THE BJP in the opposition and the BJP in power are two different political parties. While the Congress talked about downsizing and voluntary retirement, the BJP implemented these. While the Congress started liberalisation, the BJP religiously implemented it, jeopardising workers’ welfare. In short, the BJP says one thing, but does the opposite.
The salaried sections were expecting some relief in income tax through a substantial increase in the exemption limit, but the increase just covers inflation amount. To mobilise resources, the Finance Minister should have announced an amnesty scheme to induce holders of black money to bring back their unaccounted money from abroad.
Increased defence allocation does not result in better defence preparedness. The increase in foreign direct investment (FDI) in defence will increase our dependence on foreign countries. The Budget proposal to increase FDI in the insurance sector is more dangerous than the one to increase FDI in defence because one is gambling with Indians’ money. We are inviting the foreigners to loot us. However, Arun Jaitley deserves kudos for raising the deduction allowed under Section 80C and for allocating funds to set up Indian Institutes of Technology and Management and All India Institutes of Medical Sciences. This Budget is only a jugglery of numbers. It amounts to first aid when what is needed is hospitalisation.
S. Raghunatha Prabhu
THE Narendra Modi government’s first Budget has belied the hopes of the aam aadmi, especially regarding income tax, as the increase in the exemption limit is an eyewash. Inflation offsets any benefit of the increase. It must be raised to at least Rs.6 lakh for individuals and Rs.10 lakh for senior citizens. The deduction for interest on housing loan for self-occupied houses has rightly been raised. The service tax on radio cabs is a jolt to the middle class as car owners among them who used to opt for radio taxis will be forced to use their own cars. This will result in more pollution, congestion on roads and more parking problems.
THE tax rates in the Budget should be linked to the minimum standard of living that people in rural and urban areas are supposed to enjoy in terms of housing, education, health, sustenance, and so on. So far, not a single Budget has been innovative on this aspect. The government has yet to decide on criteria for the minimum standard of living. Also needed are social security benefits for taxpayers when they reach a stage in life when they will not be able to earn. In nations such as the U.S. and Germany, taxpayers enjoy social security benefits. If sugar cooperatives (run mostly by politicians) can get relief packages and farmers can get loans waived, then why are taxpayers excluded?
Deendayal M. Lulla
THE Railway budget presented by the BJP government bears all the hallmarks of its neoliberal agenda (“On a different track”, August 8). The green signal to unfettered FDI and the outsourcing of core areas will not help the Railways. High-speed corridors and bullet trains will remain on paper given the huge outlay needed for such projects and their lack of suitability for the country. The decision to revise fares every six months is a jolt to the beleaguered public. There is ample evidence that considerations of commercial viability far outweigh the government’s social obligations. Also, its attempts to open up the public sector banks to private players is despicable. It seems that good days are certainly not round the corner for the people.
J. Anantha Padmanabhan
Tiruchi, Tamil Nadu
The Railway Minister deserves praise for presenting a budget that includes measures pertaining to safety and security and plans for various projects and improved passenger amenities. The budget is not populist this time, unlike those his predecessors presented, which resulted in making the Railways cash-strapped. But the Minister did not mention the need for proper track maintenance, which is the need of the hour, and for the punctual running of trains. Corruption is a major factor in the Railways, but there was no mention in the budget how this menace might be curbed. It will be praiseworthy if the Minister succeeds in turning the Railways into a profit-making organisation during his tenure.
IF Modi’s inducting fresh faces into his Cabinet was an indication that he would have his own way in government, the appointment of Amit Shah as BJP chief confirmed his grip on the party as well. Amit Shah is a shrewd man with a good understanding of electoral dynamics, so if Modi is intent on making India Congress free, as he said during his election campaign, then Amit Shah is the man he can rely on. And as both he and Modi are close to the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, the organisation must be over the moon. Amit Shah’s farsightedness is evident from the fact that he wants to start preparing for the 2019 elections right away.
