Monday, July 31, 2006

A New Tax System

This is regarding the recent phenomenon of our Finance Minister Mr.Chidambaram scaring the shit out of us using Big Brother lingo! Which is why I am posting my vision of A New Tax System. Please let everyone know. Change is inevitable. And the TIME HAS come for CHANGE.

A New Tax System

From the time man has lived in society and has felt the need to organize his social relationships, government and tax, have been hand in glove. From the Tribal Chieftain & the Medieval Kings upto our grand Democratic Elected representatives, have all used tax to pay for the job of social organization and to a larger extent themselves.

Tax is what keeps the government in business. Tax is source of all power and power games. And Tax has not changed one bit from the age of the early overlords and Kings to our modern legislatures. The purpose is same, the method is same and the wastage is same as through all history. We have come from the Stone Age to the information age but one thing refuses to change ? the number and variety of taxes increase but the nature does not. The King took a proportion of the farmer's produce; our Welfare State takes a percentage of our income deducted at source.

Fortunes have been squeezed out of the Billions who have lived from pre-history till now and all have been lost and squandered by the respective Governments on War, Corruption, Hoarding and Misuse.

What then justifies Tax? Why do people still pay it?

The answer is simple, there seems to be no better alternative for paying for social organization. How do we pay for roads? Schools? Police? Courts? Healthcare? And a zillion other schemes and needs that keep the wheels of society moving?

So Tax in a way has changed. From the force of the King it is now because of the social imperative that we pay Tax. It is implicit though; this sense of paying one's Social Dues and still the Government extracts Tax on the basis of Force and not co-operation. Everyone pays Tax and no one pays it happily. The poor pay it with anger and frustration often trying to hide their already pitiful income and the rich grudgingly pay Tax having already manipulated every possible loophole to escape the Tax net as much as possible.

Why is that, everyone dislikes Taxes? Everyone wants the things Taxes are supposed to pay for but no one wants to pay the Tax. Is it because people are selfish, not wanting to pay their social dues?

No. It is because they don't know what their Taxes are finally used for. Take an example: John has a child dying of leukemia. At that moment his heart bleeds for all the people affected by leukemia, he wants to help. As he walks down the road from the hospital, a mugger holds him at gunpoint and robs him of the $1000 he has in his wallet. The Mugger assures him, I am going to use this money for the benefit of leukemia patients! Believe me!
Do you think John would believe? Do you think he will feel any better about being robbed of his money because the robber promises to do good with the money?
He won't. Because he doesn't know if the robber will keep the promise. And even if he were to keep the promise, John will not be happy to lose his money because John will not get the satisfaction of helping other leukemia patients himself. He won't be able to help them himself.'

We like to spend our money with our own hands. We like to budget and we like to plan how that money will be spent. And most people have the greatest satisfaction from spending money when they spend it for a good purpose. The present Tax system removes any possibility of the Citizen enjoying the fruits of the Social Good he does when he pays Taxes. He doesn't even know where his money went. The present Tax system makes him feel helpless, powerless and at the mercy of a society which is intent on robbing a portion of his hard earned money! The Act that would otherwise have been one of the most rewarding has become the most unfulfilling. It has alienated people from their Social responsibility instead of binding them tighter in the social fabric. When I participate in doing something for the social good, only then can I feel the joy of it. When I decide what I want to do for society, I feel a sense of ownership for the society I live in. I am one of them; instead of they are coming for my money.

What is proposed is a simple change in the nature of Taxes.

The Government for the time being can continue to fix the rate at which we pay Tax but we as Citizens get to spend that money on things that we think are Socially important. Your money goes where you intend it to go. After all you earned it. You have a right to decide how it will be spent. Yes you owe a chunk of your earning to the society where you grew up and where you earned that living but why should some unknown faces deprive you from spending your own money on things you cherish or admire or feel for, or simply put on things, people and places you want to help. May be you have always wanted to help the homeless, now you can with your tax money! May be you have always wanted to fix those potholes in your neighborhood: now you can with your Tax money.

