Anarcho-environmentalism allegorised

The name Anaarkali in the present context has many meanings - Anaar symbolises the anarchism of the Bhils and kali which means flower bud in Hindi stands for their traditional environmentalism. Anaar in Hindi can also mean the fruit pomegranate which is said to be a panacea for many ills as in the Hindi idiom - "Ek anar sou bimar - One pomegranate for a hundred ill people"! - which describes a situation in which there is only one remedy available for giving to a hundred ill people and so the problem is who to give it to. Thus this name indicates that anarcho-environmentalism is the only cure for the many diseases of modern development! Similarly kali can also imply a budding anarcho-environmentalist movement. Finally according to a legend that is considered to be apocryphal by historians Anarkali was the lover of Prince Salim who was later to become the Mughal emperor Jehangir. Emperor Akbar did not approve of this romance of his son and ordered Anarkali to be bricked in alive into a wall in Lahore in Pakistan but she escaped. Allegorically this means that anarcho-environmentalists can succeed in bringing about the escape of humankind from the self-destructive love of modern development that it is enamoured of at the moment and they will do this by simultaneously supporting women's struggles for their rights.

Friday, August 18, 2017

The Energy Conundrum

Energy is a very crucial aspect of civilisation. Work requires energy and so the more the use of energy and the higher the efficiency of its use, the greater the work done and surplus produced. From the time fire was discovered the use of artificial energy generated by burning combustible materials has added to the energy of human and animal labour. This increased substantially first with the invention of the steam engine, then with the invention of the diesel engine and finally with the invention of electricity. Human and animal labour which used to be the mainstay of economic activity earlier, gradually began to recede in importance and artificial energy became the mainstay of economic development and electricity is the dominant form of energy. Thus, for any modern economy, the planning of electrical power is crucial for its development. 
The development push that was required after independence from British rule necessarily had to have a major energy component, especially in the generation of electric power. Since the private sector at the time of independence was very weak, so it fell on the Government to fund infrastructure development, including the generation and distribution of electric power. So mainly coal based thermal power generation and some hydro-electric power generation was done by central and state government institutions. This led to two main distortions over time as follows -
1. Inefficiencies in power generation and distribution with low capacity utilisation in generation and high transmission and distribution losses resulting in huge shortages in supply and a large uncovered population.
2. Poor financial condition of the State Electricity Boards which had to bear the cost of subsidies that were given to farmers and industries legally or illegally by condoning theft of power.
Consequently, when the economy was liberalised in the 1990s, the power sector too was sought to be reformed to remove the above distortions. Now that a quarter century of reforms have elapsed the Prayas Energy Group (PEG) of Pune has recently done a critical review of this reform process in the power sector and the allied fuel sectors of coal and gas and published it - "Many Sparks but Little Light - The Rhetoric and Practice of Electricity Sector Reforms in India" (http://www.prayaspune.org/peg/publications/item/332-many-sparks-but-little-light-the-rhetoric-and-practice-of-electricity-sector-reforms-in-india.html).

The book does a detailed evaluation not only of the achievements of the reform process with regard to removing the two problems mentioned above but also in ensuring better conservation of the environment and natural resources and better rehabilitation of people displaced due to power and mining projects. The conclusions of the book based on detailed factual analysis are -
1. The extension of the market for power and the introduction of private enterprise into the sector has been of a half hearted nature and in many cases private entities have been favoured without a true competitive market structure being established for the power sector.
2. The private sector has made investments only when it has had agreements assuring guaranteed returns and not if they have to depend on the vagaries of the market and so even today the bulk of the generation, transmission and distribution is being done by the public sector.
3. Enough has not been done to promote renewable energy generation and consumption which given their higher costs require pro-active subsidies.
4. The environmental and social costs of power projects which have been rising with time and have now become critical have not been adequately addressed.
5. Access to power still remains minimal for a large section of the population.
6. Enough is not being done to promote the renewable energy sector though there has been some progress in recent years.
7. The financial condition of power sector entities both in the private and the public sector remains precarious and the costs to the public too are high necessitating continuing subsidies to the poor.
While the review competently exposes the inadequacy and misdirection of the reform process in the power sector and allied coal and gas sectors, it does not go far enough in critiquing the energy scenario in this country. For instance nowhere in the book is there any mention of the per capita power consumption level in this country and its comparison with the global average. The average per capita power consumption in India is about 2 units of electricity per day whereas the global average is 8 units of electricity per capita per day which is the minimum required for providing a dignified existence and a thriving economy. The first problem that arises is from this big shortfall is that the present power generation paradigm based mainly on coal fired thermal power plants will not be able to assure a quadrupling of supply to make up this shortfall due to environmental and technical concerns. Neither will such quadrupling be possible through centralised gas based thermal power generation, hydro-power, nuclear power or wind and solar power. 
Thus, there needs to be a reorientation towards decentralised power generation which, in addition to ensuring greater access to power for the poor, will also bring down the transmission and distribution losses. There is no discussion of this whatsoever in the book. The possibility of decentralised generation of power from a combination of solar, wind and anaerobic incineration of forest and agricultural biomass is considerable if it is properly supported by government policies and programmes. Currently, this support is either minimal or non-existent. Indeed not just in the power sector but for our overall energy needs too, decentralised energy production is the way to go given our huge foreign exchange out go for the import of crude oil, gas and good quality coal. 
There is also inadequate discussion of the problems arising out of the need to subsidise the supply of electricity to agriculture given the worsening economics of that sector and the huge number of people dependent on it for their livelihoods. Most State Governments are having to provide huge subsidies to the distribution companies to provide cheap or free electricity to farmers. Once again this underlines the need for decentralised power generation in rural areas. 


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

When Pigs Fly!!

Three years is a good time to find out what is happening to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi's bold announcement from the ramparts of the Red Fort on August 15th 2014 that India would gain freedom from shit by 2019 to commemorate the sesquicentenary of the birth of M. K. Gandhi. What Gandhi had failed to do during his long life time, Modi had promised to do in just five years. I have been in Rewa town of Madhya Pradesh for the past week evaluating the waste water scene here. What is happening in Rewa is what is happening in most of India's towns. Here is a preliminary report of the waste water scene in Rewa that will give an indication as to whether India will indeed be shit free by 2019.
Rewa is a town with open drains, some pucca and some kuccha, into which all the waste water is emptied from houses and then these drains empty into nalas which in turn empty into the Bichia river which runs through the town. Since these drains are consequently rich in shit they are populated by pigs as shown below.

This is a classic photo. The pig has positioned its snout just below the waste water pipe and is happily slurping in the shit water as it emanates from the pipe. Where is this pipe in turn emanating from? It is coming from a community toilet run by the NGO Sulabh which has made it a business to actually not clean shit in the name of doing it and its founder Bindeshwari Pathak has recently published a eulogistic biography of the Prime Minister. The shit water from thousands of its community toilets across the country is directly emptied into nearby drains and this is what is happening in Rewa too. The pigs knowing of this, station themselves strategically to feast on the shit rich water.
One of the programmes launched following Modi's shit free India announcement is the National River Conservation Programme (NRCP). Under this it has been decided that towns and cities in India will be provided with sewers and sewage treatment plants to collect and treat the waste water from homes and then reuse the treated water for gardening and agriculture. In this way the many rivers that flow through cities and towns will be relieved from the load of shit that they are endlessly being burdened with.
Rewa Municipal Corporation was given money under the NRCP a couple of years ago. The municipal planners under the direction of the planners of the State Government designed and constructed a Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) from the funds provided which is ready. However, they forgot to lay sewer lines in the town to collect the waste water and direct it to the STP!! So the STP is standing like a monarch of all the shit that it can survey without any of it coming to it!! I have interviewed many people of Rewa town in the past few days but not one of them had heard that the STP had been built and none knew where it was situated. The engineer of the municipal corporation who is supposed to supervise and monitor its construction was evasive as to where this STP was located. Eventually I had to go through the google satellite map of Rewa with a tooth comb to find out where the STP was located!! Belatedly the contract for laying the sewer lines and constructing more STPs has been given to a firm now. The staff of this firm too were evasive about where exactly they are working and refused to give me any details. So STPs and sewerage lines are being built without the citizens knowing anything about this.
If wishes were horses then pigs would fly it is said. But Modi's wishes are such that even without their becoming horses, the pigs are flying on shit!!! No wonder that in the galaxy of achievements that Modi listed from the ramparts of the Red Fort today he quietly left out any mention of freeing India from shit!!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Confronting The Intersectionality of Oppressions

The Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) is once again challenging the mendacity of the Indian State as it has done on so many occasions over the past three decades and as before it will succeed in holding the state accountable to a certain extent. However, this story is not so much about the tenacity of the NBA but about a person who is a shining example of one of its unique characteristics that has contributed to this tenacity. First let me talk of this unique characteristic of the NBA which has a lot to do with the character of its main leader Medha Patkar. Right from the start of the NBA three decades ago, Medha has been able to inspire young urban people to ditch their careers, for some time at least and sometimes permanently, and dedicate themselves to the struggle for justice of the NBA in particular and across the country in general. In fact the NBA has sustained itself for so long with so much energy and purpose because young people from the cities have continually come to man and woman the barricades. Given the complexities of conducting a mass struggle in the modern world against a ruthless and crooked state apparatus which is backed by the rapaciousness of global capitalism, it is not possible for the rural people in the valley alone to sustain the struggle and so tech savvy, english speaking youth have always been in demand and they have contributed their mite to keeping the fight going.
Meera Sanghamitra is one such young person. I saw her for the first time a few years back in a meeting organised by a human rights organisation in Indore and was immediately struck by her articulation and knowledge. What impressed me even more was that she is a transgender person. I had read about transgender activists who are fighting for their rights but this was the first time I was seeing one in flesh and blood holding forth with power and it was inspiring. Her presence was so powerful that it smashed the stereotypical picture in my mind of the trans-gender persons who routinely move around the town singing and clapping and asking for money on various festive occasions.

Meera is of course very active in defence of transgender rights also as will become clear by and by but her main work at that time was as an activist of the NBA fighting for the rights of the people who were to be displaced due to the Sardar Sarovar Dam being built in Gujarat.  The struggle had reached a stage where the many people in Madhya Pradesh had to be rehabilitated and for this they were fighting their individual cases in Grievance Redressal Authority. The Government continually tried to short change the affected people and so their cases had to be fought diligently and once they were awarded compensation then it had to be ensured that they did get this. Moreover, there was a big scam that was unearthed about false land registrations having been made by unscrupulous officials and lawyers to siphon off the rehabilitation money due to the affected people. Finally, there was the struggle against the sand mining mafia which was devastating  the river bed of the Narmada and its tributaries through indiscriminate extraction of sand with machines. Then, as always, there were the various mass protests that had to be organised in the valley, in Bhopal and in Delhi against the continuing efforts of the Government to cheat the affected people. Meera led all these activities with aplomb. It must be remembered that given the kind of society we have it is not easy for a transgender person to work as a normal person. That is why most transgender persons have got ghettoised into their own communities on the margins of society as has been powerfully portrayed by Arundhati Roy in her latest novel. Under the circumstances leading an active mass struggle with so many responsibilities is no mean feat. She has now moved on to being one of the national convenors of the National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM) which is an umbrella organisation of several mass struggles going on across India against the depredations of modern anti-people development.
The immediate spur for this post, however, is a strong statement that Meera has recently made in defence of transgender rights. The other day the veteran Dalit activist from Maharashtra, Ramdas Athavale, who is a minister in the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) Government at the centre, said that trans-gender persons should not wear Sarees. He said this during a workshop to sensitise people about transgenders as part of the efforts to get enacted the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 2016 which is pending in parliament. This bill seeks to give a distinct identity to transgender persons and prevent discrimination against them. There are two important aspects of this statement that need to be discussed. The first is the patriarchal mindset that has made the minister think of transgenders as males who should not cross dress and sully the patriarchal sanctity that has been given to women with the saree being the traditional symbol of Indian womanhood. Almost certainly the minister also looks askance at women cross dressing and wearing jeans and tee shirts even though he may not have picked up the courage yet to make such a statement in line with his more patriarchal colleagues in the NDA. But the crucial point that Athavale has missed is that many transgender women feel they are women despite having male bodies and so prefer to dress as women.
The second aspect is more important as this statement shows that despite decades of struggle for Dalit rights, Athavale has little sensitivity for the feelings of another marginalised and oppressed community, that of transgenders. In recent years the intersectionality of oppressions has become the focus of activists. This is a term coined by American civil rights advocate Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw to describe overlapping or intersecting social identities and related systems of oppression, domination, or discrimination.There are multiple oppressions and so for instance a poor black woman has to fight class, race and gender oppression while a rich white woman has to fight only gender oppression and may also be oppressing the black woman through the class and race privileges that she enjoys. Ideally true socio-economic change is possible when all the multiple oppressions are taken into account and an alliance forged to fight a common fight. Athavale had come in for criticism  from Dalit rights activists earlier for joining the NDA which is a Brahminical coalition inherently against the interests of the Dalits and now he has fallen foul of the transgender community with his uncalled for advice regarding how they should dress.

Meera normally does not wear a saree, preferring to dress in salwar kameez but to protest this outrageous statement from Athavale she has not only worn a saree but has taken a selfie of herself and posted it in Facebook. She is extremely busy now with various struggles of farmers in Andhra Pradesh and also drumming up support for the NBA but yet as a true intersectionalist she has stood up for the rights of her very own transgender people. Long years of fruitless struggle have injected iron into my soul but when I see young people like Meera holding up the torch so valiantly against the odds, I feel that despite all the many hurdles, the oppressed will one day certainly inherit the earth.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

कथा निर्माण और संघर्ष की

मजदूरों और किसानों का संगठन छत्तीसगढ़ मुक्ति मोर्चा का संस्थापक कार्यकर्ता, शंकर गुहा नियोगी, एक मशहूर मुहावरा का सृजन किया था – "संघर्ष और निर्माण"। उनका आशय था कि केवल जन संघर्षों से बुनियादी सामाजिक – आर्थिक बदलाव नहीं आएगा बल्कि साथ ही वैकल्पिक विकास का ढांचा रचनात्मक कार्यों के द्वारा खड़ा करना होगा। शिक्षा, स्वास्थ्य एवं आजीविका के क्षेत्र में रचनात्मक कार्यों के माध्यम से जन संगठनों को एक विकल्प तैयार करना होगा क्योंकि जन संघर्षों से यह संभव नहीं है। गुहा नियोगी एक असाधारण नेता थे और इसलिए वे छत्तीसगढ़ मुक्ति मोर्चा के अपने साथियों को एक साथ उच्च कोटी के संघर्ष और निर्माण करने के लिए प्रेरित कर पाये थे। उनसे प्रेरित होकर हम लोग भी खेदुत मजदूर चेतना संगठ के माध्यम से पश्चिमी मध्य प्रदेश के भील आदिवासियों के बीच बीसवी सदी के अंतिम दशक में वैसे ही करने के प्रयास किए थे। परंतु गुहा नियोगी जैसे काबिल न होने के कारण हम जन संघर्ष अधिक किए एवं निर्माण के कार्य पीछे रह गए।

