Sunday, 26 June, 2022
HomeOpinionIn the long struggle for GST waiver on sanitary napkins, Akshay Kumar...

In the long struggle for GST waiver on sanitary napkins, Akshay Kumar gets to be the hero

Text Size:

We live in a country where citizens’ movements get recognition only when a pseudo-benevolent Bollywood star brings the story on screen.

Women across India are rejoicing the Goods and Services Tax (GST) exemption on sanitary napkins for they are now liberated to bleed tax-free.

But, the poster boy for this revolutionary move is neither Prime Minister Narendra Modi nor interim finance minister Piyush Goyal, it is Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar who is uncannily hogging the fame.

Indians largely seem to connect him with the tax waiver. Twitter was filled with #SanitaryNapkins tweets and stills of Akshay from his movie Padman, which released in February. Even his controversial picture with an ABVP flag at a Delhi University women’s marathon is doing the rounds to show him as the supposed force behind bringing the tax exemption.

Akshay, thanks to the R. Balki directed film, is now being hailed as the knight in shining armour who rescued women in India from paying taxes on sanitary napkins.

Long forgotten are the activists and students of JNU, Jamia Millia Islamia, BHU and Jadavpur University who first mobilised dialogue on tax-free sanitary pads and menstruation and were even condemned for their acts. After all, we live in a country where citizens’ movements get recognition only when a pseudo-benevolent Bollywood star brings the story on screen.

The narrative of all those women and men who waved placards and put up paint-stained sanitary napkins in public spaces will soon be forgotten. Stories of NGO SheSays, which first voiced concerns over the unfair tax in 2016, Congress MP from Assam Sushmita Dev, who first took up the issue in Parliament, Maneka Gandhi, who supported Dev, and Twitter, which started the conversation with #lahukalagaan, will be eclipsed. Only the images of Bollywood stars posting no-makeup pictures on Instagram with pads for promoting Padman will remain. The white-washing of the struggle has just begun.

Even A. Muruganantham, the man behind the sanitary pad revolution in India, welcomed the GST waiver and thanked Akshay and his film for voicing the issue. This is after the entire film was based on Muruganantham’s struggle to invent a cheap napkin-building machine. All the other voices that have brought about this tax reform seem to have crumbled and withered away from the collective memory of those celebrating it.

Akshay and his producer wife Twinkle Khanna welcomed the move but they are now comforted by the fact that their critically dissed film has become an icon of sorts. After all, not every film can earn you the tag of being a harbinger of change.

GST was a political and economic move by the government, motivated by the upcoming 2019 elections. We can’t be sure if this move will ensure a win for the Modi government, but Akshay has already won the poster boy game on sanitary napkins.

Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it

India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.

But the news media is in a crisis of its own. There have been brutal layoffs and pay-cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking, yielding to crude prime-time spectacle.

ThePrint has the finest young reporters, columnists and editors working for it. Sustaining journalism of this quality needs smart and thinking people like you to pay for it. Whether you live in India or overseas, you can do it here.

Support Our Journalism


  1. Let’s first say . Every thing BJP or Modi does is Wrong. Being overcritical has become part of today’s Media culture. All , who are not ruling, know how to govern. Maybe you need to turn the page and admire some good work also …

  2. Nothing should be tax free. One tax free item shouldn’t become a burden on other taxed items. One will die without eating food. This shouldn’t mean that food should be free or tax free. One should work, earn, pay and live. Tax free sanitary napkin shouldn’t become a burden on taxed shaving cream. I hope one gets my point. Go ahead and label me as a misogynist or male chauvenist pig, i don’t mind. I’m a follower of free market economics and leftists have a problem with that. Single tax slab of 5 percent of all things is my dream which i know will remain a dream. Equality of all genders and appeasement of none.

Comments are closed.

Most Popular