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Ballot Box India is an ever growing group of independent thinkers solving contemporary India's systemic inefficiencies with creative application of collective knowledge.

Analytics & Research

Thorough scientific analysis to identify, articulate and remediate.

Democratic Values

Collaborate, incentivize and Ratify using Democratic Principles

Sustainability

Pivot around larger Economics, Societal and Environmental Goals

Governance & Controls

Install Regulated Capitalism & Transparent Socialism for a Meritocratic Society

Why we started - Need to balance digital space back in favor of Social Innovators, Technocrats & Rationalists.

Looking around and into our digital space, we are surrounded by an ecosystem built on a sole premise of selling short term gratifications. It aims at basic human tendency to procrastinate and take actions on emotional impulses.

Internet has grown into a very sophisticated marketing tool, with right kind of money, agents and resources you can carpet bomb your audience with perception changing fallacies which can alter political, social and economic spectrum.

This whole marketing based economy on Internet helped build mega unicorns, but a social innovators needs are different, more structured and needs very specific tools to sustain the movements for long and grow.

Marketing based digital systems have misaligned goals than their users, its all about giving Mr A free services but Mr. B pays for the services, which always ends up in conflict of interests.

It was troubling to see the core tenets of computer science, economics, and social science twisted in such a way, putting India on the path of sustainability hazard.

At ballotboxIndia we believe in building an ecosystem where detailed deliberations and perceptions built over time are not replaced by blitzkrieg of advertisement.

A platform built specifically for Social innovators with right tools to elevate solutions for sustainable and just societies from the mercy of philanthropy to mainstream.

Core Values.

BallotBoxIndia is all about pure play economics, along with the desire of citizens for a better life in an open market, to get to a better world.

During our journey towards Global Goals of sustainability, accountability, equal opportunities and meritocracy, we will deploy right Incentives along with properly placed Nudges in an Open Market for world defining impacts. We will analyze the systemic issues and build an eco-system to incentivize nation building.

Adding to above, we are against any kind of street protests, or activities that can take time off already stressed law enforcement agencies and distract policy makers.

Below is what sums up India's or any post colonial developing democracy. (We will definately keep expanding it, but this gives a good starting point)

Short Problem Statement.

In the era of cost of development and public services converging towards or competing with global prices, along with public revenue streams heavily strained, the fiscal fire power left with policy makers and executives in India is grossly inadequate.

Though grossly under-funded our politicians and public servants work with extraordinary zeal towards community development, but sometimes not so right kind of skills and world views along with highly competitive rolling election system (States, Municipal, National keep taking place almost every now and then like IPL) wouldn't let build a strong (read not so popular) consistent and long term development plan.

This leads to long drawn policy making process (Real estate bill, GST, land reforms, Judicial reforms as example in 2015 but list is huge) and inconsistent implementations on ground due to pretty much non-existent cash strapped regulatory framework.

Situation right now looks like below, a self-enforcing national poverty trap.

Keeping above in view, at BallotBoxIndia we will keep identifying systemic critical points in socio-economic space of India and plant appropriate nudges at the right place to break India's Poverty Trap.

Expanding on the guiding principles, we will work to.

  • Balance the community responsibility spectrum so Legislative, Executive and Judicial branches are supported objectively by Civil society, Economic and Non Economic entities.
  • Liberate information and bring high quality data driven analysis and discussion into public domain.
  • Bring in the strong forces of free market economics to create incentive and solution based sustainable social framework.
  • Independently evaluate policies for their larger impact.
  • Bring efficiency into the system, and flag down any government vanity projects or fund misuse.
  • Act as independent think tank in policy framework pivoting around sustainability and green cost of development.
  • Provide a feedback loop between citizens, corporations, experts, activists, government agencies and other entities of importance in community to plug the gaping fiscal gap on ground.
  • Bring back the trust, to increase tax base, fair distribution of national income and a meritocratic and happy society.

Keep Reading For More Detailed Data Analysis.

The Great Indian Tax Squeeze- Why we started Ballot Box India.

Let's start with what we already know, add a bit of research and find out why a middle class household is so pissed off and what can be done about it, so the dream of living happily ever after in India is not a dream for generations to come.

First a few known data points on Taxation in India. (As of 2014) *Data Sources- FinMin, IRS Public records and ITD RTI responses.

Let's put this in perspective and compare with a reasonably OK doing nation USA.

USA has its own problems, but let's focus on India.

So Central Government has $267(Rs. 16000) per person to run government legislative, executive and Judicial branches, their department & ministries totaling close to 4000 (umbrella bodies, at least). Run welfare schemes (schools, health), defense, build roads and infra, and also take vanity projects (will keep touching this, but later). To put that in perspective, in Gurgaon if you live in a small community's 1500 Sqft. apartment you pay close to Rs. 4000 for maintenance, it's a skewed reference but just to give an idea.

Now what happens is, good folks in Government try to implement the welfare programs with whatever small budget available and assumptions, looking all good on paper. The money burns out simply implementing half baked services, leaving no regulation or oversight in picture. This breeds corruption, chaos and a general dissatisfaction in public breaking trust in government. This is pretty much the case right now.

In political folk lore corruption is sung as the main culprit for all the ills of India, but corruption is just a symptom, like runny nose with swine flu.

Now to our earlier question, why a decent service class citizen is so pissed off, above does give a fair idea, but there is more to it. Lets retro-inspect how the world got their wealth, and why we are so cash strapped.

