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Unjust Humanity
Virag
General Budget 2018: The sandwiched middle class; since decades 01 February, 2018
The fiscal budget for the financial year 2018-19 was announced today, February 1, 2018. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley representing the NDA government presented the fiscal budget 2018-19 in the Parliament in both English and Hindi.

So what was new in the budget? Well, practically nothing. So what was in the budget after all?

So, to begin with here are some points:

Union Budget 2018 Highlights:

1. Allocate 1290 Cr. for National Bamboo Mission
2. Setting up an Agriculture Market Fund for Rs. 2000 Crore.
3. Allocate 10000 Cr. For Fisheries and Aquaculture and Animal Husbandry fund.
4. 8 Cr Families will be given Gas Connection for free under Ujwala scheme.
5. 16000 Cr for PM Sabhagya yojana
6. Target constructing 2 Crore Toilets in FY19
7. Total Amount to be spent to improve Rural Livelihood to be 14.30 Lakh Cr.
8. Propose to allocate 11 Lac Crore for Institutional Credit for farm sector next FY
9. Launching Program RISE for revitalization of Infrastructure, Education System with an investment of 1 lac Crore.
10. National health Protection Program for 10 Cr Poor Families.
11. Rs. 5 Lac per family per year for 10 crore families will be allocated.
12. Allocate 1200 crore for specialised health wellness centres.
13. 47 Projects under the "Namami Gange" Program have been completed.
14. Allocate Rs. 1.38 Lac Crore in FY 19 For Govt health & Educational Programs.
15. Target Mudra Loans for Rs. 3 lac Crore Next FY
16. Propose review of refinancing criteria under mudra scheme.
17. Allocate 7148 Crore for Textile sector
18. Women's Contribution to EPF to be reduced to 8% for first 3 years.
19. Highway construction will exceed 9000 km by end of FY18
20. 35000 KM to be completed under Bharat mala with outlay of 5.35 Lac Crore.
21. Railway Capex for FY19 at 1.48 Lac Crore.
22. Allocate 17000 Cr for Bengaluru Metro Network.
23. Allocate 11000 Cr for Mumbai Rail Network
24. SEBI to Mull asking large Cos to meet 25% debt from Market.
25. RBI Norms to nudge Cos to access bond market for fundraising.
26. All means to be curb illegitimate transactions funds by Crypto currency in India.
27. FY 19 Disinvestment target at 80000 Crpre.
28. National Insurance, United India Ins & Oriental Ins to Be merge and listed.
29. Gold monetization policy to be revamped to make it investment friendly.
30. To Set up comprehensive gold policy: To revamp Gold monetization scheme.
31. Law to be introduced to fix MPs salary every 5 years indexed to Inflation.
32. Total fiscal deficit 3.3% estimated this year.
33. Committed to 3% fiscal deficit FY 19 onwards.
34. Total Revised expenditure of 21.57 Lac Crore. This FY.
35. Growth in Direct Taxes @ 18.57%
36. 100 % deduction of Farmer producer companies
37. Footwear & Leather industry to get benefit under direct tax.
38. Reduced corporate rates i.e 25% has been extended to all companies having turnover less than 250 Cr.
39. No Changes in Personal slab rates.
40. Standard Deduction of 40000 Salaried taxpayers in lieu of Transport and Medical Exp.
41. Deduction for Senior citizen increased to 50000 for Medical Exp., 1Lac for Critical illness.
42. Tax on Long Term Capital Gain above Rs. 1Lac @ 10% with no indexation.
43. Shares Purchased before 31 Jan shall be exempted however.
44. Proposed to Amend Income Tax act for electronic assessment.

If we carefully observe, then other than the impetus on farmers and the CCTV in railways, there was nothing worth celebrating in the budget for the middle class to cherish about, but much to its chagrin.

