Lack of transparency and inadequate measures in response are the factors turning bureaucrats into power centres (“Reforming our governance”, Mint, 8 June). The key to solving this is e-governance and increased computerization. Long ago, passport agents were much in demand. Now, the process is clear, and a common citizen can get a passport via a do-it-yourself process. Effective implementation with an appropriate interface for citizens will increase transparency. Automation should focus on publishing knowledge and computerizing auditing to catch erring officials. After this, the process should be made available to everyone: Opening up private service kiosks will not only make sure everyone has access, but also delink citizens from government officials.
— Sivabalan Umapathy
In “Bridging the gender gap” (Mint, 10 June), Krishna Kumar has dealt with some vital issues.
However, one very vital aspect that he seems to have missed out is the role of religion in denigrating the status of women.
This is not restricted to Hindus in India: The world over, women belonging to different religions have been victimized.
In the great Bhagavad Gita itself, women have been depicted as persons who corrupt families and are of sinful birth. If this is what our holiest of holy books says, then is it any wonder that women are made to suffer indignities day in and day out?
It is evident from several religious texts that they are written by men who have deliberately shown women in a poor light.
Today also, there are many men, and even some women, who tend to believe that an idiotic man is a better proposition than an intelligent lady.
To fight such attitudes prevailing in society requires a multi-pronged, multi-level and multidimensional approach by committed persons who genuinely believe in gender equality.
This fight has to be sustained for at least 20-25 years for it to produce any meaningful results.
To expect the government to effect major changes in our textbooks would be akin to asking for water from the moon.
It is the civil society that will have to play a big role in not only forcing the government to act, but also in demolishing the myths and evil stories denigrating the status of women.
— S.D. Israni
Even as the income-tax (I-T) authorities are aiming at maximizing tax collections, they pay scant regard to making the procedures simpler and convenient. The troubles people face are many.
First, tax returns forms are just not available in, say, Mumbai. The I-T authorities have failed in their elementary job of making returns forms available to people on time. No one knows when the forms will be available.
Second, the I-T authorities are stopping the practice of receiving the returns over the counter and giving an acknowledgment for the copy. Instead, the returns are required to be posted to a post box number in a different city. This will mean sending tax returns through ordinary post, without having proof of dispatch or receipt. People wouldn’t even know whether the returns have reached the proper desk.
Added to these difficulties is the I-T authorities’ insistence on not allowing any enclosures, especially tax deduction certificates. This will only result in refund money being “gobbled up” by the government.
Thus, at every stage, the taxpayer is put into difficulties. All these obstacles mean that the tax authorities are reducing the work at their end and transferring the hassles to taxpayers. This is patently unfair.
These issues need the urgent attention of the finance ministry in New Delhi.
— S. Subramanyan