Starting from 1987, every year 31st May is observed as the World No Tobacco Day. It is a day to encourage self-restraint among the people from all type of tobacco use. While the public health sector, NGOs, doctors, family and health expert across India are expressing need to enforce a ban on all types of tobacco advertising, sponsorship and promotion, there is someone in the East busy endorsing cancer sticks to compensate victims who invested in a Ponzi scheme.
Yes, the West Bengal Chief Minister, Mamta Banerjee, cornered by the repercussion in the stir of a substantial chit scam a month ago pronounced a hike tax on the cancer sticks by 10%. This step is taken by Didi to yank money for the Saradha cheat fund. Puffing slightly more will not harm the puffers but will aid the duped investors, says Didi. Isn’t my Chief Minister aware that approximately 1 million deaths in India every year and 30% of cancer deaths are solely due to tobacco consumption?
Let’s assume the TMC chief doesn’t know the statistics but it is quite palpable that Ms. Banerjee is well aware of the hazardous and fatal consequences of smoking. When the world is strictly campaigning against the cancer sticks, busy illustrating its adverse effects through images, videos and over the Internet, the Indian CM comes out with a Eureka moment where cigarettes seems to be the only rescue for the duped investors who lost their lifelong savings overnight.
Isn’t it upsetting and destructive and to speak further does it even make a compelling political argument? First Mamta Banerjee’s party, the TMC (Trinamool Congress) allows a cheat company like Saradha Group to mushroom its business in West Bengal and rip off the citizens mainly illiterates and poor from their life-long savings. Then to compensate the duped poor investors they are now all set to fleece another section of people that is the daily puffers and the manufacturers of the same.
According to a survey conducted by GATS (The Global Adult Tobacco Survey) made public by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, it has been observed that 36.3% of the total population of West Bengal consumes tobacco product or products in one or the other form. Out of which, 21.9% consume smokeless tobacco, 21.3% smoke cigarette and 15.7% are the people who smoke bidi.
The irony that reveals from the survey is quite devastating. It means that the smokers who will be taxed are mainly the people whose money was taken by the tsunami called as Sharada Cheat Scam. Now, isn’t this something very bizarre? First, you lose your hard earned money in a fund (Now that is a separate topic that you invested in the Saradha Group mainly because it had some association with the TMC), get duped and then again as a relief measure pay extra percent tax for raising your own money? Moreover, it is still not lucid whether you will get even half of the chunk that you invested.
Mamta Banerjee in West Bengal is a satatar pratik (symbol of honesty) but by no means her off-the cuff sketch of raising Rs. 150 crore through puffers seems like a honest measure to help the people of West Bengal who have given her that sobriquet. Not just, the aam aadmi of WB she even deceives the Commissioner of Food Safety office of Bengal, underneath the State Health and Family Welfare Department, who had lately issued a warning against any type of manufacture, sale, storage or distribution of Pan Masala, Gutka and/or any other products containing nicotine or tobacco as constituents for a time period of 1 year starting wef May 1, 2013.
Lastly, the bizarre statement of Didi effect not only the tax payers, the victims but also betrays a huge lot of people staying in other parts of India who are strictly against these cancer sticksand trying to make not just May 31st but every day as No Tobacco Day. Especially, millions of women in India like me who are passive smokers from birth and are continuously on the brink to somehow convince their Fathers and partners (boyfriend/husbands) to quit smoking.
Rightly said, “Aurat Ki Dushman Aurat Hi Hoti Hai!”. Ms. Banerjee’s bizarre statement on “Puffing More” just a month before World No Tobacco Day only betrays us further and ruins her own image of Satatar Pratik
Image Source: IANS