Noida, Uttar Pradesh
THE war between Israel and Hamas is causing a humanitarian crisis. Efforts should be made to bring them to a ceasefire to save lives on both sides (“Terror from the skies”, August 8). It is not sensible for anyone to associate this crisis with religion. War has no religion; the rockets fired do not verify the religion of their targets before hitting them.
Sanket Ravi Pawar
ISRAELI air strikes on Gaza are deplorable and should be condemned in the strongest of terms. The opposition parties in India wanted a discussion in Parliament to support the Palestinian cause, but this appeared an attempt to score brownie points and build vote banks ahead of Assembly elections. One wonders how a discussion in Parliament on an issue India does not have any control over can help bring about a ceasefire.
India should maintain neutrality while sending out a strong message to Israel to cease fire immediately as violence begets more violence and bloodshed and shatters the economy of all countries.
NO politician can contribute to secularism in India (“Roots of Indian secularism”, August 8). If it is to take root in the country, there has to be a proper understanding of all religions. No one can deny that India has welcomed people of different faiths who were persecuted elsewhere.
The purpose of religion is to make a man better than he is, definitely not to divide and build walls. All religions are various paths to one truth or divinity. Conflict arises when religious leaders try to get into politics instead of raising the moral values of society through their simple living and high thinking.
S.A. Srinivasa Sarma
That the economic programmes of the Modi government differ very little from those of the UPA II was brought out well. It is a pleasurable experience to read Frontline.
UNCLE SAM, the global troublemaker, successfully accomplished its mission to eliminate Saddam Hussein, install a puppet regime in Iraq, and impoverish this once prosperous, secular nation in the Arab heartland (Cover Story, July 25). Instead of sending more and more troops under the pretext of protecting the U.S. embassy and its citizens, one wonders why the U.S. does not shut shop in Iraq once and for all. It should bear in mind that the moment insurgents of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) capture Baghdad, their first target of assault will (deservedly) be the U.S. embassy.
THE Cover Story clearly brought out the motives of the ever-interfering superpower in creating instability in different parts of the world for its own gains, usually economic. Although Saddam Hussein was a dictator, he had a secular outlook and a respect for history. His regime protected the country’s ancient Christian minority and all historical monuments and places of worship, including ancient Chaldean churches. In the name of eliminating Saddam and Al Qaeda, the U.S. occupation literally destroyed Iraq in every sense. The U.S. alone is to blame.
THE current situation in Iraq reminds one of the 100-year war between almost the same parties: the Crusaders and the Muslims. Only the strategies, arms and ammunition have changed.
TO prove that he is innocent of any involvement in the 2002 Gujarat riots and that he is not against the minority community, Modi invited President Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh to his swearing-in ceremony (“Modi is accountable”, July 25). But during his recent visit to Jammu and Kashmir, he held a security review meeting in Srinagar with defence personnel. He did not invite Chief Minister Omar Abdullah for this crucial meeting though the State shares a border with Pakistan. There is a saying in Hindi that elephants have one set of teeth to masticate their food and one for display. And this seems to be the case with Modi too.
WHO is not accountable in Indian political history right from the days of Jawaharlal Nehru? The blunders of past Prime Ministers need to be investigated. One only wants to know why there has been no justice for the Sikh riot victims of 1984 even 30 years after the riots. Nobody seems to be pursuing this case as vigorously as the case of the Gujarat riots.
Crimes against women
ONE wonders why politicians, from most political parties, are involved in atrocities against women (“BJP’s double standards”, July 25). Although the article was well written, one feels that the author should have emphasised more the significance of there being so many people from different walks of public life involved in the crime. The victim must get justice at the earliest. The Prime Minister ought to make a statement about this incident. Are these the “ache din” (good days) one has been waiting so long for?
Letters, whether by surface mail or e-mail, must carry the full postal address and the full name, or the name with initials.