I happened to closely study the contents in the logo of the Income Tax department of India and also watch the debate that went on in the social media some time back with regard to the tag line ‘Kosh Moolo Dandah’ incorporated in the devanagari script in the logo.

Reproduced hereunder is the logo presently used by the department:

kosh muloh dandh

Let us examine first the argument put forward by the adversaries.

The tag line in devanagari script reads as ‘KOSH MULO DANDH’ 

The words in a layman’s Language mean as follows:

KOSH – Fund

MULO – Principal / Main

DAND – Punishment/Stick

The argument is that the word ‘dand’ means punishment/stick and conveys that the department is there only to punish. Their stand is that many responsible citizens pay the tax on their own willingly without considering it as a ‘dand’ (punishment). Rather they take pride in making their contribution to make their country financially strong. They understand that the government is utilizing this tax amount to provide the required security for the nation and several infrastructural facilities. Hence the word ‘dand’ which conveys that the department is there only to punish should be removed from the tag line.

The argument in favour of the slogan is to convince that studying the meaning of words independently will not convey the correct meaning and the slogan would not certainly mean that the assessees or for that matter the subjects of this country are being “punished” in the form of tax. The meaning of the word “dand” is not punishment but is “administration”. Its meaning should be interpreted in the context in which it was written by CHANAKYA in his ARTHASHASTRA which wanted to convey that “revenue is the backbone of administration.”

Some time back the then President of the country Mr. Pranab Mukherjee quoting  this slogan ‘Kosh Moolo Dandah’ while speaking before the Indian Revenue Officers’ forum said that “Many empires have collapsed in the past because Governments did not have money to pay their soldiers. Chanakya’s words ‘Kosh Moolo Dandah’ i.e. “revenue is the backbone of administration” continues to be as relevant today as it was thousands of years ago.”

But the point is whether the tag line ‘Kosh Moolo Dandah’ is really conveying the intended meaning?

Whatever it may mean in Sanskrit, the lay man understands ‘dand’ as a punishment or stick only and not as ‘backbone’ as the authors intended to convey. Where is the need to take the trouble of explaining that the word ‘dand’ is in Sanskrit and its real meaning as ‘backbone’ as per Arthashastra of  Chanakya or something else? The words we use in any slogan should be catchy and easily understandable to all whether one is educated or under-educated or even uneducated. See for example the tag line in the LIC’s emblem ‘yogakshemam vahamyaham’ taken from the sacred Gita which has the direct and simple meaning ‘your welfare is my responsibility’ and is almost a household slogan. The slogan has only one meaning and no one need explain what its real meaning is.

Reports have also been there supporting the view that the department is there only for punishing the subjects. The oldest episode of harassment by the officials of the department,  the present generation has heard of, is that of the famous film actress of yester years –  Savitri which has again come to limelight recently with the release of the biopic of the actress viz – ‘Mahanati’. The latest in the series is that of VG Siddhartha of the Coffee Day. In his last letter to the employees, the coffee king has cited “harassment” at the hands of the tax authorities as one of the reasons for fund crunch in his company Cafe Coffee Day. In between, there have been, of course, many such instances. It would be uncharitable if we conclude that  the department is unkind to  all the assessees based on a couple of instances like this, as there are numerous instances of many tax evaders even trying to take shelter under this pretext. But the common man’s perception, however, is that the officers of  the department are there only to harass the assessees.

My own experience also with regard to ‘scrutiny’ is not that happy. A notice was issued to me stating that my case was selected for Limited Scrutiny (Computer Aided Scrutiny Selection – CASS). I have, of course, submitted all the information required by them and my assessment was closed with no tax liability. The point here is that whether it was necessary at all to pick my case – a pensioner in his seventies with a meager net taxable income of just Rs.2,75,890/-. Even if the computer (which has no brain of its own and acts only as per the programmes/ commands/directions given by the man) has chosen my case in random selection, the officers should have acted after due application of their mind to decide whether it would be worthwhile to take up the case for scrutiny. The issue of notice has not actually served any purpose except causing some unnecessary anxiety to me as the common even today gets panicky and sweats the moment he receives a notice because of the ‘reputation’ the department is enjoying. This ‘much ado about nothing’ could have been easily avoided. It would be better if the officers concentrate their efforts to bring to book the big sharks that are not only evading taxes but are also swallowing crores of rupees taken as loans from the banks and leaving the country forever, instead of wasting their time and energy in ‘harassing’ a small fry like me.

I am reminded of a quotation which I read in our college days in the subject of ‘Auditing’ which reads “An auditor is only a watch dog but not a blood hound”. Even the tax authorities should keep this piece of advice in their mind while dealing with the assesses. Many economic worst offenders, with proven track record of offences, are becoming MLAs/MPs/Ministers and even Chief Ministers who are luxuriating all benefits at the cost of the honest tax payers money are left scot free. What is preventing the authorities from exhibiting their valour in such cases? Our basic concept of Jurisprudence that “100 culprits may let go free but no innocent should be punished” should be the watch word for the department. A cautious approach is certainly needed while dealing with the innocent people.

The authorities should always keep in mind the following words of wisdom of Justice Dalveer Bhandari and Justice A.K.Patnaik of the Apex Court while arriving at any decision particularly relating to the downtrodden who are meek and dumb.

“People in power and authority should not easily lose equanimity, composure and appreciation of the problems of the lesser mortals. They are always expected to remember that power and authority must be judiciously exercised according to the Laws and Human compassion.  Arrogance and vanity have no place in discharge of their official functions and duties.”

In view of the above discussion there cannot be two opinions about the removal of this tagline ‘Kosh Moolo Dandah’ from the logo of the Income tax department as the word ‘dand’ conveys only one meaning to the common man i.e., punishment/stick. The removal of the tag line altogether can be examined. If they are particular of having a tag line some other suitable tag line may be considered which would convey the correct meaning.

In this connection, I  have some more suggestions to make with regard to the logo of the department.

We observe that the department’s name appears only in English. It should first appear in our Official Language (Rajbhasha), Hindi and then in English. It would fit in best if it is kept at the top of the logo as shown hereunder in devanagari script and then in English at the bottom as it is now.

Indian Income Tax Department

Also the word ‘India’ should be added if it is not otherwise objectionable, even though it is only a department of the Central Government and not an independent body as in the case of many of the financial and other institutions like State Bank of India, Life Insurance Corporation of India, Food Corporation of India, Shipping Corporation of India, Steel Authority of India so on and so forth.

To sum up the position

  1. The tag line ‘Kosh Moolo Dandah’ should be deleted.
  2. Name of the department should appear on top of the logo as shown above in devanagari script as Hindi is our Official Language.
  3. The word ‘India’ should be added to the name as “Income Tax Department of India”, if it is not otherwise objectionable.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for information purposes only and do not constitute an advice or a legal opinion and are personal views of the author. It is based upon relevant law and/or facts available at that point of time and prepared with due accuracy & reliability. Readers are requested to check and refer relevant provisions of statute, latest judicial pronouncements, circulars, clarifications etc before acting on the basis of the above write up.  The possibility of other views on the subject matter cannot be ruled out. By the use of the said information, you agree that Author / TaxGuru is not responsible or liable in any manner for the authenticity, accuracy, completeness, errors or any kind of omissions in this piece of information for any action taken thereof. This is not any kind of advertisement or solicitation of work by a professional.

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Location: Hyderabad, Telangana, IN
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May 2021