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The Burden of Taxpayers' Money

Waste of taxpayers' money is not a new refrain. It comes up in contexts ranging from big cars for legislators to foreign jaunts on flimsy grounds for MPs. From memorial parks to IITians doing MBA.

It is present with extraordinary force in the ongoing JNU row as well. Commentator after commentator have chided JNU students for wasting government money by engaging in politics. Having myself availed of significant government subsidy for my undergraduate education and also having been accused of engaging in politics in campus (poli-poli as it was called derisively), this made me think.

First let's not confuse income taxpayers with taxpayers. While about 3% of the Indian citizens pay income tax, everyone pays the indirect taxes like VAT, service tax etc. So JNU students are also taxpayers. Also worth keeping in mind that constitutional rights are not dependent on how much tax you pay.

Waste of taxpayers' money can mean one of the two things. It may mean that while government is…