Black’s grey matter
On 2 April, 2014 in Kurukshetra, Haryana in one of the 440 pre poll rallies that Narendra Modi spoke at, he made clear the BJP’s intentions of bringing back black money that was stashed abroad. But after being in office for just five months, newspapers across the country on 17 October reported that the Modi government has informed the Supreme Court that it cannot disclose the details of the account holders which would come by way of information from countries which are tax havens and with which India also shares the double taxation avoidance agreement (DTAA) signed in 1995. Newspapers further reported that the Modi government had toed the UPA line and the opposition was quick in jumping the gun with a senior leader calling it ‘lack of commitment’ while the party slammed the move as ‘sheer hypocrisy.’ However, there is more than to just start calling each other names. While it is understandable that the issue of black money has caused a huge deal of consternation for each pillar of the democracy, it is also true that this information is not being made available on someone’s personal accord. It instead is being shared between India and the other 80 nations, mostly tax havens which are a signatory to DTAA. Although a lot of people avoid any kind of taxation by siphoning their ill-gotten money to foreign shores, the intent of the Modi government if not being talked about in the correct sense should at least not be equated with what the UPA did. Arvind Kejriwal’s, Aam Aadmi Party which slammed BJP’s decision to not disclose information on black money should understand that this has not been a breach of trust by the Modi regime. It should rather be aware of the fact that such kind of information, firstly, cannot be shared overnight and secondly, even if it is shared they should at least give some time to the government to analyse and present it in front of the people. The Modi government too should not think that by denying this information, if only temporarily it can be let off the hook for fulfilling a pre-poll promise. It must make full use of this available interim period to work out all nitty-gritty’s of the information that will be shared. It should ensure that the information reaches us or else it might have to fight out a very aggressive opposition, which it accused of double standards just last year.