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GST and Indian Freelancer

[ This post is a Wordcon contribution to the Freelance Ecosystem of India.  This is not a tutorial for GST nor written by Tax professional. It is a synthetic analysis of the situation with analytic part coming in the next post. Some excepts are taken from the book entitled – LICENSE, TAX, REGULATION – a HANDBOOK FOR INDIAN FREELANCERS, authored by Pritam Bhattacharyya and Pinaki Taluukdar and to be published by Freelance Foundation. The Handbook will be launched soon.]

  • Tax and Death are the only two sureties of Life. Whether it is a democracy, a monarchy, a republic – tax must be paid. Taxation and War are two areas of human affairs which are thrust upon us.
  • Pre GST (EXPORT) : All service exports by a freelancer to a) a foreign country b) doing the service based in India c) receiving payment in foreign currency and the d) consumer of the service no way related to you were exempt of goods of services tax. The premise was that : “tax of one country cannot be exported to another country.”
  • Post GST (EXPORT) : The fundamental premise remains – “tax of one country cannot be exported to another country.”  but the freelancer now must get some kind of confirmation from the state that his services are exported. Translation: More paperwork/keyboard work and another layer of interaction with the state bureaucracy.
  • Pre GST (DOMESTIC or NON-EXPORT)  : Every nation since antiquity has taxed economic activities to get revenue. This is indirect tax. We get tax records of Sumer civilization in clay tablets. Tax was either paid by kind or by cash. In modern times, tax is always paid in cash.  The services were taxed and the tax was called Service Tax. All freelancers whose turnover was more than 9 L INR from domestic clients in previous year was supposed to pay service Tax.  Most of the solo freelancers did not have such a turnover solely from freelance work and it did not have much talk.
  • Post GST (DOMESTIC or NON-EXPORT) : If you have a single client outside the state of your registration, you come under inter-state trade and must register or you have turnover above 20 L. Things need clarification here. However, one thing is clear, the more your business grows and if you have the good fortune to have a foreign client, you must register.


Now some most important future-looking issues 

  • To GST or not to do GST, the dilemma is real and palpable. The answer is : if you are interested to develop your business and try to work with larger clients, you should have GST.  The overriding reason is that those businesses will prefer to work with someone whose tax they need not pay and GST (company) < – > GST (freelancer) mapping will be clear and straightforward. All other things remaining same, they will prefer a GST registered freelancer. 
  • Another very powerful and significant fact is that GST is revenue neutral after 20 Lac threshold. It means that if your business grows and you start working with 2 more team members as a company with proprietorship status, you can continue with the GST with no other in-direct tax (you still pay your Income Tax) issues. This means that you are free to conduct business without any threshold or any other tax issues to bother. Get customer, deliver service, pay GST.
  • This freedom comes with a price : 37 reports are to be filed per year. 12 * 3 + 1 annual. This means that the transactions of your business will be in “GST cloud”. Think Gmail to have an idea.
  • This also means that all the GST you have paid for running your business now gets recorded and mapped and becomes your GST credit. So the GST you pay at the end of the year is (GST collected from clients) – (GST you have paid for running your business)GST you have paid for running your business = ITC (input tax credit)
  • Just like an individual in India has PAN and this Income Tax ID is “networked” – as in TDS where each PAN is mapped to +/- of taxes deducted, taxes remaining, GST will be such for a business once the dust settles in.

GST – Cost Benefit Analysis 


  • More paper work and administrative hassles.
  • Cost 37 (Filings over the year and you may have to keep a freelance accountant / CA)
  • Huge confusion as of now


  • You can think of expanding your business – in the same vertical or related verticals.
  • From a freelancer writing content, you can become seller of ethnic dolls – nothing else is needed.
  • All the input indirect tax you had no way to claim earlier can be now be claimed – or at least there is a mechanism of having recorded.


