Tax Inspector Kejriwal

The real Arvind Kejriwal emerged last week and proved that his first career choice was the right one. He should always have been an income tax officer. Instead of pretending to be a political leader and a crusader against corruption, he should go back to the income tax department, pay his dues, and ask for his job back. For a start, he likes raiding businessmen and hates them deeply because he believes that they are responsible for 'crony capitalism'. Most income tax officials I know think this way too until they become cronies themselves.

Income tax raids are one of our more barbaric traditions. Little men, who look a lot like Kejriwal, swoop down upon someone or other's home in the early hours of the morning and put its occupants under virtual house arrest for the duration of the raid. You cannot call a lawyer or make a telephone call to a relative. You cannot eat, drink, sleep or go to the bathroom without a little man (or woman) watching you and even when they read your love letters or your private journals, you cannot stop them. Luckily the little men who swarm over your life like an infestation of cockroaches are usually very corrupt and at the end of the raid are buyable for a price.

How do I know all this? Because I have had the uncertain honour of being present at more than one income tax raid, since the days of Mrs Gandhi's Emergency when she unleashed her officials on her political opponents. I also know from some of the finest economists and financial analysts that income tax raids are counterproductive and should be banned. They do not happen in civilised, democratic countries. But, as I have written before in this space, Kejriwal is no democrat.

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