Posts Tagged 'advani'

Return to Ayodhya

URLs:
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Columnists/Tarun-Vijay-Return-to-Ayodhya/articleshow/4741597.cms
http://www.organiser.org/dynamic/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=299&page=5

Return to Ayodhya
Liberhan report has not changed the real issue of Ramjanmabhoomi
By Tarun Vijay
Ayodhya belongs to us all, like Sri Ram. Liberhan Commission report hasn’t made even an iota of a difference having made the nation wait for seventeen years. The only course left for the government now is to approach the Guinness Book of World Records to get an award for the longest procrastination to the commission and carry on with the national business. If the Congress, in its zeal to encash on its value for Muslim appeasement, wants to create a scene after it, it will be in for a shock. Ayodhya is a difficult issue for it—its hands are everywhere from opening the locks to laying the foundation stone and later the Rao era.

The fact is no power can now shift the temple built on Ramjanmabhoomi. Daily puja is going on uninterruptedly, notwithstanding a terrorist attack on it. The charge sheets and the case have lost their relevance. Those who took up the cause politically are a divided house, some converting to neo-‘secularism’ have lost all credibility in public eyes. Even if the temple was a long-distance call, they could have at least taken care of the Ayodhya city, its protectors and the carriers of an invaluable flow of traditions—the sadhus and mathadhipatis. They didn’t do anything.

Take care of Ayodhya
Ayodhya is a city of Sri Ram and India would be less than a nation if Sri Ram is taken away or left isolated like a post-Columbus American-Indian village.

Turn Ayodhya into an international city of grandeur like Thailand has done to its own Ayutthaya. It’s a city defining India, the heritage, the immortal literature woven around it, the dreams and aspirations of people sung keeping it in the centre, the river Sarayu and the dust turned holier because Sri Ram had played in it. It’s incredibly Indian and unbelievably divine. It will earn spiritual solace. Those who think in terms of euros and dollars, they too won’t be disappointed. That would also come with a political mileage for all times without ruffling any feathers or denting a vote bank.

After all, Rajiv Gandhi had started his election campaign from here promising Ramrajya. For a devout Sikh like Dr Manmohan Singh, the Guru Granth Saheb has the most adorable references to Sri Ram. And for others, Sri Ram is India, which has given them so much of respect and power without bothering about their religion or origin. Mohammad Iqbal, the famous poet, had said: Ram is Imam-e-Hind—the greatest icon of India. They all owe to a great extent to repay a debt to this land’s civilisational power, which has been soothing and compassionate to all coming from diverse backgrounds and having different ideas.

Don’t deny Ayodhya this time

Die unsung but be honest once to your conscience.
Ayodhya has been ditched immeasurably by her own small-time courtiers.

Ayodhya deserves to be developed as an international city of Sri Ram, the King of Ayodhya, who fought the devils and gave us reasons to celebrate Deepawali, now the global festival of lights. And his return to Ayodhya makes us enact Ramlilas and burn effigies of an unrepentant wicked. That’s why we have a Vijayadashami, the Dussehra. Ayodhya is unquestioningly intertwined into the lives of billions of Hindus who would prefer a Ram Ram or Jai Siyaram as a salutation to a namaste. The joy and sorrows of Sita—Janaki—the van-gaman, exile to the forest, the Luv and Kush episode, and the ultimate jal-samadhi, self-immersion by Sri Ram in the Sarayu—this all is Ayodhya. Later, Luv established Lahore and even Pakistan government feels proud of this fact in its travel literature and Kush established Bedi clan, to which belonged Guru Govind Singh Saheb as per his bani, the holy words.

That’s us put together. That’s Ayodhya’s legacy
Make Ayodhya a union territory. A city extraordinaire must be maintained under extraordinary dispensation—the central government. Let NRIs design and fund it. Reward the pujaris and sadhus who have been keeping the flame of dharma and city’s sanctity alive, living in penury, ignored and isolated. They deserve warmth of belongingness and we owe it to them. The bungalow-owners of metros and those who raise decibels in the Parliament for nothing never help in protecting the heritage. Those who do it must be recognised. Ayodhya is more than Angkor wat because from Korean princes to the builders of Angkor wat, they all took inspiration from this city on the banks of the Sarayu. It’s not just a parliamentary or assembly seat.