  1. From the fundamental premises mentioned at the outset, it is judicious and prudent to be registered.
  2. It is important to have a good (and cost-effective) CA / professional who will understand your business and handle these for you.
  3. This forces you to keep total record of your business and with structured data, you can analyse your business health in a much better way.
  4. You are free to trade now – that is great sense of freedom, too.
  5. Once the dust settles in, once the mechanism becomes stable and many questions resolved through practice, experience and litigation (lawyers are freelancers too.), the situation will be easier to navigate and more balanced view will emerge

Recommendation for Freelancers with GST the movie : Recommend. Buy tickets online at :

[ In next post, we shall discuss the analytic part. We are conducting Wordcon – 3rd International Freelancer’s Conference on 3rd February 2018 at The Park, Calcutta where we shall discuss further with 150+ freelancers and small businesses present. ]


CIO Round Table – Infovision Event Report

by Wordcon Correspondents

Dateline : 25th August 2017 | Webel Bhawan | Calcutta |India

Timeline : 6 pm – 9 pm.

Theme : CIO Round Table – Information Security Awareness Building

Infocon global

Chairman of Infosec Foundation – Welcome Address

It is very unusual to see a spectacle like this in Calcutta as veterans of Event organizing sector tell us.

The spectacle is 50+ top officials from Government, Trade Bodies, Police and Law Enforcement, Technology Experts, CIOs, CEO, students sitting very attentively from 6 pm to 9 pm in a Friday evening to hear and discuss on Cyber security / Information security.

Something very interesting is happening for sure.

I was sitting in the center-middle and a very senior gentleman with a grave bearing told me or rather to himself – this is the next great opportunity or crisis – either way, we must be ready.

infoquest mag

Infoquest – A Journal on Information Security  3rd Edition inaugurated – (from left) Mr. Pritam Bhattacharyya, Editor in Chief, Infoquest and Founder and Chief Wordsmith, Wordsmith Communication, Mr. Sailen Sengupta, Chief Mentor, Infosec Foundation and Co-Founder, Prime, Mr Sudipta Biswas, Vice President and CISO, Prime

When Infoquest was released, I heard murmurs as how to get a copy and then when Editor in Chief asks the audience : “Do you recommend any good text-book on Cyber security?”, there was a silence which was the true answer and correct state of things.  Things are happening so fast and so many players are involved, it is in a state of flux and it will take some time to crystallize so that we can take stock of the situation.

Therein, we think lies the key of the initiative  – to build awareness of the depth and range of the matter and collaboration is the key – there is no other way.

Infosec Foundation has also mentioned of some very interesting and peculiar initiatives.

Chairman Mr. Mukherjee made it clear at the beginning that  the Foundation does not organize events only while talking of the mega Infosec Summit coming on 3rd November 2017 at The Park.  There are two fundamental aspects to these initiatives

a) In collaboration with police and law enforcement to build a cyber help line – probably first one in the country. I personally find this interesting. My uncle lost some money from his bank with his OTP being hi-jacked without his knowledge and investigation established that a duplicate SIM was made out of his phone while it was given on repair.  The next phase was a nightmare – he was going like a ping pong ball from the police to the bank and everyone was trying to pass the buck. A victim, like my uncle would have been spared the humiliation and the suffering had there been a dedicated help line as proposed so that the initial measurement would have been there.

Bidhannagr’s top cyber crime investigator Mr. Bidit Mondal talked about ever increasing and ever sophisticated (not technologically alone – psychologically) tricks fraudsters are using and how to protect ourselves.

As we were filing out for the High Tea after the panel discussion attended by sectors like Telecom, Manufacturing, Energy, Consulting, I and my photographer colleague found out many of the media – of print and TV animatedly discussing on the impact this will have on our way of life with smartphone, online banking, children with their games and so on.

The organizers have given us the link of the event captured in-site :

I nodded my head in agreement in silence  to my photographer colleague – a freelancer and who found out few months back that his phone was hacked and people calling him to ask why did he go to South America and now asking money from them ?

It was the classic trick of hacking onto one’s account and sending mails of urgency of sending money following the address book.

Overall, as members of the New Media, we would like to rate this Event 8.5 /10 – a recommendation and we shall cover their next events.


Infovision : CIO Round Table on 25th August, Webel Bhawan, Calcutta

Infosec Foundation – a non-profit for spreading Information security awareness is holding its first edition of Infovision – CIO round Table – a meet of top CIOs to discuss, debate, reflect, share notes and best practices.

Wordsmith Communication and Wordsmith University are associates in the movement spearheaded by Infosec Foundation.

