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BW Businessworld

Last Word: Time To Expose The Corrupt

The corruption battle cannot be won by any government alone. People have to come out and expose corrupt bureaucrats

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In India, black money refers to the funds earned on the black market. No taxes are paid on this unaccounted income. The total amount of black money deposited in foreign banks by Indians is unknown.

A popular way to convert black money to white is to show income in cash. Income from tuition, professional fees or commission can be shown in cash by many taxpayers. Another method is to show bogus loan entry. In such cases, people give black money to friends or relatives and take a bank cheque from them. Other methods include loan repayment through back dated cheques.

As per data released by the Income Tax Department, only 4.1 per cent of Indians filed income tax returns in 2015-16. Out of 125 crore people, only 5.16 crore actually file income tax returns in the country. Data shows that the actual taxpayer count is even less than 5.16 crore. Only 1.3 crore individuals in 2013-14 paid income tax. In comparison, 53 per cent of people pay taxes in the US.

An anti-black money scheme in 1975 collected Rs 241 crore and another in 1965 recovered Rs 29 crore. Let’s wish PM Narendra Modi success in the drive against black money.

What needs to be curbed is the black money with the vast majority of politicians, especially of the ruling party. I am reminded of a story that did the rounds when I was a director in the money-minting Ministry of Commerce in 1979. A minister struck a deal with a businessman that he would charge Rs 20 lakh to clear his file. He wrote “Approved” on the file to honour his part of the deal.

The businessman did not want to pay that much. And when he did not pay by the appointed day, the minister recalled the file and wrote “Not Approved” on it. This had the businessman rushing back to the minister with the agreed amount to get his file released. But the minister wanted more now — Rs 50 lakh, a princely sum in the 1970s. The businessman willy-nilly paid the amount.

Such ‘deals’ continued till the change of the government in 2014. The cases of 2G spectrum, Coalgate and the telecommunication scams have continued in different forms.

Of course, it will be wrong to accuse every politician of corruption and wrongdoing. For instance, some prime ministers with whom I worked, like Manmohan Singh and V.P. Singh, were icons of probity.

A commerce minister once complimented me that I was among three officials about whom even the worst enemies could not hurl accusations of corruption, the other two being Abid Hussain and V.C. Pandey, The two were entitled to government cars. I was the only one using a government-allotted Vespa scooter, purchased after 19 years of service.

When I asked V.P. Singh as to what he felt after meeting businessmen, he said they did not want him to be harsh on corruption. The corruption battle cannot be won by any government alone. People have to come out and expose corrupt bureaucrats. After all, the black money with bureaucrats is corruption money as their salaries are just sufficient to let them live a simple life.

I am proud of the fact that after joining the Indian Police Service in 1961 and starting on-the-job training in 1962, I would walk from my house to the police station located about 4 km away. This way, I could save Rs 10 every month to rent an old cycle. Nowadays, you find even clerks and other lower level staff travelling in luxury cars, without being questioned. It is rather time to get rid of people who demand bribes for doing their work.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


Joginder Singh

The author is former director CBI

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