One Nation, One Tax
India has become a fully integrated economy 57 years after its political integration as a constitutional republic. The goods and services tax (GST) has finally become a reality. The overarching goal of Article 301 of the Constitution was always to ensure that “trade, commerce and intercourse throughout the territory of India shall be free”.
A comparison with Europe is interesting. The economic integration of Europe was the first step towards the ultimate goal of political integration—a project that now seems increasingly impractical. India moved the other way. Our political union has been followed by an economic union. And if the European project was not just the result of political compromise but also the vision of technocrats such as Jean Monnet, so also the grand federal agreement on GST was not only about skilful political bargaining but also the vision of technocrats who first proposed the idea of a new tax, who then kept the flame burning over 17 years, and who built the technology backbone for the creation of a common Indian market.
Kudos to them as well.