The much debated policy of GST has been altered again. Govt reduces the GST rates on 27 items. There's good news for Namkin lovers also for those who think Khakra was the greatest invention since slice bread. We can debate that too: Bread came first or Khakra? But if you thought that the GST changes were being applied to the more immediate concerns over sanitary napkins, you are wrong. The sanitary napkins which by now should be tax-free remain unchanged at 12% GST.
Here are some of the items the govt thinks are indispensable for a living. Hence, cuts GST rate on them.- Sliced dried mangoes reduced from 12% to 5%
- Khakra and plain Chapattis reduced to 5%
- ICDS food packets for children reduced from 18% to 5%
- Unbranded Namkeen down to 5%
- Unbranded Ayurveda medicines down from 12% to 5%
- Plastic and rubber waste down from 18% to 5%
- Paper waste from 12% to 5%
- Yarn brought from 18% to 12%
- Many stones used in flooring, except marble and granite - will be now taxed at 18% instead of 28%
- A lot of items in stationery were at 28% now at 18%
- Diesel engine parts - brought down to 18% from 28%
- Services - zari job work - down from 12% to 5%
There's no doubt that the tax change would be welcomed by many but these are days when we have come a long way from the slogan 'Ek Kadam Swachata Ki Ore' to 'Swach Bharat, Swasth Bharat' to now 'Swachata He Sewa'. Words that mean nothing to the million of Indian women who cannot afford sanitary napkins.
Of course! We need Namkeen more than sanitary napkins. Living in urban share of the country, we may not feel the pinch as much as the rural areas by slight increase in prices of sanitary pads. The first step has to be to distribute them for free in slums and rural areas, along with conducting awareness programmes. Pads and tampons are ridiculously expensive. They need to be more affordable, and a starting point can be making them tax-free.
Periods continue to remain the embarrassing secret. Take for example a napkin-borrowing procedure which is a delicate operation, carried out with a woman- a softly voiced question, a barely perceptible nod, a surreptitious passing of the package. This is the condition of our workplace, schools and other public areas. Don’t even ask about what happens back in rural region. But hey! Who wants napkins when we've got namkin.