I am of course referring to the Joker in the political pack, Arvind Kejriwal. Being an ultra Leftist (or as someone called him recently, an Urban Maoist), he finds the smell of money worse than the smell of the Mahim creek. He makes Mamata Banerjee look look like a true-blue capitalist! Since the days of his exit from his IRS job, he seems to have lost his sense of proportion – are we really talking of the Ambani brothers having Rs 100 crores in some Swiss banks? Rs 100 crores???? C’mon Joker….wake up and smell the coffee. Today, India is a Rs 1 crore crore economy ($2 trillion) and the Ambani brothers are together worth more than at least $50 billion. That’s more than Rs 2.5 lac crores. Did you really say Rs 100 crores????
In fact, this news about Mukesh Ambani is old hat. That’s another thing about Joker. In his desperation to be the weekly entertainer that he has become, he is now clutching onto alleged, published, dissected, and chewed up information. He got Vadra’s information from the Registrar of Companies, no less. He got the “content” of his last show – the “full of gas” charges against RIL – from published reports. And now, he’s “revealed” the 700 names after the same has been in discussion for more than a year; and which the Union Government had already submitted in a confidential manner to the Supreme Court. The SC had in turn agreed that the list could not be made public. Whether these ten names are a part of the 700 or not, we will never know. Even if they were, what’s the big deal? Like I said, the Ambani brothers are together worth more than Rs 2.5 lac crores.
But coming to the list itself. The story’s been in the air for a long long time now. In fact, I wrote a post on this on Nov 1, 2011: “Mumbai businessman admits to Rs 800 crores in Swiss bank???”. At that time, the story did not specifically mention Mukesh Ambani by name. Apparently this top Mumbai industrialist had “accepted” that he had a family account in HSBC Geneva containing, not Rs 100 crores, but Rs 800 crores actually. The “acceptance” had caused much furore in people like Joker. But my point was that “For someone who is this seriously rich, what is the big deal about Rs 800 crores?”
What I also wrote was that “I am not sure if the industrialist has admitted this is “black” money (as in money stashed abroad illegally). It could very well be legit money kept internationally as per Indian rules.”. Well that’s exactly what at least one bunch of the accused, the Burmans have said: “The accounts were opened by the Burman family when they were NRIs… amount was officially remitted through official banking channels” (source: TOI). The two Ambani brothers have likewise clarified that their business empire spans several countries and their firms own money in several international banks, but all of it is as per Indian law. What makes their claim credible and Joker’s absolutely ridiculous is the small size of the supposed deposit. Like I said, Rs 100 crores is something like what Gadkari’s driver could possibly keep in an account in HSBC on behalf of his master. Mukesh Ambani would feel seriously insulted and cut to size being in the company of such lowly souls! Remember his house in Mumbai has apparently been built at a cost of Rs 4000 crores? Seriously, Joker, are you going to next claim that he should surrender his home and convert it into a slub rehab?
The BJP has latched on to the Joker brigade yet again. Now that they have been unable to stick the corruption tag cleanly on the Congress (they have smudged their fingers in the process). But here again, their hands are like to get dirty. Last night, the “Lokpalesque” anchor on Scam TV was demanding an explanation from the BJP as to what they had done when Hassan Ali (the Pune “businessman”/alleged smuggler) had increased his wealth from just some small figure to some claimed $8 billion during its tenure between 1998 and 2004. The BJP had not answer to give. Forget the BJP. The key questions are: Was black money generated and siphoned off abroad in the past? Of course it was. The marginal tax rate at the highest slab was some 98% or so. Why would anyone have kept his money “white” in those days?
But today, there is zero incentive today for any black money to lie abroad. Over the last twenty years at least, India has been on a fast track to growth. Just like the brain drain that characterized India prior to 1990 has reversed itself since then, the flow of black money has also reversed its direction since liberalization began. Post 1990, tax rates have been made reasonable – lesser than in most developed countries. And opportunities for growth have abounded in India. It can be said with near certainty that most of the money has returned back to India. And is still returning back every single year. The recent report by Kotak Institutional Equities is interesting in this context. It analysed the export performance of India over the last few years and found that the export numbers reported by the Government are not backed up by numbers reported by top exporters in the country (bottom-up calculations). While engineering goods are reported officially to have grown by some 79% in the last one year (growing by some $30 billion), the figures of the top engineering exporters show growth of a much lower order (some $1.5 billion or so). The report hints that this could be a case of illegal money coming back into India in the form of exports (but is actually capital stashed abroad returning back). The existence of black money abroad today is more with politicians; industrialiast have long got it all back.
The real truth anyways is that Joker (Kejriwal) has gone off his rocker. His “stings” don’t have any venom any longer. His fire is more like that of a cannon that has gone wild, firing randomly. Well, this cannon’s already starting to hit Joker himself. One day it will annihilate him….