Home/ News / India/  ‘Thank you Nirmala-ji’, Shashi Tharoor hails FM Sitharaman for restoring ‘faith in humanity’; here’s why

Shashi Tharoor, on March 29, recounted a rare occasion when two political rivals united for a noble cause. The Lok Sabha MP shared an instance when he requested Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to exempt certain life-saving drugs required by a cancer patient from the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and thanked her for granting his request.

Tharoor's request came after a couple informed him that they could not afford the GST charge of 7 lakh on their daughter's cancer medication. The Thiruvananthapuram MP wrote to Sitharaman on March 15, requesting a GST exemption for the couple on humanitarian grounds.

He even shared images of the letter he sent and an account of swift actions that helped the patient get medication in time.

The child, who had completed some stages of treatment, required immunotherapy treatment and a particularly expensive medicine called Dinutuximab Beta (Qarziba), which is currently imported at a price of 10 lakh per vial. 

Tharoor estimated the cost of a full cycle of immunotherapy to be around 63 lakh. While the couple had raised most of the funds through crowdfunding and donations, the GST on imported medicines added a significant burden of another 7 lakh.

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Tharoor's request was made on the grounds of the genuine humanitarian nature of the case and the fact that a young child's life could be saved through this treatment. However, he did not initially receive a response from the Finance Minister's office. The couple later approached Tharoor again on March 26, explaining that the medicine was stuck at Mumbai airport for customs clearance due to non-payment of GST.

At this point, Tharoor contacted the minister directly and informed her that the injection was perishable and would expire soon, meaning the baby's life could only be saved with Sitharaman's immediate intervention.

Also Read: Govt not in 'crazy rush' to sell everything, says FM Nirmala Sitharaman

In a display of sympathy, the Finance Minister's PS, Sernya Bhutia, informed Tharoor within half an hour that she had spoken to the Chairman of the Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs. Chairman Vivek Johari then asked Tharoor for additional documentation within the next 10 minutes. The exemption was granted by 7 pm on March 28.

"Whenever I am assailed by doubts about spending so much of my life in politics, something like this happens and makes it all worthwhile. Thank you Nirmala-ji, thank you Sernya and thank you, Vivek. You have reaffirmed my faith in government, in politics, and above all in humanity. Jai Hind," Tharoor concluded.

Sounak Mukhopadhyay
Sounak Mukhopadhyay, who also goes by the name Sounak Mukherjee, has been producing digital news since 2012. He's worked for the International Business Times, The Inquisitr, and Moneycontrol in the past. He's also contributed to Free Press Journal and TheRichest with feature articles. He covers news for a wide range of subjects including business, finance, economy, politics and social media. Before working with digital news publications, he worked as a freelance content writer.
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Updated: 30 Mar 2023, 11:44 AM IST
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