सन 2001 में परिस्थितियों में व्यापक बदलाव आया। आदिवासी स्वशासन के लिए देवास जिले के उदयनगर तहसील में एक व्यापक जन आंदोलन चल रहा था जिसके तहत कई गाँव में ग्राम सभाओं द्वारा प्रशासन को दर किनार कर अपना शासन खुद चलाया जा रहा था। सरकार को लोगों की इस स्वनिर्भरता पसंद नही आई और दमनात्मक कार्यवाही कर भारी पुलिस बल का प्रयोग के द्वारा संगठन को ध्वस्त कर दिया गया। इस कार्यवाही में संगठन के चार साथी पुलिस की गोली खाकर मर गए और मुझ समेत दर्जनों कार्यकर्ताओं को जेल में ठूस दिया गया। दो माह बाद जेल से रिहा होने के बाद हमने देखा की न केवल संगठन भयावह दमन के कारण पूरी तरह से टूट चुका था बल्कि प्रमुख कार्यकर्ताओं, जिन में मैं भी शामिल था, पर संगीन अपराधों के कई सारे झूठे प्रकरण दर्ज कर दिये गए थे। क्योंकि मेरे आदिवासी साथी कार्यकर्ताओं के पास न्यायालयों में इन प्रकरणों को लड़ने के लिए जो भारी भरकम पैसों की ज़रूरत थी वह नहीं थे, इसलिए यह राशि जुटाने का काम मेरे ज़िम्मे आ गया। इसलिए मुझे जन संघर्ष का काम पूरी तरह से छोड़ कर पैसे कमाने के लिए शोधार्थी और सलाहकार के रूप में काम लेना पड़ा। इसके अलावा इन प्रकरणों को लड़ने के लिए मुझे कानून का गहरा अध्ययन करना पड़ा ताकी हमें सज़ा न हो। वकीलों के भरोसे कभी प्रकरण छोड़ नहीं सकते क्योंकि वे कई बार ठीक से लड़ते नहीं है।
कुछ वर्ष बाद सन 2005 से कई नए कानून पारित हुए, जैसे कि, सूचना का अधिकार कानून, वन अधिकार कानून, महात्मा गांधी राष्ट्रीय रोजगार कानून, पंचायत कानून आदि जो लोगों को वह अधिकार प्रदान किए जिसके लिए पहले आंदोलन कर जेल जाना पड़ता था। इसके पहले के दो दशकों से चल रहे तमाम जन पक्षीय आंदोलनों से बने दबाव का ही नतीजा था कि यह प्रगतिशील कानून पारित हुये। इस प्रकार इन क़ानूनों को लागू करने का एक नया कार्यक्षेत्र का निर्माण हो गया। इसी समय मेरे आदिवासी साथियों ने मुझसे कहा की हमें हमारे द्वारा सन 1987 में पंजीकृत किया गया एक संस्था, जो की निष्क्रिय पड़ा था क्योंकि हमारे पास संघर्ष से फुर्सत ही नहीं था, को सक्रिय बनाकर उसमें अनुदान लेकर निर्माण का काम करना चाहिए। क्योंकि केवल क़ानूनों को लागू करने के लिए अनुदान जुटाना मुश्किल था इसलिए हमने शिक्षा, स्वस्थ्य, भू एवं जल संरक्षण आदि निर्माण मूलक कार्यों के लिए अधिक अनुदान मांगे और इस पर कार्य शुरू कर दिये। इस प्रकार संघर्ष के बदले हमारे लिए निर्माण प्रमुख नारा बन गया।
संस्थाओं के माध्यम से निर्माण का कार्य संपादित करने की दुनिया ऐसी है की किए गये निर्माण मूलक कार्यों के बारे मे लिखना ज़रूरी है ताकी इस के बारे में व्यापक प्रचार हो सके और आगे भी काम के लिए आवश्यक भारी अनुदान आते रहे।  मैं हमारे काम के बारे में बहुत लिखने लगा पर इस लेखन को पत्र पत्रिकाओं में प्रकाशित करना एक टेढ़ी खीर निकला। या तो वे हमारे लेख छापते ही नहीं थे या उनमें बहुत सारे संशोधन करवाते थे जो मुझे पसंद नहीं था। तब एक मित्र जो ब्लॉगिंग करता था, यानी इंटरनेट द्वारा वेब पर खुदके एक ब्लॉग या पत्रिका बनाकर उसमें लिखता था, मुझे भी ऐसे करने की सलाह दी। इसी प्रकार मैं भी सन 2007 में www.anar-kali.blogspot.in नामक एक वेब पत्रिका प्रकाशित करना शुरू कर दिया। यह एक बहुत अच्छा निर्णय था क्योंकि मैं हमारे काम के बारे में विस्तार से लिख पाया और यह तुरंत पूरी दुनिया के पाठकों के लिए प्रकाशित भी हो जाता था!!  विश्व भर से अनेक पाठकों से वार्तालाप और विचार विमर्श हो पाया जिससे कि हमारे काम के लिए हमें नई सोच और दिशा मिली। हम नए नए क्षेत्र में काम करना शुरू कर दिये जिनमें जलवायु परिवर्तन का शमन एवं महिलाओं का प्रजनन स्वास्थ्य सब से महत्वपूर्ण है।

जल वायु परिवर्तन का शमन में हम न केवल ग्रामीण इलाकों में वन, जल व भू संरक्षण का काम किए है बल्कि हमारा इंदौर शहर स्थित कार्यालय में भी पर्यावरण संरक्षण का काम किए है ताकि कम से कम जल वायु परिवर्तन हो एवं हमें उत्पादक शारीरिक काम करने के अवसर मिले। एक प्रकल्प इस में है कार्यालय के रसोई और बगीचे के हरा कचरा को खाद बनाकर गाँव के खेतों में पहुंचाना। यह काम बहुत मेहनत का है और शारीरिक रूप से तंदुरुस्त रहने में मदद करता है जैसे कि नीचे दिये गए चित्र से स्पष्ट है।
सन 2001 के बाद की लंबी अवधि में भारतीय राज्य व्यवस्था एवं उसे चलाने वाले शासक वर्ग द्वारा आम जनता के खिलाफ चलाये जा रहे अनेकों अन्यायी मुहिमों के विरुद्ध मैं कोई जन संघर्षों में भाग नहीं लिया हूँ और इसलिए मैं पहले जैसे जेल भी नहीं गया हूँ। हमारे खिलाफ दर्ज किए गए झूटे मुक़द्दमे और कुछ अन्य जन हित याचिकाओं में मैं ज़रूर प्रकरण जीता हूँ पर किसी भी व्यापक राजनीतिक आंदोलन से जुड़ा नहीं हूँ। अधिकतर समय निर्माण मूलक कार्य और शोध में बिताया हूँ। मैंने हमारे द्वारा किए गये जल संरक्षण के कार्यों पर शोध कर एक Phd उपाधि भी हासिल कर लिया हूँ हालांकि यह भी एक नई शिक्षा ही थी क्योंकि शास्त्रीय शोध के तरीके एवं जमीनी काम के तरीकों में ज़मीन आसमान का फर्क है। यह ही एक बहुत बड़ी विडम्बना है कि आज की स्थिति में संघर्ष का काम और निर्माण का काम एक साथ करना बहुत मुश्किल है एवं संघर्ष के काम के लिए साधन जुटाना और भी मुश्किल है।
दस साल तक लगातार मैं वेब पर मेरा ब्लॉग लिखते आ रहा हूँ एवं यह लेख मेरा 500वा लेख है। इसे मैं निर्माण कथा नाम दिया हूँ क्योंकि इस दौरान मैंने वैकल्पिक विकास की दिशा में अनेक संतोषजनक प्रयोग किया हूँ। परंतु यह भी सोचकर दुखी होता हूँ कि जन संघर्ष के बिना केवल छुटपुट निर्माण मूलक कार्य से व्यापक पैमाने पर वैकल्पिक विकास एवं जन राजनीति स्थापित करना संभव नहीं है एवं जन संघर्ष की दुनिया से मैं दूर चला गया हूँ।
  

Friday, July 21, 2017

Chronicles of Constructive Time!!

