Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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Why is Lokayukta unable to conduct a proper exam?

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Editor,
I am writing to express my deep disappointment and outrage over the recent examination conducted by the Meghalaya Lokayukta for the post of peon, which took place on June 15, 2024. The level of incompetence displayed in this process is staggering and raises serious concerns about the integrity of the Lokayukta – an institution entrusted with the critical task of eradicating corruption in state government organizations.
The admit cards issued for this examination clearly stated that the test would be an aptitude test. However, the candidates were blindsided when the actual examination consisted solely of general knowledge and current affairs questions. This blatant discrepancy not only confuses the candidates but also undermines the credibility of the entire recruitment process. Furthermore, the decision to collect the question papers after the examination is highly suspicious and adds to the growing concerns about the transparency of the process.
The substandard quality of the questions posed in the exam is yet another testament to the gross negligence on the part of the Lokayukta officials. One would expect an institution of such prestige to conduct a fair and rigorous examination. Instead, what we witnessed was a poorly managed process that reflects a lack of seriousness and accountability.
Adding insult to injury, a notification was published in The Shillong Times on June 21, 2024, announcing the cancellation of the exam. This abrupt decision is the final nail in the coffin of an already disastrous process. It is reminiscent of the ongoing fiascos with the NEET and NET exams, causing further disillusionment among the candidates.
It is high time the officials responsible for this debacle come out of their shells and provide a clear and honest explanation for their careless actions. The citizens of Meghalaya deserve better from the Lokayukta. The trust placed in this institution is paramount, and such blatant mismanagement severely undermines it.
I urge the concerned authorities to take immediate corrective measures and ensure that such incidents do not recur. Transparency, accountability, and adherence to proper procedures are the need of the hour. The Lokayukta must restore its credibility and fulfil its duty to the people of Meghalaya.
Yours etc.,
R Sarki
Shillong

Irresponsible driving
Editor,
I wish to bring to the notice of the public and the authorities about the rash driving of some two- wheeler drivers. On June 20, afternoon, an elderly gentleman, while crossing the road just near the St. Edmund’s small gate, was hit by a speeding scooter bearing the driver and a small child who had clearly been picked up from his school. If the scooter had been moving at a safe speed, it could have easily braked or swerved to avoid hitting the person but coming at such a high speed it was impossible to do so and the gentleman was hit head on. The scooter skidded on the road for quite a distance and it was a miracle that the child on the scooter, though he fell, did not suffer any injuries at all and the helmet he had on must have protected him.
Thankfully the elderly gentlemen, though badly battered, did not suffer major injuries. This is a request to all those parents whose children are picked up by two wheelers from schools to strongly drill into the heads of their two wheeler drivers that they are not on a racing track and their prime duty is to see that the child gets back home safe and sound. Moving at a safe speed will guarantee that safety manoeuvres can be taken if an emergency should arise otherwise children’s lives are put on the line if a speed lunatic is at the steering. Concerned parents please take heed.
Asking the authorities to so something about these speedsters seems pointless as they seem totally helpless at controlling these maniacs.
Yours etc.,
D. M. Pariat,
Shillong.

Rising inequality a critical factor
Editor,
Rising inequality is the most pressing problem India is facing now. The French economist, Thomas Piketty and others observed, “The Billionaire Raj headed by India’s modern bourgeoisie is now more unequal than the British Raj headed by the colonialist forces.” Remedial measures need to be taken without delay. But what is striking is that even a discussion for wealth distribution to cure inequality has become a dreaded topic.
When Sam Pitroda suggested inheritance tax, prevailing in welfare countries like the United States, as one of the ways to achieve the much needed wealth redistribution, the Prime Minister attacked it saying that the mangalsutras of women and the home of common people would be robbed. Interestingly, no political party supported Sam Pitroda’s views.
Inequality not only damages the concept of ‘government for the people’ but also hampers the development of human resources and the growth of the market as well. We know that modern welfare states rely more on direct taxes like income tax, property tax, inheritance tax etc. to control inequality.
Thomas Piketty has aptly called progressive inheritance taxes the “second major fiscal innovation of the twentieth century,” after progressive income taxes. Inheritance tax is 55 per cent in Japan, 50 per cent in South Korea, 45 per cent in France, 40 per cent in the USA and the UK, 34 per cent in Spain, 33 per cent in Ireland, and 30 per cent in Belgium and Germany. Those countries spend the money to ensure that every citizen gets quality health care and quality education.
Unfortunately, we follow an indirect tax regime in a country where rising inequality is a pain in the neck. In India, the poorest of the poor have to cough up a substantial amount and an equal amount of indirect tax as their creamy counterparts when they are to buy anything from salt to slippers and from food to medicine.
As a matter of fact, if we calculate the percentage of indirect tax payment on one’s total income, we will see that a poor man’s contribution to tax and tax related expenditures is more than any rich person. This is because a poor person has to spend all his money to buy essential items and thus has to pay GST. A poor person’s contribution towards GST in proportion to her or his income is naturally higher than that of a rich person.
While direct taxes depend on the taxpayers’ ability to pay, indirect taxes are blind to the economic status of the taxpayers. In this way, indirect taxes hit the poor the hardest. Direct taxes are an equitable way to fill the State’s coffers. GST can only exist on luxury goods. But essential items from food to medicine should have zero tax.
Economists have prescribed restructuring the tax policies for both income and wealth as well as a broad-based public investment in health, education and nutrition. They said that a “super-tax” of 2 per cent on the net wealth of the 167 wealthiest families in 2022-23 would yield 0.5 per cent of the national income in revenues and create valuable fiscal space to facilitate such investments.
Contrary to the prescription to levy more tax on the super-rich, write-off of huge amounts of bank loans has been done for some rich businessmen.
When there is zero inheritance tax in India, the super-rich must at least pay a handsome percentage of income tax like their western counterparts. But the rate of income tax for those who earn in one financial year above 5 crores is reduced from 42.74% to 39% under the new tax regime from 1st April 2023.
Yours etc.,
Sujit De,
Kolkata

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