Lead Story

One Nation, Many Burdens

The GST system of indirect taxation completes five years in 2022, and it already seems to have caused cracks in the idea of fiscal federalism. States feel shortchanged at losing revenue year after year. Was it worth surrendering their taxation powers to a GST Council that tends to agree with the Centre?

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Published 8 months ago on Jan 30, 2022 16 minutes Read
Illustration: Rajat Baran Chakravartty

Narendra Modi burst in on the national scene in May 2014 with a promise of reforming the business environment in India, the way his supporters claimed he had done in Gujarat during his long stint as its chief minister. However, in the next two years, his party and government were besieged from all sides.The then rising star of Indian politics Arvind Kejriwal annihilated the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the Delhi assembly election in February 2015. In April, the then vice-president of the Congress Rahul Gandhi made his now-famous “suit-boot ki sarkar” jibe at the government. By August, the opposition prevailed over the government and forced a withdrawal of the contentious amendments to the Land Acquisition Act of 2013 that were seen as anti-farmer and pro-business. If this was not all, by the time the year ended, an aggressive Supreme Court had dealt a decisive blow to the government by striking down the ambitious National Judicial Appointments Commission Act which would have given the executive legal means to influence judicial postings. In the next year, Modi was a changed man.