HOME > BUSINESS > Left Front tries to tap anti-American sentiment with fat tax in Kerala

Left Front tries to tap anti-American sentiment with fat tax in Kerala

leftKerala finance minister Thomas Isaac defended the new tax imposed on Western food items in Kerala even as it became clear that move could be open to a challenge on the lines on which Maharashtra’s beef ban was overturned.

The communists of Kerala — not the biggest fans of American culture — imposed the ban on select fast food items in their first budget after coming to power earlier this year.

The items on which a punitive 14.5% tax has been levied are burgers, pizzas, doughnuts, sandwiches and pasta, even if these are being served in by a roadside vendor.

The ostensible reason for the tax is that these food items tend to make people fat and are therefore unhealthy and need to be discouraged. However, the claim falls short on several grounds.

First, the consumption of the above items in Kerala is negligible and confined to the cities. They perhaps account for less than 1% of the total fat found on Malayali bodies.

Other food items, including traditional fare such as ghee rice, biriyani, fried snacks and red meat — particularly beef — contribute much more to making Malayalis fat compared to tacos and burgers — which many in the state may not have tasted even once in their lives.

Not surprisingly, charges are being leveled that the Left front is trying to impose its anti-American cultural prejudice on the whole population.

The accusation is similar to the one that the Left successfully used against the BJP in the context of the ban on beef in Maharashtra. While the beef ban was seen as the imposition of Brahmanical culture on people’s food habits, the imposition of punitive taxes on only American snacks is being seen as the imposition of Left’s anti-Americanism on the Malayali palate.

The second interpretation is more cynical. Some believe that the fat tax is a cheap political stunt to tap into the rising anti-American sentiments among certain sections of the society. A large part of Kerala society increasingly sees the US as an aggressor trying to meddle in the affairs of other countries, especially in the Middle East.

Reacting to the controversy, Finance Minister Thomas Isaac clarified that the idea of a tax on the above Western food items was suggested by Muhammad Kabeer, who used to be a teacher at Center for Development Studies, Trivandrum. He also said the tax will collect no more than Rs 10 cr in a year, and said there were no other aims for it than to discourage unhealthy food items.

It remains to be seen if someone — most probably a multinational chain like McDonalds or KFC — goes to the court to challenge the ban on grounds of discrimination.

MINISTER DEFENDS

For now, comrade Isaac is busy convincing people the move does not stem from any antipathy towards the US — a country that the Left parties in India have spend decades feelings paranoid about.

“The intention behind the move is not to mobilize funds, but to draw attention to unhealthy food habits among Keralites,” he said in a Facebook post. “The controversy generated by the move indicates that we have succeeded in this endeavor.”

On the criticism that the move spares bigger culprits such as the maida parota — a staple in the state’s restaurants — Isaac said the government was open to expanding the ambit of the ‘fat tax’ going forward.

“It is not time to impose such a tax on food items consumed by ordinary folk,” he said. “Unlike in the west, such items (as sandwiches and burgers) are consumed by well off people in Kerala (who can afford to pay more),” he added.
[socialpoll id=”2373649″]

