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The vain chase after black money


One of the key campaign planks of the NDA's electioneering during the 2014 Lok Sabha poll,  led by the Amit Shah-Narendra Modi duo against the second UPA government was that once voted to power NDA would uncover the huge black money deposits of Indian citizens in foreign banks and bring them back to India,  and deposit Rs 15 lakh each in every Indian's bank account.  Tempted by the prospect or otherwise,  a large number of common people and the poor voted the saffron camp to power,  and Modi became prime minister too.   As if to fulfil the promise,  the Modi government formed a finance standing committee and authorised it to reveal the figures of such black money.

After long arduous work,  the panel has now,  at the beginning of Modi's second term,  submitted its report – one that totally pleading helplessness that it is not upto the task! For, the report says that it is difficult to find out a reliable figure of the unaccounted money and wealth parked in India and abroad.   The standing committee had banked on National Institute of Finance and Public Policy, the National Institute of Financial Management and National Council of Applied Economic Reseaerch,  for accurate assessment of unaccounted income.  But across these,  the estimated ratio of black money to GDP varied from 7  to 120 per cent!

The committee's report says that the overseas rupee deposits of Indians at different times during  1980-2010 is estimated at between 15 and 30  Lakh crore.   It may be noted that the total union budget of Modi government is below Rs 28 lakh crore.   The enquiry team found that most of the unaccounted wealth is invested in real estate,  mining,  drug manufacture,  pan masala,  gudka,  tobacco,  gold,  share market and construction sector.    But the finance standing committee miserably failed in even figuring out what percentage of funds was claimed by each of these sectors. 

For one thing,  there is nothing surprising or shocking in all this.   If one asks which force works in the most organized and efficient manner in undeveloped and developing countries,  the answer is simple:  it is the empire of parallel economy.   Governments are simply not able to dig out even a thousandth of the funds or add to the public treasury  the immense wealth earned by breaking laws and rules,   by swindling people and governments,  and amassed through bribe, corruption,  black market and profiteering.

The reasons for this are also clear.  In autocratic countries the people have no permission or opportunity to question the rulers.  In democratic countries,  although in theory it is the political parties who field candidates and govern,  the entities that in effect control and set the agenda of government and buy up the bureaucratic lobby,  are black money kings.  An example is BJP''s former Karnataka chief and current Opposition leader in the state,  Yedyurappa.   The BJP leaders have ownership of the mining sector,  where black money holders rule the roost.   Therefore,  reports had emerged that in order to make Operation Lotus succeed,  promises were made upto the rate of Rs 50 crore per MLA.

When legislators from so-called secular parties of different states flock en masse to BJP,  any one with common sense can easily guess what is behind such defections.  Not only in politics,  but in almost every other domain of life, it is as clear as daylight that unaccounted money is many times what is earned legally,  and subjected to income tax.   What a huge an amount  had changed hands for bar licence,  during the left and right governments of Kerala?  And do those who spend billions of rupees and produce 'housefull' movies,  rely on legitimate wealth after suffering income tax?  And does any one bother to enquire from where and how capital funds are raised for resorts built in violation of all environmental laws and regulations?   Such searches will only turn anyone giddy. It was with a much hyped grand design of uprooting the black money empire that the first Modi government,  on  a flash evening declared 1,000 and 500 rupee currencies invalid.  To what effect?  Apart from the common man being put to deep distress,  this lopsides act had no other result.   Not only that,  the newly printed Rs 2,000 currency soon became the medium of new black money. 

If honesty,  integrity and genuine patriotism are the motivators for development and solutions of people's problems,  intelligent decisions can be taken and effectively implemented.   And if the people get convinced about it,  they will co-operate with it in all earnestness. And if the leaders,  rulers or officials cannot claim to have even one of these qualities,  every trigger they pull will make empty shots.   Apart from causing a lot of sound and smoke,  none of them will hit the target; exactly the reason why Modi government's claims and promises regarding black money, fail to fulfil the goals.

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