Thomas L Friedman of the New York Times is a world famous columnist and writer who is highly respected all over the world. He quotes American Vice-President hopeful Sarah Palin as addressing the other hopeful Biden as follows; “she turned to Biden and declared: “You said recently that higher taxes or asking for higher taxes or paying higher taxes is patriotic. In the middle class of America, which is where Todd and I have been all of our lives, that’s not patriotic.”
It is not the purpose of this post to explain what Mr. Friedman had to say in his piece. The purpose is to transpose this comment to India, and see quite how it fits with the Indian middle class, to which this writer belongs and which pays the maximum individual income tax in the country.
If any politician in India was to make the same comment about the Indian middle class, he will most likely get away with it. This is primarily because; the Indian middle class is almost entirely urban and semi-urban in composition. The big vote banks come from rural India where patriotism itself is a notion that does nothing to get or nor get votes. What matters there are totally different from what the tax paying middle class in India are concerned with.
The Indian middle class has a love hate relationship with income taxes. If it can get away without paying it, it will do so, primarily because it believes that the establishment, read politicians and babus make most of their income from either legitimate tax-free methods or, more often from unaccounted for black money. There is nothing immoral about this; it is just following role models.
If however, an Indian politician dependent entirely on the middle classes for his votes was to say what Ms. Palin had to say about the American middle classes, he can kiss his election good bye. For the Indian middle class, no matter what the provocation, their patriotism cannot be questioned. The same fellows who will not stand up when the national anthem is played will jump up and down like yo-yos if they were to be called unpatriotic.
Purely as a bystander and interested observer, I will be watching quite how the American middle class responds to this provocation from one of their possible future Presidents!
For my American readers, a question – What is your opinion on this?