18% GST On Parotas Is Anti-Hostellers And Anti-Working People

parota, gene weingarten

A recent ruling by the Authority for Advance Rulings (AAR)’s Karnataka levying 18 percent GST (Goods and Services Tax) on parotas, on the grounds that “they are not rotis,” as opposed to the earlier 5 percent, has upset social media. Hashtags such as #HandsOffParotta and #JusticeFor Parota have trended throughout the day on Twitter. As a parota enthusiast, this ruling has demoralised me.

The AAR Ruling 

According to a TOI report, AAR reconfirmed in its verdict that parotas are not rotis because they are precooked or fully cooked, and thus are ready-to-use food preparations. The distinction was made on the basis of ingredients used and the process of preparation. On this account, the bench declared that parotas cannot fall under the broad categorisation of ‘rotis’. Thus, they will contract a GST of 18 percent as opposed to rotis which are subjected to a mere five percent. Authorities claimed that ‘Classic Malabar Parota’ along with the ‘Whole Wheat Malabar Parota’ will come under Schedule III of the GST Laws, through Heading 2106 ‘Food preparations not mentioned or included elsewhere’.

A recent ruling by the Authority for Advance Rulings (AAR)’s Karnataka bench rationalises the 18 percent GST levied on parotas on the ground that “they are not rotis.”

Working People and Hostellers upset

Now if you are a single person or a couple who don’t know how or prefer not to cook, you can understand where all the bitterness about the unjust treatment meted out to a flatbread is stemming from. Ask anyone who cooks for themselves, what parota means in their lives. This is for the simple reason that they are packed foods and are an easy on-the-go meal.

A delicacy that you can pick from supermarket shelves chuck into the freezer and forget until you crave a portion of flaky flatbread made from refined flour and the goodness of ghee, how can one not be hooked? Call me a parota enthusiast but we all know how a simple Malabar Parota can elevate a homecooked meal to a restaurant-quality one.

Can any other Indian flatbread do that? No offence to all the puri, kulcha and naan lovers,  but here’s a flatbread that made me miss restaurants less under the lockdown, and all I can do is watch, as it is turned into a luxury food item that will burn a hole in my pocket.

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I fully agree with Arun Rajpaul, who tweeted, “5% GST for Rotis and 18% GST for Porotta?! This discrimination should end right now. Say No to Food Fascism! You don’t get to decide what we should eat! #HandsOffPorotta”.

Akruti Sinha (name changed on request), a 19-year old student of Delhi University who lives in a PG tells me, “ A lot of my friends in the PG carry parotas with them because sometimes the meals are not prepared in the morning when we leave for college. A friend of mine travels all the way across the city for her college and often carries these parotas with her to eat in the metro. Also, most of us do not have a lot of money to spare. Such a massive increase in the GST of a commonly consumed food product will be a major problem for most of the hostellers. Especially after an economic crisis due to the virus as there will be money problems”.

A lot of office goers take such preprepared food products as their meals. This particularly includes anybody who travels a lot or for longer distances.

“Such a massive increase in the GST of a commonly consumed food product will be a major problem for most of the hostellers”- Akruti Sinha

Twitterati have a lot to say

The news of the increased taxes has taken social media by storm. Many like me wonder what fate awaits other flatbreads. Can anyone blame us right now for fretting over ‘bhaturas’, ‘puris’, ‘appams’ etc? Although, some people have taken to calling this ruling a ‘real reform’ in the midst of the pandemic.

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As Simran Ghuman rightly pointed out in her tweet, “Roti – 5% GST   – 18%GST. No way I’m looking at butter naan that would definitely place naan at 28% GST#handsofparota.” The very thought that we might have to bid farewell to the precious combo of butter naan- butter chicken or the true vegetable classic, butter naan-daal makhani because it’ll be a tad too much to bear for my pocket scares me, even though I know that naan is safe for now.  All I can do for now is to hold on to the packet of parotas lying in my freezer and wonder what travesty awaits next.

Bhavya Gupta is an intern with SheThePeople.TV. The views expressed are the authors’ own.