What are the most common acts of corruption that we see in India? Some which come to my mind at the spur of the moment are bribes (direct and indirect, giving and taking); using one’s ‘connections’ to influence decisions in one’s favour; favouring one’s own people; acting against public and/or the nation’s interest for one’s own or a small group’s benefit; and so on and so forth. What is happening today? Money, politics, power, and crime are quadruplets and they always help each other. If you have control over any one of them, the others also will become your slaves.
Let us take the case of black money. It is very well known that thousands of Indians have stashed away billions of rupees in foreign banks, especially those in Switzerland. The government has itself openly admitted this fact more than once. Not only that, the government has also owned up, pathetically though, that it was unable to bring this black money back to India. Nor does the government have the guts to publicise the names of some of the account holders. The Supreme Court was also ceased on this matter some time back. Billions of rupees which actually belong to the Indian public are lying utterly useless in foreign banks when millions of Indians go hungry.
What should we do to bring this money back to India and utilise it for developmental activities in the country? Is there no way? Yes, there is. Here is a workable solution.
Establish a separate bank under an Act of Parliament. It will be called the Bank of Black Money. The bank will accept deposits of unaccounted money from Indian citizens. Indian citizens by domicile as well as foreign nationals will be eligible to avail of this facility. Special preference will be given to those who transfer their black money stashed abroad. Online bank-to-bank transfer facility will also be available for such transactions. This facility will, however, be available only between the Bank of Black Money and a foreign bank in foreign currency only. All transactions will be kept strictly confidential. The minimum deposit for opening a black money account will be one crore rupees.
There will be separate counters for politicians, bureaucrats, defense personnel, and other Indians. Special dress covering the whole body will be arranged for those who do not want to be recognised. A small rent, say 10,000 rupees, will be charged for the dress per visit. Common men will not be allowed within a kilometre of the Bank. While media people will be welcome to use the services of the Bank, they will not be allowed to carry cameras (spy or otherwise) or microphones (of any kind) inside. It is mandatory that prior appointment be obtained for visiting the bank, else the client, including VIPs, VVIPs, or VVVIPs, will be turned back from the gates. While all care will be taken not to make the customers wait even for a minute, in case of such an unforeseen and unfortunate event, special arrangements for secluded deluxe waiting rooms will be made available to them. Refreshments will be served for the waiting clients. All the employees of the Bank (including the Governor) are sworn to secrecy and no details of the clients or their transactions will be divulged to anybody.
This Bank will work only during nights from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. on all seven days of the week. Security for life and identity will be provided within the bank premises to those who visit the bank. They will be allowed to enter the premises in unnumbered or unregistered cars. (The transport department will make special arrangements to provide such cars for the purpose, on demand and on payment.) Clients will also be welcome to use fictitious number plates if they prefer to use their own cars. No action will be taken against them for use of such cars or number plates within the bank premises. While the Bank headquarters will be located in a central place in Delhi, there will be regional offices in all state capitals as well. All the services available at the headquarters will be duplicated in other centres also. Deposits will be received only in cash or precious material (gold, platinum, jewellery, etc.). No cheques or drafts will be accepted. Special arrangements will be made to count the notes by engaging extra counting machines and employees at no extra cost to the client.
No interest will be paid for the deposits. Moreover, one per cent of the deposit will be deducted every year as transaction fees. These amounts will be utilized for the upkeep of the Bank facilities. No questions will be asked about the source of the deposited amount. No client will be asked to file income tax returns for the amount deposited in the Bank of Black Money. Names and addresses of all the depositors will be kept absolutely confidential. Even if the government or even the Supreme Court asks, such details will not be divulged to any authority or agency. An appropriate constitution amendment will be passed by the Parliament detailing the complete details of the Bank of Black Money and its activities. No criminal charges will be instituted or enquiries conducted on transactions with the Bank of Black Money. Any amount, not less than one crore, can be withdrawn any time of the night and no questions will be asked. Withdrawal of an amount less than a crore rupee will not be tenable.
The amendment will, however, make sure that if black money is found other than in the Bank of Black Money, the culprit will be severely and summarily punished. The trial and conviction of such persons will be conducted in special wings of the Bank and its branches by the legal wing of the Bank. These will be treated as special cases and no appeals will be allowed in courts, including the Supreme Court.
While half of money deposited can be withdrawn any time, the other half can only be withdrawn after a minimum of 10 years. This latter portion will be utilised for developmental activities in India. Any amount can be deposited in multiples of a crore of rupees. The condition of the 10-year-moratorium will be applicable in all cases.
If a bank as depicted above is constituted as per a constitutional amendment act, one can reasonably be sure that most of the black money stashed abroad will be brought back to India and deposited in the Bank. Black money kept within India in underground bunkers, false ceilings, or cemented within walls or kept in relatives’ houses and so on and so forth will also be shifted to the Bank of Black Money. Poverty will be history in India once this happens.
If such a bank is established, we can be reasonably sure that deposits not only from Indian citizens, but also from foreign nationals, will become available for development activities in India. Any political party that includes the establishment of the Bank of Black Money in its election manifesto can reasonably be sure to win a majority of the seats.