May 02, 2005

Contribution To Feminism; Indian Way

FM Raises Tax Rebate For Women

I am no male chauvinistic pig; atleast i believe so!

I am always for female liberation and "freedom from kitchen" for our women folks so that they can contribute to the society. I believe that "man" kind was always afraid that the "better half" is actually better than us and hence tried to oppress them (meaning remove them from the labour market!).

Now that i have my presented my strong (and suitably liberal i hope!) leanings on the issue, i will come to my problem

For a long while, according to indian tax laws, women have had a higher income level when tax kicks in. Is this India's contribution to gender equality? if so what does this achiveve? i dont see this contributing anything to gender equality. why should a women who earns as much as a man pay less in tax?

Sure, the facility is available to senior citizens too but there is a difference. For one, senior citizen benefit is gender neutral; secondly senior citizen benefits make economic sense because most of them have are no longer earning so their income is basically from their savings.

people talk about positive discrimination for the disadvantaged (they compare reservation policy with the tax laws). But is this positive iscrimination? i dont think so!. Because this partial tax exemption works only for women who have taxable income. What about the women who do not come under the tax bracket at all!. My disgust at this law is because
1) This benefits the women who are economically well off; not the poorest of the poor women. Any positive discrimination should be directed at the poorest (or atleast should benefit them too if selective targetting is difficult)
2) This is not positive discrimination at all anyways. positive discrimination is something which gives people an opportunity (like reservation in schools/colles or for a job). The tax benefit does not offer any opportunity; it just offers benefits!

Ofcourse, Indian political discourse/media talk rarely talks about such "imploite matters". But can somebody explain the logic of this to me? it sure escapes me


silverine said...

Interesting observations. But I have to counter.
The poorest women are not taxed.The tax benefits for women are confined to women who earn less than one and half lakh per annum. The higher income group pays tax like their male counterparts.
The reasoning is obvious. It is the poor womenfolk who support the family. The men spend most of their income on 'arrack' or gambling, lottery etc. The burden of looking after the family is shouldered by women in most Indian homes.

Matter of Choice said...


you are my first "real" commentator. i had hoped for a more flattering first comment (like "wow..dude ur intellectual capacity is awesome"!) and asked a few friends to comment. but they are too lazy to take the effort to praise me. so i guess i have to do with u :)

anyway my response goes..

when you say the poorest women are not given benefits it proves my point. Do the govt of india (and the indian people!) believe that only women who earn more than 1 lakh have husbands who spent money on "arrack or gambling"??. what about the majority of the working indian women who earns far less than that?. and even if your argument is true why extend the benefits to women who are not married but earn more than 1 lakh??

and even women who gets more than 1.5 lakh income benefits out of the law. because the tax for them is calculated over 1.35 lakh (which by the way is the limit imposed by FM). So basically if you compare a woman and man who earns 10 lakh each, the woman's tax liability is 10,000+ less than the man! (not counting the surcharge or educational cess!!)

You say that "The burden of looking after the family is shouldered by women in most Indian homes". even assuming this to be true (and i protest against the generalization!) similar logic can be applied else where..i will give examples

1) majority of the indian females get married after their parents pay dowry. so why not give a tax break to all the parents (distributed equally between father and mother) a tax break in the financial year when their daughters get married off?

2) why not give all the married females a tax exemption?.

the problem u mention might exist. but it is a social problem which is to be eradicated by education/social sanction not by tax breaks :).

what say? :)

and thankx for the comment!


silverine said...

"wow..dude ur intellectual capacity is awesome"!:)

I too have extreeeemely lazy friends who read my posts and then give their comments in the cafeteria.

Firstly I did not say that the poorest women are not given benefits. I said that the poorest are not taxed. (Please not this point Your Honour!)

Secondly, yes it is the women who spend on the family. The poorer class women are also trying to educate their children at least in the south. The priorities of men in this class is very different. They are invisible entities in the 'family' and rarely contribute to the same. Apologies for the generalisation, but a different kind of value system exists in lower class homes. The men rarely support the family and usually fight with the women for more money.How many among poor girls are unmarried??? Most of them are married off or marry by the time they are 15 or 18.Among the poor marriage is a security blanket for the women. They expect nothing from their men as it is understood that she will take care of him for the security he provides.

About giving Tax breaks to parents who are marrying off their daughters- are you trying to legalise dowry!?!?

Giving married females Tax exemption is not fair as a fair number of the poor unmarried girls support their families with their mothers.

There are other reasonings too but for that you will have to talk to a social scientist.

Pradeep said...

Thanks for dropping into my blog. It was quite a pleasant surprise. Nice to see a Sainik School-mate read my blog and comment! But you didn't leave your name. You are Anish? Thanks for the reference to my father. From which batch are you?

Man-woman debate is often too simplified. Gender equality itself is misinterpreted. Comparing man and woman is like comparing oranges and apples. Each have their own attributes, and one is never a substitute for the other.

However, there are many situations which are gender-neutral... wherein whether it is man or woman doesn't matter... We are increasingly moving towards to that. It can't achieved overnight.

But trying to see everything gender-neutral is oversimplifying things.

Regarding tax concessions... well I haven't yet thought on the line you have taken. I don't think it will in anyway help uplift the women folk, in a general sense. If a working woman wants to improve her career prospects, tax concession is definitely not the right way.

Generally, my opinion is when it comes to professional work, there shouldn't be a difference between man and woman. So, regarding taxation too there should be a discrimination between man and woman.