The late Shankar Guha Niyogi, one of the founder activists of the Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha, had coined the phrase "Sangharsh aur Nirman" which meant struggle and constructive action. He said that just engaging in action for rights and political power was not enough as mass organisations must also take part in constructive activities in the sphere of education, health and livelihoods to give practical shape to their alternative vision of development. Guha Niyogi was a phenomenal leader and so he succeeded in enthusing his colleagues in the Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha to do a high level of both Sangharsh and Nirman simultaneously. Inspired by him we too tried to do the same among the Bhil Adivasis in western Madhya Pradesh. However, not being of the same calibre as Guha Niyogi we invariably ended up doing more of struggle and so constructive activities took a back seat.
Then in 2001 things changed drastically. Our mobilisation for Adivasi self rule in Udainagar Tehsil of Dewas district which had gained considerable strength and had resulted in village councils effectively running their affairs on their own, sidelining the government, was brutally crushed by the State through heavy police action in which four of our colleagues were killed in police firing and scores of us were jailed. After coming out from jail after a couple of months, I found that not only was the organisation in a shambles due to the heavy repression but that all the main activists, including I, had dozens of criminal cases foisted on us which we would have to fight in the courts. Since my Adivasi colleagues obviously didn't have the resources to fight these cases on their own, it fell to me to mobilise the huge funds required to fight so many criminal cases involving so many people. So I had to give up mass mobilisation work altogether and busy myself with doing research consultancy projects to earn money to fight the cases and also read statute books and case law to bolster up our defence in court. After a few years, from 2005 onwards, many new laws were enacted like Right to Information Act, Forest Rights Act, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas Act and the like which gave people rights for which they had to go to jail earlier. Indeed it was the earlier political agitations across India that resulted in the enactment of these progressive laws. So a whole new field of activity to implement these laws was opened up. This is when my Adivasi colleagues suggested that we should activate an NGO named Dhas Gramin Vikas Kendra that we had registered long back in 1987 but which we had never used for development work except in the early stages because we were too busy fighting for rights and going to jail and which was consequently lying dormant. So from 2007 onwards we began work with gusto in constructive activities in the spheres of education, health and forest, soil and water conservation apart from the implementation of the progressive laws. Thus instead of Sangharsh, Nirman became our buzz word.
The world of NGOism through which Nirman has to be carried out is such, that it is very important to write about the constructive activities being done and publicise them in order to gain visibility and garner the considerable funds required for the development work. So I began writing profusely about our work but getting it published was not easy. Newspapers and Journals most often either rejected my writings or demanded that I make substantial changes which were not to my liking. This is when a friend, who is a blogger, suggested that I should start blogging about our work. That is how this blog came into existence in 2007. It proved to be a great move because I was able to write and publish about our work on this blog and broadcast it to the world without having to wait for long periods to see it published and then face either rejection or drastic editing. This also helped us to get in touch with many people around the world and exchange ideas with them and so enrich our work. We took up new fields of activity, the most important being climate change mitigation and reproductive health work.
In the sphere of climate change mitigation we not only do a lot of work in rural areas but also our office in the city of Indore is designed to be as environment friendly as possible and provide us with enough opportunities of doing hard productive manual labour while staying in the city. One such project of ours is recycling urban waste from our office to rural farms. In our office cum residence in Indore all the green waste from the kitchen and the ground and terrace gardens is composted in a tank on the roof. Then every year before the monsoons this composted waste is taken out and transported to farms in the villages to enrich the soil there. This activity is highly labour intensive and so helps in keeping one fit, especially taking out the compost from the tank on the roof and taking it down to the ground for transport to the farm as shown below.
In all this time since 2001 I have not taken part in any mass political action at the grassroots against the many perfidies of the Indian state and the ruling class and so have not been incarcerated like earlier and neither have I been part of any wider political mobilisation. I have just fought and won the criminal cases against us and a few public interest litigations. Most of the time being spent in many constructive activities like the one above in Indore and its neighbouring areas and doing research. I even managed to do a Phd in environmental planning in this period based on the water resource management work that we do!! That was an education in itself because the world of academic research has its own rules which do not tally with the rules of grassroots activist work!!
 All the while I have written about our work in this blog and with this the 500th post I complete ten years of blogging. Before this I had written a book "Recovering the Lost Tongue" on the two decades of activism among the Bhils upto 2001 and dubbed it as the chronicles of savoured time as a counter to the title of the author Malcom Muggeridge's autobiography - "Chronicles of Wasted Time". This is because I had savoured a new anarchist and happy life among the Bhils vastly different from the one that I had led earlier. The writing in this blog I now dub as chronicles of constructive time because I have over the past decade done hugely personally satisfying work in pursuing alternative development models.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Demonetisation - A Multi Episode SitCom!!

The black comedy of Demonetisation continues and the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India is now the latest clown in the show!! In an astounding statement before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance on July 6th 2017, the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said that he could not give them an official number as to how much money was deposited in old demonetised notes because counting was still in progress!! This beats all logic. At each and every step from the first bank counter where citizens deposited these demonetised notes, they have been counted numerous times and so definitely a number exists as to how many of such notes have been deposited. All the banks have submitted data not only on the total amount of money deposited but also the details of bank accounts in which more than the prescribed limits for such deposits have been made. So the data is definitely there with the bank and the final counting of the notes at the RBI central office will not alter that data in any significant way.

Then why is the RBI not revealing the data as to how much demonetised money was deposited even after more than six months have elapsed since the deadline for such deposits? The main reason is that contrary to the expectation that at least half, if not more, of the demonetised notes would not be deposited, almost all and according to some who are privy to the data even more than the total notes officially in circulation were deposited!! The rough estimate that the RBI had was of Rs 15 lakh crore or so of demonetised notes but it turns out that more than this has been deposited. This is embarrassing for the RBI because it hints at serious lack of oversight in printing and distributing notes if more than the estimated supply is actually in circulation.
The expectation of the Government was that people who had unaccounted for money would not deposit it in the banks as they would then become exposed as tax evaders and have to pay heavy penalties. But the people hoarding black money are so greedy that disregarding the consequences of doing so, they deposited all their money very much in excess of the Rs 2.5 lakh limit set by the RBI. In many cases dummy people with very little income were found and cash deposited in their accounts too. Apart from this there are many shell companies which are regularly used to layer transactions and convert black money into white and the accounts of these companies were also used to deposit black money.  In this way instead of the bonanza that the Government expected in the form of a huge cache of demonetised notes that would not be deposited leading to their value becoming an asset in the books of the RBI, the whole process has turned into a liability that is now being sought to be hidden behind the absurd fig leaf that the notes are still being counted!! Not surprisingly the Government has vehemently opposed the Supreme Court's suggestion that a window be opened again to allow some people who might have missed depositing their notes in the earlier period. The Government is saying that people unscrupulously resorted to various stratagems and deposited more notes than were actually officially in circulation and they would misuse this new opportunity also!!
The Income Tax department initially listed about 18 lakh individuals who had deposited more than Rs 2.5 lakhs of demonetised notes and sent them notices by email to explain how they had so much money. Very few of these people responded to these notices and the IT Department too, like the RBI, has become reticent and is not revealing any numbers!! But in bits and pieces it is coming out that not only has a lot of money been so deposited but they have also been deposited in bank accounts which had not been declared by these people in their earlier income tax returns. Thus, now the Government is claiming that due to the demonetisation exercise all this tax evasion has been detected and can now be acted on by the IT department because when these people file their returns for Assessment Year 2017-18 they will have to account for all this money in all these bank accounts and if they cannot do so then they will face penal action. Simultaneously action has been taken against shell companies and lakhs of them have been deregistered by the Registrar of Companies which has sent this data to the IT department for action after reconciling it with the data on the huge deposits of demonetised notes made in these companies' bank accounts.
However, was it necessary to submit the citizens of this country to so much trouble and subsequently disrupt the economy's growth path substantially to unearth all this tax evasion? Absolutely not. By making it mandatory to link the Income Tax permanent account number (PAN) to the universal identity Aadhar number and the bank accounts as is being done now and tracking the data on large cash deposits and tracking the shell companies diligently all this unaccounted economic activity could have been traced earlier. The black money that was demonetised was not held in cash in isolation. It continually went into the banking system and came out again to fuel economic activity. Thus, if a stringent system of heavy cash transaction tracking in banks, as is in place now, had been there earlier, then the flow of black money could have been traced with the use of advanced digital data mining. In fact there was a rule that any deposit greater than Rs 50,000 could only be made in a bank account after declaring the PAN of the depositor. If this data had been tracked diligently then all the duplicate PAN and shell company related deposits would have been unearthed. But no, Pied Piper Modi called the tune of demonetisation and all the rats in the government system followed him and drowned themselves in cash which they are now still counting!!!
Now that demonetisation itself has turned out to be a fiasco, the Government has turned its attention to such tracking methods and is giving demonetisation the credit for this new alertness to try and salvage something out of this costly mistake. However, this latest outrageous act of the RBI Governor of telling the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance that the notes are still being counted and so no official estimate of demonetisation is available has to be taken seriously. It is a telling comment on the state of Indian democracy that the opposition members in the committee which included the former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, decided to crack jokes at the RBI's expense instead of moving a motion for breach of privilege against the Governor for willfully refusing to give the data on demonetisation. Prime Minister Modi once joked about the former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that he was deft at using a raincoat even while taking a shower and so came out unscathed from all the scams being perpetrated during his tenure. But now Modi has gone one step further and is using the RBI Governor Urjit Patel as a raincoat for his own Tughlaqian misdemeanours.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Learning Sustainable Living from the Bhils