An international Sri Ram university, a Janaki international airport, a Shabari university for women, a Hanuman academy for warfare, a Valmiki think tank to study invasions on India and the resultant socio-political changes, a Luv-Kush panoramic garden of Indian culture and history on the Sarayu’s banks, with a Pakistani contribution too— the city must resonate with elements that define and sustain Bharat that is India.

Think about it. Liberhan reminds you of smallness. Ayodhya is universal.

Black money haunts Congress

Black money haunts Congress

S Gurumurthy

The manner in which a bold initiative to unearth Indian black money lying abroad was aborted by the then Congress Government in the 1980s was suggestive. Then, as now, the party leadership acted as if it had skeletons to hide

Switzerland was accused of giving shelter to black money and there has been a lot of inflow of such wealth from India and other countries of the world.” This is not Mr LK Advani speaking in an election rally but the Swiss Ambassador to India briefing the media in New Delhi last year. The occasion was the 60th anniversary of Indo-Swiss Friendship Treaty. Admitting that Indian black money gets hoarded in his country, he added that the new law in Switzerland would not stop it but control it “up to a certain limit”.

The Swiss diplomat authentically answered the first of the FAQs, that is, whether lots of Indian monies are really stashed away in Swiss banks. Swiss banks are not the only secret destination. There are 37 such shelters in the world, says US Inland Revenue. The secret owners of the monies operate in secrecy — venal businessmen, corrupt politicians and public servants, drug lords, and criminal gangs like the D-company. These slush monies are the financial RDX for terror, besides weapons of mass destruction of national and global finance. That there is secret money is no more a secret. Only the amounts and the owners of that money are secret.

But how large could be such stolen Indian wealth hoarded in Switzerland so far? Specific estimates of this later. Before that, here is a side show, but a relevant one.

An apology would be in order. For, I figure in this show. In late 1980s, at the behest of an English national daily, while investigating a corporate scam, I had attempted to trail the Indian currencies stashed abroad. In the course of the probe, I had contacted Fairfax, a US investigative firm. Impressed by its skills, I persuaded the Government of India to engage the firm for the task. Fairfax agreed to work for a slice of the black wealth uncovered by them as fee. According to the Swiss sources then, the Indian money stashed in Swiss banks was estimated around some $300 billion. That was enough to excite the Fairfax to go for the kill.

But, soon my efforts landed me in jail on March 13, 1987, when the Central Bureau of Investigation arrested me on charges that later turned out to be bogus, but were enough to stop the probe. The whole nation knew then that real reason why rulers struck was their fear that the probe had targeted the Bofors pay-off and secrets monies of the ruling family abroad. Rajiv Gandhi, the then Prime Minister, moved honest and bold civil servants like Vinod Pandey and Bhure Lal out of the probe and eventually sacked the then Finance Minister VP Singh, who had authorised the efforts.

The chain of events that followed led to corruption emerging as the major issue in the 1989 poll in which Rajiv Gandhi, who had wiped out the Opposition in 1984 election, was defeated, and VP Singh became the Prime Minister. But there is a big lesson in these developments that often goes unnoticed. And that is the way the bold national interest initiative to unearth the Indian black wealth abroad was aborted clearly confirmed that the ruling party was mortally afraid of any probe into secret monies abroad. This fear haunts the Congress even today. That is why the 1987 episode is relevant now.

Now cut to the main story.

Illicit monies are the dirty outcome of modern capitalism. But, after the 9/11 terror attack, the United States realised that not just the buccaneers in business but terrorists like Osama bin Laden could hide their funds in secret havens and use them to bomb the world. Campaigns against dirty money as high security risk commenced with the path-breaking research done by Raymond W Baker, a Harvard MBA and a Brooking scholar. His research was published in a book titled Capitalism’s Achilles Heel: Dirty Money and How to Renew the Free-Market System in 2005.

This set off intense debate in the US as the exposure linked dirty business and black money with terror and national security. Raymond Baker had estimated, using authentic data, tools and reasons, the tainted wealth stashed in banks at $11.5 trillion to which, he found, one more trillion was getting added annually. He added that in the process the West was getting an annual bounty of $500 billion from the developing countries, including India.

