Amit has decided that he would never again transfer the registration of his car. Having held down many challenging jobs in the private sector — both FMCG and white goods — he has had stints in Delhi, Chandigarh, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Mumbai and now, Kochi. When he began his career as a sales executive in Delhi in the mid-80s, he had a scooter. When he was made the regional sales manager and sent to Chandigarh, Amit took the scooter along but decided to invest in an entry-level car.
Two years later, he decided to take up an offer with a competitor as an assistant general manager; he traded in his old car for a mid-sized sedan, reflecting his exalted status in the corporate ladder. Trouble began at this point as his company decided that his services would be better utilised in Chennai. Being a law-abiding citizen, he applied for a re-registration of his Chandigarh registered car. The deal, other than the ordeal of being at the mercy of the touts who ruled the RTO in Chennai, set him back by `34,000.
Amit is now senior vice-president of a white goods manufacturer. During the course of his career, he has bought and sold two more cars. Unfortunately for him, he has also been unable to sell his cars each time a transfer or change in job has come his way. According to Amit, he would have by now shelled out close to `1.5 lakh to various RTOs for the privilege of holding on to his car in another state. Invariably, the return of the ‘lifetime’ road tax paid to the erstwhile state government stood significantly diminished when it was returned to Amit vis-à-vis the money he had to fork out for the new registration.
The law-abiding citizen says he has had enough: “I agree with what Charles Dickens said about the law. I’m going to drive my Mumbai-registered vehicle in Kochi till this antiquated law changes and vehicles bought in one state can be driven in another without an extra financial load.”
Last week, over a drink, Amit confided the reason behind his resolve to keep driving the Mumbai-registered vehicle in Kochi. “Boss, I called up one of those car dealers offering monsoon offers and asked what my 2007 model SUV would fetch in exchange. This upstart had the temerity to quote a figure that was a clear `2 lakh below the market rate, simply because the car is not registered in Kerala. This is not on,” he said.
Amit feels the country seems to have lost the plot somewhat while taking its giant but painstakingly slow steps to balance its act between its federal, at the same time, centralised structure. Nowhere is it more pronounced than its inability to reconcile between the old economy revenue sources such as motor vehicles tax and the very recent, but highly lucrative telephony services.
“You have the National Telecom Policy 2012 that aims to abolish roaming charges. It is a matter of time before the one country-one number status will come into play in India. You have a car registered in one state and the only way out is to sell it there before you relocate to another state. Otherwise, you will end up like me — a loser,” concludes Amit in a sombre tone.