now is for cheap publicity. That exactly is his problem. Focusing on Modi’s lack of attention on more serious matters back home than his foreign visits or clothing interests would have given Rahul the mileage he wanted. He should know what he wants to speak and how.
Nobody needs to teach Google how to do business. It would be asinine to even think they would offer their services in a vast country such as India for free. What most of us did not read is what Pichai has written clearly in the Google blog. He writes, “Best of all, the service will be free to start, with the long-term goal of making it self-sustainable to allow for expansion to more stations and other places…” In other words, Google got the monopoly of the service without having to bid for it. In effect, the free broadband service was the green flag Google waved to make its entry to our railway stations. They know how to make the service self-sustainable, after the honeymoon period.
Read my column on DailyO by India Today.
Narendra Modi, who is known for his high regard for Subhas Chandra Bose, promised the nation that his government would seriously consider the matter of declassification. But his office continues to reject the RTI requests for declassification in the background. Here is where the West Bengal chief minister demonstrated her superiority over the Indian prime minister. Even in her silence and passivity, Mamata Banerjee has been musing on the developments. Finally, she herself made it clear – that her government is one of transparency and therefore it would declassify all the 64 files in its possession. The Bose mystery has been a demon that possessed our old leaders and governments. It made them act somewhat stolidly, awkwardly, and at times shamelessly. It needs an exorcism by someone with great will and determination. Didi is ready to play her part, but is Modi ready to become a greater exorcist? Declassification is what a responsible leader should do to respect a war hero; actions that can win temporary plaudits like garlanding a Bose bust or saluting his photograph are of much less importance.
I finally received a reply from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to my RTI query about the secret files it holds about Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. There are at two puzzling answers here. One, the government states that if the information comes out, it will affect India’s sovereignty and relations from friendly foreign states. Although the PMO gave me a list of 36 secret files, it still withheld information on an additional five files about Bose. Two, the Prime Minister does not have any authority in issuing an order for declassification of the said files.