Panama to paradise

The rich people and companies of various countries figure in these papers with their off-shore holdings.
Panama to paradise
Representational Pic

Paradise Papers

A fresh cache of papers is out from an international consortium of journalists and media companies based in several countries. Millions of pages are on display for anyone to see. What these papers basically contain is an International Supermarket of Bad Capital. The rich people and companies of various countries figure in these papers with their off-shore holdings. It is not necessary that all the names and countries which figure in these papers are illicit and illegal but the very idea of an off-shore holding, far away from the native countries, is itself a suspicious proposition, worth calling for inquest from the respective inquiring quarters. If the world is a global village, then these off-shore holders of capital are the lords of this village, the movers and shakers, who run, flout and then remake the rules of this village. For in these papers is Facebook, Twitter, the Queen of England, cabinet ministers of Trump and the desi patriots who put on all kinds of garbs to hide their rich tails in foreign countries.

This is not the first time such papers have been exposed and disseminated. Last year the Panama Papers were released. Before that the Snowden leaks shook many influential corners of the world. All kinds of people make their appearance in these leaks. From politicians, to media celebrities to star entertainers, the usual suspects of the covert global economy. A common connector of these influential men and women is that the law of their native countries is way below their high and powerful perches. The long arm of the law cannot touch them, try as much as it is possible for the native countrymen. The law is made by and for them, they are not made for the laws. The rule of law stops way short of their existence. Their catch remains a remote dream. And the less powerful in this elite list cite the example of the bigger boys; that they have not been accused in their respective countries (hence a fake list) so why are you after our desi skin? If the white skin is free of abuse, why is it that the brown and black skins are held up for inquisition?

India and Paradise Papers

The Paradise Papers reveal that India holds 19th rank in the list of 180 countries. The number of people from India with off-shore holdings is 714. That is 200 people more than the Panama Papers. And this paper has names of current ministers and people like Amitabh Bacchan. The latter has conveniently deflected attention by saying that in his old age, with few years remaining, he does not want to be in limelight, and requires peace of mind. Only the rich of the world can afford to speak this language, because they know well, things will be back to normal in a few days, and Vijay Mallyas of the world, no matter how demonised they are, continue to rule the roost. After a few days of coverage, not a whimper occurred after the leak of the Panama Papers; what can be expected now when the PM is competing with Rahul Gandhi about witty lines. In the backdrop of Gujrat jumla-competition, expect that the Paradise Papers will meet the same fate as the Panama Papers.

And the timing of the quiet burial of these papers cannot be worse. These papers come in the backdrop of a PM who has made himself into an icon of corruption-free India. A no-nonsense figure who will brook anything but a shady deal or a financial impropriety. Hence the contrast between Paradise Papers and the PM cannot any more sharper. The silence is perhaps explained by the fact that all shady deals have been stopped, and all black money has been recovered after the implementation of the demonetisation and GST. Just like all stone pelting has been stopped in Kashmir because money is not reaching the pockets of the stone-pelters. It seems all the big fish, and big money has been seized after these steps, and what is being told is in off-shore companies is small fry compared to what has been accomplished through rapid and sweeping changes within the country. Does not matter whether economists or the local labourer and shopkeeper agree with what the PM and his acolytes are saying. A revolution has been wrought in the country, these Paradise Papers is actually the doing of the schemers and the desperate opposition to catch the puritan power bearers in bad light. A person who came to power on the mountain of scams raised by the previous regime is producing a wall of silence against the disturbing echoes of off-shore assets. He wanted to bring all the black money back to the country, and make taxable what has been stashed away in tax –free havens outside the country. All that sounds now like a page from some fantastic tale of the past, as more evidence surfaces of the current regime being like a replica of the previous. Any surprise then that according to the Corruption Perception Index of the Transparency International of 2016, India ranks 79 out of 176 countries.

A leaf from the neighbour

When neighbours are like India and Pakistan it is a sin to copy or plead for a copy. Otherwise, it would be advisable to show the same degree of interest in these papers in India as shown in Pakistan. Very quietly a PM has been shown door in Pakistan, without even a whimper from any quarter. A graceful exit after the Supreme Court declared Nawaz Sharif unqualified according to the Sadiq and Ameen clauses of the constitution. It was an outstanding decision, and even more outstanding the manner in which the sitting Prime Minister obeyed the decision. Can something similar be emulated in India, not that no Pakistani has been mentioned in the latest list? Perhaps it can be. However, don't cite the example of Pakistan. Quote Hawaai or Honalulu but not Pakistan. A corruption-filled country can be tolerated but not citations from a 'terror country.' The rich and the corrupt are better off in Paradise papers than holding them against the yardsticks of a 'vile' country.

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