This is part of Infosec Foundation’s commitment to strengthen both the sword and shield of the enterprise to fight the clear and present danger of cyber crimes.

cio round table.jpg

25th August 2017 | Webel Bhawan | Sector V, Salt Lake, Calcutta | India

If you are interested to join/associate, please contact the organizers at | +91 8017522153, +91 898 1133806


[Revisit] One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Invocation : I read the novel for the first somewhere in 1996 when I was a carefree young man in Malabar. I have two qualification to write this “Revisit” – primary one being of love for this epic and secondary for being a translator for last twenty years with interruptions in the form of job, marriage, fatherhood, need to earn and other un-avoidable distractions.

I would also like to remind those writers in India (and elsewhere) who write fiction to ask themselves this question : Why did Marquez had to write in Spanish only ?

Because, he was not writing for any target audience in view, even if he would have wished to, the epic that consumed him and us in some strange brotherhood, would have erased all memories of everything except that infantile period of our existence when we learn our first language.


One of the greatest novels of last one hundred years, hush, now opening :

“Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon which his father took him to discover ice.”

After some 400 pages of epic journey, twisting space-time, pulverizing all known and unknown laws of matter and mind but remaining true to some strict Law of Narrative Art. The last surviving character of the Buendia family whose hundred year old history had just pushed us beyond history, of whose trend we heard from Melquades who knew Sanskrit among many other languages and wrote down the history in parchments in codes and the encryption, encrypted event and the conscious entity that decodes now all come in a singularity and we  experience or half-experience what a black-hole singularity in literature is. Just before the black hole sucks us in, the poet who is only empowered to commands all the horizons, informs and then…

“Before reaching the final line, however, he had already understood that he would never leave that room, for it was foreseen that the city of mirrors (or mirages) would be wiped out by the wind and exiled from the memory of men at the precise moment when Aureliano Babilonia would finish deciphering the parchments, and everything written on them was un-repeatable since time immemorial and for ever more, because the races condemned for one hundred years of solitude did not have a second opportunity on earth.”

This is not possible to say what lies in between these two paragraphs – the start and the finis. Not because there are too many things or there are too many events and characters or too complex things happening – no, nothing of that sort. The in-between 400 pages is a charm and anyone who reads the “parchment” now becomes part of Aureliano Babilonia, and the charm takes hold and the control over memory goes away.


Only Melquades could resist the charm for he is the author and narrator in some way and at what cost : “He was a fugitive from all the plagues and catastrophes that had ever lashed mankind. He had survived pellagra in Persia, scurvy in Malayan archipelago, leprosy in Alexandria, beriberi in Japan, bubonic plague in Madagascar, an earthquake in Sicily and a disastrous shipwreck in the straits of Magellan.”

Only three works of literature save Cien Anos de  Soledad evoked the same sense in me and they are : The Mahabharata, Great Expectations and The Godfather Trilogy. (the film)

I wanted to thank the epic for letting me discover new things inside me which I did not know. The novel remained as it is for last 40 years (published in Spanish for the first time in 1967, the greatest revelation in the language after Don Quixote as some critic has so blessedly told) and I changed but somehow the novel could bring out completely new things from my deep interior – an interior which neither a surgeon’s knife or a psycho-analyst can ever reach because these birds of memory, like Remedios the Beauty’s disappearance – something that reminds us of the last act of the Mahabharata when Emperor Yuddisthira stood at the peak of the Himalayas and a strange wind perhaps picked him up and wiped off the face of the earth.

I borrow the following lines from Bengal’s greatest poet – Rabindranath Tagore and since borrowings from the ocean to greet another ocean have no sense of debt or shame, I pay my respects to these greats Artists who are now perhaps dining together in some Dantean Heaven  where we can never reach with our mortal frame except with the “viewless wings of poesy” :

উদার আশার বিষাদ মহান[ The great melancholy of expansive Hope;]

অসীম শান্তি করিতেছে দান চির-মানবের প্রাণে [ brings forth Eternal Peace for the Man Eternal.]