First of all, for how long can governments afford to have the middle class work for the entire country, for reserved categories, for women even? Each budget comes with more and more sops to all the "politically recognized" weaker classes and the same is hailed as progress. That's not progress because the government is not doing anything on its own for their upliftment. It is simply acting as a courier to lift from the middle class and use that money for the politically recognized weaker sections of the society. Of course, the government employees and ministers involved along with the bureaucracy do not forget to cut their "commission" for the said courier services.

Now, the question is, year after year, for seven decades, the middle class has been pulverized by the weekly 5-day work schedule with no respite from taxes. On an estimate, for every Rs 100 earned, the middle class pays as high as Rs 45 towards taxes (direct, indirect and cesses included). The middle class pays the maximum taxes after maximum hard work and then a vast majority of those taxes are re-routed somewhere else in the name of schemes, subsidies and grants. And yet again, after paying taxes, the middle class is also made to pay "cesses" in the name of education cess, Swacch Bharat cess, etc.

The parliamentarians increase their own salaries unilaterally, the poor know that they will get subsidies. The rich and the ultra-rich have their ways to evade taxes. But, the middle class has no option. Middle class cannot avoid paying taxes also because vast majority of them are salaried and have no control over their own tax management. On top of that, the government runs propaganda to pay "advance taxes" and all of this applies only to the middle class.

Now don't give me the stale argument that we need to build this country. Building this country is not the sole responsibility of the middle class, it is the responsibility of each and every citizen, howsoever rich, howsoever poor.

Now this year, even in the middle class, it's the men who are hit the most. The EPF contribution of 12 per cent has been reduced to 8 per cent for women, the rest would come from the taxes, 85 per cent of which are paid by men. Now this should be objectionable to any dignified woman because it is reflective of the thought that women are weaker and at the same education level, same qualification level, same work experience, same skills, the woman should get relief. This is not pro-woman. It's an eyewash.

It is important to understand that these kind of policies are an impediment to the growth of the country. It fosters frustration amongst those who are less privileged and most of them escape the country for this reason only.

GST was supposed to bring down inflation and simplify tax structure but it has only increased inflation, because everyone got an opportunity to raise prices citing GST implementation. After GST, the government should have abolished all direct taxes and income tax. But it didn't and this just increased the burden on the already sandwiched middle class.

Every year, the middle class is squeezed to meet the fiscal goals because it is politically disastrous to touch both the poor and the rich. Also, it is easy to tighten the bolt on the middle class because they are the only ones who are totally in the system and have no means to escape. Even the tax saving schemes are so ludicrous in nature that in the long run it just ensures that the middle class stays right in the middle with minor lollipop of tax sops and nothing tangible to change their lives.

And in this budget, even the long term capital gains was brought under taxation. That was one avenue where a bunch of financially prudent middle class people were able to secure their future with wise investments and now that's also not safe.

The financial policies of the BJP government are very weak and it is only a populist budget like any other that Congress would present with minor differences here and there but the pattern is the same. Make sure that the middle class has no escape route, give some lollipop to the poor but make sure they remain poor and protect the wealth of the rich.

Seventy three per cent of the wealth is concentrated in the hands of 1per cent of the population and yet, year after year, it is the middle class (and among them, the men) who are squeezed on a constant basis along with the dose of nationalism that it is our responsibility to build the nation.

The middle class needs to realize this and move out of the sandwich. Talk with your vote. Do not vote for any political party that does not make the middle class happy, even if it means a hung Parliament. The middle class needs to rise from its deep slumber.

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Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
About The Author
Virag R Dhulia, a software professional, has been a prominent men's rights activist. He has been engaged in creating awareness about the abuse of men and their families through anti-male and gender biased laws like Section 498A, Domestic Violence Act etc. He has been instrumental in networking with fellow men's rights activist both across India and abroad and has played key roles in organizing events to create awareness about abuse of men by the society. A book titled, 'The Secrets of Manhood' authored by Virag has been published. This book is a collection of short articles which focus on issues and problems faced by men and how men are victims of social stereotypes.
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