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India reBuild - what is black money?

Mar 30, 2013 , ,


By Veeresh Malik 

"Words thrown around like minority, secularism, fundamental, Muslim, Hindutva, radical, professional, and corruption, for example, demand some respect.

But the term that gets my goat lately is "black money". What, in this day and age of advanced technology based taxation and banana republic type spending by our government, does "black money" mean?

The Building India 2-day brainstorming here in Delhi over the weekend threw up many questions, and some solutions, which shall be a separate report. From the organisers. But I have my notes, and over the next few columns, will want to present some of my observations.

The first has to do with the constant usage of the term "black money". What's black money?

It used to be money, earned and saved and then spent, without official sanction. Or of dubious origins. That sort of black money, the huge sums of money derived out of loot and scoot, often sent abroad, is now no longer black - re-routed back into India officially through an assortment of routes, often past esoteric locations called banking centres.

That's also known as FDI. Filthy Dirty Investments? That's not black money. That's liberalisation free trade global economy darling of the investment banking class. Currently sinking.

Modern day black money, however, is more likely to be what the spouse is able to save out of the monthly 
budget, what the poor man is able to keep aside after the rulers have bled him dry, what the middle class is able to set aside often in gold for emergencies, what the small farmer is able to earn by selling crops for cash, what the small trader and manufacturer is able to pull out thanks to barter.

That's probably what's keeping India afloat nowadays. Despite all efforts to destroy it.

Think about it - our taxes are in any case being, largely, misused. We are certainly not getting value for money when we try to audit where our white taxed money is going.

Black money - and think about the number of transactions all of us go through in our daily lives which increase the circulation of modern day black money - on the other hand, appears to provide value for money.

So, in effect, now there is "bad" black money which is what FDI and other such definitions are about. And then there is "good" black money which as on date appears to be the only way in which we can rebuild.

Should we, then, re-define black money, first, if we want to re-build India?

Question asked in context with the source of funding for India's freedom struggle, too, what colour was that money to the colonial rulers then? And so, is reBuilding India, anything less than a freedom struggle?"

Veeresh Malik is Gen.Sec and a co-founder of the recharged India Against Corruption movement.




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