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Kejriwal lifts the lid on black money

K. R. Srivats
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Anit-corruption activist Arvind Kejriwal
Anit-corruption activist Arvind Kejriwal

Kejriwal’s latest expose of naming the 10 individuals/companies with bank accounts in HSBC, Geneva has turned the spotlight on the Government.

Black money is back in the news again.

But there is also a danger of anti-black money activism turning into a political slogan.

But the latest salvo of Arvind Kejriwal against the Government has led many – especially the middle class – to sit up and take notice.

Critics would rubbish his allegations, stating that he is simply harbouring political ambitions and using black money issues as a ladder.

Be that as it may, the point Kejriwal is raising is very interesting. His team has alleged that Indian Government seems to be more interested in helping the guilty rather than punishing them.

At a time when the US and UK Governments are going all out to get details of unaccounted monies stashed by their citizens in offshore accounts, why is the Indian Government not doing the same?

This question flagged by Kejriwal is also uppermost in the minds of several Indians.

WHOSE MONEY IS IT ANYWAY?

Black money of Indians lying abroad is money belonging to the country, so why is the Government not interested in getting this money back, questioned a representative of India’s largest opposition party — soon after Kejriwal’s latest salvo.

Of course, while in power, the same party did very little to trace unaccounted black money.

But tucked deep inside one of the Parliament questions tabled in the recent monsoon session is an answer that would come as a shocker to many.

It goes like this – the Government has no proposal to declare black money as a national asset.

Here is another gem. In a reply to another question on black money, the minister concerned said there is no provision under the direct tax laws to bring back the money deposited in foreign accounts by Indian nationals.

At the most what can be done is obtain information from foreign countries and get it investigated so that the untaxed amount can be taxed.

Simply put, there is no commitment or intent to bring to tax any unaccounted monies – an allegation of Kejriwal.

While most hapless salary earners discharge their TDS obligations without murmur, there are hundreds who enjoy protection of Government for their undeclared accounts abroad.

HSBC, GENEVA

Kejriwal’s latest expose of naming the 10 individuals/companies with bank accounts in HSBC, Geneva has turned the spotlight on the Government.

He says these names – which included some leading industrialists – are part of the list of 700 people having bank accounts in HSBC, Geneva and that the list was handed out to Indian Government by the French Government in July 2011.

He also wants the Government to make public the names of 700 people in the list and initiate action against them.

The Government has promptly pointed out that information received from the French Government was covered under the “confidentiality clause” in the double taxation avoidance agreement between the two countries and can be used only for the tax purposes specified therein.

In other words, the Government can’t make the names public.

Kejriwal may have to rely on his network in the Income-Tax Department to bring out the truth.

So what has the Government done so far on the information provided by the French Government?

Again the reply to a Parliament question is revealing.

In the recently concluded monsoon session, the Government told Parliament that some persons have paid taxes amounting to Rs 181 crore as on March 2012.

“Investigations conducted on the basis of information received from the Government of France about deposits of Indians abroad have led to detection of undisclosed income of Rs 565 crore.

“Taxes amounting to Rs 181 crore have already been realised in these cases. The quantum of tax, together with interest and penalties, levied in such cases invariably exceeds the amount on which the tax was sought to be evaded, thus effectively resulting in its realisation.”

So the real question that one would like Kejriwal to ask is what is the latest score on this French Government information front?

He has to do some big hitting as the final overs are nearing. Otherwise the match will turn out to be a tame draw. But it seems Kejriwal likes the T20 format.

Think-tank reports

For all those keen to know the quantum of black money generated inside or outside the country, you may have to wait till December when the reports of the three think tanks are expected to be out.

