As Finance Minister Arun Jaitley rolled out the Union Budget 2016-17, there were a lot of ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ from several quarters- primarily from those who love their stick of nicotine (cigarette I mean). The government has decided to raise the excise duty on tobacco products (other than beedi) by 10 to 15 per cent. This, for some has brought real bad news.
“What will the government gain by raising the price of our self destructive and suicidal ways,” said an anonymous social networking user on his Twitter handle.
“I am free to choose my way of living and dying and rise in cigarette prices is an obstruction to my freedom,” the handle further read.
The Facebook walls of various users were also filled with ‘anti budget’ comments.
“This is not a budget for the poor. This is an anti-poor budget. This will make the cigarette companies richer. Black marketing will be on the rise and some middlemen would now enter in the list of billionaire. I vehemently condemn this budget,” posted another anonymous Facebook user.
According to a random survey, brands like Gold Flake King Size, Gold Flake (normal size), Wills Filter and Wills Flake are the most common brand used by the common Indian users (the mango people). Only a handful of the mango people draw the ‘eternal pleasure’ of peace and tranquillity by smoking brands like Benson & Hedges and Marlboro.
“After a day’s hard work, a King Size with a cuppa of roadside tea is my perfect way of relaxation. But the government is jealous of our inner peace and hence this rise. This is insane,” read another Facebook post.
Not only the social networking sites, but the local ‘adda’s also buzzed with voices against the Budget.
“I know how I save pocket money for this one stick. The increase in excise duty will not result in the increase of my pocket money? I don’t know how I am going to manage for one stick now?” said a dejected teenager.
But amid all these fuss, we must also see the brighter side of the rise, which the government has brought in silently!
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, right from the day he began on his Prime Ministerial trail, has been saying that India is a young country as it has the world’s largest population of young people.
(In a preaching manner) Young people are full of talents and energy and stuffs life cigarettes, in a way, are obstacles to the path of unleashing the full potential of the young minds. Smoking starts at an early age and at this age they have to depend on their pocket money to survive an entire month. Bus fares, tuition fees, occasional movie dates, liquor hang outs and some cigarettes- all these are inclusive within their pocket money for a month.
But with prices made high there is a certainty (remotely possible) that cigarette smoking might just go down as bus fares, tuition fees are not raised and they can’t ask for a hike in pocket money. Movie dates can’t be compromised with! The only thing that will come under the hammer is liquor consumption. Surviving and relishing both liquor and cigarette with the same old pocket money will certainly be difficulty and there is every possible chance (remote again) that their consumption would also go down. Thus, the government might be finally successful in protecting the talented minds of the country!
Now, for the working class, the government has raised some other charges and taxes as well. And with the same old salary and after paying the taxes and EMIs and this and that, buying cigarette and enjoying its every puff may just become difficult and too expensive for the working young too! And thus the government scores here too! But, sadly, most of the people today failed to see these benefits!
“My brand is Gold Flake Kings Size and now if I will have to pay Rs 13 per stick, I would rather quit smoking. After all, it is not healthy too,” said a 33-year-old techie who has been smoking since he was 17.
Evoking mixed views and reviews is an art and Budget is a masterpiece, a true champion in this regard!
(Through the article in no way am I encouraging smoking)