As one aged 74, I read the article “Retirement saving myths”, Mint, 5 December, with considerable interest. Your insight is commendable. As a senior citizen who has not been professionally active or earning for over a decade, I have ensured that the requirements for my regular living expenditure are more than fully met by the interest I earn from term deposits, while the rest of my financial resources are with diversified equity mutual funds. All of these have been possible from my own reasonable earnings and planned savings over the years. I hope the equity cult will spread widely among the youngsters, both for their own benefit and for the good of the economy, as a whole.
Namita Bhandare’s, Looking Glass, “Why is being frisked by a CRPF jawan an ‘indignity’?”, Mint, 11 December, was well written. But I must say that you (Bhandare) have more privileges, perks and fringe benefits than you can imagine, not least of which is the power to write.
When you question that “whatever happened to the notion that those in the public life were, well, public servants rather than exalted members of the ruling elite?” you unknowingly admit that you are not one of us, the ordinary folks.
When stopped by the police on the road, I shiver. Why? Because I do not know what fault they will find in me, or my vehicle or in my ignorance of the huge number of laws of India. It’s the same everywhere. Whether it is the departments of income tax, sales tax, customs, land revenue or even institutions of learning, one has to be an ordinary person to understand the humiliation or indifference that officials unleash in any encounter between the two.
The dictum for officials seems to be that we, the ordinary folk, are a bunch of thieves from whom the government must protect the country and itself. The reality of government servants and government representatives is too well known in India for me to stress here. But rules must be applied on ordinary people, otherwise it’s a national security concern. The scandals in government departments are mere aberrations, for we are the real culprits, roaming on roads, desiring to loot and plunder anything in sight. We must be chained at every possible opportunity, so that the ruling elite can live happily.
What gave you the idea that those in power consider themselves equal to us, the ordinary ones? If you were writing for journalistic or academic pleasure, it would be fine. However, if you actually mean what you wrote, you must reconsider your words. It might sound harsh, but you are a part of the “others”, whom we see every day, claiming concessions in the manner of the elite whose behaviour you take exception to. My words maybe cruel, but at times the feeling of being chained is difficult to contain.
The column Looking Glass, Mint, 11 December, said what most Indians feel and experience every day.
Even if we disregard corruption and bribery that most politicians are part of, it’s difficult to ignore the many privileges and fringe benefits they enjoy.
Big companies pay the fringe benefit tax. This is in addition to the corporate tax paid by them. In this context, and as a citizen, I want to ask, why should ordinary taxpayers foot the bill of the benefits and privileges enjoyed by bureaucrats and politicians? The question assumes greater importance when these privileges are undeserved and are accorded by the virtue of position and not performance.
Your turn to talk
We thank our readers for some very interesting letters in response to our stories and columns. Do continue to write to us at email@example.com