Global Financial Integrity, a global watchdog headed by Baker to curtail illicit money flows, has recently brought out detailed estimates of the black money hoarded in secret havens from different countries. GFI research shows that during the period from 2002 to 2006, annually $27.3 billion was stashed away from India, making a total of $137.5 billion for the five-year period (the Executive Report of GFI in http://www.gfip.org on ‘Illicit Financial Flows from Developing Countries 2002-2006’ Economists’ version). That is, in just five years, Indian wealth amounting to Rs 6.88 lakh crore was smuggled out of India. This gives clue as to how much Indian money would have slipped out of India in the last 62 years, particularly during the Nehruvian socialist regime when the income tax (97.5 per cent) and wealth tax (almost equal to the income earned on investments) together constituted double the income earned!

It is undisputed that the Nehruvian socialist model had forced huge sums of Indian money out of India. So the amount of Indian black money stashed away in the last 60 years — estimated at from $500 billion (Rs 25 lakh crore) to $1400 billion (Rs 70 lakh crore) — do not seem to be wide off the mark. Economists call it flight of capital. This is the Indian people’s money stolen away from them.

See the consequence even if part of it is brought back. A portion of it would make India free from all external debts which is now over $220 billion; India will transform into an economic superpower; some 10 or 15 Indian Rupee could buy a US dollar which today 50 Indian Rupees cannot. A litre of petrol on our roadside would cost some Rs 15 or even less, against today’s 40 plus; the cost of imports in rupee terms would be down to a third or half; India’s entire infrastructure needs can be funded; India will become so energy efficient and cost-competitive that exporters may need no sops at all; India will lend to — presently it borrows from — the world. India’s housing can be funded at affordable cost; rural poverty can be wiped out… The list is endless.

http://www.dailypioneer.com/170858/Black-money-haunts-Congress.html

Getting India’s money back from Tax Havens Congress caught in its own web

Getting India’s money back from Tax Havens Congress caught in its own web

– Dr. Arun Shourie

Stupefied by the strong endorsement all across the country of the demand that the money looted from India must be brought back, the Congress has tied itself in knots. Its spokesmen – led, as will be clear from the arguments they have advanced, by four lawyers – have given five reactions:

Why is Mr. Advani taking up this matter now, on the eve of elections?

The GE-20 meeting was not the proper forum for taking up the issue.

There is doubt about the figures.

Why did the BJP government to replace FERA by FEMA, and thereby make the offences compoundable?

Is Mr. Advani not unwittingly alerting those with illegal money abroad to spirit it away from Switzerland to other tax havens?

What was the NDA doing when it was in office? In any case there is doubt about the figures.

The reactions betray panic as even the littlest reflection would have shown the “arguments” to be indefensible. Let us consider them one by one.

Why is Mr. Advani taking up this matter now, on the eve of elections?

The fact, of course, is that Mr. Advani took up the matter with the Prime Minister in April last year. He wrote to Dr. Manmohan Singh soon after it became known that the Government of Germany had succeeded in obtaining names of persons who had stashed money in the LGT Bank in Lichtenstein. The reply that P. Chidambram, the then Finance Minister, sent him showed that the Government intended to do little except keep going through the pretence of taking some steps. Soon thereafter, we were alarmed to learn that a senior official of the Finance Ministry had written to the then Indian Ambassador in Germany not to press the Germans for release of the names of Indians in the list that they had obtained from Lichtenstein — lest the Germans take offence and conclude that they were being pressurized and their bona fides were being questioned! [This information was later confirmed by report filed by Amitabh Ranjan in The Indian Express of 31 March 2009.] Subsequently, we took up the matter in Parliament also. And yet the evasion, “Why now?”

The GE-20 meeting was not the proper forum for taking up the issue.

This customarily self-serving rationalization was put out by one of the Congress party’s lawyers and spokesmen. At this very time the party was trying to insinuate that, actually speaking, the Prime Minister had taken up the matter at the G-20 Summit. As its spokesmen could not point to any statement he made either at the Summit itself or even at the press meet the PM had held after the Summit, they drew solace from a passing reference to the matter in the speech he had made at the dinner hosted by Gordon Brown.