(কবির পুরষ্কার) [ Poet’s Reward ]

Recommendation : “Required reading for the entire human race” If some Bengali poet ever undertakes a translation of this work, I request him to consider the title as “শতবর্ষের নি:সঙ্গতা”

Sherlock Holmes Report – The Exit of Mr. Sikka from Infosys

“My dear Watson, big news from the Deccan – Mr. Sikka – a great technical man taught by our American colonists in Stanford and then he was head of technology of a renowened firm in neighboring Germany. He then went to a city in the Deccan, famed earlier for very moderate climate in the wild heat of our Indian colony.

His exit appears to be, what I may say to be little unusual but not very much unexpected. One of my friends in Calcutta had sent me a telegram to investigate the matter and with the assistance of Microft and with some documents perused at British Home office and over some 5 pipes, here is what I am going to send my friend at the East of India. For clarity, I am writing in brief and with a business like hurry.

  • What is flow of blood for a person, flow of money is  the same for a business enterprise. When the flow is strong and vigorous, all bickering and  bad blood go underground. They remain but as flawed we are, we make the hay while the sun shines. The mice jumps when the ship sinks, not before.
  • I read in a monograph written by Col. Moran who happened to stay for quite sometime in India and he talks of a complex relationship between daughter-in-law and mother-in-law there. It is very fascinating and very interesting. This cultural memory is not something that can be “deleted” by some technical means, however jolly good one.
  • If you read Chandler’s business history, you shall observe with your delight that our systems of joint-stock company and share markets were  widely accepted in the erstwhile colonies and they put this into their cultural foundation and it is always unstable. Hence you shall find certain singular symptoms that baffle the mind. For example, a formally shareholder based company’s destiny is intimately related to the family that either founded it or holds significant moral, and most of the times legal controlling authority. I am not sure who is responsible for this absurdity – our systems or the willingness of the adopters.
  • Another aspect that you should not fail to observe, I pray is the strange behaviour of the man who had to leave. I hear from the official transcripts that he was not having any peace and he was struggling a lot to make his decision to leave but not before he got 55% raise on his non-paltry compensation. He was very well-meaning though.

If you consult your diaries before the case of The Stock-broker’s Clerk, you shall observe my note on the various ways power operates and our inability to relinquish it.

We may laugh at the patriarch’s attachment to power in Deccan but we may equally make merry of our lawmakers who wanted to finger events from the grave.

I was once reported by my same Indian friend when he came to London on business that a very old patriarch in India was pushed out of office on the reason of being of ill-health. The old fox lived like a prisoner in a villa and taking the advantage of various festivities that natives in India engage, he somehow provided guidance to his party’s opposition and within a short while, he laughed to the grave, witnessing complete exit of the people who dared to push him out.

If you are going to the tobacco shop round Oxford Street,  please post this in the Post Office there. Thank you.

Let me now recline in my chair, smoke a pipe and reflect on

Sic Transit Gloria Mundi

and let no Indian patriarch distrub me with his senility and human frailty.”

Film Review – DUNKIRK by Christopher Nolan

How did I watch the movie ?

It is important as I am no professional reviewer. The idea to watch the movie struck my mind at 10 am in the morning. I watched the movie at 11 am in an almost empty theatre in Calcutta. I advised my “business and personal network” that I am going for a very important client meeting ! This ensured no calls.

100 word historical background of the movie 

The evacuation of Dunkirk is one of the greatest mysteries of World War II. It is still not known why Hitler’s Panzers not did follow-through and decimate almost 3,00,000 trapped French and British Armies in Dunkirk. Eventually, the doomed army was delivered in one of the greatest military evacuation  in history, assisted by civilians with all sorts of vessels from the English coast. This was the swan song in greatness of British Navy and the British Empire.

The movie is seen through the eyes of some common soldiers – petrified and trying to survive.

image 1

Opening scene :our surrounded soldiers find one of this airdropped by the Germans


What Bollywood’s producers and consumers (viewers in India and people of Indian origin in other geographies) of movies may  consider and reflect (however painful) in the movie ?

