India‘s taxman has finally caught up with the nation’s working elephants, with the owners of those working at temples, festivals or parties having to pay 12 per cent of their earnings in service tax.
In India's autumn wedding season the number of ceremonial elephants can being city roads to a standstill Photo: ALAMY
Elephants are deployed throughout India as ceremonial beasts at weddings, auspicious reminders of the elephant God Lord Ganesha at temples and Hindu festivals like the Kumbh Mela, and as exotic children’s rides at birthday parties.
In India’s autumn wedding season the number of ceremonial elephants can being city roads to a standstill. For many they are an affordable treat – toy shops offer them for under £25 per hire as an upgrade on a party camel.
They are however big business. In Kerala alone, revenues from its 700 working elephants are estimated at just under £30 million per year.
Throughout India’s 28 states, the figure is believed to be several hundred million pounds per year. During peak demand, the going rate can rise to around £300 per day.
Now the Indian revenue authorities want their share and have ordered all enterprises hiring out elephants to levy a 12.36 per cent service tax.
By Dean Nelson