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Did President clarify from Finance Ministry why his salary is deducted disproportionately?

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat* 

What does one make of a situation when the first citizen of the country 'feels' helpless because of income tax deduction on his salary? President Ram Nath Kovind must be getting Rs 5 lakh per month as salary, but at a public meeting organised at his birth place, he said that over Rs 2.75 lakh per month get deducted from it. He complained that a local teacher is getting more salary than him, and so do government bureaucrats.
I am sure if President Kovind knew that teachers and bureaucrats get tax deduction, though none of them get the luxury which is enjoyed by the President of India. One does not know why the President was feeling so bad, especially when his salary is absolutely tax free. It is time for our 'able' Finance Minister to explain to the nation as why are they deducting more amount from the salary of our poor Rashtrapatiji.
It is a shocking statement to say the least. One, the President's office has luxuries attached to it, apart from perks and facilities. Even after retirement , he would be getting a decent salary, including a luxurious house and one assistant. I have never heard any past President of India speak about his or her salary, which were never a matter of concern.
The President is the custodian of our rights. He should encourage us to pay tax, but it is also important that, if a person, whose salary and perks are income tax free, is part of a campaign, it should be termed hypocritical. When the President speaks to people and complains that he does not get anything special and that a college teacher or a sarkari babu gets more than him, he is generalising things. 
He should remember, teachers are not paid for certain government duties for which they are used. Secondly, even in universities, things are not the same everywhere. Thirdly, I am sure, teachers are not getting 'tax free' salary, nor do they enjoy any power and perks.
During the President's visit to his hometown, he went by a 'special' train provided by Indian Railways. Teachers must book their tickets much in advance and have to pay for any travel. I am not sure if the Railways charged money from the Rashtrapati Bhavan. Worse, the security protocol of the President in Kanpur reportedly led to two deaths. One child died and got crushed and another woman, who was suffering from post-Covid complications, could not reach hospital because of traffic diversions and stoppage, as President's motorcade was passing by. VIP culture in India remains powerful and reminds all of us 'hamari aukat kya hai'.
Police officials, of course, apologised to the person whose child got killed, but is this apology enough? Importantly, it is officials who have to pay the price of such happenings. After all, protocols are created by officials under the guidance of the top leadership. Shouldn't the President's office speak out? How many of us have the luxury of moving and stopping traffic at will?
President Kovind should not worry about his salary. He must seek clarification from the Finance Ministry as to why, if at all, his salary was being deducted disproportionately, i.e. more than 50% of his earnings. Income tax rates in India are not so high; and why should the President pay more? There is no need for the President to justify his tax deductions which actually should never happen, nor should he make us feel that he is an ordinary citizen. He is the President of India and the first citizen and should get whatever luxuries, power, prestige, perks he is entitled to.
One only wishes him to be the custodian of our rights and our Constitution drafted by Baba Saheb Ambedkar
One only wishes him to be the custodian of our rights and our Constitution drafted by Baba Saheb Ambedkar. I have not seen the President speak much about Baba Saheb. I just want to remind him how President Giani Zail Singh and President KR Narayanan functioned in their offices. Both these Presidents gave a new meaning to their office.
Giani Zail Singh took on the might of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi who was not consulting him. Gianiji showed Rajiv the mirror: that the President has enough power to dismiss him. President KR Narayanan protected our Constitution and its secular values. He did not sign on the dotted lines of the government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Narayanan returned the order which wanted to impose President's rule in Uttar Pradesh. He reminded the government time and again about its constitutional duties much to the discomfort of the then ruling party.
Hope President Kovind enjoyed this trip to his native place. Uttar Pradesh is going to polls early next year, and the Rashtrapatiji has a lot to do o protect the Constitutional rights and political freedom in the State.
Hope the President will act whenever there is an attempt to throttle the rights of the people as he has the shining example of President KR Narayanan reminding the government to follow Constitutional path and protect rights of the people.
---
*Human rights defender. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vbrawat. Twitter: @freetohumanity

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