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Bring back the Land ceiling Act, for a more JUST AND EQUITABLE society !

April 11, 2011

One of the saddest things i heard recently is from an Indian  chess player i played with online.

A well-educated, NDA grad who scored over 97% in physics, math and chem in his batch school boards who still opted to serve the country by writing his NDA exams to medical and engineering or IIT entrances – confessed to me, so far he has not even bought A SINGLE PROPERTY IN DELHI, his home town.   ‘Do you believe me?’ he asked, ‘and so was i a fool to throw away my future like that for this nation all those years back?  i could have given engineering entrances – i would be minting money today..  see how my country is honouring me for my service; all my life i will live in army quarters – but i can never never buy a property with my own earnings; Delhi is too expensive – and i am poorly paid for that kind of luxury.’
I can perfectly understand his bitterness.  He said, India does not deserve honest and patriotic men like him.  At such times, i really feel bad for him.   I told him, everyone cannot get into the army – and my husband’s not in Switzerland on a holiday either like people mostly think of foreign jobs -but in a hostile desert where its very common for men over 40 to get a sudden massive heart attack…. 2 or 3 casualties already in last 2 years – all my husband’s age men…
Whatever i said, my opponent was not convinced.    One thing he said was, perhaps Delhi has become very dearer that ordinary men like him can never afford to make it their home.  I said, the same is true of all INdian metros.    Chennai apartments are minimum one crore – for just 2 bedrooms.  But i have to say, earning capacity of locals has also simultaneously increased. Nowadays, no one buys an apartment costing less than 80 lac.  Still, the properties are selling like hot cakes… Perhaps one could cite industrialization as the reason for this scenario.   Highly industrilized and job providing cities of India as well as 2nd tier cities are bearing the brunt due to hectic pace of growth and economic development ushered in the last decade.  Its unavoidable – its like getting an apartment in London or Manhattan or Singapore.  The industrial growth of our cities are no less important and should not be under-estimated.
I think time is ripe for a second wave of Land Ceiling Revolution or Act.   Proud to say, both my family and my H’s family have given up some prime properties worth hundreds of crores of rupees today in national interests, when Urban Land Ceiling Act was enforced in 1970s and WE HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO REGRETS.
A huge tax relief or upping of tax limits is essential before a new/fresh Land ceiling (urban as well as rural) could be introduced in future.   The assurance that the government won’t take away hard-earned wealth of citizens will encourage more people to have transparent bank accounts.   Today, even if i withdraw over 49,000/- bucks at one go, i have to quote my PAN number or file Form 15 G, which is too much.  You cannot open a FD in India today without a  PAN number or book flight or telephone/broadband/mobile connection or buy properties. While i welcome this step as it nets tax evaders as much as possible, i strongly feel something has to be done for bringing forth a MORE JUST AND EQUITABLE SOCIETY so no one feels left out of development.
Wealth can be hoarded in forms of precious metals, stones or bank deposits or shares instead of landed estates always.   The appreciation in real estate is many, many hundred times over bank deposits for instance – that automatically places the creamier society in obvious advantage, depriving the lesser fortunate ones of equal opportunities.   This is not fair.  (i am not a communist – but i don’t like to see how we better-off people are robbing the worse-off amongst us by sheer selfish means and cunning intelligence).   Thats why i said,a huge huge upping of minimum taxable income level is essential, so bank deposits can serve as an effect mode of savinggs/wealth/investment.  Tax relief also can be considered for senior citizens, widows etc who might be affected with Land ceiling act.
Its not possible nowadays to use many benamis, as family size has shrunk like anything in India.   As Land ceiling act  reverberations cooled down in 1980s, the hoarding of properties once again started since, with the software boom making it worst..  I think a minimum no. of assets to hold can be prescribed or a reasonable ceiling on value of immovable assets can be fixed (as of a fixed date – to be revised every 10-20 years or so).   I recommend maximum 3 urban properties in an individual name and 2 rural ones not exceeding 1-2 acres for city folks. However, rural folks holding agri property can be exempted but should file proof of farming every 3 years or so.   Can be varied.
A second Land Ceiling Revolution/Act (first one spearheaded by Shri. Vinoba Bhave ji, true Gandhian to me, who lived for a principle) is long overdue in India.  If Bhave had not revolutionised this nation with his land reforms decades earlier, India today could be worse than Afghanistan or Egypt.   Yet, many, many found loopholes and benamis and circumvented the new Act/law.   Still, rural land reforms reaped in huge benefits, and in urban areas, atleast 50% benefits were realised.
But its no more possible now or atleast its tough – with shrunk family sizes in India to find benamis.   Introduction of PAN and mandatory quoting of PAN no. even in trivial matters like paying water taxes and taking life insurance policies, has brought scores of people legally under the taxable umbrella.
Income taxes of salaried class is upt 35% in India, still this hardly serves the purpose.
 Anyway, a great movement is started now by Anna Hazare.  I hope the next logical step will be a fresh set of LAND REFORMS.
Only this time, i want corporates to account for their land acquisitions as well.   And the means or process via which they won their bids.
PAN numbers could also be taken from parents who admit their children in elite schools/institutions for instance.   A large scope is there if you give a little thought to it, to glean as much as possible from those elite few who hold this society to ransom.   Purchases over a certain limit (like jeweleries) could be done with quoting of PAN alone.  Showrooms ask for our  for our mobile phone no., bank account no and ID proof (copy) for even minimum purchases.      I think all jewelery shops follow this rule/statute religiously – but so far, PAN no. is not asked.   PAN no. can be asked for those who book into luxury resorts and 5 star hotels  (so far only VAT is applicable in billing which is not enough – this is just a pittance – asking for PAN is better).   The scope is vast if you ask me.

From → Dilli Durbar

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