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Showing posts from August, 2017


Remove the veil On a certain date each year in October, just past the midnight hour, the Government of the Kingdom of Norway posts online the annual tax returns of all its citizens. The list contains every taxpayer’s total income and the tax paid. Any Norwegian can discover at the click of a button, how he compares with his neighbour, with the yes-man who plods away across the aisle at the office or indeed the local politician who rants about a more equitable society. Sweden and Finland have a similar arrangement and, as on dozens of other counts, the three Nordic States stand apart from the rest of the world. Dodgers can duck the taxman but not public scrutiny, or so the logic goes. Scandinavian societies have historically been compliant and transparent. They are also amongst the most egalitarian in the world with levels of decency that are the envy of other cultures. Tax data in these countries has actually been public since the 1800s, when the levy was applied at a municipa


The reform agenda: on track? A few weeks ago, The Economist Newspaper, a London-based weekly, ran an India briefing entitled ‘The Constant Tinkerer’. Whilst largely well researched, some of the arguments presented failed to give consideration to Constitutional limitations that would for instance prevent the federal Government from legislating ideal policies. The Goods and Services Tax is a case in point. Admittedly, the law in its present form is far from perfect, but the fact is it needed a consensus from 28 states and 7 Union Territories with their own agendas and insecurities. Getting everyone to agree on a common denominator was from any benchmark a painfully demanding task and inevitably necessitated compromises. The briefing failed to notice that many of the shortcomings of the current GST structure were agreed upon during the tenure of the previous administration. Re-negotiating those, even if it were possible, would have undone years of progress. However, the article did se

China's Pointless Assertiveness

China’s decision to discard previous notions of neutrality between India and Pakistan and align both foreign policy and strategic outlook with Islamabad seems inconsistent considering its desire to play on the global stage as an emerging super power. Perhaps China is miffed at the tepid response offered by the Indian government on its Belt and Road Initiative. Ostensibly, it is irked by India’s unexpected standoff against the construction of a road in Doklam, a tri-junction nestled between the Indian State of Sikkim, Bhutan and Tibet. Bhutan, an Indian ally, considers the Doklam plateau a part of its sovereign territory and asserts that China’s claims on land in that area violate the status quo. The foreign policy of nation states is crafted along strategic imperatives and understandably China’s should be no different. As the world’s second largest economy and the largest trading nation, China now wishes to define a new global order on trade, military and other interests. Wit