In any case, if the G-20 Summit was not the right forum for taking up this matter, how is it that in the communiqué that the G-20 leaders issued on 2 April 2009, in paragraph 15, entitled, “Strengthening the Financial System,” they pledged themselves “to take action against non-cooperative jurisdictions, including tax havens. We stand ready to deploy sanctions to protect our public finances and financial systems. The era of banking secrecy is over. We note that the OECD has today published a list of countries assessed by the Global Forum against the international standard for exchange of tax information”?

Were they also, in the view of the Congress party, acting inappropriately when they made such a strong commitment in their communiqué at the Summit?

And recall that no sooner had they issued the threat of imposing sanctions that countries which had been black-listed by the OECD that very day began declaring that they would indeed sign up on the agreement to exchange tax information, and that includes evasion.

In any case, there is doubt about the figures.

As is its custom, the Congress is trying to cover up the basic question of the money which has been looted from India and is lying in tax havens, by raising questions about the precision of figures and estimates. This is exactly the kind of legalisms with which persons like Mr P. Chidambaram and other legitimizers were fielded to cover up the loot from Bofors. In its paper, “Overview of the OECD’s Work on International Tax Evasion,” the OECD itself lists studies that state that there are $1.7 trillion to $11.5 trillion which are today parked in tax havens. This paper of the OECD has been widely reported in the Indian press. The basic point is: even if the amounts are just a few scores of billion dollars and not one and a half trillion dollars, why should they not be brought back to India? And the fact is that other countries, much smaller countries with none of the pretensions of being a “super power, have succeeded in getting their money back. Even as of October last year, when the OECD released its paper, little Ireland had succeeded in recovering almost a billion Euros through an investigation into offshore banks.

Given that even small countries like Ireland have got money back, is it not a shame, is it not an outrage that, as of yesterday, 18 April, 2009, The Times of India, should be quoting the Swiss Ambassador to India as stating on record that till now, the Swiss Government has received no request – not even a request – from the Indian Government?

The real question is different: can the money looted from India be brought back to the country when the attitude of the government continues to be as determinedly inactive as that of the present Government?

Can the Government which allowed Ottavio Quattrochi to take his money out of banks – where it was lying frozen on court orders – be trusted to bring back the loot that is lying in Swiss banks and other tax havens? Can the Government which prostituted the CBI so that he may get away from Argentina be trusted to bring the loot back?

Why did the BJP government to replace FERA by FEMA, and thereby make the offences compoundable?

Again, the Congress is relying on the short memory of its audience. The fact of the matter is that no one had been pressing more for the replacement of the harsh provisions of FERA than the Congress itself. The changes were being contemplated since 1996. The demand for doing away with the harsh provisions came to a crescendo during the Government of Mr. VP Singh when FERA came to be used for interrogating captains of industry – like Mr. S.L. Kirloskar – under harsh circumstances. As news reports of that period themselves indicate, FEMA which was approved by the Government in July 1998, was on the lines of a draft which had been prepared under the leadership of the preceding finance minister, Mr P. Chidambaram. Even today, you can go to the website of Rediff-on-the-net, go to their dispatch of 25 July, 1998, on “FEMA, Money Bills: Cabinet nods, Parliament’s turn next,” and you will read, “The Bills were broadly on the lines of a draft prepared under the leadership of then Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambram.”

In any event, there is no mystery about the reasons on account of which the law was changed. They are well set out in the following passage:

“Until recently, we had a law known as the Foreign Exchange (Regulation) Act. Its object was to conserve and augment the forex reserves of the country. The way to hell, it is said, is paved with good intentions. Like many well-intentioned laws, FERA paved the way to disaster. FERA created a flourishing black market in foreign exchange. It brought into the economic lexicon the word ‘Hawala’. Illegal forex transactions became the fuel for the growth of crime syndicates with trans-border connections.

“FERA also became a tool of oppression. Successive governments persisted with FERA and added COFFEPOSA and SAFEMA. International markets do not respect draconian laws that run counter to common sense. India’s reserves, far from being augmented, dwindled at an alarming rate… Mercifully, FERA was buried finally on May 31, 2000.”

