He is the A-lister with a Midas Touch. Bollywood superstar, Akshay Kumar flaunts his patriotism on his sleeve. His recent crop of films have cleverly exploited social issues, peppered with the right measure of commercialism to make it a box office success. He strongly denies any political ambitions but was ironically handpicked by our PM to host a ‘non-political’ interview in the middle of the ongoing elections. But unfortunately, this was too much of a good run to last; now the 50-plus actor is in the eye of a storm, over his Canadian passport.
The controversy first arose, when the actor was not spotted at the polling booth recently. He also chose to stay mum over his absence, leading to speculation over his passport. Shaina NC, BJP spokesperson, however defended the actor by saying, “Akshay Kumar had every right to interview the Prime Minister. Every Indian citizen has the right to interview the PM or to know about him or his vision plans. I think it’s time we moved beyond boundaries that are stereotypical and that it’s imperative for citizens of Indian origin world over to know more about the PM. Citizenship shouldn’t be a marker of patriotism. Indian origin should be a marker of patriotism.”
This morning, Akshay finally broke silence when he took to his twitter account to issue a strongly worded statement.
“I really don’t understand the unwarranted interest and negativity about my citizenship. I have never hidden or denied that I hold a Canadian Passport. It is also equally true that I have not visited Canada in the last seven years. I work in India and pay all my taxes in India. While all these years, I have never needed to prove my love for India to anyone, I find it disappointing that my citizenship issue is constantly dragged into needless controversy, a matter that is personal, legal, non-political, and of no consequence to others. Lastly, I would like to continue contributing in my small way to the causes I believe in and make India stronger and stronger.” However, this clarification has not really worked in the actor’s favour as Akshay is being trolled majorly online. People are comparing him to music maestro AR Rahman, who turned down the offer of a Canadian citizenship by saying that, “Thank you, but TN is home.”
There are now old videos being posted, where Akshay while accepting the citizenship says that he loves Canada so much that he plans to settle there one he retires from films.
Akshay has been desperately trying to project himself as this super patriot, and therefore it appears that people are disappointed. But are we justified in questioning an individual’s personal choice? South Indian actress Priyamani, says, “I don’t understand what is wrong if he has Canadian citizenship. Through the kind of movies he does, it can’t be termed as a show of patriotism but rather he is trying to send a message to India. With what ever money he gets either through production houses or even endorsements, he does a lot by supporting farmers, army families etc. It’s very inspirational what he does. It is baseless to make a controversy on the fact that he holds a Canadian citizenship.”
Akshay says he continues to pay his taxes in India. What are the benefits of a foreign passport while living in India? “According to the Income Tax Act 1961, if a resident has lived in India in the previous year for 182 days or has lived for 60 days in the previous year and 365 days in the past 4 years then he/she is liable to pay the tax. Income of a person is said to be taxable in India on the basis of the residential status and not on the basis of his citizenship status. Therefore, if a person is not a citizen of India but satisfies the basic conditions of Residential status, he is liable to pay tax on his income in India. Now, it is true that every law has a loop hole and in this case it is the ‘Double taxation avoidant agreement’. This is applicable in cases where an individual is a resident of one nation, but earns income in another. So, if Akshay Kumar has an income from Canada as well as India then through this treaty he can get a tax exemption from one of the two countries,” says CA K Ravi, immediate past president, Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
— With inputs from Sitara Suresh Naidu, Ruth Prarthana and Sayoni...