I was going through the global headlines in the net, when I saw this news in The Telegraph, UK and I quote an excerpt below along with the link to the detailed news:
The US government has warned 10 Swiss banks, including Credit Suisse, that they must hand over confidential information exposing tax cheats by tomorrow or face legal proceedings.
URL : http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/banksandfinance/8740641/US-warns-10-Swiss-banks-to-hand-over-information-on-tax-cheats.html
This struck me quite hard and forced me to look at the intention of the governments of world’s two largest democracies, US and India, on the topic of corruption – which strikes any country with varied intensity levels. Before I express my views on this ‘intention’ and ‘body language’ of the two governments, let me share some facts on the ‘illegal capital flight’ that impacts India.
There is the body of “Global Financial Integrity” (http://www.gfip.org/index.php?option=com_frontpage&Itemid=80) which promotes “national and multilateral policies, safeguards, and agreements aimed at curtailing the cross-border flow of illegal money”. In one of the reports available in the site, the name India comes quite often (along with some other countries) which by itself is an embarrassment for me, but again is the reality – so let’s face the data points mentioned therein:
- The five Asian countries with the largest total illegal capital flight during 2000-2008 are: China ($2.18 trillion), Malaysia ($291 billion), Philippines ($109 billion), Indonesia ($104 billion), and India ($104 billion). On average these five countries account for 96.5 percent of total illicit flows from Asia and 44.9 percent of flows out of all developing countries.
- Other reports (as available in Wikipedia as well as other sources) indicate that the total amount of black money deposited in foreign banks by Indians is to the tune of a staggering $1.4 trillion.
Whatever the exact number, it is a fact that everyone understands that we are talking of huge amount of money, accumulated through years of corruption at all levels and potentially benefited by a few powerful citizens of India. And everybody will acknowledge that – even the Indian parliament – that this issue is a big issue which needs to be tackled at a war footing. However, what has the Government and our Parliament doing on this ?
While US is taking tough stands with the banks and trying to take on the problem head-on, the world’s largest democracy and it’s parliament and politicians have been taking their own time to act. This actually puts a big question on their basic intention – whether they will really like to do this is a common question all of us have ! Why ? Because you will never know how many skeletons might suddenly tumble from the cupboards of our many respected politicians or other famous personalities. Perhaps that is why the body language of the government has been quite ‘soft’ when compared to our counterparts in US. To take a tough stand and talk the walk does not take much effort, but do our politicians have the will to do so ? I sincerely doubt … instead, the parliament has been busy in sending breach of privilege notices to a group who had been most vocal against corruption and who spearheaded a huge mass movement to fight against corruption. In this case, the parliament has been quite proactive and fast to send the breach of privilege notices, but they suddenly lose their energy and proactiveness when it comes to getting the black money criminals caught !
Even the Supreme Court of India expressed its frustration in Jan’ 2011 when they found that the government was reluctant to publish the names of potential 26 Indians who hold accounts, allegedly for black money, in Germany’s Liechtenstein Bank. The court remarked ” It is a pure and simple theft of national money. We are talking about a mind-boggling crime, not niceties of various treaties… This is the plunder of the nation”
But still, our government, our politicians are not showing the will to try to stop black money generation; they are not even showing the intention and body-language that they mean business when it comes to corruption. They speak great things on this topic, but unfortunately their action (or at least the sense that they are trying to act) does not match with their great speeches. So, is it that they are fearing some of the powerful, famous people will be exposed if they pursue to take this issue head-on ?