Prime Minister Narendra Modi Wednesday said more people under his government are paying taxes because they have faith that their money is being used properly, but pitched for a ‘tax-plus one’ system where citizens do a little more towards society besides honestly paying taxes.
Speaking at a townhall with IT professionals, he said the future lies in technology which should be used to develop solutions for issues facing the world’s fastest growing economy.
With the recent spike in international oil prices creating a mini-panic on retail fuel prices in the country, Modi said moving to electric vehicles is an answer and wanted domestic entrepreneurs to develop low cost, affordable battery and charging system to quickly charge cars run on electricity.
India imports 83 per cent of its oil needs and a spurt in international oil prices had sent retail prices of petrol, diesel and LPG to record highs earlier this month.
The Prime Minister said the taxpayer base in India has risen not due to threat of penal action but because taxpayers have faith that their money is being used properly and for the welfare of people.
“Paying tax is ‘prakriti’ (natural), not paying tax is ‘vikriti’ (deformity). But paying tax plus doing more is ‘sanskriti’ (culture),” he said.
“I appreciate honest tax payers whose numbers have increased. But tax that is paid is part of the system. Social service is tax-plus something. We need to create that,” Modi added.
He wanted citizens to do their bit towards social responsibility beyond just honestly paying taxes.
During 2017-18 fiscal, the direct tax to GDP ratio at 5.98 per cent is the best in the last 10 years. There is a growth of more than 80 per cent in the number of returns filed in the last four financial years from 3.79 crore in FY 2013-14 (base year) to 6.85 crore in FY 2017-18, according to the Finance Ministry.
“We have a culture where we like to only criticise business and industry. This is not a line of thought I agree with,” Modi said. “We have seen today, in this townhall programme, how leading corporates are doing excellent social work, urging their employees to venture our and serve.”
Modi said inclusive growth is the way ahead and it is important to create an India where everyone has equal opportunities.
The future, he said, lies in technology, which will empower India.
“We are living in an era of start-ups,” he said. “Today, the world wants India to lead.”
But saving natural resources is a responsibility, he said.
Through volunteering efforts, a lot can be done in the agriculture sector. Youngsters must venture out and work for the welfare of farmers, he said, and appealed to hard-working farmers to embrace drip irrigation.
“We have become very careless when it comes to consumption of water,” he said. “We need to conserve water and recycle water too.”
Modi said the symbol of the Swachh Bharat Mission is the spectacles of Mahatma Gandhi, who is the inspiration for a clean India. “We are fulfilling Bapu’s vision,” he said.
“On many occasions, what sarkar (government) can’t do, sanskar (culture) can do. Let us make cleanliness a part of our value systems,” he said as he exhorted citizens to think of ‘we first’ rather than ‘I first’.
He also said it is essential to step out of our comfort zone. “Let us think about how we can use our strengths to bring a positive difference in the lives of others,” he said. “Every effort, however big or small, must be valued.”
Governments may have schemes and budgets but the success of any initiative lies in public involvement, he said. “I am sure people want to work for others, they want to serve society and bring a positive difference,” Modi said.