“OUR Republic is under siege. Our polity is in shambles….Wikileaks mocks at us in terms of revealing the names of our current icons as men who plundered. It is possible that foreign spy agencies know the names. Our leadership may be under blackmail and our policy formulations may have been compromised”. This is how the the BJP Task Force on black money concludes its 95-page report. It talks of a mindboggling sum of `25,00,000 crore Indian money stashed away in secret bank accounts in tax havens. This is the second report of the Task Force and it concentrates more on steps to be taken by India to bring the loot back to Indian shores.
The report is incisive, stunning and disturbing. There is not a single dull statement or a slack sentence in the report. It is a valuable document for those who want to save the country. Ram Jethmalani famously said a few days ago that thieves are running the country. This report reminds one of the revetting war cry of the late eighties, at the height of Bofors revelations, “gali gali mein shor hai, yeh sarkar chor hai”. The condition today is not dissimilar. The establishment ridicules those who talk of black money. The Finance Minister reacts to embarrassing reports on Indian money in secret accounts as if he is helpless.
The Prime Minister in a press conference the other day spoke as if he too is helpless. Call it the compulsions of running a minority government or his total lack of political clout, his responses only underlined one thing that we all knew for very long. He is not in command. This in no way absolves him of culpability or crime. When he compared the food subsidy for the teeming millions of India as a loss similar to one incurred in the 2-G spectrum scam, he demonstrated his utter lack of sensitivity and political savvy. It is time for him to go, in disgrace.
One can argue endlessly on how much the country lost on CWG, Adarsh, 2-G, ISRO spectrum and numerous other scams under the UPA. The black money that went out of the country as loot is a hundred times more than all that put together. The BJP has done a great service to the nation by making it aware of the stealth. Its Task Force has done a marvellous job. The first task, in fact in this war, is to make the people of India aware as to what they have been deprived of.
There will be any number of people pooh-poohing the report. As Emerson said, “all necessary truth is its own evidence”. Of late some reports in the pro-establishment media have been making such self-serving comments like the rich and corrupt have conveniently used tax havens and numbered accounts to park money and that they can always trust these black havens to keep the slush accounts a secret. And there are apologists who argue simplistically that the black money debate is driven by hypocrisy and naivete and that this black money visits India “once or twice every year like many rich NRIs”. How fabulous! The BJP Task Force at the very outset warns against such doubting Thomases saying “those who do not support the move should be seen as supporters of black economy” (P 2). The Task Force has listed a number of steps to be taken domestically and globally to unearth and retrieve the wealth India has lost.
With great success, the western nations have begun targeting tax havens. The IMF has estimated the amount of black money in these secret accounts as high as $18 trillion. The instability in the global market itself was traced to the evil money. All this suggest that the story of Indian black money in foreign shores is not a cock and bull tamasha, invented by the BJP as some of the financial writers in the country try to paint.
The US, France and Germany have in the recent past achieved major breakthrough in tracking these ill-gotten wealth, and more worrying fact as the Task Force report has highlighted is that the Indian thieves ensconsed in high positions are vulnerable to blackmail compromising the nation’s self interest, security, unity and sovereignty. It is for this reason that the country cannot pussy-foot on this issue.
The global awareness about black money is a great boon for India. We can trust the UPA government on doing everything in its power to undermine and frustrate this effort. Because it has too much to hide and too heavy to lose. But the movement to get back the black money can become a national mission which the political system cannot ignore or subdue.