Fake agri income

The article ‘Outside tax net for too long’ (January 5) has clearly stated how the provision of tax-free agricultural income is being exploited by many to launder ‘all illegal gratification’ and convert them into legitimate income and that too without paying any tax.

No wonder a large number of the wealthy own tracts of agricultural lands without engaging in farming, just for the purpose of passing off a part of their income as agricultural and evade tax.

While the prospect of taxing agricultural income is politically difficult, as the author notes, one way out could be to that for people having other taxable income such as salary or business income, their agricultural income shall be taxable at usual rates.

The rationale being that such people do not engage in agriculture for the sake of livelihood.

V Vijaykumar


Covid spike

The massive spike in Covid-19 cases in recent weeks with cities and other urban regions bearing the brunt has undoubtedly signalled the third wave hitting the country.

With the present surge in infections largely confined to urban areas, focus must be turned towards enhancing surveillance, testing and accelerate the pace of vaccination to prevent the contagion from wreaking a havoc on our healthcare system.

While the lower rate of hospitalisation and low severity of the Omicron variant provide a glimmer of hope that the third wave may not be as calamitous as the second, driven by the Delta strain, both the public authorities and the people can hardly afford to lower their guard.

Several State governments have started imposing curbs on the movement of people to control the spread of virus, but their lack of interest in enforcing physical distancing norms in political rallies leaves lot to be desired.

M Jeyaram

Sholavandan (TN)

Agriculture Budget

This refers to the article, ‘Agriculture needs a separate budget’, (January 5). Agriculture plays a vital role in the Indian economy, with over 70 per cent of the rural households depending on it.

Also, it contributes about 17 per cent of the GDP and provides employment to over 60 per cent of the population.

It includes more than 12 crore smallholder and marginal farmers, most of who face annual risks related to low rainfall, price volatility, inflation, weak infrastructure, debts and so on.

Despite the Covid- induced curbs and lockdowns, the performance of the farm sector has been good, underlining its resilience and potential.

Due to lack of reforms, the farm sector has remained unprofitable.

Successive governments failed to bring in reforms even as the 1991 reforms proved to be a game-changer for the Indian economy.

However, the passing of the farm reforms Bills and the subsequent retreat by the Centre, due to protests by farmers should not discourage the Central and State governments to effect changes for the sector that feeds the population over 1.3 billion and employs many people.

N Sadhasiva Reddy


Footwear sector’s quandary

If deferment of the GST rate hike on textiles is a new year gift, why was the same type of gift not extended to the footwear industry? The Finance Ministry appears to be under the illusion that the footwear sector can somehow survive despite the tax burden on the industry and the general public.

The tax component plays an important role in the manufacturing industry.

A higher rate of tax will definitively discourage local consumption as well as exports. India should formulate policies by taking into consideration the availability of cheap Chinese goods all over the world.

Otherwise the country will lose the competitiveness on Indian products.

Girish R Edathitta

Pathanamthitta (Kerala)