CBI: $500 billion of
India in tax havens?
In the first week of June 2011, Jyotirmey Dey, a senior journalist and special investigations editor of a Mumbai daily was killed in broad daylight while speeding down a road. According to local media reports, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan denied demands from Dey’s journalist colleagues to take the investigation out of the hands of the Mumbai Police and hand it over to the state’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). There were reports that said that the choice to keep the investigation of the journalist’s murder small, disturbed the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). “Too many Indian journalists can be killed without repercussions, it has become a national embarrassment” Rob Dictz, CPJ’s Asian Programme Coordinator was reported as saying.
In connection with the murder, the name of one individual was mentioned as a possible source of information. It is now eight months since the murder took place and the media seems to have decided not to pursue the matter further. Whichever was the party assigned to conduct the inquiries, may one ask what is the progress made so far? Or is it too much to ask? Shouldn’t some one ask where one stands? Is the inquiry over? If not, why not? And when can one expect the report to come out? Dey, one was told, was known for his hardline coverage of Mumbai’s crime world, a beat he had covered for 22 years and one which had convinced his colleagues that his intense work style had helped set a tone for investigative reporting in India’s vibrant media environment. Surely eight months is a long time for crime investigation to come to some meaningful conclusion?
Forgetfulness seems to be part of the media psyche. The media does not pursue a story to its bitter end. Take another example, a report published in February 2012 by Deccan Herald that the CBI has revealed that around Rs 24.5 lakh crore or about 500 billion US dollars belonging to Indians is deposited in tax havens abroad, most noticeably is Swiss banks. The report said: “CBI Director AP Singh’s statement on black money is significant since this is the first time that he is coming clean on Indians’ slush funds abroad”. It would be remembered that during the recent winter session of Parliament, Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had promised to bring out a White Paper on Black Money and quoted figures of Global Financial Integrity as saying that from 1948 to 2008, about 213 billion dollars had been stashed away by Indians in foreign banks which at current value would amount to 462 billion dollars. When will we get the White Paper?
At the end of the triangular matches between Sri Lanka, India and Australia, India may have slightly regained some of its lost prestige but Dhoni has a long way to go to win back the faith of his fellow countrymen. After all, who can forget the whitewash that both England and Australia administered to India in Test cricket in the last eight months? First, The Economic Times (17 January) had a good laugh. “The national cricket team has become the favourite of humourists” said the paper. It then added: “With Team India’s consecutive losses in Australia inspiring more and more alliterative headlines, it remains to be seen whether “Mauled at Melbourne”, “Shamed at Sydney” and “Pounded at Perth” will be followed by “Annihilated at Adelaide”, which is what happened. The Economic Times said: “The BCCI could now stand for the Board of Chaos for Cricket in India”. The Times of India (17 January) called Team India’s loss in the Third Test not “a defeat” but “capitulation”. Sharply it reminded everybody that “Dhoni and his men now have the dubious distinction of losing seven straight Tests away from home – India’s worst losing streak for four decades”. The Hindu (17 January) said the defeat at Perth “Isn’t a time for panic”. “Annihilation” it said, “can be dispiriting, but it cleanses the mind, creates space for renewal”.
The Free Press Journal (17 January) was ruthlessly critical of Team India. “Only the cricket-crazy Indians would shed tears at the massacre of the lambs the BCCI had sent out to play in Australia. Others had seen it coming and would not waste their emotion on the sorry plight of a team which had learnt no lessons from its recent washout in England” the paper said. With rising anger it went on: “Frankly, Indians deserved the pasting of their lives at the hands of the newly-minted Australian team.” The paper suggested some ways of recovery. One, it said “a voluntary retirement scheme ought to be in place by the time the disgraced lot lands on these shores”. Two, Cricket Managers and Selectors should also be retired. Three, the authorities must “cut down on the number of days these guys can play first class cricket”; Four, the remuneration each player is given must be scaled down to a sensible level.
Added FPJ: A team that chases money rather than success on the playground is bound to disgrace itself. A drastic overhaul of the team and the selectors is the minimum that needs must be done at the earliest to live down the disgrace Down Under. India Today (13 February) was no less critical. It said that “if players and administrators continuously choose short term greed over the longer term honour and privilege (and indeed money) for representing the country, India cricket will have a bleak future. On this disastrous tour of Australia, the big egos of some of our stars have punctured an already deflated campaign”. It criticised Dhoni for being “aloof and distant from his team just when they needed his leadership” and said “he doesn’t have the full support of the selectors who are keen on persisting with stars of the past against the captain’s wishes. Finally said the Weekly: “The best must be chosen on form, not reputation. Egos should be relegated to the sidelines. The country must take primacy over club”. It would seem that the full story of what happened to Team India in Australia has not yet been told. One can only wait to know why Dhoni turned out to be a disaster.?