The fine print

The fine print

At first look, the Union Budget 2020 proposes reductions in income-tax slabs in a new tax structure which could perhaps put more money in the hands of the people to boost overall consumption. However, removing existing exemptions under the new structure could have a negative impact on crucial saving options such as insurance and deposits. Although the present tax structure has been retained for those wishing to claim exemptions as being done at present, it would have been wiser to continue with such exemptions in the new structure also, possibly with reduced upper limits than at present. In short, encouraging consumption at the cost of savings would not be very healthy for balanced, long-term economic growth.

A. Mohan,


On Saturday, we watched the excellent presentation of the Union Budget. On announcing changes to the IT slabs, and illustrated with examples, everybody clapped as if they had finally been granted some benefits at last. To their dismay, the Finance Minister announced it to be “optional” as to avail this long-awaited benefit one would have to forgo all “exemptions” we enjoy. Why such gimmickry?

Ravi Sankar K.A.,

Thripunithura, Kerala

The government needs to explain to the people the economic logic behind the move to list the Life Insurance Corporation on the stock exchange. The LIC does not need any fresh capital nor is there any urgency to expand. It has been consistently growing at an average rate of 20% annually despite competition from private players and continues to maintain a nearly 70% market share. Through listing, big corporates are sure to enter the boardroom of LIC and start influencing its investment policy which has till date been robust and prudent, based on the principle of people’s money for people’s welfare.

Murty K.S.V.S.N.,

Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh

Coronavirus ready

It is evident from the recent declaration of a public and world emergency by the World Health Organisation that the deadly novel Coronavirus can be annihilated only through international cooperation. Accordingly, all countries should join hands in stopping the spread of the viral infection (Editorial page, “A sneeze, a global cold and testing times for China”, February 1).

Jayasree Thampi,


Ominous interlinks

I am at a loss to understand how can anyone fail to see the link between the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the National Register of Citizens and the impact the discriminatory nature of CAA will have on those left out of the NRC. Members of the ruling party and its top leaders are quick to repeatedly pontificate that no Indian citizen, especially Muslims, need not worry and that the CAA’s sole purpose is to legitimise the status of those who have sought refuge in India after being subjected to religious persecution in neighbouring countries by granting them citizenship. Anti-CAA protesters do not for a moment oppose this humanitarian gesture. Their opposition is to the CAA’s discriminatory nature which addresses the plight of the Hindus, Christians, Buddhists but excludes Muslims. Why should Muslims fear this law? In the course of implementing the NRC, a large number of citizens will be left out which will include all communities for not possessing proper documents demanded by the NRC as it happened in Assam. Hindus need not worry as the government has committed to granting them citizenship. Now what happens to Muslims left out of the NRC and whose numbers may run into lakhs? The government has not come clean on this.

Muneem Atther,


Free speech

The debaters discussing the restrictions on free speech seem unable to decide whether the existing restrictions are cumbersome or whether they need fine-tuning because of their presumption that the current political atmosphere is oppressive (OpEd page, “Should restrictions on free speech be reviewed?” January 31.) Many of the proposals discussed, instead of infusing the law with certainty and clarity, could add layers of complexity and ambiguity to inviting judicial interventions. Cumulative incitement cannot be objectively determined and lends itself to subjective interpretations. The judicial doctrine of differentiating advocacy and incitement is problematic because eloquence can easily camouflage a call to revolt.

It appears that many people get into trouble with free speech laws, not because there are too many restrictions. It is because they fail to exercise self-discipline. People are often carried away and deliver inflammatory speeches that attract the clause on reasonable restrictions unless they disclaim any intention to foster enmity against the state and the government. While adjudicating cases of sedition, judges cannot extend extraordinary solicitude to the political beliefs of the accused and exonerate them merely because there has been no direct incitement to violence. In a climate of political animosity and distrust, advocacy often comes laced with insinuations and subtle hints of rebellion. The onus of proving innocence is on the alleged transgressors.

V.N. Mukundarajan,


CRZ violations

While the violation of CRZ norms is widespread all along India, violations are greater in Kerala due to land scarcity. A better course of action would be to provide the statutory compensation, both in terms of land for dwelling and money, and rehabilitation well before demolition. Further, the argument that “the people who will be forced out of the illegal buildings may again construct houses and villas” is fallacious, because the fear of another demolition will surely be a deterrent. As a proactive measure to protect the coast from encroachments, a central CRZ Protection Guards/Force can be thought of (‘Ground Zero’ page, “Crisis along the coast”, February 1).

Kosaraju Chandramouli,


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Printable version | Feb 20, 2020 12:45:05 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/letters/the-fine-print/article30715985.ece

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