by Arek Socha from Pixabay
It’s been several months since I
accepted a car or bike “review” invitation. Yes, I miss reviewing new cars and
bikes. There is no denying that fact. OEMs continue to shower journalists with
free air travel, free 5-star accommodations, free gifts and a lot of other free
So my question to the auto
journalists is: Do you love reviewing cars and bikes, or do you love the
freebies thrown in? Some may say, we love both, some may say, we just love
reviewing vehicles but are helpless about the freebies thrown in…. and some
crazy guy like me may just sit on the sidelines wondering what best to do.
There is a solution to this crazy
scenario. OEMs or manufacturers of cars and two wheelers will continue to host
such drives and rides and lather it with a great element of luxury. If you
avoid going to such events, you will miss the opportunity to drive a new
I have a very valid suggestion
which will bring an iota of decency into this profession. Not just in India but
all over the world. After every video and/ or report can we have a credit line
which is bold and noticeable which says that “For this drive/ride the two days (mention the number
of days) accommodation at this five-star hotel, the food and the free gift
(mention the gift and the price tag) and the transfer to the airport, home,
venue were all taken care by the OEM. The invitation was extended to the
Editor, the reporter, the two cameramen etc”. At least then the
readers and/or viewers know that for each of these trips the reporters, camera
person, Editors, etc were all brought in by the OEM free?
The above-mentioned credit line should
be as loud and clear as the way we say, “Welcome to the Motown India channel,
my name is Roy P Tharyan….” Once we bring about this change, perhaps an iota of
fair play will creep into this rather obnoxious system where favouritism
prevails big time. Or
should we ask the Indian government to include auto journalists as “social
influencers” and tax them accordingly?
According to a recent Hindustan
Times report, “Under
the new tax rules, social media influencers will be required to pay a 10 per
cent tax deducted at source (TDS) on freebies and perks worth above Rs 20,000
received from businesses for sales promotion effective July 1, 2022. This could
include free air tickets, mobile phones, hotel stays, luxury products and other
free gifts or services, as per Section 194R, a recent addition to the Income
Tax Act. However, they will be exempted from the tax if they return the product
to the respective brands”.
Now, what is your opinion about
this new rule? Even if we as auto journalists (though we are also social media
influencers at the end of the day) are not covered by this rule as of
now, should we not start giving a credit line acknowledgement of the freebies
coming our way? Agree? Or disagree?
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