You direct the paying of your Social Dues. Through designated Govt. Agencies, through local self help groups, through NGOS and the monies that you spend on the social causes will reflect as Tax Credit!

The Government can allocate the Agencies through which you have to spend the money but it cannot take away your right to choose how to utilize every penny of your Tax money. In one Year the Government will know what the citizens want. No one will need a Hundred Thousand Budget Sub-committees to figure what to do with Billions of Tax Money; it would have already been utilized where the Citizens wanted it utilized. People will be happier. They will actively participate in the Social Good and phenomenal wastage of resources will be stopped forever. The Government will know within a Year where the Citizen's priorities are. People will know where their society lags behind and next year they will adjust, they will give where Giving is needed because all humans are born with the ability to empathize.

We don't need to be told what we should do for society. We know. We are Society.


The world is too big - too unknown and events can often overwhelm us. What is it that makes us so special? If we are so insignificant - how come we still battle on? The poem below, I wrote about six years ago is valid at all times and for everyone. It is collected in the International Poetry Society Anthology.

by abhigyan jha

One man's conscience
Can bring an empire down.

One fleeting gesture
Can save a lifetime.

One simple idea
Can change the course of mankind.

One little lie
Can hide the whole truth.

One shining bullet
Can take another life.

One single arm
Can play the winning hand.

One sparkling river
Can bridge an entire land.

In this prodigal universe
You are the chosen one.

Just look in the mirror
And say I'm the one.

The Comfortable Civilization (I)

by abhigyan jha

Moments pass
Sorrows pass
People pass away -
Every time spawns its men
And every cycle
Its civilization;
This one's so comfortable
You would want it to last a while.

We’re so lucky.
With our markets for
Multimedia melancholy -
And managers
To make the masses
With macros
Or micros
And keep
The scales of margins safe.

Ah, there are disasters
And those Manic Mondays
But relax
There’s insurance too
Mediclaim and Social Security
To keep
The sagging spirit afloat.

There are ghettoes
To look down upon
For relief there's the sky-
Scrapers to dwarf the eye –

Its a fine place to be
Finer than ever before
Everything's new, improved
All that glitters
Is all that gold.
The heaters keep winters warm
And we've all but forgotten the cold -
But there's something I've
Known a while
Maybe its time for you to know
The chocolate always melts
Sooner than the snow.

The Comfortable Civilization ( II )

by abhigyan jha

When the mind
Was young
And ready
To learn
To fight
To stand
Up for that something
Higher than our arms
We were taught
To duck and
To deal with
Every passing blow –

The mind is worse
The psyche slides
When ideas aim to soar –
The apparent is the truth
Forget about the core
Everything is relative
We were told –
Every altar colored red and
To be left alone cold -

With shame we never
Dared climb beyond the fold
And hopped our way
To Gold –
Faster, higher, stronger
The body could go –

But the mind had
Lessons to learn
Legion things to run
Bills to pay
A livelihood to earn –
Consider all points of view
And then much else to do.

Its taken a while to come
But finally I’m ready
I’ve closed the lids
And opened my eyes
Deep within
Staked my creed
On the axiom
But I know one
Glimpse is all I’ll need

Now when
The soul is eager
To gain its higher ground
Lost over the time,
In wilderness, wasting around -

The spirit is willing
But the body is soft
To hold the head aloft
Every cell buried in sense
The flesh is killing
Me softly
With its sins.

Once Upon A Time

song from the OST of Sacred Evil ( Universal Music, May2006)
lyrics by abhigyan jha, music claver menezes

I woke up every morning
And wished my life would change
There would come a day
When love will change the way
I've felt all my life
Once upon a time
I wished for love
Now my love is tearing me apart
Once upon a time I wished for light
Now my love is lost in the dark

There's so much I want from you
There's so much you've already given me
My heart is brimming over
Yet my soul is running empty
For all the light I see in your eyes
There's an eclipse in my heart…
My love is tearing me apart.
Once upon a time I wished for light
Now my love is lost in the dark

Where do you go
When you're going nowhere
What do you say?
When there's nothing to say…

Would you hold me?
Would you kiss me?
Would you change my life?
Is forever going to start tonight?
My heart is brimming over
Yet my soul is running empty
For all the light I see in your eyes
There's an eclipse in my heart.
Still I feel…
Forever's going to start….

