Hitting out at the Centre over demonetisation, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor has said that telling the people that they cannot have access to the money in their accounts was “nanny-ism carried to an extreme.”
The former Union minister, who was speaking at an event here last evening, also criticised the BJP-led government over the way GST was rolled out, although, he said, the concept of one nation one tax was “a great idea.”
“Demonetisation was an exercise in telling people what notes they could hold… The government telling us that you cannot have access to your own money in your account was nanny-ism carried to an extreme,” Tharoor said.
He was participating in a debate on ‘We are living in a nanny state’, chaired by Vir Sanghvi, at the eighth edition of ‘Tata Literature Live’.
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Tharoor was speaking for the motion along with JNU professor Makarand Paranjape, while senior journalist Chandan Mitra and industrialist Sunil Alagh were against the motion.
“Intention of GST was a wonderful thing. Having one nation one tax is a great idea but in practise what this government has done, it has created something for the state, the bureaucrats and not to help the people.
“Instead of one nation one tax, we have been given three taxes, six slabs underneath and 37 forms a year to be filed… There is a nanny state sitting over you,” Tharoor said.
He also criticised the beef ban, saying it has destroyed livelihoods of millions in Maharashtra alone.
“The beef ban in its conception and intention is indeed nanny state behaviour. The government is trying to determine what people put in their mouths, even in their homes… This nanny state has destroyed the livelihoods of millions in Maharashtra alone,” the former Union minister said.
He also referred to the controversy over the Information and Broadcasting Ministry pulling out two movies – “S Durga” (Malayalam) and “Nude” (Marathi) from the 48th edition of International Film Festival of India to be held in Goa from November 20 to 28.
“Censorship is another example, where you saw very recently in the news, withdrawal of two films from the International Film Festival of India by the government, not by the jury.
“You have a censor board which demands 72 cuts in ‘Udta Punjab’, an Amartya Sen documentary where the censor insists the word Hindu and cows should be cut out. If this isn’t a nanny state then what is,” Tharoor asked.
The Congress leader said the “nanny state rule” extended to “homophobic laws” and even the anti-Romeo squads.
“You also have the homophobic laws in our books. Before the heterosexuals get too complacent, we have got Yogi Adityanath’s anti-Romeo squads in UP (Uttar Pradesh).
“So this state believes, like nannies, they know what’s best for the country and what isn’t. Nannies may be good at babysitting, but in this analogy, we the people are the baby and the government is sitting on us,” he said.
“The principle to my mind is that the government’s job is in public policy, in creation and administration of public goods, in defending our borders, making infrastructure… Those things are alright.
“But getting into the kitchen, into the bedroom, into people’s personal life, it’s not the business of the state. We must stand up against it whoever is in the government,” Tharoor said.