The other day there was some discussion on Facebook on a post which had shared a link to an article by the social scientist Shiv Visvanathan praising the Ashrams or small community enclaves set up by Gandhi on the occasion of the centenary of the Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad. Visvanathan wrote that we should revisit this concept of setting up ashrams today as a way to bring about a more sustainable socio-economic system. I pointed out in the discussion that ensued that these ashrams were never self sustaining and had to rely heavily on funding from capitalists and later after independence from the Government to survive and soon became moribund. There are a few such community enclaves around the world, which are self sustaining, but they are marginal and do not really pose a challenge to the rapacious capitalist system that now dominates the whole world.
I have from the very beginning of my life as an activist been against ashrams and have instead tried to see if communitarian living is not possible in rural areas on a larger scale in a natural way instead of in contrived communities. I was fortunate to start in the 1980s by living among the Bhils of Alirajpur who have practised sustainable albeit subsistence living for ages. For ten years I lived among them and we did a lot of things together at the subsistence level but also collectively improved the lives somewhat. Later, Subhadra and I lived for two years in a Bhil Adivasi area in Khargone district and there too we adapted to the living style of the Bhils. However, certain exigencies made us come to the city of Indore after that and for the past two decades or so we have lived a highly unsustainable urban life.
Now we have decided to jettison Indore and move to the villages again in a year or two and to this end have begun developing a farm and centre among the Bhil Adivasis in Pandutalav village in Dewas district nearby. Since now we frequently go to this farm and often stay there for a few days, we have once again come in close contact with the simple and sustainable lifestyle of the Bhils. Even in these times when the market economy and consumerism have penetrated deeply into the rural areas, the Bhils in Pandutalav which is situated just 50 kms from the city of Indore still live simply depending on their labour and the natural resources that they husband.
Our neighbour in Pandutalav, Raisingh, lives together along with his three sons and their families and they cultivate their land. Since they do not have much money they work hard on their fields. They have built a new house this year from wood, bamboo, mud and baked mud tiles. The whole family worked hard continuously for three months to first prepare the wood and the baked earth tiles and then set up the house. Occasionally, people from other households would also come to help in making the house. This is the custom among the Bhils as they pool in their labour to help each other.
The monsoons came early this year and so the house was not completely ready and had to be left half done as everyone got busy in sowing the seeds and doing the various other associated farming tasks. The whole family is busy now with some people working on the farm, others cooking the food and yet others taking the livestock for grazing. Most importantly someone has to stay back in the house and look after the small kids. So all this work is done very efficiently by apportioning responsibilities to various people in the household in a very democratic manner. Eventually, little money is required and efficient use of hard labour makes the household run like a well oiled machine.
The other day I watched with fascination as one of the women of the household not only took care of the children but also engaged in work to finish the house building work. Below is a photo of this idyllic scene.
  The woman in the background is plastering the walls with a cowdung cum mud mix which she has prepared in the foreground. The three small children of the extended family including her own child whom she has to take care of as the other adults are all working elsewhere have been put onto an improvised swing which she gives a push from time to time so that they are happy playing and leaving her to do her work.
This is what the Bhils have to teach us - do hard physical labour and use natural resources judiciously to live a simple  and productive life. They provide for themselves and also for others by producing the food that we all eat at a very cheap cost. So instead of revisiting the highly unsustainable ashrams that Gandhi set up, we need to learn from the Advasis across the country how to live together by helping each other, doing hard physical labour and taking as little from nature as possible and giving much more to human society than they take from it in the form of cheap food.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Water Wisdom of the Mughals

Burhanpur town on the banks of the River Tapti in the foothills of the Satpura Range was the southern outpost of the Mughals. Consequently, it had a massive garrison of soldiers numbering two lakhs and a supporting civilian population of around thirty thousand in the early seventeenth century when the Mughals not only wanted to defend their territory against possible incursions from southern kingdoms but also had plans to expand further south. Providing safe drinking water to this huge population was a major concern of the Mughal administrators. They feared that the water of the River Tapti and its tributary Utavali may be poisoned by their enemies and so they preferred the use of ground water. However, wells themselves could not provide enough water and also it was laborious to draw water out of them for such a large population in those days when there were no mechanised pumps.
The Subedar or Governor of Burhanpur Abdul Rahim Khankhana commissioned a Persian geologist Tabukul Arj to devise a system that would be able to harvest the rain water falling on the Satpura ranges and bring them by gravity to the town in 1615. A very ingenious plan was drawn up wherein a few large tanks named Mool Bhandara or main water store and Chintaharan Bhandara or tension free water store and Sookha Bhandara or dry water store were constructed to harvest the rain water and recharge it into the ground. Finally a 3.5 km long tunnel about thirty feet below the ground level, lined with marble, was constructed just uphill of the town into which the water from the three other Bhandaras seeped in through the ground as shown below.
Over the years the calcium and magnesium salts in the seeping water have been deposited on the walls of the tunnel as can be seen above and have reduced both the amount of water seeping in and the storage capacity from a supply level which was once as much as a million litres per day. There are 103 round wells that reach this tunnel from the top at intervals and provide access to it for cleaning it of any debris and sediments that might have accumulated. The water in the tunnel flows by gravity from the first well to the last well at the end of which there is a tank from which pipelines take the water to the town below. The wells are called kundis whereas the tunnel is called Khooni Bhandara possibly because of the slightly reddish colour of the water in it.
As the needs of Burhanpur grew in the twentieth century alternative mechanised water supply was implemented from the Utavali river leading to neglect of this gravity based system and it finally became defunct in 1977 due to clogging with sediment.
Then in 2001 the Burhanpur municipal corporation sought to revive the Khooni Bhandara and with funds collected from the local citizens and grant support from the Government the tunnel was cleaned and some of the wells that had collapsed were repaired. Water began seeping in again and currently about 0.15 million litres of water per day flows out of the tunnel. The lower flow of water is also due to the higher withdrawal of groundwater in the catchment through pumps. A lift has been installed in the third well which allows visitors to go down and see the tunnel which is how the photo above was taken.
What struck me most was the ingenuity of the Mughals in devising a system that first tapped the rain water by harvesting it and then used an underground tunnel to extract it and take it by gravity to the town. This was a necessity at the time because there were no mechanised pumps to do lift water from the underground aquifer at that time. This tunnel was dug by human labour obviously as there were no machines then and this adds to the uniqueness of the system. Even though the Burhanpur municipality finally had the sense to revive this historic system it has not had the further sense to replicate it in other areas around Burhanpur to make it completely independent of mechanised systems. Water harvesting is the most sustainable means of water supply. The municipality has beautified the area around the third well where visitors can pay a fee and descend into the well in the lift and also applied for world heritage status for the Khooni Bhandara. However, instead of just reviving it as a heritage which is no doubt laudable, the municipality would have set an even better example by replicating this fantastic sustainable water system devised by the Mughals for the whole water supply.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Anti Duffer Unlimited

When I first came to Alirajpur in 1985 to work among the Bhil Adivasis, I started off by teaching young children in a government primary school in the morning and conducting an adult education class in the evening. Both activities did not last long as I got involved in mass organisational work to build up a trade union of the Bhil farmers and labourers. However, ever since then, I have been involved with education of Adivasi children off and on. The striking thing that I first noted all those years ago was the abysmal standard of teaching in government schools in the Adivasi areas and their huge difference with the standard of the books that were prescribed. The main reason was that there were not enough teachers who were capable of teaching the prescribed books. In most cases there are single teacher schools with the teachers themselves being products of these schools and so unable to understand the books they were supposed to teach.
When we did get down to running some schools of our own we came up against this major constraint of lack of capable teachers. Whether it is the residential Rani Kajal Jeevan Shala in Kakrana or the single teacher schools in Vakner, Bada Amba and Chilakda, the basic education that the teachers had received when they were in school was so poor that despite being trained periodically they were not able to teach properly. Often I have gone and taught in these schools for a day or two to find that the children in a particular class were at a level of a few classes further down. There is no solution to this problem because it is next to impossible to get teachers in Adivasi areas capable of teaching the prescribed texts.
One of the programmes of the newly set up centre of the Mahila Jagat Lihaaz Samiti at Pandutalav village is to improve girls' education standards. What we have planned is that we will provide coaching classes to the girls studying in nearby schools at the secondary level from classes eight to twelve on weekends. For the past few weeks considerable publicity has been done in the nearby villages that Subhadra and I for starters, till others from Indore and elsewhere too decide to chip in, will provide coaching to girls in all subjects on saturdays and sundays and so they should come for this. The first class that was held under this programme had only four attendees as shown below!!
Why, despite the publicity done for the programme and the credibility Subhadra and I have in the area, did so few girls turn up? Thereby hangs a tale. We asked the girls which subjects they found most difficult and they said in one voice English and Maths. So we started with English only to find that even the girl in the twelfth class did not know a word of English. We started off with some basic sentences and as we worked through them we talked to the girls about how they were taught in class. It appears that after learning the alphabet in English they had never read or written anything in class. The teachers come and tell them to read as they themselves are unable to read the texts and just sit like dodos. The students then go home and do other things and don't touch their books at all. That is why most of the girls had not turned up because they didn't have any conception that there could be a teacher who would teach!! What is the point in going to a coaching class and sitting there all day without being taught after having done that through the week in school. This was a shocking revelation to us that students in adivasi areas can't believe that there can be teachers who can teach and make studying both a fun and a learning experience. The same was the situation with maths. Apart from tables up to ten or so and some rudimentary addition and subtraction the girls didn't know much. We had to spend a laborious few hours trying to make them understand how to multiply and divide. For the first time they had filled up their exercise books with so much writing and were enthused enough to say that they would go back home and practice what they had written and read.
One is left wondering about the farce that is being enacted in the name of education in Adivasi areas. The prescribed texts are of a high standard and unless they are taught well from the lower classes, the backlog of knowledge that builds up is near impossible to address in the higher classes. Since there is a no detention policy upto class ten when the first public examination is held, students are promoted through to class ten without being taught much. They come to accept that teachers do not teach and they need not learn. In the end what we have is a huge lot of young people who have been turned into duffers by an inappropriate education system. They are all very intelligent children who do a lot of thoughtful work on their fields and in their homes but when it comes to learning at school its just a waste of time and effort. So while the children of the rich go to schools where teachers do teach and they go on to become important cogs of the capitalist system, poor adivasi children are deliberately turned into duffers as they are NOT TAUGHT, due to lack of teachers, the same prescribed texts as the rich children.
In recent years there have been many projects to groom a few underprivileged children who have somehow learnt something in poor schools and help them to enter elite institutions like the Indian Institutes of Technology, with one of them being very famous by the name of Super Thirty. They do a laudable job by helping these few children put a foot into the edge of the closed door of opportunities in the capitalist world. But eventually these few children become part of the oppressive building and the door remains firmly shut for the vast majority.
Without some rudimentary education it is not possible for the Adivasis to forge a mass movement to break down the capitalist door and create a more just world. There is no need to become super intelligent in the paradigm of education designed by the rich in order to challenge their hegemony but at least the adivasi children must not become duffers. That is why instead of the super thirty we have launched a programme to ensure that we counter the invidious conspiracy of the capitalist state of converting adivasi children into duffers and have named it - Anti Duffer Unlimited.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