Three leading think-tanks — National Council for Applied Economic Research (NCEAR), National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP) and National Institute of Financial Management (NIFM) — are conducting a joint study on black money.

srivats.kr@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on November 11, 2012)
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Comments:

Today, India has the distinction of one of the most inefficient and corrupt administration in the world. Not only that a significant proportion of the investment leaks into the hands of corrupt politicians and greedy bureaucrats from the top to the bottom. Much worse is that due to corruption, nepotism and inefficiency implementation of most of the projects are delayed. At present the level of governance in India is at the lowest ebb. The numerous cases of scams, scandals, frauds, money laundering and other shadow activities indulged in by corrupt politicians, especially the ruling party, and their kith and kin and corrupt bureaucrats have naturally affected the efficient and effective allocation of the resources and their utilisation. Dr. Manmohan Singh is reported to have failed to curb various scams, sandals and frauds perpetuated by crony capitalists and greedy politicians and bureaucrats. As a result, resources of the country have been looted by crony capitalists with the active support of corrupt politicians and connivance of bureaucrats. The country is reported to have lost lakhs of corers of rupees, which could have been used to promote investment and provide welfare measures to the down-trodden people.

from:  Dr.C.Murukadas
Posted on: Nov 11, 2012 at 23:35 IST

Yes, Mr. Kejariwal may be doing a great job. It is now the business of media to bring to
light more and more wrong doings by governments of the day on the serious issue of
black money. It is unfortunate to thrust more on the civil society.

from:  vittal
Posted on: Nov 12, 2012 at 00:11 IST

Lets be honest,neither does GOI or the Corporate Sector want any list
be published/exposed to the Public as many of those who scream from
the rooftops would be embarrassed.
It includes our Film Stars and any other prominent personality
including Sports stars.
For many years the Left Trade Unions and Left Parties have been asking
the GOI/RBI to bring out the List of Corporate Cos who are big
defaulters to the Banks in this country.Fortunately thanks to RTI
access of ROC we have some idea,but many more are not identified/who
are their Promoter/Directors who have vanished with Public/Bank money.

from:  a.ramanathan
Posted on: Nov 12, 2012 at 10:11 IST

Aravind is doing his job and Media too helping to reveal truth But the people is suffering with short term memory, enjoying the show of Aravind and Forgets conveniantely

from:  Veeraraghavan
Posted on: Nov 12, 2012 at 13:53 IST

How unfortunate it is? Our most coveted PM, Dr Manmohan singh, a Finance Magician running this government so unaccountably? Neither ruling party nor opposition to be believed. YOung India come forward - let us give full support to the movement by Avind Kejriwal. No matter this movement is shaping into a political fight. there is nothing wrong. Politics itself has never been BAD, Only the practicing politicians (some) are BAD. let us fight for our right. jai hind.

from:  HAVALDAR
Posted on: Nov 13, 2012 at 01:04 IST

What is media / court is doing. Why our competent court take itselg decesion to ask govt to act. also media is only interested in ad contract. Pl feel to serve nation/ to save our democracy from these nexus of politician-businessmen-opposition-few media-beurocrats. Request media to act as 4th pillar of democracy rather than negotiating like ZEE TV. I feel time has come to act rather than report.

from:  rajkumar
Posted on: Nov 13, 2012 at 13:08 IST

The s. court has the power to direct the govt. to act in a way that upholds the
constitutional rights of Indians, if it finds that the same are being flaunted.Yes the
media can act as the 4th. pillar only if they are not afraid of their survival at the
hands of those who are being reported against.

The writer was a victim at the hands of those in power some 45 years ago on
refusing to take bribe and left the shores of the country that I so much love.

from:  Rajindar Opal
Posted on: Nov 14, 2012 at 09:10 IST

election reforms is the basic cure for all that is Black money.We expect the Politicians
to be serving the country selflessly,then, how do they carry on that work of
canvasing through out the country for gaining the mass support of vote from
divergent classes of public without first collecting the donation monies.So,it may
look tough but the solution lies in making elections easier by changing the rules of
the game. It is possible by extensive use of the electronic media such as TV,Cable
TV, Radio, Internet social media in a novel and ingenius way to communicate with the
public at large in to-and-from manner so that ideas flow both ways and
automatically antisocial elements are thrown out of the Politics and/or are driven
back to the back ground and those with new ideas and positivity get a fair chance to
steer the country out of the quagmire of dirty politics to true Politics of democratic
progress which is good for all. What is good for the poor should also be good for the
rich.

from:  Abhay Naik
Posted on: Nov 16, 2012 at 03:13 IST
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