Washington-based Global Financial Integrity (GFI) recently published a report titled ‘The Drivers and Dynamics of Illicit Financial Flows from India: 1948-2008’, according to which India has lost India lost a total of $213 billion in illicit financial flows. The Present Value of these flows in today’s dollars would be at least $462 billion. All these financial flows have occured due to tax evasion, corruption, bribery and kickbacks, and criminal activities.
What this figure and statistics shows is that these ills have been institutionalized in India. That people look at these figures and move on with life shows that Indian citizenry is fine with it.
Corruption, bribery and kickbacks are critical to functioning of the Indian corporate system. It would be very easy to blame the Indian companies, but they are held to ransom by the Indian political and bureaucratic system, which is a system of the past. Corporates are in the business of making money, and politicians and bureaucrats are in the business of making power. They both cannot stop. Corporates use the faceless and nameless shareholders as their proxy driving force to keep increasing their profits, and politicians and bureaucrats use the faceless and nameless public as their proxy force to keep increasing their power.
In this unending play of increased power and money, the common man has four paths: Either join the power, become the corporate himself, serve either of these two or suffer both!
The Infosys gang waited for one year to get one telephone connection to get any semblence of business and then used the 2k issues in the world to create a business in IT, when no one in politics was looking at that sector. Gulshan Kumar used a legal loophole to create a business empire. Dhirubhai openly paid people from a tax clerk to Pranab Mukherjee (the then Finance Minister to tailor-make 3 consecutive National tax budgets and rules for Reliance) to create a business that has given two of the world’s most wealthy billionaires today!
People like Mayawati, Laloo Yadav and others used every differentiation like caste and region to create political empires – but more importantly a large financial bank balance. Of course in Swiss banks. Far away from the pinging eyes of poor and middle class Indians.
But not everyone can use loopholes of IT glitch or law or personal character or caste or regional ego to make it big in money and power. The middle class serves these two.
But there are many who can neither join these two nor can they serve either.
They miss both the paths.
And they suffer. And how?
They have nothing to eat – not even basic food. So they make their bread – traditional Indian roti – with grass and have Ghaans ki Roti.
Medical facilities access is so bad that less than one in two kids live. The mortality rate is 60.3%!
And its not that pretension to improve the poors’ lot has not been attempted. In 1988, one economist in India once said in a seminar I attended said that Bihar has been given so much money to put hand-pumps that if they were used, every inch of Bihar would have been covered with a hand-pump.
All the money that is given goes into Swiss Banks or into an unending ditch of politicians’ and corporate honchos’ personal pockets. Meanwhile, the poor live on grass.