(February 13/14, 2016, No. 7/2016)
Feel free to mail your views on this edition of WL to mgwarrier@gmail.com
Budget as Change Agent

I expect Budget 2016-17 to be different from earlier budgets. Sometime back, in an article posted @moneylife.in I had observed:
“Every year, the Economic Survey, which is presented just before the budget, gives an overview of developments affecting the basic features of economic growth and therefore have implications on subsequent financial management. This year, government could consider presenting a paper giving indicative information on the resources that can be tapped for mobilisation of resources for promotin growth and government’s priorities about their deployment over time. The sectors could include:
(i)                Areas including agriculture income, now enjoying tax concessions.
(ii)              Tax waivers, including those extended to corporates, provided during the last 5 or 10 years and the benefits derived. An attempt should be made to make beneficiaries plough back to the exchequer, a portion of the benefits they derive out of such concessions. Though this may be happening in different ways(like employment generation, reduction in exports etc), there is no transparent and meaningful analyses in these areas.
(iii)            Real Estate is another grey area. States and Local Self Government authorities may create an inventory of unutilised built-up areas, both residential and commercial. A nominal tax on unused/unsold buildings and commercial space could be thought of. This will improve real estate market.”
The article published @moneylife.in was included in my suggestions posted at FM’s website in response to invitation for suggestions. Thousands of citizens have communicated their suggestions/expectations to the finance ministry. Though these views may not fully represent the aspirations of the people, one expects that they will influence the budget exercise in some way some time.
Recent responses
 February 12, 2016
Unwelcome move
This refers to the report “Union budget may boost take-home salaries” (The Hindu, February 12). On the face of it, the proposal to discontinue recovery of provident fund contribution from the wages of employees with low income would appear a worker-friendly initiative, putting more money in the employees’ pockets. In effect, the move reduces the corpus intended to take care of the employee’s retired life by half. As there are no social security systems of the kind available in developed countries, workers in the organised sector get protected to some extent by their savings through PF contribution. It is cruel on the part of government to lure them by promise of more take-home pay by reducing their forced savings for a genuine purpose.
Such a gesture to reduce employees’ contribution should be made only where employers are able to compensate by increasing their contribution to PF to the extent employees’ contribution is reduced.
Ethically, smuggling such drastic measures through budget proposals, which get through without adequate informed discussion in compelling circumstances, should not be an option. This happened in the case of withdrawal of Defined Payment-based Pension Scheme and now the same mistake is likely to be repeated. Legislative processes should not be skipped for administrative expediency or on grounds of political compulsions.
M G Warrier, Mumbai
February 11, 2016
Right signals
This refers to the report “EPFO Plans One-time Bonus of Rs750Cr in FY16” (Economic Times, February 11). This is a welcome move from EPFO, which sends out a message that the EPFO is managing the huge corpus of funds entrusted to it by small savers professionally and when surplus income is earned from investment of such funds, a part of it shall be shared with the owners of the corpus. Government should not dampen the initiative by raising issues like the impact on interest rates elsewhere.
A related issue is the continuance of National Pension System (NPS) as an independent scheme. For Centre, it will be expedient from management and administrative angles to entrust NPS also to the Employees Provident Fund Organisation after making necessary legislative changes.

The Hindu, February 12, 2016
Who is the seer?
The atma is an amazing subtlety and its uniqueness continues to inspire wonder and astonishment. The atma’s existence cannot be proved in tangible terms. It is held to be the essence of consciousness and bliss and is eternally existent. Whatever methods are used to prove coherent truths in life based on reason cannot be applied in establishing the truth of the atma, though it is a self-evident truth, said Swami Gautamananda in a lecture.
Rationally speaking, what is seen is to be believed, goes the saying. But the atma cannot be seen by the senses. It is beyond the grasp of all the senses. Yet all know it in their inner depths, though one can never categorically prove that it exists or, conversely, establish that it does not.
Scriptures quote the analogy of the dream to explain the subtle nature of the atma. The dream, though seen during one’s sleep, has an existence only in one’s thought. Its validity is purely through one’s inference of the dream. What is more important is the fact that the one who sees the dream exists before, during and after the dream. Likewise, seeing, hearing, inhaling, tasting and the ability to touch and feel objects are possible because of the senses. But the senses are ineffective to operate on their own and it is the atma that enables then to function. The mind is operated by the atma. It takes the form of the object and reveals its nature. So the eye sees many objects. But it cannot see its own self. The atma cannot objectify itself. It is the subject. So who is the seer? He is the Kshetrajna who can never be the object that is seen and understood. He can only be recognised as the eternal consciousness, the subject and the knower of the created universe.


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