No one would acknowledge the title of the post more than the Finance Minister (FM) Arun Jaitley. Black money may or may not come back but the FM is surely scoring some self goals and giving black eyes to his government while trying to defend the indefensible.Reputation at stake, the NDA regime has some deft handling to do or else “Kaale din aane waale hain” !!!
In 2011, a stolen CD containing details of HSBC accounts and a purported statement of the Swiss Bankers Association (SBA) claiming that Indians had deposited USD 1.4 trillion in Swiss vaults brought the spot light on the retreival of black money.782 names from the CD were handed over by the French to the Indian government.The Supreme Court (SC) of India directed the government to constitute a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to deal with the issue.
The UPA regime dragged its feet for 3 years and also did not declare the names siting “confidentiality clauses” in its Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements (DTAA) with various countries. The BJP, in opposition, attacked the UPA regime over this issue and promised that, if voted to power they would secure the entire black money in 100 days and from within it deposit rupees 15 lakhs in the account of every Indian!
In April 2014 the UPA regime however did share 26 names of “blackiyas” with the SC.
In May 2014 the NDA regime took over and promptly constituted the SIT.By now additional 627 names of “blackiyas” had been received from various countries including Switzerland.Three names were made public (Pradip Burman,Radha Timblo and Pankaj Lodhya ) and the FM cited the UPA’s “confidentiality clause” to not reveal the entire list.The BJP was now accused of doing a “U -turn” on the issue.
The government contented that it was bound by treaty obligations to make the names public only if the alleged “blackiyas” were to be found prima facie guilty of tax evasion.Otherwise it would impinge on their privacy (!!!) guaranteed by the Indian Constitution.The FM also alleged that it was the DTAA signed by the Congress in 1995 which was today a stumbling block. Later the Congress stated that the DTAA in question was signed in 1996 when it wasn’t even in power and that the subsequent NDA regime had signed 18 similar DTAAs! Then why was the BJP blaming the Congress alone?
The SC threw out the government’s contention and sought the names in a sealed envelope.Accused of shielding the “backiyas” the humiliated FM beat a hasty retreat and eventually handed over “the list” to the SC.
But the damage had been done.Narendra Modi’s government was facing its first major political embarrassment and was unable to explain its actions. One of its major poll planks was now haunting it.
But they weren’t the only ones getting the jitters.
Pending the handing over of the names reports came in of water shortage in plush areas all over India as the occupants were seen spending too much time flushing water in the washrooms.
Wives handing over grocery lists found their husbands jumping and sitting on ceiling fans to stay as far away as possible from any “list”.
Lines to Switzerland were busy all day with banks being told by the account holders that they would be shortly forwarding their own death certificates ! Swiss bankers being sticklers insisted that till the deceased did not come and prove he was indeed deceased the name would continue to figure in “the list” !!!(ISD call ke paise bhi kharab hue!!!)
Barbers had a field day as they realised all that they had to mention was “black money” and the hair of their customers would stand on its end and make it ever so simple for the barber to ply his trade !!
Opposition parties convinced people that the government was planning to label the income generated out of milching black buffaloes as “black money” ! Mulayam Singh and Lalu Prasad have since painted their buffaloes saffron, green and white ! Bharat Mata ki Jai !!!
Arvind Kejriwal hollered himself hoarse over the issue but i think before he does anything about “kala dhan” he should cure is “kaali khansi”.
Last but not the least,the FM is still washing the smear from his face.
The Amul ad/ topical ob Black Money is inspired by the ruling BJPs supposed U-turn on the issue of retrieving the ill gotten gains.It shows a caricature depicting a politician furtively inspecting his loot in a vault with the Amul Girl making a sudden entry with the keys of the vault and indicating that the game’s up!
The Tag Line...Going Black on Promises.… is a nice play on the term “black money” as well as the aborted volte face by the BJP led government.The white crosses on the “o’s” in the red font draw on the Swiss connection.
The Punch Line….Indian Butter not Swiss Cheez…proclaims Amul butter as truly Indian and not a Swiss product with the word “cheez” implying an object but at the same time being a play on the “Swiss Cheese”.
It needs to be understood that black money is what is generated after tax evasion however in financial parlance there’s “red money” too where the source of the income itself is illicit and unknown.The government in its affidavit has focused only on tax evasion and has inadvertently clubbed “red & black money”. Red money is the bigger of the evils and tax havens exist only to chanellise it back into the global economy.It is imperative to retrieve and declare the names of the red money account holders as well.
The UPA and the BJP both seem to be in cahoots and need to explain their actions, especially their reluctance and rationale for seeking refuge in confidentiality for data obtained illegally and irrationally under the DTAA.
A word of caution for Narendra Modi.The Nation has given him a mandate for change and a fiasco of this magnitude will eventually render him a lame duck PM. He must resolve this issue in the best interests of India or else this incident can cost the government its credibility….and much more!