In the Mughal and British times- due to the oppressive tax regimes- when people met citizens of another city the first question was not how is life in your city but how is tax in your city?
I have also begun to ask this question of other city dwellers. How is tax in your city? Why? Because of the newly imposed house tax.
Am I scared of paying taxes? No. I pay my taxes. What I fear is interacting with the Government. Whenever I interact with the Government I feel I will enter a morally ambiguous and slip shod territory.
The ham handed manner in which MCG is going about collecting taxes is a case in point. It wants to collect taxes from those people who have rented out their properties. So it has come up with the unique idea to make it mandatory for all those who haven’t done so to come to the MCG office with a notarized affidavit to that effect! If the Customs department was to collect import duties like this then it would first ask all the companies who are NOT importing goods to come and file an affidavit that they are non- importers. Or if one was to levy a tax on vehicles the distinctive place to start would be by asking non-vehicle owners to file an affidavit of non ownership!
Anyway it is a diktat from MC JI so I go about typing the Affidavit. While taking the print out the power trips. I wait for it to return. Once the print out is in my hand I set out for getting it notarized. I am on the dusty, bumpy, sloppily patchworked, shameful roads of Gurgaon. Garbage all around. Stray cattle and dogs and even pigs. So much for the taxes we pay. I Reach the district court. A lawyer tells me it that the notarizing will cost me Rs. 100. I pay him. In about forty minutes I have the notarized affidavit in my hands. Another gentleman who has been hovering around says, “Aur mere Chai paani ke liye sahab?” And flashes his paan stained teeth. I notice three of his contiguous molars on the left are cast in gold. I wonder how he lost these and where does he get the gold from. My tongue traverses over the ceramic tooth fillings I have. Feeling inferior I say, “Chai to aap ko pilani chahiye hamein. Woh bhi Sone ke cup mein.”. He has a quizzical expression on his face as I walk off.
Now I have to look for the MCG office. It is on Gurudwara road. I go past it as there is no board. Ask around and finally get there. The clerk is sitting in the open with his desk and chair. Each Affidavit should be given in a file- there is no filing system that they could develop so they are depending on us. So there is a pile of plastic, paper and card board files on his desk. You won’t be given a receipt- but you can note down the file number assigned to you. I can’t but ask the officer why can’t you take these details through the registrar’s office or electronically through the net from those who have not rented their premises? He stares back, one of his colleagues quips from the back ground, “Sir, time waste mat karo. Ab har saal aana padega. Dheere dheere aadat pad jayegi.”