Apologists for Modi may try to dodge this question, but they can’t fool all the people all the time.
That Prime Minister Narendra Modi is often unjustly criticized is an indisputable fact. Even for attending the marriage reception of Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma, he was lampooned and lambasted. All criticism aimed at the Prime Minister, however, is not unjust; nor it can be dismissed as the rant of, to use a despicable term, ‘presstitudes.’ For example, the censure pertaining to the breach of promise of bringing back black money stashed in overseas accounts.
Arvind Lavakare goes at great lengths to prove that Modi never said every Indian would get Rs 15 lakh if the money is brought back. He has even posted the part of Modi’s speech in which he discussed black money hoarded abroad. Lavakare is right to the extent that Modi never said that every Indian would get Rs 15 lakh. What Modi did say, however, was that the money would be brought back and used for the welfare of the people. This clearly has not happened.
In fact, there hasn’t even been any serious effort in this regard. What we have got are only cinema dialogues from government functionaries. In July 2016, for example, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley thundered, “Today there is a panic among people who hold illegal assets outside the country.” Further, he said that “there is a sizable dip in Indian holdings outside the country.”
In 2005, the UN had passed a resolution that if a country passes a legislation stating that their nationals’ accounts in these countries are nationalized, then the UN will help them acquire that bank account.
But Modi didn’t promise that he would trigger panic among crooks and dip in Indian holdings outside the country. Nor, by the way, he promised to make India a cashless or less-cash society. He promised to bring back black money. Where is that money? Nobody knows, and the government doesn’t even talk about that.
It’s not that nothing can be done. Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy has made several recommendations. In an interview to Swarajya in December 2016, he had said that $1 trillion is abroad because there is secret banking in 70 countries. “In 2005, the UN had passed a resolution saying that if a country passes a legislation stating that their nationals’ accounts in these countries are nationalized, then the UN will help them acquire that bank account and the money in it. Now, the Egyptians did it. Mubarak and Gaddafi both got it.”
There are other methods also, he added. “We have a mutual assistance pact with Switzerland. If you can say Sonia Gandhi has an account in Sarasin Bank, which has its headquarters in Geneva or that Rahul Gandhi has an account in Pictet Bank in Zurich—and they do—and I have given it in writing to the Finance Minister, then you can tell the Swiss, please help us get it. The problem is that the Finance Minister doesn’t want to pursue the matter. I have also told the ED, but they have also been stopped from going forward.”
The army that the government has chosen to recover is comprises taxmen, who are not among the folks very famous for probity.
Perhaps Swamy’s suggestions are infeasible; maybe his information about Sonia and Rahul is incorrect; maybe getting back black money from tax havens is impossible, or perhaps there is no black money abroad at all. But all this is beside the point; what is germane here is the fact that Modi hasn’t done anything to redeem his pledge. Having tried and failed is acceptable; but what do we make out of the fact that little effort has been made so far?
All efforts instead have been focused on the black money in India. And the army that the government has chosen to recover is comprises taxmen, who are not among the folks very famous for probity. Which makes the fight against black money quixotic.
Also, what does the Prime Minister has to say to the charge that “the Finance Minister doesn’t want to pursue the matter”? No answers.
Whether the money recovered from overseas accounts is distributed among the citizens of India, used to bridge the fiscal deficit, or employed to fund infrastructure development are details. The moot question is: why hasn’t the Modi regime done anything to bring the money back?
No amount of sophistry and spin-doctoring can explain that. Apologists for Modi may try to dodge this question, but they can’t fool all the people all the time.
1. Text in Blue points to additional data on the topic.
2. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.