Dear Mr.Finance Minister…
The Right Honorable Finance Minister,
Well what an idiot I was. Just last week I was moaning about cheap smart phones and how they empower people. I was moaning about some guy who irons clothes not having a smart phone. I thought, and when I told the guy what I wrote, he thought that cheap smart phones are good. How wrong we were. But then of course what do we know. The guy stands in the sun like an idiot and irons clothes day after day. And me? I write about a guy who stands in the sun like an idiot and irons clothes day after day just to fill some column space. If he or me were the finance minister, like your esteemed self Sir, we would know that smartphones are evil, time wasting, productivity killing robots out to eat us alive.
I must confess, I haven’t the slightest idea about being a finance minister, nor about the Union Budget. I don’t even have an idea about my house budget, or my own personal budget. It is not that I was not trying to learn though. When I was told that making allocations for buying chocolates and games does not constitute a budget I have decided to learn about budgets from the best. So I got a bowl of popcorn and sat down to watch your amazing performance. And what a performance it was. But I must again confess, all those numbers flew right over my head. It was a bit like Monopoly, with all those thousands of crores of rupees. I was just slipping into a slumber like your exalted colleagues in the parliament when I heard you announce the increased tax on SUVs. The tax on the evil, gas guzzling, earth killing environment killers used by the rich made me so happy I promptly sent an email to James Cameron asking him to make you the lead in Avatar 2. The tax on cigarettes was a bit of a dampener as I was hoping that half of India will smoke themselves to death. But it was when you announced that you are increasing the excise duty on smart phones from 1 percent to 6 percent that I woke up. To be fair you said, “I do not propose to change that in the case of low-priced mobile phones. However, on mobile phones priced at more than Rs.2,000, I propose to raise the duty to six percent”. When the TV channel I was watching was promoting this as a tax on the super rich, I got so mad that I was going to storm into the parliament to show you what a phone that costs Rs.2,000 looks like.
But then I calmed down and thought. I get it. What is the point of smart phones? They are fragile attention seekers that connect to that THING called the internet, make us do THINGS on twitter and Facebook. And horrifyingly they are not dumb. They connect people. They let us talk to other people about stuff like the union budget. They let us make jokes on you and your dear friend Sibal. If you, in all your intelligence did not increase their prices, more people would buy these things and waste their precious lives googling information about your colleague’s wealth. Increasing smart phone adoption would be the opposite of decades of keeping us uneducated and uninformed. So, well done Sir. Please also tax tablets, computers, broadband, everything that will make us a little wise. Also the human fingers with which we type all those jokes about Italy.