When and where was this written? In an article that appeared The Indian Express on 25 August 2002. Who wrote the article? None other than P. Chidambaram!

Is Mr Advani not unwittingly alerting those with illegal money abroad to spirit it away from Switzerland to other tax havens?

Another clever little statement by yet another clever lawyer of the Congress party! Would the looters who have stashed away money in tax havens from India still need to be alerted after Germany got the names from Lichtenstein as long ago as last year? Would they still need to be alerted after Germany offered to furnish the names to governments that asked for the names? Would they still need to be alerted after the United States got the names from the leading bank of Switzerland, UBS in February this year, and got it to submit to paying a fine of $ 800 million to boot? Would they still need to be alerted after the G-20 leaders, including Dr. Man Mohan Singh as the Congress would like to remind us, declared their determination to get the tax havens to disgorge the names? But such is the confusion in the Congress party and such the brilliance of its lawyers that all it can do is to seek to deflect the nation-wide demand for getting the loot back from tax havens by such witticisms!

What was the NDA doing when it was in office? In any case there is doubt about the figures.

Leaders of the Congress party would be better advised to ask, “During that very period, what was the Congress party doing, what were its lawyers and leaders doing, to thwart the efforts of the NDA Government to uncover the names of persons who had looted the country even on defence deals like Bofors?” But even if the NDA had done nothing – whether on terrorism or money abroad – is that any reason for not hurrying to avail of the unique opportunity that has arisen now?

Even while replacing FERA by FEMA, the NDA Government made sure that it would have an additional two years to file prosecutions under FERA. And it filed as many as 2000 cases against those who were under investigation before FERA lapsed. The reason for doing so, a reason that is well known to lawyers in the Congress party, was that, when a prosecution is filed it is adjudicated according to the law which prevailed at the time at which the case was filed. These are the very cases which the Congress later on did not pursue.

The fact of the matter is that it is now that the unique opportunity has arisen to get the loot back: Germany has succeeded in getting the names; the US has succeeded in getting the names; the G-20 leaders have pledged themselves to ensure the end of bank secrecy; countries that had hitherto refused to share the requisite information are pledging to do so – within a week of their names being published by OECD in the list of countries that were dragging their feet on the question, Costa Rica, Malaysia, Philippines and Uruguay pledged to enter into the relevant agreements.

Conclusion

There is a real fight ahead: a fight in the national interest, a fight that will have to be waged doggedly to get the names from the tax havens and to get the amounts back to India – as tax havens will not easily part with their route to lucre. And not all countries will be eager to wage the fight – so many rulers in Africa, in Latin America, to say nothing of the prince lings of China – will be loath to see the fight succeed. So, determination and leadership will be required of India, and persistence, and forging alliances with civil society in Europe and elsewhere.

Nor are bilateral agreements any substitute to multilateral pressure. With close to seventy tax havens, decades will pass before agreements are concluded with each haven, even as money is spirited from the haven that has signed up to the one that is holding out.

As has been correctly emphasized, a consensus is already emerging across the country. Leaders outside the political realm, parties such as the CPI(M), SP, BSP, JD(U), AIADMK have all demanded that the Government act energetically to get the names from the tax havens and to get back the amounts. Instead of quibbling, the Congress would be well-advised to endorse the consensus, and act on it. Not joining secular forces on even so secular an issue?!

Unquestioned loot – by S Gurumurthy

Unquestioned loot
S Gurumurthy

First Published : 13 Apr 2009 03:04:00 AM IST
Last Updated :
All that the BJP leader L K Advani had perhaps intended to do — when he took up the issue of Indian black wealth stashed away in Swiss and other secret shelters — was to put the Congress party on the back foot at the time of the elections. But he would never have imagined that the Congress would go so far back as to hit its own wicket.
This is how the play opened. L K Advani told the media: the Swiss ambassador to India has himself admitted that lots of Indian black money gets secretly lodged in Swiss banks; estimates of Indian black money abroad vary from $500 billion to $1400 billion; forced by the economic crisis, the West, that is Germany, France, US and UK, which had winked at the illicit monies in the past, have begun a crusade against Swiss banks and other secret tax shelters to flush out the money; India must join the Western effort to bring back the Indian black wealth from abroad. With elections round the corner, Advani did turn the issue into a political one. He charged that the Congress was not keen to get back the Indian monies lodged abroad. He cited two instances to support the charge. First, despite his writing to the Dr Manmohan Singh in April last year to ask for the names of Indians reportedly mentioned in the secret record of LGT bank — which the German authorities had offered to open free of cost to give to all who asked for it — the government would not press for the Indian names from Germany. Second, he said that in the G20 preparatory meet in Berlin where Germany and France had called for blacklisting of Swiss and other tax havens, the Indian representatives at that meeting never opened their mouth on the issue.

