The other day I was washing dishes at home (Bachelors like me need to take care of lots of things, you know!) and one acquaintance of mine suddenly offered help by saying "Hey! I can do the tax planning for you. Get me your pay-slip!". This chap is a CA by profession and so is definitely capable of helping but I wondered at the odd time of his question. May be I would have been more happy had he offered to wash some dishes! Anyways, I replied back saying "Thanks! But I don't think you can save much there". To which, he replied "Why? You can definitely save. How much is your HRA?" I said "I always show the *exact* rent which is Rs.1500/month this time". Then he immediately cried "Idiot" & continued by saying, "Idiot you are! You can easily save around 20K if you show more house rent than actual". When I replied that I knew about this saving, he stared at me unbelievably and said "Why do you want to give money to the Government? To the politicians who are corrupt and eat our money? Tell me why? If you are really principled then save that money and give it to some charity. That way you do better service. You are foolishly wasting money now". I did not say anything in reply and he looked a bit disappointed at my nonchalance. He just said "We can discuss this later some time" and left.
My acquaintance got it wrong! I don't have any ideal or principle or ethic. I just "felt" that I should show correct bills. That's it. It's so simple indeed! There is no big analysis. But now this friend's comments actually made me to think about all this. I did realize some interesting things after some thought:
1. I think that his argument is not really strong. Putting fake bills is also a kind of fraud and so how can you fight corruption through some more corruption? Aren't we making the system more corrupt with this action? If we are really concerned about corruption is this the way to deal with this? And can we say, putting our hands on our heart, that if the politicians and government are clean we would honestly pay our tax? How many of us are actually donating some of the saved money to charities? Isn't it that we are just blaming some external causes for our actions to hide our own selfishness?
2. It appears that we are not truly responsible. Only if the responsibility is imposed by some external agent like in a job, we tend to be responsible. It is because that there is little "self-driven" (internal) responsibility we blame the external environment for our actions. A truly responsible person realizes that he is not separate from the world around him. Because we are the world. The world is not separate from us. We have created the society around us. We have elected the politician, we have chosen the government as "our representation". Did this corrupt and selfish politician come from Mars? Society is always a mirror of what we are. So changing our self is changing the society. The internal change brings the external change. If we can realize this fact, we see that there is a tremendous responsibility on each one of us. It is too easy to blame the government, the politician or circumstances. It is as if the tree is blaming the fruit saying that it is sour. It is as if the Sun is blaming the heat! We think that we are on the sea shore and go on to criticize and analyze the ocean of society. But the truth is that we are part of the ocean.
3. We rarely can "see things". We are filled with knowledge and memory, we have our own views, theories and philosophies. So we can't see and think freshly putting aside our prejudices, likes, selfishness and motives. For example, while reading this article, you would have already said to yourself:
"Ah! This guy is speaking too philosophical stuff" or
"Are yaar! All this is not practical!" or
"What a novice this chap is! Didn't see the real world yet" or
"All this is very outdated thinking" or
"This may be true! But it is too idealistic. Only sages can be like this. We are humans" or
"Hmm! This guy should read the book by xxxx. Then he will see how foolish his views are" or
(as my acquaintance commented) "Sure! This guy is an idiot! Doesn't understand finance and economics"
Any conclusion or bias of this sort, prevents you from really understanding what I wrote :)
4. Its quite possible that I am an idiot!!!
P.S: My apologies to the unnamed acquaintance in this article (he is real) if he happens to read this article (and no apologies if he did not read this!) I do understand that he is my well-wisher and wanted to give some financial advice. I did not intend to show his views in bad light here. This attempt is just to show "my views" in brighter light!!!