  • In spite of all temptations in terms of the locales, visuals and the grand historical event, the director did not thread a romance / elopement in the story. It would have been as sacrilegious as putting the same in Euclid’s Fifth Postulate.
  • There was no song – patriotic, romantic or not. Nothing. Only a background score that you forget most of the time because you find your ear in your lower abdomen throbbing in terror and mortal fear as what happens next. Movies must move, it must – otherwise you can have a radio drama. Making great movies is not the line of work of faint-hearts.
  • From the first shot to the last, the Director was respectful to three things – time of his own, time of the film’s time, time of the audience – to tell his story. Most of our Indian films literally consider that man’s soul is eternal and hence in 99.9% of the cases, it is always excess, everything in excess. No one knows when to stop or how to stop.
  •  Details money cannot buy : Every building, the paint in the spitfires and Messerschmidt and Hurricanes, the destroyers – all were period authentic. Many of our directors cannot take the ruse under the classic alibi now – “We are poor Sir, no budget Sir, we have none Sir…” No Sir, I disagree. You use 150 crores in a movie and to show what – stars with camera monopoly and nawabi weddings and nautch . Sorry – this alibi will not work.
  • International Appeal : The movie does not need any exposure to English, French, German, Dutch culture or history to absorb the essentials – the essential being Death in its multi-dimensional instantaneous form. The movie does not need any commentary – it is self-contained and self-effulgent. It has no specific target audience (like NRI brothers and sisters) – it is for any one who loves movies without any agenda for the sheer pleasure that only movie can provide.
  • Handling Emotion : One of the most mysterious aspect of movies (or even talkies) is the memory of emotion. Great Directors know this art – many directors with rich producers do not have this. There was no long lecture or perorations even though Churchill’s memorable peroration of “…. we shall never surrender” was depicted minus  its demagogic effect. It was communicated in an undertone.



image 2

This is depicted from land, water and air and they create a new view

I do not think most of our film directors will reflect on this and so will be their viewers. But things are changing. I was told that the last travelogue film – JHMS did not receive very warm reception in domestic market although it does matter little for the team that has made the film. Strange ? How come it does not matter for the entire film-making team if domestic market does not watch it in the theatres ? The Great Risk Mitigation by Indian Film Industry – a read that will be like Sherlock Holmes Report. Capital, Watson

What we, decent and white collar professionals from India can learn from the comparative analysis of this film while comparing majority of  our “blockbuster” films ?

Bollywood and Indian IT both have a fundamental problem – both became “cash rich” very fast and the going was so good that even though some top people always knew but none acted. They knew that once things change, they will be caught unaware. There will be no retreat.

Trust no present, however pleasant. 

Aram haram hain. 

Your clients and users who are not challenging you but lionizing you with their talk, purse and emotion are themselves ill-prepared for the future and will be decimated when “jamana karbat badalte hain.”

I find the same oily smiles, a satisfied look and thoughtless calm in the faces of so called successful people of Bollywood and Indian IT industry.

They will not remain such much longer.


Entertainment Industry in India – outsider’s analysis

This post will try to answer two questions that you might have asked. If you think these are non-questions, do not waste time. This post is not for you.

This post will help you if you are an entrepreneur or interested to start a business. This will provide a clue as how to de-risk your business. Read the questions first. After reading the post, you will be either nodding your head or will become angry. Either way, you read this Film Review which concertizes the whole argument in the post.

Question 1 : How come Bollywood or for that matter our national film industries continue to produce so  many “flops” – commercially, creatively, artistically ?  How people who fund these “products” endure ?

Question 2: How Indian TV soap operas operate for days, weeks, months and years without audience becoming bored and stopping to watch ?

Answer to Question 1 

Since the first Indian feature film some seventy years back till 2005/05, films were produced by people in India who were filmwallahas, hope you get the idea. They did not have MBA or other fancy degrees and were not employed by multi-national corporations.  Their capital was a mixed one – personal debt, debt at 30% interest from merchants and businessmen and then from businesses of ill-repute. The predominant revenue was from sale of tickets, i.e when people used to go to movie theaters and purchased tickets to watch the movie.  There was distributor, exhibitor, movie theater owner and the end user. More people watched a movie, more money was made for all the people in the chain.  Thus, commercial success of a movie was directly dependent on people paying for watching it in a theater. 

The whole business was risky and it only attracted and retained people who loved films – irrespective of taste or idea on cinematic quality.