वस्तु एवं सेवा कर की हकीकत

1 जुलाई 2017 से भारत में वस्तु एवं सेवा कर, जिसे अङ्ग्रेज़ी में उसके नाम के संक्षिप्त रूप में GST कहा जाता है,  लागू हो जाएगा। सरकार का दावा है कि इससे करों की वसूली काफी सरल हो जाएगा एवं देश की अर्थव्यवस्था को गति मिलने के साथ साथ महंगाई एवं काले धन पर भी अंकुश लगेगा। इसलिए सरकार ने एक नारा दिया है इस नई कर प्रणाली के बारे में – "एक राष्ट्र, एक कर, एक बाज़ार"। यह जांचना आवश्यक है कि क्या हकीकत में यह सब होगा।
पूंजीवादी अर्थव्यवस्था में वस्तुओं एवं सेवाओं के विक्रय पर कर वसूलना एक गंभीर समस्या है। इन करों की वजह से महंगाई बढ़ती है और बाज़ार व्ययस्था में विकृतियाँ आती है। परंतु मुक्त बाज़ार आधारित पूंजीवादी अर्थव्यवस्था में पूंजीवादीओं के येन केन प्रकारेन मुनाफा कमाने की होड़ के कारण बीच बीच में ही संकट पैदा हो जाता है एवं इसलिए इसे धराशायी होने से बचाने के लिए सरकार द्वारा इसे नियंत्रित करना पड़ता है।  साथ ही अर्थ व्यवस्था में मांग को बरकरार रखने के लिए सरकार को अधोसंरचना के विकास एवं सेना पर निवेश करना होता है और विभिन्न आर्थिक और सामाजिक सेवाएँ प्रदान करना होता है। इस सब के लिए करों से ही सरकारें धन जुटाती है एवं इसके लिए एक भारी भरकम नौकरशाही भी होती है।
कर दो प्रकार के होते है – प्रत्यक्ष और अप्रत्यक्ष। व्यक्तियों और व्यापारिक संस्थानों के आय पर जो कर वसूला जाता है उसे प्रत्यक्ष कर कहा जाता है जबकि देश के अंदर उत्पादित व विदेश से आयातित वस्तुओं एवं सेवाओं पर लगाए गए कर को अप्रत्यक्ष कहा जाता है। आम तौर पर प्रत्यक्ष करों को प्रगतिशील कहा जाता है क्योंकि इंका बोझ अधिक आय वालों पर आनुपातिक रूप से अधिक होता है। अप्रत्यक्ष करों को सभी व्यक्तियों को समान दरों से  देना पड़ता है जब वे कोई वस्तु या सेवा को खरीदते है भले ही वे अमीर हो या गरीब और इसलिए गरीबों को अमीरों की तुलना में आनुपातिक रूप से उनके आय के एक अधिक हिस्सा अप्रत्यक्ष करों के रूप में देना पड़ता है एवं इसलिए इन्हे अप्रगतिशील कहा जाता है। इसके अलावा अप्रत्यक्ष करों के कारण महंगाई बढ़ती है व बाज़ार में विकृतियाँ आती है और इसलिए भी इन्हे प्रत्यक्ष करों की तुलना में अवांछनीय माना जाता है। परंतु क्योंकि केवल प्रत्यक्ष करों से सरकार द्वारा पर्याप्त धन नहीं जुटाया जा सकता है, विशेष कर भारत जैसे विकासशील देशों में जहां कई कारणों से प्रत्यक्ष कर देनेवालों की संख्या कम है, इसलिए अप्रत्यक्षा करों को भी लगाना पड़ता है।
स्वतन्त्रता के बाद से जैसे जैसे वस्तुओं और सेवाओं के उत्पादन में वृद्धी हुई है वैसे वैसे अप्रत्यक्ष करों का ढांचा और जटिल होते गया है क्योंकि अलग अलग वस्तुओं और सेवाओं के लिए अलग कर लगाए गए है एवम उन पर कभी छूट दिये गए है और कभी अधिभार भी लगाए गए है। भारत में स्थितियाँ और पेचीदा इसलिए हो गई है क्योंकि यहाँ एक संघीय राजनीतिक ढांचा है जिसमें केंद्र एवं राज्य सरकारों को कर लगाने के स्वतंत्र अधिकार है। इसलिए अप्रत्यक्ष करों का ढांचा अत्यंत जटिल होकर इनकी वसूली के लिए बड़ी समस्या खड़ी कर दी एवं बड़े पैमाने पर करों की चोरी होने लगी। अप्रत्यक्ष करों की चोरी के कारण व्यापारिक संस्थानों द्वारा अपने आय को भी कम बताकर प्रत्यक्ष करों की भी चोरी की जाने लगी। फल स्वरूप गत दो दशकों से अप्रत्यक्ष करों का ढांचा को और सरल एवं व्यापक बनाने के कई प्रयास किए गए है एवं GST का लागू होना इस क्रम में ताज़ातरीन कदम है।
अप्रत्यक्ष करों का बुनियादी शर्त है कि चाहे वस्तुओं और सेवाओं के कितने ही विविध प्रकार क्यों न हो, इसके केवल एक या अधिकतर दो दर होने चाहिए। यह इसलिए कि जैसे ही अधिक दरें होंगें वैसे ही इन करों की वसूली पेचीदा हो जाता है एवं कौन से वस्तु या सेवा पर कितना कर लगेगा इसको लेकर राजनीतिक खींचातानी एवं कानूनी लड़ाई चलती है जिससे कि करों का प्रबंधन कठिन व महंगा हो जाता है एवं भ्रष्टाचार के लिए रास्ता प्रशस्त हो जाता है। अगर किसी समुदाय को कोई विशेष रियायत पहुंचाना है तो यह अप्रत्यक्ष करों में विविधता लाकर या छूट देकर करने के बजाय, उस समुदाय को अनुदान देकर या उसके द्वारा अदा किया गया कर को वापस भुगतान कर किया जाना चाहिए। अगर किसी वस्तु या सेवा को हतोत्साहित करना हो, जैसे कि तंबाकू उत्पाद, तो इसके लिए उस उत्पाद को बनाने वाली कंपनियों के आय पर अधिक आय कर लगाकर यह काम किया जा सकता है बजाय इसके कि उसपर अधिक अप्रत्यक्ष कर लगाए जाये। इस प्रकार रियायत या हतोत्साहन एवं उससे जुड़े रजनीती का क्षेत्र अनुदान एवं प्रत्यक्ष कर हो जाएंगे और अप्रत्यक्ष कर बिलकुल सरल एवं रजनीती विहीन होंगें। साथ ही वर्तमान में अप्रत्यक्ष करों को लेकर चल रहे कानूनी विवाद भी खत्म हो जाएंगे व इन करों के कारण बाज़ार व्ययस्था में हो रही विकृतियां भी दूर हो जायगी।
फलस्वरूप अप्रत्यक्ष करों को वसूल करने के लिए भारी भरकम नौकरशाही की ज़रूरत नहीं होगी एवं इसे प्रत्यक्षा करों की वसूली में लगाया जा सकता है। एकबार अप्रत्यक्ष कर का ढांचा एक ही दर पर होगा तो इसे सर्वव्यापी कर सभी लेन देन पर लागू किया जा सकता है भले ही कितना छोटा क्यों न हो एवं इसलिए सभी व्यापारियों एवं व्यक्तियों के पूरे कारोबार घोषित होकर उनके द्वारा देय प्रत्यक्ष कर भी पूरा का पूरा सामने आ जाएगा। इस प्रकार न केवल अप्रत्यक्ष करों की वसूली बढ़ेगी बालके प्रत्यक्ष करों की वसूली भी बढ़ जाएगी। GST की वजह से बेशक अर्थव्यवस्था को काफी फायेदा होगा क्योंकि पूरे देश में एक प्रत्यक्ष कर होगा एवं कर चोरी पूरी तरह से बंद हो जाएगा पर इसके लिए GST का केवल एक ही दर होना चाहिए।
