One of the burning issues during the regime of the previous government as well as the present government is BLACK MONEY. This issue has been burning the conscience of all corrupt politicians and rich people. As usual, most of the politicians (except a few principled and clean ones) talk nonsense on this issue wherever they go. They keep making promises after promises making all of us fools all the time. As long as there is a criminal-political-bureaucrats-rich people nexus in the country, none can solve the problem of the Black Money. Black will always remain black.
In this situation we need to ask a serious question - Is India poor or economically backward? No person with common sense will say “Yes” to this question. We need to ask the Swiss banks. With personal account bank deposit of $1,500 billion, an amount 13 times larger than the country's foreign debt, one needs to rethink if India is really a poor country? Swiss bank revealed that Indians have more money with them than the rest of the world. This is so shocking. If black money deposit was an Olympics event, then, India would have won a gold medal hands down. The second best Russia has 4 times lesser deposit. USA does not seem to be even there in the top five! In short, the real fact is that India has more money in Swiss banks than all the other countries combined!
So we need to make a pragmatic and realistic statement like this: “India is a very rich country with economically deprived people”. If India is really a wealthy country then where is the wealth? Who is holding most of the wealth? What is the extent of black money in India? Last year a study was undertaken by Kotak Wealth Management. The researchers interviewed 150 super-wealthy individuals in India’s major cities of Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Bengaluru, and others like Hyderabad, and Ahmedabad. Senior personnel at major global luxury brands, art gallery owners, product dealers and industry body representatives were also interviewed. The study estimates that India has about 62,000 super-rich households, with a total wealth of around 45 trillion rupees ($1 trillion.) This is expected to grow to 235 trillion rupees ($5.3 trillion) in five years.
Dishonest industrialists, scandalous politicians and corrupt bureaucrats have deposited in foreign banks in their illegal personal accounts money that has been misappropriated by them. The former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Late Ms. Jayalalitha has proved to the whole world what a mighty empire of wealth one can create as a politician and how to evade the income tax. The Special Court as well as the Supreme Court had given the judgment based on the seen wealth. What about the unseen wealth? God alone knows!
Most part of the black money has been appropriated from the people of India by exploiting and betraying them. Once this huge amount of black money and property comes back to India, the entire foreign debt can be repaid in 24 hours. After paying the entire foreign debt, we will have surplus amount, almost 12 times larger than the foreign debt. If this surplus amount is invested in earning interest, the amount of interest will be more than the annual budget of the Central Government. So even if all the taxes are abolished, then also the Central Government will be able to maintain the country very comfortably.
As per the study some 80,000 people seem to travel from India, to Switzerland every year, of whom 25,000 travel very frequently. What could be reason for their travel? It is obviously for the sake of black money, believes an official involved in tracking illegal money. The saddest and the most depressing part of the story is that this ill-gotten wealth of ours has been stashed away abroad into secret bank accounts located in some of the world's best known tax havens. And to that extent the Indian economy has been stripped of its wealth. Ordinary Indians may not be exactly aware of how such secret accounts operate and what are the rules and regulations that go on to govern such tax havens. However, one may well be aware of Swiss bank accounts, the short-hand for murky dealings, secrecy and of course pilferage from developing countries into rich developed ones. In fact, some finance experts and economists believe tax havens to be a conspiracy of the western world against the poor countries. By allowing the proliferation of tax havens in the twentieth century, the western world explicitly encourages the movement of scarce capital from the developing countries to the rich.
We are surprised to note that religious groups in India also compete with corporate infrastructure – i.e. Hindu temples adorned with gold and diamonds; Saudi Arabian styled posh mosques; precious marble-structured Sikh and Jain temples; western styled single and two-tier Christian churches with sky-rise towers (all multi-crore projects) and palatial and spacious ashrams/residences of religious leaders etc.
In this scenario, can any sensible citizen claim that India is economically backward country? Not at all! The fact is that India has plenty of wealth but it is not properly distributed. Unequal distribution of wealth and the unaccounted money are the real causes for poverty and the presence of the economically backward and marginalised people in India. The ultimate culprits are the selfish business groups in the corporate sector, vision-less politicians, corrupt bureaucrats and fake religious leaders. Surprisingly, all these people network together to safeguard their illegal wealth.
It is in the context of the black money, Mr. Modi in his election campaign promised that he and his government will bring back all the black money stored up in foreign countries and give Rs.15 lakhs to every citizen. However, it would be foolish to expect this because the promise made before the election was an empty promise and it will ever remain empty. Irrespective of any political party, we hear daily from the media about the illegal multi-crore transactions happening among the politicians and bureaucrats. How on earth a simple MLA/MP and government official earn crores of rupees all of a sudden? The whole nation witnessed how Sasikala and her colleagues enjoyed all types of comforts inside the jail in Bengaluru. All this was possible because of the money power. We, the common people, are always taken for a ride.
The only solution to the continuing poverty and its associated sufferings is a change of heart, a personal transformation. Together with Rabindranath Tagore let us pray - “This is my prayer to thee, my Lord… give me the strength never to disown the poor… and help me to build a country where the mind is without fear and the head is held high and where the people are not broken up into fragments of narrow domestic walls of disparities and discriminations.”
(Published on 31st July 2017, Volume XXIX, Issue 31)