Getting back to more data points. Below is slab wise % of tax returns and income declared in 2014.

Looking Closely into the less than 20 Lacs vs More than 20 lac slabs.

Adding to above

But then we looked at above table closely, if we are missing anything. There is something which doesn't add up with realty on ground.

We know that 98.9% population doesn't report or pay taxes, but a quick look at India's car sales data between 2001 - 2011 we got close to 10 Crore Cars registered across India along with a plethora of other vehicles totaling close to 101 Crore in number, this includes two wheelers and miscellaneous vehicles as well(so some impurity) but still gives an idea that tax net should be bigger than current 1% under direct tax.

Then we looked at top 0.1%. Based on our experience of working in India, current prevalence of contract labor, stagnate wages, we can argue anecdotally, labor income is not a huge part of production and services in India, capital Income is still the king. And anyways we are the cheap labor destination.

53% of total taxable national income reported by mostly service class earning below 20 lacks doesn't really fit well with 21.5% taxable income reported by greater than 20 lacks earning segment and specially 2.04% of total taxable national income reported by last 3 centile of the superrich population.

First of all, as per Forbes 2014 list of 100 richest Indians, $346 Billons of Forbes reported private wealth is shared between some 100 individuals, which comes to Rs. 20778 Billion. Now as we know the rate of return goes really up with the amount of capital at hand. Rich folks have really smart money managers at disposal and access to avenues increasing capital at a much higher rate than an average folk. But let's just use 10% (close to highly conservative FD rate) and we are looking at Rs. 2077.8 Billion(Rs. 207780 Crore) of very conservative capital gains income for this very small group of people. Now if we look at the income declared by last 354 persons from ITR data its Rs.17390.22 Cr., which is 80.4% of 2014 Forbes reported and very conservatively calculated Capital income of just these 100 individuals.

Another data point worth mentioning is, in recent news media reports from respectable sources about more than 2.5 lacks dollar millionaires are in India and growing really fast in the number as well as the private wealth. So this number of 354 individuals reporting at the top of the income chain also doesn't look right.

So apart from getting the 98.9% of the population under tax net if we get just 10% (has to be way more due to more capital higher returns principle, tough to get hold of that data though) of Forbes or similar reported incomes as taxation from the top 1 centile, the middle class wouldn't be under stress any more. The burden of indirect taxes would be wiped out at least leaving some space for him to breath, spend some more time with his kids, Involve more in the community leading to a generally happier population with positive impact on GDP.

But before we build any perception about the top 0.1% and bottom 98.9%, let's look at the history to find out the reason, is there something else below the surface.

Historically after Industrial Revolution and world war 2 the western world (USA's example below) started huge nation building exercise, a few highlights of the process were.

So when we see everything is in relative order in USA, 44% folks paying taxes a seamless machinery working, people respecting their contracts leading to a fair and open market. It happened 'cause the policy makers took right and tough decisions at right time and a trust was built into general psyche.

At this point of time we are also building the country, as west was aggressively during post World War 2 era. But world has changed now and India is way more diverse than the West and its way more behind the curve in pretty much everything. We missed Industrial revolution and related innovation, being a colony many generations were left out of pursuit of knowledge in favor of education pivoting around colony sustenance. We are way more densely populated with lesser natural resources depleting really fast.

Policy making and legislative process to cut down the subsidies for bottom 98.9% and implement really progressive tax rates for top 0.1% as the developed world did, and being reasonable to contemporary India's growth requirement and stability is very tricky due to political compulsions, inefficient markets and no real regulations with teeth in India. Our tax system is already on the brink, anymore and this 1% service class will start slipping out of tax net, in one way or the other.

We believe as a nation India will have to work way harder than west, not just copy them or China but evolve over it for our specific situation and aims.

Popular belief system has stressed a lot of expectations and a large space on responsibility spectrum to legislators (politicians), but with such a limited fire power available ($267 PP of tax dollars), implementing welfare, enforcing policy and contracts end to end for such a diverse nation really is a very high order and laden with unfair expectations. The symptoms of this stress in legislature is really visible now with more and more emphasis on rhetoric than substance, blitzs of advertisements than actual effects felt on ground, more argumentative upmanship and theater management than a solid track record speaking for itself.

As Mr. Ravish Kumar once pointed out during last general elections.

भाषणो मे भाव से अधिक भ॑ङिमाए और भ॑ङिमा​ओ मे भावुकता

Which translates roughly to, the speeches are sounding like a dance in which the essense is overpowered by lot of raw movement and movements are overpowered by raw emotions. It doesn't present a pretty picture if you visualize, and can frustate reasonable folks out of politics, leaving this space hugely lacking in talent.

At BallotBoxIndia we believe, the responsibility spectrum is shared equally between Civil Society, Legislature, Executive and Industry working in tandem with defined and advertised roles, driven by open market forces but regulated not only by legal fiat but moral responsibility, emphasis on spirit along with letters for larger sustainable and equitable growth.

Above kept us thinking what can be done, and we started looking around for green shoots, and what is the way forward to sustain progressively this community of 1.25 Billion people. Can we find a balance between regulated capitalism and open socialism to achieve the community goals.

With a view on these high stake challenges, Ballot Box India is born on below principals(Repeating from core values, for the sake of completeness).

Keep an eye on this space for more.

Thanks

Ballot Box India Team.

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