भारत में समस्या यह है कि यहाँ न केवल अनेकों प्रकार के अप्रत्यक्ष कर है बल्कि सभी करों के अनेक दरें भी है जिसमें अनेक प्रकार के छूट व अधिभार है। इसके अलावा राजनीतिक ढांचा संघीय होने के कारण केंद्र एवं राज्य सरकारों को स्वतंत्र रूप से कर लगाने का अधिकार है। केंद्र की तुलना में राज्य सरकारों के पास कर वसूलने की शक्तियाँ कम है एवं इसलिए वे हर वक्त वित्तीय संसाधनों की कमी से जूझती रहती है। वर्तमान में सभी राज्य सरकारें भारी भरकम कर्ज के बोझ के तले डूबे हुये है व बुरी तरह से केंद्र सरकार से प्रपट अनुदानों पर निर्भर है जो बहुत देर से प्राप्त होते है। इसलिए राज्य सरकारें करीब एक दशक से GST के विरोध करते आ रहे है क्योंकि वे अपने कर वसूलने का अधिकार में कमी नहीं करना चाहते है और न ही वे केंद्र के अनुदानों पर और अधिक निर्भर होना चाहते है। फलस्वरूप अब जब GST लागू हो गया है तब राज्यों के लिए सबसे अधिक संसाधन जुटाने वाले वस्तु, खनीज़ तेल के उत्पाद, भूमी एवं शराब, के विक्रय को जीएसटी से अलग रखा गया है एवं इस पर अभी भी राज्यों द्वारा अपने हिसाब से कर लगाया जाएगा। इसके अलावा अलग अलग वस्तु एवं सेवाओं को अलग अलग वर्गों में रखकर उनपर चार अलग दरों पर कर लगाया जाना है – 5, 12, 18, 28 प्रतिशत के दर से। इसके अलावा सोना और चांदी पर 3% के दर से कर लगाया गया है एवं कुछ वस्तुओं को करों से पूर्ण रूप में छूट दी गई है। इसके अलावा कई प्रकार के अधिभार भी लगाए गए है एवं एक ही वर्ग के वस्तुओं और सेवाओं पर, उनकी कीमत या प्रकार के आधार पर अलग अलग दर के कर लगाए गए है। इस प्रकार एक राष्ट्र एक कर एवं एक बाज़ार का नारा वास्तवायित नहीं हो पाया है। GST पहले की तुलना में बेहतर ज़रूर है परंतु यह अभी भी सरल नहीं है और न ही यह वर्तमान रूप में कर चोरी को रोकने में सफल हो पाएगा। इसलिए "एक राष्ट्र एक कर एवं एक बाज़ार" का नारा हकीकत में वास्तवायित नहीं हो पाया है।
अलग अलग वस्तुओं और सेवाओं पर करों का अलग अलग दर लगाने के लिए जो प्रमुख तर्क दिया जा रहा है वो यह है कि आम जरूरतों की वस्तुओं जिसे गरीब लोग उपयोग करते है एवं अय्याशी के वस्तुओं जिसे अमीर लोग उपयोग करते है को एक ही दर से कैसे करारोपित किया जा सकता है। परंतु जैसे कि पहले बताया जा चुका है यह एक गलत तर्क है। अगर गरीबों या किसी अन्य समुदाय को रियायत पहुंचाना है तो यह अनुदान से पहुंचाना चाहिए और अमीर वर्गों से अगर अधिक कर वसूलना है तो यह उनपर अधिक आय कर लगाकर करना चाहिए। GST में अलग अलग दर रखकर उसे और जटिल बनाने से अप्रत्यक्ष एवं प्रत्यक्ष करों की वसूली दोनों ही और कठिन हो जाता है एवं भ्रष्टाचार और कर चोरी को बढ़ावा मिलता है। इसके अलावा अधिक दरें होने के कारण बाज़ार व्यवस्था में विकृतियाँ आती है और इस प्रकार अर्थ व्यवस्था में कीमतें ऊंची रहती है।
एक दर एवं एक कर वाला GST लागू होने में एक और अड़चन है राज्यों की शंकाएँ। इस मसले को हल करने के लिए अब तक जो कर वसूलने के आंकड़े है उनका सांख्यिकी विश्लेषण कर यह पता करना चाहिए कि केंद्र और राज्य कुल कितना कर वसूलते आए है। इसके बाद एक सांख्यीकी सूत्र निकाला जा सकता है कि सभी वस्तुओं एवं करों पर केवल एक ही दर से कर अगर लगाया जाये तो वर्तमान में एकत्रित किए जा रहे कुल वित्तीय संसाधन के बराबर कर वसूलने के लिए यह दर क्या होनी चाहिए एवं एकत्रित संसाधन किस अनुपात में केंद्र एवं विभिन्न राज्य के सरकारों के बीच में आवंटित होने चाहिए। कर वसूलने का अधिकार एक स्वतंत्र निकाय को दिया जाना चाहिए जिसके संचालन की निगरानी केंद्र एवं राज्यों के प्रतिनीधिओं को मिलाकर बनी GST Council (वस्तु एवं सेवा कर परिषद) द्वारा किया जाना चाहिए ताकि राज्यों की यह शिकायत दूर हो सके कि उनका कर वसूलने का अधिकार खत्म हो रहा है एवं वे केंद्र के अनुदानों पर अत्यधिक निर्भर होते जा रहे है। वर्तमान व्यवस्था में अभी भी इसको लेकर स्पष्टता नही है कि कितने कारोबार के सीमा पर केंद्र या राज्य कर वसूलेंगे एवं इसको लेकर आगे चलकर विवाद होना तय है।  इसके अलावा यह प्रावधान भी है कि अगर किसी राज्य को GST की वजह से हानी होती है तो उसे इस हानी के लिए मुआवज़ा दिया जाएगा। यह प्रावधान इसलिए रखा गया है क्योंकि कुछ अधिक औद्योगिक उत्पादन करनेवाले राज्यों को शंका है कि GST उत्पादक के बजाय क्रेता से वसूले जाने के कारण उनकी कर वसूली कम हो जाएगी।
GST के एक समान दर का आंकलन करते वक्त यह ध्यान में रखना चाहिए कि इसके कारण जो सरल कर प्रणाली लागू होगी उसमें कर चोरी बिलकुल बंद हो जाएगी एवं इसलिए वर्तमान में हो रही प्रत्यक्ष एवं अप्रत्यक्ष कर वसूली में भारी बढ़ोत्तरी होगी एवं इसलिए वर्तमान में GST के औसत 18% दर के बजाय 7 से 10% के बीच में दर होगा जो बहुत अधिक नहीं है एवं यह सभी वस्तुओं एवं सेवाओं पर लगाया जा सकता है और कोई छूट देने की ज़रूरत नहीं है।
क्योंकि GST में अधिभार एवं छूट को लेकर करीब 8 अलग अलग दरें है इसलिए इनकी वसूली के लिए एक जटिल व्यवस्था खड़ी की गई है जो कम्प्युटर एवं इंटरनेट आधारित है  जिसे Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN) कहा जाता है। इसका मूल मंत्र यह है कि सभी लेन देन के बिल के विवरण GSTN में अनिवार्य रूप से अपलोड करना होगा ताकि कोई भी लेन देन कर रहित न हो। कर वसूलने एवं उसके अभिलेख रखने की ज़िम्मेदारी अभी व्यापारियों पर आ गया है क्योंकि वे अगर ऐसा नहीं करेंगे तो उन्हें उनके द्वारा खरीदी किए जाने के समय चुकाया गया कर के लिए मान्यता नहीं मिलेगी जिसे input tax credit (ITC) कहा गया है। इस नई व्यवस्था को निम्न चित्र से समझा जा सकता है।

