Monday, February 9, 2009

Forever Black!!

Swiss accounts of black money deposits are all round obscene

As per figures revealed by the Swiss Banking Association, India constitutes 50 per cent of their total black money deposited which calculates to nothing less than $1.4 trillion. Swiss bank and many other similar banks viz. Isle of Man bank or LTG Bank has for long served as safe havens for black-money holders. But in this rat-race of hiding black money, Swiss Banks win hands down. And why not – they are the only ones known for their strict secrecy about the details of the clients, making it virtually unworkable for any country to trace the source. No wonder Switzerland is known as the paradise on earth!!

The recent disclosure not only allows India to top the list but win this race with a huge gap. To get the right perspective one needs to understand that this jaw-dropping figure is nearly equal to India’s current GDP, literally seven times of India’s external debt, and is sufficient to provide Rs 1.5 lakh in cash to India’s 455 million Below Poverty Line (BPL) population. The bigger irony is that much of this money was stashed up during the socialist era or at least the practice started those very days, when India and its policy makers were all against capitalism and its sinister designs. They didn’t mind borrowing money from World Bank like institutions for developmental work but eventually made sure that much of that money gets channelised to Swiss accounts. And the trend flourished with time.

In fact, after 9/11 attacks, thanks to UN’s pressure on Swiss Banks to check terror funding, most of these banks that are rather infamous for client secrecy, have agreed to part with information about their client database. Seizing this opportunity countries like Nepal, Philippines and Germany have, with help of UN and Swiss government, got their illegal accounts (in Swiss banks) declared as their national properties. Walking on the same line Finland, Norway, Sweden, Canada, Italy and the UK are working with these banks to retrieve their money. However, the Indian case is rather converse. Transparency International confirmed that in spite of Germany's offer of providing information on illegal bank accounts, free of cost, India turned down the offer. To fortify further its incorrigibility, even after 140 countries signing the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), India did not feel it important to support the same. And why should it be? What else can one expect from a government who recently opposed the motion that asked Judges to declare their assets and also forbade assets of ministers and their relatives to be made public? What else can one expect from a government whose most of the Members of Parliament are having criminal backgrounds? In the name of transparency and justice, what India’s ‘powers that be’ are doing is saving their own skin. If common-men have no other option but to declare his assets, why can’t the same apply to everyone alike, and particularly those who are holding public offices?

One doesn’t need to apply anything beyond common sense to comprehend the reasons for government’s reluctance. Simply put, any decision to declare all assets in Swiss Banks as national assets would tantamount to doing away with most of party members and supporters. One wonders that for all the grim reading reports of UNDP Human Development Report and for all the humiliating and depressing portrayal of India as has been in films like Slum Dog Millionaire, things could have been far better and or can be far better in future if India can create the resolve to change its way of running the country… for once.


No comments:

Post a Comment