Matter of Choice said...

Hi Pradeep,

Yeah i am anish. after silverine posted my link to your blog i got several visitors to my blog through ur blog. i was just analysing my visitors path and found that out. hence visited ur blog.

i am from 1997 batch and i guess NBN sir retired in 1989 (just before i joined). I had actually met him (i dont know whether you were there too)during a get together 3-4 years back in blr.

regarding the tax break, i was just curious that in all these while i have never seen an article protesting it. I mean the economic rationale is quite suspect but still no one even bothers to question it. everybody seems to be mollycoddling the issue. Thats why i thought i will express my contray opinion

anish mathew

ps: silverine, ur comment requires real detailed comment from my side..iam now overworking my brains to write that. it should be in soon :)

Matter of Choice said...

I am tying to do an economic reasoning and point out why the tax break for women is ridiculous

1. Your entire comment is about how poor women have to shoulder the entire responsibility of the family. I still protest at the generalization, but coming from a rather secured middle class life I don’t have the credibility to attack the generalization. So I will accept the generalization and still prove why the tax break is ridiculous
a. As you say, the poor women have more expenses because they have to take care of their families (after being abandoned my the male counterparts). Fine, but if that is the case, benefits should go to poor women. So who is the “poor woman”? The generally accepted guideline of poverty line for India is some one who earns 1 dollar a day. I will be generous and say anybody whose annual income is less than 1 lakh is poor. Having thus defined the poor woman, let us see if she gets any benefit?. No!. she doesn’t pay tax, but neither does a man who earns below 1 lakh. So poor woman and poor man are “equal” in front of the tax regime. But, as soon as the income goes above 1 lakh the women gets tax benefits as compared to men. So non-poor women (I will not classify women earning more than 1 lakh as rich!) get benefits which should go to poor women. Now when we talk about non-poor women, I can say that your generalization is quite false. I know enough middle class families to say that man (even if he is a drunk!) does provide his fair bit (if not more) for the family
b. So what is happening? Tax break is a benefit. The benefits in this case are going to people who don’t deserve it. If the government wants to support poor women, they should provide with in reach, good healthcare and educational facilities to all (assuming these two are critical expenses for a poor family). Currently government just provides some tax breaks and no one questions the rationale. I wanted to question the rationale, especially since I see lot of my colleagues and class mates of the fairer-sex variety enjoying these benefits(without having any of the needs that u mention!)
c. Tax breaks to parents who are marrying off their daughters: No I did not want to legalize dowry!!, all I wanted to point out was that there are several social evils in the country not all of which can be solved by giving tax breaks.

Wow..long enough hopefully my quantity is good enough to deter any questions about the quality J


silverine said...

I have frankly lost the thread of this debate due to the many twists and turns it is taking. All I have to say a Tax Expert should be consulted for his views on the matter.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for standing up even risking being branded a MCP.

We are a group of 1000 honest senior citizens, techies, NRIs and intellectuals fighting against a massive scam in urban India in the name of gender sensitivity.

Please visit following links and blogs.

Mistreatment and Harassment of Elders (Elder Abuse) in India

Indian Feminist Attrocities against Women

Rebel said...


Only a man whose conscious is not sleeping could come up with such objection on special tax concession for women.
I totally agree with you and vote for your objection. Let me put my valid reason this way.
What is equality ? Equality is exposing men and women with exactly same environment, conditions, rules and regulations and social restrictions. This will ensure maximum utilisation of one's potentials. But, the present feminist organisation and so-called women empowerment are not looking for equality. They want men to suffer and women to call the shots everywhere. As far as I am concerned, I don't need thousands of men to protest on this issue along with me. I will protest all alone because I know I am right.
But there are thousands of men who have lost their self-respect and self-esteem in the hands of women who are busy taking advantage of men's lust and controlling their life. Indian laws too support such feminism that will soon ruin the social foundation of the country.

Anish, Hats off to you for observing such inequality in the name of women empowerment. I don't know about you, I can't keep quiet on this. I will protest.

Bombay Dosti said...

Tax concessions for women had never known this before and probably never thought about it as well.Well,to comment to your blog,no reservations have been flawless. Even the caste based reservations that you see in your engineering colleges( there are times you wonder what reservation thsi ultra rich classmate of yours needs, just because they belong to a particular caste)but you still need those reservations because , there are dalits in Bihar and UP where caste defenitely is an issue. Similarly, even when it comes to women; yes some not so needy women will make use of these benefits but thats tha anomaly we need to accept because it might benefit some women who are the sole bread earners, the only salaried women, who have finally made their first step to self suficiency. But, there can be changes too, where these concessions are removed after a particular income bracket.
But the other comments/links that followed your blog, i hate to read them ....

Rebel said...

Gender Equality is a sham and women empowerment is a deception.
If these people wants to attain gender equality, they must address men's issues too and not just women issues. Just because of few handful of women, this stupid law has been passed. What about those majority of the men who are sole bread earners and have muhc bigger financial responsibilities toward their family? There are many women who earn, pay lesser tax and still don't give a single penny in the house; they spend it all on their own clothes, jewelry and stuff.

Just because women have now become an important element of vote bank politics, women's issues are given priorty otherwise everybody knows that men are suffering more than women. Besides, because women have become a part of political correctness, nobody is willing to take the risk of getting publicly rebuked by the media and women organisation for passing a statement that favours men and not women.

Over-protection of female gender by the government and women organisation is truly taking away basic human rights of men.

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