Follow ULTRA.news
The fast rise of extremist Islam in Maldives When Hussain Rasheed started talking about his son, a sob choked his voice.Hussain Rasheed (left) and Shauna Aminath (rightmost)His feeble reply wasn't even audible to the small gathering for sometime. When he regained his composure the first question he asked: Why was ...
O Panneerselvam says to look at alliance with BJP soon O Paneerselvam, the ex-chief minister of Tamil Nadu and the leader of a prominent faction within the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhakam (All India Anna Dravida Advancement Front) has indicated that his faction is open to an alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party.Panne...
Rajinikanth set to announce his own party; BJP, AIADMK nervous Rajinikanth, the most popular actor in Tamil Nadu, today made it more or less clear that he would enter politics soon.Going by his comments, the charismatic actor is likely to float a new party, which has made existing parties such as the BJP, AIADMK and DMK nervous.Speak...
Cow Violence: Amit Shah says will bring situation under control Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah said the state governments run by the party will bring people who commit violence in the name of the cow under control."Trust us, we will bring this under control very soon," Shah said in an interview with India Today television....
Mayank Gandhi delivers scathing message to Arvind Kejriwal From the video message of Mayank GandhiFormer compatriot and head of Aam Aadmi Party Maharashtra, Mayank Gandhi has assailed Arvind Kejriwal in an acerbic letter that traces the AAP leader's rise and fall over the last five years.Gandhi, who left the organization after fou...
All liquor shops in Tamil Nadu to remain shut for 3 months The Madras High Court has asked the government of Tamil Nadu not to open any liquor shops for three months after complaints that it did not comply with the Supreme Court order on relocating roadside liquor shops.Unlike in most states in India, alchohol shops in Tamil Nadu are...
Vande Mataram mandatory in Schools: SC sends notice to govt A popular portrayal of Mother IndiaAfter making the National Anthem mandatory in movie halls, the Supreme Court has moved on to the question of whether or not to make Vande Mataram, the national song of India, mandatory in schools.Taking up a petition on the matter, the ...
Malappuram bypoll election results: BJP fails to make headway The Bharatiya Janata Party has failed to make much headway in Kerala over the last two years, going by the results of a by-poll in the Muslim-dominated Malappuram Lok Sabha constituency.With nearly 95% of the eight lakh votes counted, the BJP has seen its vote share decline f...
LIVE Malappuram by-poll election results: Kunjalikkutty leads Muslim League candidate PK Kunjalikkutty is on track to better his party's performance in the assembly elections of last year, scoring a majority of around 1.8 lakh out of the total votes of around 8 lakhs.Kunjalikkutty won 55.06% of the votes, increasing the UDF's vote sha...
Asaduddin Owaisi calls Pakistani military tribunal ‘banana court’ Lok Sabha MP Asaduddin OwaisiAsaduddin Owaisi, head of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen or All India Council of the Union of Muslims said the Indian government should have anticipated the death verdict handed out to Kulbhushan Jadhav, an ex-Indian Navy member, and move...
Bhushan & Yadav’s Swaraj India chooses ‘whistle’ symbol for MCD polls Whistle, the symbol of most Swaraj India candidatesSwaraj India, the political outfit floated by breakaway Aam Aadmi Party faction led by Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav, will fight the upcoming election to the Municipal Corporation of Delhi on the 'whistle' symbol.T...
Nearly a quarter of all food samples tested found fake or adulterated Food Adulteration and Testing in India, FY16Over one-fifth of all food samples tested in India's government labs in the last year were found to be fake or adulterated, according to numbers compiled from various state government food testing facilities by union government's d...
No exemption to Tamil Nadu on NEET: Health Minister Health Minister Faggan Singh Kulaste at an event in DelhiExemptions to the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test cannot be given to any place or zones inside India as a common entrance test is required under the law, Faggan Singh Kulaste, junior minister in charge of health...
HRD ministry says won’t interfere in college politics Ramjas CollegeThe ministry of human resources development, which oversees educational institutions in the country, today refused to intervene in political protests and incidents in colleges."These autonomous institutions are established under the respective Acts of Parli...
No plans to impose Indian constitution on Jammu & Kashmir judiciary – Govt Flag of Jammu & KashmirLaw minister Ravi Shankar Prasad today said the government of India had no plans to force judiciary in the state of Jammu & Kashmir to take their oath of office on the Indian constitution instead of the state constitution.Prasad was respond...
Service Charge in Restaurants: Center says still waiting for industry proposal GST will subsume service tax and VATThe ministry of consumer affairs, food and public distribution is still waiting to hear from the hotel and restaurant industry associations on how they intend to resolve the issue of levying service charges 'unfairly'.The matter had co...
Half of rural population classified as poor in Socio-Economic Caste Census Half of India's rural population have been classified as poor by the Socio-Economic Caste Census of India 2011, the government said today.The findings of Socio-Economic Caste Census of India, which was conducted after vociferous demands by some political parties, has never be...
Anti-corruption activists to conduct ‘Ghotala Yatra’ in Delhi on Thursday An umbrella group of anti-corruption groups will conduct a 'Ghotala Yatra' or 'Scam Procession' at Delhi's Mandi House area tomorrow.The rally, with the cry 'freedom from corruption' will start at 11 AM and be followed by a sitting protest at Jantar Mantar -- the traditional ...
Stock markets pricing in a BJP win in Uttar Pradesh – analyst Officials tally votes in a recent electionThe recent strength in India's key stock market indices indicates that market participants are pricing in a victory for the Bharatiya Janata Party in Uttar Pradesh, according to an stock market analyst.India's largest state has b...
Most UP MLAs saw big increases in wealth in 5 yrs, but some lost big The average Uttar Pradesh MLA saw their wealth increase by 82% in the five years during their tenure in the state assembly from 2012 to 2017, an analysis of their wealth submissions by Association for Democratic Reforms found.The analysis was based on the filings made by 31...
Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali expands Ruchi Soya tie-up, eyes 20,000 cr edible oil sales Patanjali Ayurved, the consumer products company headed by yoga exponent Baba Ramdev, has scaled up its agreement with Ruchi Soya, which has been facing financial stress due to high debt levels.Ruchi Soya said the two companies have agreed to expand their initial agreement --...
Modi denies demonetization was a failure Prime Minister Narendra Modi today denied that the withdrawal of high-value currency notes was a failure.Speaking in the lower house of Parliament today, Modi said demonetization has created a money trail that can be used to 'bring everyone into the mainstream' of taxation....
Zero Income Tax up to Rs 4.5 lakh– BUDGET LIVE Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said he is slashing Income Tax paid by individuals by as much as 50% in some slabs.In the starting slab of 2.5-5.0 lakh per year, the income tax rate has been brought down from 10% of income above Rs 2.5 lakh to 5% of income above Rs 2.5 lakh."If...
Siddhu on joining Congress: No party is good or bad! Navjot Singh Siddhu, the cricketer turned politician and a vehement critic of the Indian National Congress for several years, justified his decision to join the party saying that no party, by itself, is good or bad."No party is good or bad. The same party can be run by bad pe...
Katju says SP will defeat BJP in UP Elections; Demonetization, Akhilesh to aid Former Supreme Court judge and a keen observer of Indian politics, Markandey Katju has predicted a win for the Samajwadi Party led by Akhilesh Yadav in the upcoming Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections.BJP, which is seen as a strong contender by many, would be negatively impacted...