शुरुआत के लिए हम मान लेते है की निर्माता अपने द्वारा खरीदी गयी वस्तु व सेवाओं पर GST चुकाया है एवं यह उसके द्वारा उसके उत्पाद के तय किया गया 100 रुपये के कीमत में यह शामिल है। इस पर वह 5 % GST लगाकर उत्पाद को थोक विक्रेता को 105 रुपये में बेचता है। इसके बाद थोक विक्रेता उस उत्पाद कई कीमत 120 रुपये तय करता है एवं उस पर 5 % के दर से कर लगाकर उसे 126 रुपये  में खुदरा विक्रेता को बेचता है। क्योंकि उसने निर्माता से खरीदते वक्त 5 रुपये कर दे चुका है इसलिए वह इस राशि को ITC के रूप में लेता है एवं केवल 1 रुपये कर अदा करता है। खुदरा विक्रेता उत्पाद की कीमत 160 रुपये तय करता है एवं उसपर 5 % के दर से 8 रुपये कर लगाकर उसे ग्राहक को 168 रुपये में बेचता है। क्योंकि उसने 6 रुपये कर थोक विक्रेता को दे चुका है इसलिए वह इसका आईटीसी लेता है और केवल 2 रुपये शुद्ध कर अदा करता है। ग्राहक आखिरकार पूरा कर अदा करता है। इस प्रकार न केवल सभी लोग कर अदा करते है बल्कि यह कर केवल एक बार ही अदा किया जाता है एवं एक ही वस्तु पर बार बार पूरा कर नाही लगता है और सभी लेन देन पर कर चुकाया जाकर उसका अभिलेख तैयार हो जाता है जो GSTN में अपलोड हो जाता है एवं कर भी समय पर जमा हो जाता है।
हालांकि सिद्धान्त के रूप में यह बहुत अच्छा है पर हकीकत में इसके क्रियान्वयन में कई समस्यायें है जो निम्न प्रकार है –

1. सभी वस्तुओं को सांकेतिक क्रमांक दिये गए है जिनहे उनके अङ्ग्रेज़ी नाम के संक्षिप्त रूप में HSN कहा जाता है एवं सभी सेवाओं को भी इस प्रकार सांकेतिक क्रमांक दिये गए है जिनहे उनके अङ्ग्रेज़ी नाम के अनुसार एसएसी कहा जाता है। जब किसी व्यापारी किसी अन्य व्यापारी को वस्तु या सेवा बेचता है तो उसे बिल में उस खुद के GST क्रमांक क्रेता के GST क्रमांक एवं HSN या SAC क्रमांक दर्ज करना होगा एवं यह हर अलग वस्तु और सेवा के लिए करना होगा एवं यह लिखना होगा की कितनी कीमत ली गई है और कितना कर लिया गया है।  बाद में यह सभी विवरण एकत्रित कर महीने के अंत में GSTN में अपलोड करना होगा। यह सभी अङ्ग्रेज़ी में करना होगा एवं इनके प्रारूप अभी भी तैयार किए जा रहे है। फलस्वरूप इसके लिए जो सॉफ्टवेर चाहिए वो अभी भी बने नहीं है। इसके अलावा अब तक करों के विवरण अपलोड करने के लिए केवल 34 सुविधा इकाइयों को नियुक्त किया गया है जिनहे कुल मिलकर अरबों की संख्या में विवरह अपलोड करना होगा। अभी तक अधिकतर व्यापारी अङ्ग्रेज़ी और कम्प्युटर से दूर ही रहते थे परंतु अब उन्हे ऐसे लोगों को से मदद लेनी होगी जो यह काम कर सकते है और इससे उनके खर्चे बढ़ जाएंगे। ऊपर से सारे कारोबार को GSTN में दर्ज करने का मतलब है कि अघोषित कारोबार संभव ही नहीं होगा एवं इसके लिए भी व्यापारी तैयार नहीं है!!
2. भारत में अधिकतर कारोबार उधारी पर चलता है एवं व्यापारियों को भुगतान देर से मिलता है। सब से अधिक देरी सरकारी उपक्रम करते है। परंतु एक बार बिल बन जाने के बाद किसी व्यापारी को उस बिल में दर्शाये गए उसके द्वारा लिए गए कर को सरकार को चुकाना होगा भले ही उसे क्रेता ने भुगतान नहीं किया हो। इससे भी व्यापारी के लिए खर्चे बढ़ेंगे क्योंकि उसे और अधिक पूंजी की व्यवस्था करनी पढ़ेगी।
3. क्योंकि GST के विवरण अपलोड करना एक कठिन व खर्चीला काम है इसलिए 20 लाख रुपये से कम वार्षिक कारोबार वाले व्यापारियों को GST के दाएरे से बाहर रखा गया है एवं 75 लाख तक वार्षिक कारोबार करनेवालों को केवल उन्के द्वारा घोषित कारोबार पर 1 % कर चुकाना होगा एवं उन्हे कारोबार का विवरण GSTN पर अपलोड नहीं करना होगा। इस प्रकार बहुत सारे कारोबार का विवरण जीएसटी के दाएरे में नहीं होगा एवं उसके चलते कर चोरी का रास्ता बना रहेगा। इसके अलावा 75 लाख से अधिक वार्षिक कारोबार करने वाले कंपनियों को जब वे इन छोटे कंपनियों से कारोबार करते है तब उन कंपनियों से खरीदी हुई वस्तुओं और सेवाओं के लिए कर चुकाना होगा एवं इसके लिए बिल बनाकर GSTN पर अपलोड करना होगा और बाद में इसका ITC लेना होगा। इस प्रकार कर का भार इन बड़े कंपनियों पर अधिक पड़ेगा।  
4. ITC तब ही क्रेता को मिल पाएगा जब विक्रेता सही सही लेन देन का विवरण GSTN पर अपलोड करेगा और उसका कर सरकार को चुकायगा। क्योंकि इसमें कठिनाई है इसलिए कई बार गलत विवरण अपलोड हो सकता है और बिलकुल भी अपलोड नहीं हुआ हो ऐसा भी हो सकता है। इसके कारण भी व्यापारियों को पूंजी अधिक चाहिए होगा जिससे उनके खर्चे बढ़ जाएँगे।
5. भारत में अब तक गलत बिल बनाने की परंपरा रही है कर चोरी हेतु एवं इसके साथ ही वस्तुओं के परिवहन में भी बहुत हेराफेरी होती रही है। बिल में बताया कुछ जाता है और परिवहन द्वारा भेजा कुछ और जाता है। इस को रोकने के लिए GST में ewaybill का प्रावधान किया गया है जिसके तहत किसी भी वस्तु का परिवहन के पहले उसके बिल के विवरण एवं गंतव्य आदि ewaybill के रूप में तैयार करना होगा एवं यह ewaybill एक निश्चित अवधि के लिए वैध होगा। यह भी एक पेचीदगी भारी प्रावधान है एवं क्योंकि इसमें भी अङ्ग्रेज़ी और कम्प्युटर की ज़रूरत है इसलिए व्यापारियों को परेशानी होगी एवं उनके खर्चे बढ़ेंगे।


इसलिए अगर एक ही GST दर होता तो यह सब समस्याएँ खत्म हो जाती। क्योंकि सभी वस्तुओं और सेवाओं के लिए एक दर होने से उनका वर्गीकरण करने की कोई ज़रूरत न होती और न ही विस्तारित विवरण कम्प्युटर द्वारा अपलोड करना होता। केवल एक एसएमएस से GSTN में विक्रेता का क्रमांक एवं लेन देन की राशी भेजा जा सकता है। और सभी व्यापारियो और सभी कारोबार को दर्ज किया जा सकता चाहे वो छोटे से सब्जी ठेला क्यों न चला रहा हो। और तो और लेन देन का भुगतान भी मोबाइल फोन से किया जा सकता है एवं उसी समय उस लेनदेन पर लगाए गए कर का भी भुगतान सरकार को हो सकता है। एक अति सरल और पूर्ण रूप से पारदर्शी व्यवस्था कायम हो सकता है। अतः हकीकत में GST के वर्तमान रूप में अनेक समस्याएँ है जिसके कारण शुरुआत में काफी परेशानियाँ होगी।