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THE PRICE OF BEING AN INDIAN
By Mohan Shenoy

 It is a privilege to belong to the country of your birth and residence, and claim your rights under the Constitution of that country. Because, then you can travel across borders, claim all the dues from the government of the country, and get your body buried or whatever after your death within the country to which you belong. You might get your education and training at a cheaper rate and get a job either in the government or in other establishments, institutions, factories, offices, or shops. You can also set up your own business, small or big shops, own land, build houses and other buildings, get married, raise a family, and generally live in that country in peace. But there is a price that comes tagged for being citizen of any country and India is no exception.

In the past, many centuries ago, there were borders drawn for a certain number of villages as a unit. Many such units were conjoined to form larger areas and a name was given to identify such larger areas. Representatives of each unit became members in the administrative bodies of the larger areas. Later a person was appointed as the spokesman for the area. This person was called the King. Many of the offices of the representatives, including that of the King became hereditary. But there were disputes between these areas and wars were fought or peace was made to solve the disputes. In the last century (20th) the borders of these areas now called the nations were made firm by being identified with scientific mapping and common scale. Many of these nations became republics. And international treaties gave these nations a right to exist peacefully. These countries created entry and exit points for people and goods and collected customs duties and other taxes.

The nations formed representative bodies and assemblies and drafted and adopted their Constitution or charter of citizen rights.

From the beginning, there were many small kingdoms in the area now called India. 'India of the past' had large areas from the present Pakistan, Bangladesh, Burma, Sri Lanka included in it as a geographical entity. Some of the Kings ruled very large areas within this India but probably no single King ruled entire 'India of the past' in the recorded history of India. Now of course the present India is a truncated piece of land with a well-drawn border. During the British rule, there were kingdoms and provinces. The provinces were ruled by the British government directly. The kingdoms were vassals of the British Government. When the British granted independence to these kingdoms and provinces, in 1947, separate nations were created. These nations were India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Burma, Nepal etc. In 1971, Pakistan lost its eastern province and Bangladesh came into being. India became a republic on 26th January, 1950. The new Constitution of India promised vast citizen rights. A parliamentary form of government came into existence. There were states and union territories named and elected representative governments were established in the states. A federal form of governance came into existence.

In 1947 when the British India was partitioned to create India that is Bharath and Pakistan, there was migration of the people from one area to the other. There were killings and other crimes committed during these migrations. Later there were disputes regarding certain states resulting in wars between Pakistan and India several times. There was a big war between China and India also in 1962 leading to loss of large Indian areas to China.
The Constitution of India is a charter of rights of the citizens and includes many sections, clauses and schedules. It is a guide based on which the government draws the laws, rules and regulations (LRR). The citizens are bound by these LRR and the Judiciary decides merits and demerits of these LRR vis-à-vis the Constitution.

This is a fair arrangement and the citizens of India can breath easy and be reassured that their rights will be protected under the Constitution. There are however certain duties that we the citizens of the country have to perform and one such is pay all the taxes as per the LRR. The taxes are varied and classified as direct and indirect. The direct taxes are those taxes which the citizen pays out of his pocket. The indirect taxes are those which he pays another person or entity such as the customs, excise or other departments which later pay these monies to the government.

The representatives elected by the citizens in the units and areas (the parliament and state assemblies) meet and collectively decide on the tax rates, deductions, exemptions etc.  Every citizen has to abide by the demands for taxes. Those who evade taxes are liable for punishment ranging from fines to imprisonment.

It is a good practice for every citizen to pay the customs duties and taxes as per the LRR. It is not a good thing if the citizen bribes the corrupt officials to gain a favour to pay less or no tax and duties.Not every rupee one earns is subject to tax. There is exemption from tax for any income under certain amount. This limit was Rs. 1,10,000 for financial year beginning from 1st April 2007 to 31st March 2008. This means a person with net taxable income upto Rs. 1,10,000 need not pay any tax on his income. Net taxable income is arrived at after certain deductions and exemptions of the total income.

Income is further classified as arising from salary, house property, profession and business, capital gains, and other sources. Every citizen regardless whether he has taxable income or not should attempt to learn these terms. The income tax department has named the financial year as the previous year because it is the year during which the income is earned and falls previous to the assessment year. Assessment year is the year following the financial year (previous year) in which tax assessment is conducted.

It is a good practice for every citizen to keep a book of accounts regardless if he has taxable income or not. This is book-keeping.

One who pays taxes, even a few hundred rupees can create a document for himself/herself so that he will have a right to spend his money without any fear. He/she can also keep away from bad habits which he/she acquires by trying to spend black money. Black money is income for which tax is not paid. The major bad habits a person acquires with black money are alcoholism, drug addiction, debauchery, horse racing gambling, paying bribes,and getting illegal work done.

The GSB community is a law-abiding community and without exception the members of this community pay the taxes honestly and fully which I am very proud to state here.

Concluded.
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