Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The One Year Itch

It is one year since I joined the National Academy of Direct taxes. I think it is time that I share what I have learnt in this one year. The major subjects were accountancy and Income Tax Act. Accountancy was truly unnerving to say the least. Though I come from an engineering background, I am not very comfortable with numbers with a trail of zeros. I don’t mind algebraic expressions. But pages with high density of numbers is not something I was familiar or comfortable with. Till date, the maximum numerical density I could tolerate was the soduku square. Here was a long list of numbers waiting to be divided into two categories, debit and credit. The challenge was not in segregation, but in ensuring that their totals were identical. And that’s where my woes began.

Actually, debit and credit are not entirely new to me. Debit is the name of the card which was given to me by the bank which has my salary account. It is a good card but doesn’t work after the 10th day of the month. Credit is the card which my dad gave me. It works 365 days a year. To sum up, I had very pleasant memories of “debit’ and “credit”. But ever since I started my accountancy classes, I began to hate those words. At the end of the course, the only thing that I am confident of is that I can draw a line that would run exactly through the center of the page.

I don’t think my experience with the Income Tax act is very different. Even the best of the argumentative Indians will acknowledge without second thoughts that it is the most difficult and complicated pieces of legislation. But that is how tax legislations are. It is said that Prince Siddhartha left his kingdom the day his taxation classes began. Later, he attained enlightenment pondering over the first word uttered in the class, “Income”. Chandragupta Maurya, fearing that his son too might run away, divested himself of the finance portfolio and handed it over to Chanakya. Chanakya’s concern for posterity took the shape of Arthashasthra. But that is where the problems began to grow in geometric progression. Codification of laws gives rise to a new phenomenon called “interpretation”, whose limits coincide with that of ingenuity and insanity.

The Income Tax Act, 1961 must be having around 400 sections, 1200 sub-sections and god-knows-how-many provisos and explanations. But I know only two sections. Section A and Section B. Section B is where HK and CM sit. I too sit sleep there. HK sits next to me, wakes me up when the class is over and reminds me that it is time to go for lunch / tea / home. CM was her predecessor. But for these two, I am not really sure to which sections the rest of my batchmates belong to. I hardly see any of them. The road from the mess to my classroom is utterly deserted when I run every morning to the class with a toast in mouth and paper tissues in my hands. If I am lucky, I wouldn’t be caught by my Assistant Course Director at the entrance of building.

If I am luckier, then he would send me back and ask me to join the next session. I would then go back to the mess and have a complete breakfast. Since I would be the lone diner, the entire staff of the mess would be there to serve me. I would leisurely eat till I risk falling asleep on the dining table. I would then take a cup of tea and take a stroll across the lawns opposite to the mess and wonder for the zillionth time how beautiful early mornings are. Never mind the clock striking 10. ‘Early’ is relative.

Yes, I lose one half casual leave for missing the class. But how does that matter. I never needed any leaves. I don’t have anywhere to go or anything to do. During probation, marriage is the most common occasion for which officers apply for a leave. I don’t see myself getting married even in my next birth and don’t have sufficient foresight to look beyond that. I don’t even have a beautiful fiancĂ© / girlfriend whom I would love to meet. Considering that it took two and a half decades to get rid of me, I am the last person whom my parents would love see at their door. No wonder, in my one year stay in the academy, I just took one day leave. That was just last week. It was to attend a wedding of my batchmate at Punjab. At the risk of repetition and boredom, I would like to confess that I had no luck with lasses at the wedding.

On my way back, at Delhi, I managed to detain MS for a coffee. I love meeting MS because she is the only human being who often tells me that I am smart, intelligent and funny. I know it is her education that makes her say so. She was a practicing psychiatrist who is now pursuing M. Phil at IHBAS. It was more than a year I met her and I shared my achievements (or rather the lack of it) with her. This time even her professional experience couldn’t prevent her from getting shocked at how disastrous a person could be. When she recovered, she managed to blurt out, “I am scared what is going to happen when you go to office next April.”

I calmly replied, “So is the Government of India”


ben said...

well written buddy. just grinning,laughing while reading it.by the way, who is this MS?

Sameera said...

always love ur funny posts.

good job :D

kuffir said...

this is fun. :)

Hari said...

hi Arvind,

Certainly u r wit and sarcasm have come to the fore after a breif lull.

But i think this could be rated as one of u r best entries in the recent times especially after the entry "why civil services"

Cosmic Voices said...

Thanks all... :-)

@ Ben

I think the link gives an idea who MS is...for more details, try figuring out from my friends list at orkut

@ Hari

"Why civil services" was straight from heart... probably my most honest post

aaratam pooratam (raj) said...

nice post anna! thoroughly enjoyed reading it (as always).aap ka bhi number aajayega.

Esha said...

Nice post...i think GoI will survive ;-)

Cosmic Voices said...

@ AA


@ Esha

I guess this is what is termed as "Optimism".

By the way, can I have the privilege of the invitation to your blog?

mutRupuLLi said...

Humorous post sire....... :)
Government of India is large hearted and has space for all kinds of people.I mean if i can be paid a 5 figure salary........Mera bharat mahan :)
Happy new year..

Cosmic Voices said...

Thank you and wish you the same!!

Esha said...

Nope, that's not optimism, that is realism plain and simple...GoI is very resilient :-) come to the field and then u will realize!!

Pilani Pictures said...

" I don’t see myself getting married even in my next birth".I'm glad that the IT Act classes at least gave you enuf time to introspect and arrive at the near-truth..

Btw...are you aware of the OLQs and the Sections 5.4.A (ii) and 3A.4(bb)(1) of the CCS (Conduct) Rules, 1964?

Be careful.

smile on :-) said...

ummm... writing is fun ,... reading something like this is funnier..
well its like every married man was a bachelor sometime.. i am pretty sure i ll be reading ur 'date-with-destiny' or 'my better-half' sooner or later.

another well written effort to behold the smile curve...:-)

Cosmic Voices said...

"every married man was a bachelor sometime"

But the corollary does not hold good.

"i am pretty sure i ll be reading ur 'date-with-destiny' or 'my better-half' sooner or later."

I like your confidence!!!

Anonymous said...

did you ever consider writing a book...
writing is definitely your forte :-)

Cosmic Voices said...

@ Anon

May be someday, I will when I have enough experiences to share but no captive audience :)