Deep Blue Dusk

song from the OST of Sacred Evil ( Universal Music, May2006)
lyrics by abhigyan jha, music claver menezes

The sun doesn't wait
Before going down
The taxis are waiting
To go downtown

I can't wait another moment
But I am waiting for you
Just for you

Another deep blue dusk
Deeper than the night
Darker than the shadows
Growing by my side

I cannot feel
The pain yet to come
Your laughter's fading
You're already gone

I can't loose another love
But I'm lost without you
(yes I am) without you

Another deep blue dusk
Deeper than the night
Darker than the shadows
Growing by my side.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Home & Away by Abhigyan Jha

I walked past the gate
out of this land i knew so well
into the world i thought
i knew nothing of
instead i found home.

this is where we return
at the end of each sojourn
to this same place
to choose a new face
another context

a perfect shelter
for the weary soul
neither warm nor cold
every aching bone soothed
spirit lifted effortlessly
to a constant bird's eye view
of the best possible worlds
sifting sans appetite
a million lives on a platter…

yet in each one I saw
my story begin
with a promise, then belied
every moment i watched my skin
grow old, i knew i had failed
where was my purpose
however wrinkled and frail?

I looked out and saw my dear departed
acting out a hundred roles
in times gone and times to come yet
some not missing me at all
and others trying not to forget
I found their messages
on the walls of my enduring home
we will be back soon
unless you choose to come away.

I could see all the past
floating by the future
an instant was enough proof -
I have done all I shouldn't have
and all I am supposed to
stayed an outsider
and been in the loop
stooped lower than the lowest stoop
it still wasn't enough shame
on this head bowed & bent
and still it wasn't over, this scheme
still turning the cogs
I scraped the bottom of my being
and fed my ego to the dogs
senses destroyed
in sight of the void
o enlightened one
finally salvation!
desire was defeated,
i proclaimed: i win
yet i found no rest within.

i turned and saw me engaged
in myriad zero sum games
i tried to forget
i tried to forgive
whatever be the cost
i tried to live

it felt so true
i let the memory return
this was my place
under the sun
I've kept my promises
I am still in love
I am the one I know
so I am holding on

It's a narrow margin
in a moment I could lose
I tried to do my best
What else should I choose

I know I don't have to play
at these lives
it is pretty easy from this place
which is my true home
where everything is always possible
and nothing is ever true
where everything begins
but nothing ever ends
what a safe heaven
pure being without consequences -

but what is this tug i feel
a crazy urge to open the doors -
i will walk a little more
see what else is coming
i will try & go the distance
even if it means nothing.

it became stronger
as i saw every possible choice
melt into the other
each as impossibly without meaning
to have never happened at all
i knew I wouldn't want it any other way
could never give it away

nothing matters once I'm born
Even if I lose my way
I will come home to die
I will have regrets
I will be just like the rest
in time I will be the same-
it's only a moment
when I can be me
when I can be the best

sometimes I will be ahead
but there'll be no advantage
no disgrace either
when I am buried and dead

I will just turn a circle
and find the tables turned
I wanted justice done
now I'll pray no verdict's returned

life could be lottery
life could be a set of rules
life could be so many things
if we weren't such fools...

The time had come to choose
In this timeless hearth
where nothing 'had to be'
nothing mattered enough...

I could choose home
watch through the windows
all that I could be at once
yet never risk a response
stay on & I wouldn't want again
or walk on once more uncertain

I licked my lips,
Drew my breath in,
I wanted the taste
so I was hungry!
bitter was fine
i wanted the fruits...
i took the last step out
& shut the door on home
I chose the long walk
On the winding road
knowing it was never ending
knowing it was perfect for me
the wiling wayfarer
of the Eternal Way.

14.04.06 ( for PEN meeting on crazy travels)