Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Bleed to Lead, Breed and Succeed

I am a woman and my reality is that I bleed and breed. Equally is my reality that I lead and succeed; but that does not change the fact that I am a woman. I cannot own one and turn my back to the other. Both these aspects complete me just like heads and tails maketh a coin. So if I can walk the corridors of the corporate world, use logic and reasoning to make decisions and forge ahead why should I not use the same analytical skills to answer questions on discrimination...

Ever since GST has been rolled out in India I have worked with my team to understand if the pre roll out impact analysis was accurate and sufficient. In the last 12 days I have read, heard and discussed varied reports and opinions. All of them have led me to the conclusion that this much needed reform would have created upheaval whenever we would have attempted it despite preparation ad nauseam. While the focus remained on business, in the background there was this constant humdrum that sanitary napkins are being taxed at 12% when bindi, bangles, sindoor and condoms are tax free. The women empowerment morchas have been crying foul and their voices are never fading. The secular brigade is on a slogan screaming campaign just behind the feminists. Their din is hurtful to the ears. While logic told me that taxes alone cannot make sanitary napkins unaffordable I decided to flesh out this discussion a bit more.

To begin with - bindi, bangles and sindoor were tax free pre GST as they are post. In the post era they are tax free not to appease sentiments of religious factions or to force women to use them as some sort of bonded labourer marks, but because a majority of these products are manufactured by entities with an annual income of less than INR 20 lakhs. These entities are outside of the GST network, which means that they do not get to avail of input tax credits. Now if these enterprises are made to pay an output tax but they don't get input tax benefits then we are making them economically unviable and that will be injustice. So the status quo for these items remain to ensure that GST roll out does not eat away livelihoods of the lower strata of the society. That's logic and rationale from the leading and succeeding me. The bleeding and breeding me wants to ask the secular brigade one question - are bindis and bangles used only by women of one religious faction? I know of Hindu, Parsi, Muslim, Jain and Christian women who love wearing both these accessories on a daily basis to enhance their beauty or for personal pleasure. Parsi married women equally support red bangles as do the Hindus. Hindu women in urban India, at least, no longer sport sindoor on a daily basis unless you count the Indian television appearances of Sindoor soaked women. Feminist senoritas now that's the cluster of modern society you need to educate because their caricatures propagate what you are so against. And they propagate to the world and not just to Indians in India. Fight the battle at the root cause and maybe you can eradicate it. 

Now coming to condoms. Well it's not just condoms but all contraceptives that are tax free. And that's to control the population growth which is already at levels where food, energy and water security for the nation are threatened. That is logic and reasoning once again, but singing the logical notes I am forced to think that condom manufacturers are larger organisations. So why should they stand to benefit with no output tax but access to input tax credit. Do they though? Must research this point or need to logically understand it. Flow of thoughts - So if an enterprise has an input tax carry forward do they get cash back from the government? No. Also if sold B2B the dealer has no input credit and no output tax so no benefit. B2C the retail customer anyway has no input tax credit availability. So is this really a huge benefit for the organisations... If you still want to harp on condoms feministas, well they also protect the health of the woman and ensure her pleasure with the least discomfort. And while condoms are tax free the government also distributes them free to encourage the use and save this country from turning into an overcrowded ant hill. So the bleeding me thinks that tax free contraceptives and condoms benefits women too.

That brings me to the point that no one has spoken of yet - free distribution of sanitary napkins. Take away the 12% tax and rural India will still not be able to afford sanitary napkins. Distribute them free, install hygienic dispensers and educate women on benefits of pads - that is money well spent. So I say charge me 12% every month but use that 12% on a fellow woman who cannot afford even one tenth of the 12% that I stand to save. Create a corpus from the tax proceeds of sanitary napkins to be spent on improving menstrual health of girls and women in the most deprived parts of the nation. I would say give an additional tax break to the larger manufacturers of women hygiene products so that savings on tax are ploughed at the ground level to help us bleed healthy and breed secure. That's logic, rationale, emotion and solution all rolled into one. 

If the government pulls of something like this then the reforms in India will truly be revolutionary. If the fire brand women can lobby for something like this then the colour of red would have painted us in a different light globally. If the religious factions can implement this at grass root levels, their votebanks will be ringing in well wishers in abundance. Any takers? Any seconders? Anybody for a positive change? And well I don't count on the media to help with something like this. At the end of the day this is really worth implementing and not sensational enough you see...

1 comment:

Jaya Rao said...

Very thoughtfull .. completly agree with u 👍