International Studios entered Indian film industry as a maker of films.  They immediately recruited MBAs from top institutes (little understanding that most of them did go to these institutes to have a better station in life, neither loving business or its administration and having little creative urge – either for film or for any creative art.) who went into overdrive. 

The home-grown industry has discovered by that time that it is infinitely risky to depend on a film’s “success” on the old model – footfalls in the theaters. So  they structured their revenue mix in such a way that before the film is being made, contracts were signed with satellite TV, music rights, Internet rights, advertising and many such things. In order to convince those buyers (or those who are going to bear the major risk), huge marketing expense is made. Hence you shall see that A-star actors roam like over-worked salesman, “promoting” the movies. They “are” not promoting the movies under promotion per se, but convincing the other “revenue stream providers” convinced that their interest is being taken care of. This exercise ensures 70-85% of the cost being recouped even before the movie is released. 

This business method is reinforced by the following factors :

a. Fickle nature of the audience – Indian audience has been exposed for two decades to many things on which neither the Indian state nor the Indian civilization  had neither any seminal contribution nor any control. For example, Internet.

b. Most of the A-star actors endorse various brands as well – including global brands and they were chosen for their “area of operation” in India – a very large market. It is immaterial for the brands to know whether they are good / bad / ugly actor. In other words, acting skills do not come into the equation as long as the brand-donkey bears the load of the Indian Market.

c. Except the sensor board, ALL players in the industry are freelancers in some way or other. Whether it is A-rate actor,director or producer – everybody has the freelancer’s insecurity and terrible professional jealousy.  So, all of them are searching for avenues to mitigate risk and this business model offers quite significant mitigation of risk.

It is because of this business model, you go to a theatre ( pushed also by the incessant promotion and hype) and you watch a movie and then you ask yourself why did you land up here ?

Answer to Question 2 

One word answer : Populous country.  Every populous country can comfortably rely on statistics on every issue.

Supposing a country of 1 crore (10 million) people, let us do the math

Total days to broadcast in a year  = 365 – 52 (except sundays) = 313 days * 3 hours ( 7 pm – 10 pm) and let us consider 1000 hours of prime time. In other way, 10 million * 3 hours = 30 million hours is the total time you have with you. You need to insert the 1000 hours within some “grid” of 30 million hours.

Now, India – 100 crore (1 billion) and you need to map the 1000 hours into this grid of 1 billion hours. It is quite clear that of this 1 billion hours, there will be a significantly high population that will consider anything in that 1000 hours watch-worthy. Even if the camera looks into an empty room for 1 hour !

It is simply statistics. Nothing else can explain this phenomenon.

Only one question remains to be asked : why advertisers find this attractive to sponsor these soap operas ? They must be getting something out of it.

Of course they do.  They also get warmed up by the statistical glow – 400 million people watching your advert – although it is also clear that majority of the people who watch these adverts do not fall into any customer segment of the product being advertised ! Yes, it is true.


I have highest regard for the freelancers in these industries in various departments. I know what it takes to deliver in spite of ever present insecurity, dealing with predators of various kinds specific to third-world economies, competition of a typical kind in a populous country and the soul-crushing pettiness of professional rivalry in these industries.

In the bygone era, things were brutal but there was a grandeur in the industry where some extremely passionate people stood directly in front of the end-user.  For this courage and risk, we do remember them – not only for the technical aspects. They were more autonomous and free.

The current business model has provided security but at what cost !!!!  The first world business model is imposed on an industry with different evolutionary path and the Indian men and women who are “installed”by the “international studios” do not have access to the “soul” of the industry.  The mediocrity is written all over.

In passing, similar thing has happened in IPL. I read in the newspaper that when first teams were brought and sold, there were these “managers” who dared to ask a batsman f the class of Dravid as why did he play the way he did ?

The “manager” who asked this most likely can be mapped as below :

“A lower middle or middle class youth who had invested his entire youth to get into the I-institute – technology or management does not matter. His entire knowledge of life came from text books, TV and men of the same class of the same world-view. He never played any game for pleasure or played an instrument as to cultivate some high culture. An I-pad brandishing peasant, his only identification is the job he holds as a manager.”

This man now goes and asks as why one of the greatest batsman of the world played the way he played.

This is the greatest tragedy of our populous nation.