Dear Editor,
Politics is hotbed of controversies and mutual recriminations. Sam Pitroda’s Inheritance Tax remarks have created ripples in political circles. Pitroda is the head of the Indian Overseas Congress. He has made reference to the United States saying that it has the concept of Inheritance Tax. It means 55 per cent of the wealth is handed over to the government upon death and 45 per cent is left to the children.
Congress has distanced itself from the statement of Pitroda. The party made it clear that it is not the official view of the Congress. He allegedly backtracked on his view after he was directed to do so by the party high command. Soon he started to blame the media to cover up his ‘mistake’. Pitroda stated that his view was distorted. He not only kicked up a controversy by raising the Inheritance Tax but also blamed the other side with the statement that it was twisted to deflect attention from the core issues. Obviously, this is a damage control exercise. By and large, politicians do not agree for Inheritance Tax because it is they who are largely affected if this law is reintroduced in India. Pitroda’s volte-face can be seen in his statement that he only mentioned Inheritance Tax in the US only as an example in normal conversation on TV. Common people have little to worry because the large concentration of wealth is in the hands of the law makers. Moreover the concept of inheritance Pitroda referred to, is to part with more than 50 per cent of wealth in favour of government. If it is assumed that this law is introduced on the lines of the US laws, the level of corruption goes up by leaps and bounds so that the wealth left to the children must be not less than the present 100 per cent even if 55 per cent of the wealth is (to be) handed over to government upon death.
Shashi Tharoor came to the rescue of Pitroda saying that the Congress party manifesto does not contain anything promising introduction of Inheritance Tax. Further, Tharoor pacifies Pitroda also by telling the public that everyone is entitled to his views. Freedom of speech and expression has been guaranteed in the Constitution.
But it is being grossly abused by the politicians. While exercising the freedom of speech and expression, people forget that the “words are pearls and words are deaths”.
There are many laws to check the unbridled growth of wealth. If these laws are properly implemented, the growth of wealth through unfair means can be effectively checked. Congress party has been hit out for the suggestion by Pitroda. Both Prime Minister and the Home Minister have come down heavily on Pitroda’s remarks. Pitroda’s suggestion has come in the back drop of wealth redistribution among the people as contemplated by the Congress party. “Hua to Hua” was the response by Pitroda to anti-Sikh riots in 1984.
Pitroda had considered that Ram Mandiar was not a real issue. He has the habit of putting his foot in the mouth. The Inheritance Tax law introduced in 1953 in the name of estate duty, was abolished in India by late Rajiv Gandhi in 1985 “To save their (people’s) money from going to the government”. Property tax is paid by the people every year. So long as the tax on property is collected, there is no need for Inheritance Tax. Estate tax is also known as death tax. Thankfully ‘birth tax’ has not come on statue book. People should have the liberty to earn wealth through right path. Property made through right path should be passed on to the descendants. Desire to make property can motivate the people to work hard. The only thing is that the legitimate tax has to be collected from people in full if the government should be stalled from the plan of introducing taxes in newer and newer names. Unfortunately the other constituents of I.N.D.I.A. bloc are tight-lipped on the remarks of Pitroda.
K.V. Seetharamaiah

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