The time for making customary noises against Swiss bank accounts is over. An issue which gained prominence during the last Lok Sabha polls cannot be allowed to revert to its usual state of dormancy.
If you thought that Pakistan (a terrorist haven) is the only country which does not listen to the Indian demand to book terrorists like Hafeez Saeed, you may be in for a shock. We have a peace loving, “neutral” Switzerland (tax haven) which is equally obdurate in conceding to Indian demands. The Swiss simply refuse to disclose the names of Indian money launderers - who have stashed away $1500 billion (more than 75 Lakh Crore) of Indian wealth in tax havens in the European heartland - Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Luxemburg, and Channel Islands popu.
Both the nations mentioned above, however, dutifully follow the dictates issued by the US administration. Pakistan allows the US drones to attack everywhere on its territory (without ever asking for proof) and Switzerland puts aside all its banking laws to oblige the US with details of 4,450 secret accounts held in their “dirty” banks.
When India asks the Swiss to be good global citizens, all we get to hear is that maintaining the privacy of the Swiss bank account holders is paramount. Both Pakistani and Swiss authorities use the same weather-beaten argument of “forged” documents to delay the process of millions of Indians seeking justice. Are the Swiss naive? Don’t they know that a large chunk of money in their banks actually fuels the growth of poverty, terrorism, drug trade and all other ills plaguing the world?
All that they need to do is visit the web site of Transparency International (a western NGO)and see that India is one of the most corrupt countries in the world - beneficiaries of this corruption seek solace in the snow clad mountains and safe lockers offered by Switzerland. If these revelations do not satisfy the peace loving Swiss then they should rely on the World Bank (the mother of all banks) report which states that 42% of the Indian population lives on less than $1.25 a day. The amount of Indian money in Swiss banks is equivalent to 13 times the Indian foreign debt. It is 49 times the Indian defence budget. We cannot let the “Swiss knife” bleed India through these billion dollar “cuts”. So long as the Swiss non-cooperation to tackle financial terror continues, the Indian elite will continue to bow before the outside powers to prevent the skeletons from tumbling out of their cupboards. They will not hesitate to even sell India in order to protect their vested interests. Let the truth come out in the open. India would not be a loser. Let politicians, bureaucrats and industrialists who have hidden black money in the tax heavens lose face. Let the Indian polity suffer a jolt, it will certainly be worth the effort. After all, it is a question of national silver - the hard earned money of our toiling masses. And who would not like to see this money being used to alleviate poverty in India?
The Indian government must use all possible diplomatic methods to get the Indian money back. India’s sustained campaign against Pakistan sponsored terrorism made the world realize the dangers of global terrorism. Similarly, India must launch a global movement against Swiss double standards and let the world know how the archaic Swiss laws are making millions of Indians starve.
To begin with, India can bestow the Bharat Ratna on the former employees of the Lichtenstein bank and Swiss bank UBS, who blew the whistle and divulged the data on secret accounts to the Germans in 2008. The civil society in Switzerland must appreciate that they have to start earning good Karma by putting pressure on their government to stop illegal money transactions and civil society in India on their government to persevere till it succeeds.
Atul Bhardwaj Editor Salute is a retired Naval officer.
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