Advani rounded off asking the prime minister to take up the issue of Indian monies stashed away in secret Swiss banks and in other tax havens at the G20 meet at London slated for April 2, 2009. Yet, at the London meet, Dr Manmohan Singh would not utter a word. Had he just said that India would join the G20 efforts, the Advani googly would have gone for a six. But, the Congress party went on the back-foot and hit its own wicket instead. But, why did the Congress hit its own wicket instead of a six? Read on.

“Why this now, at the time of the elections?” asked the Congress spokesman Manish Tiwari, not knowing that Advani had written to the prime minister long before, in April 2008 itself, on the LGT bank issue. Then entered Abhishek Singhvi, the more articulate spokesman of the party. He asked what did Advani do when NDA was in power. Obviously he has not even read Advani’s statement. Advani has only questioned why the Manmohan government is not acting now [in March 2008] in tandem with the West which has begun crusading against secret banking. Only now the West has turned against secret bank funds. So the question why did the BJP, or even the Congress, not act in the past does not arise. More. Singhvi said that “G20 is not the forum for the issue” of Indian black wealth in Swiss banks. Obviously, running between courtrooms and newsrooms, he had no time to follow the media abroad which were full of news about how the main agenda of G20 was about secret banking. He was all at sea. With the first two failing, entered Jairam Ramesh, the campaign manager of the party.

Like Sehwag deploying offence for defence, he wrote a harsh letter to L K Advani saying, “to tell bluntly — Mr Advani, you are lying”. Advani, he charged, was lying on his maths about the estimate of the Indian black wealth at between $500 billion and $1400 billion. These numbers, he said, were drawn from questionable Internet sources! All his shouts meant only this: “Mr Advani, the loot from India is not as big as you make it out to be”. But, when the Swiss Ambassador himself has admitted that ‘lot’ of Indian black wealth was flowing into Swiss banks, where is the need to quarrel over how big the loot from India is — as big as Advani says or as small as Jairam Ramesh thinks? The question is where does the Congress stand on the issue of bringing the hoarded Indian wealth from abroad. The three who shout at Advani are deafeningly silent on that.

The Congress campaign manager cites a well-known economist Bibek Debroy who has questioned Advani’s estimate of Indian black wealth at a minimum of $500 billion. Debroy, usually an agile and meticulous analyst, has erred in this case. He has looked at the wrong version of the right report and reached incorrect conclusions. Both Advani and Debroy have relied on the Global Financial Integrity (GFI) study that has estimated the global black wealth stashed away in tax havens including India’s. There are two versions of the GFI study — one a layman’s version and the other, the economists’ version. Debroy, an economist, seems to have relied on the layman’s version. And L K Advani, not an economist, has relied on the economists’ version. The economists’ version of the GFI study (at pages 29 and 30 supported by charts, specifically chart 18) estimates, in specific numbers the amount of black wealth stashed away from India between 2002-06 at $137.5 billion. If, in five years, the amount could be $137.5 billion (Rs 6.88 lakh crore), the Advani estimate of $500 billion (Rs 25 lakh crore) to $1400 billion (Rs 70 lakh crore) for six decades since 1947 is not wide off the mark. Bibek Debroy who seems to have looked at only the layman’s version of the GFI study, appears to have missed the specific estimate of the annual loot from India at $27.3 billion which only the economists’ version of the GFI report mentions. This is the cause of the dispute on maths. But even otherwise all maths of monies held in secrecy can only be estimates. There can be nothing final about it.

That lots of Indian black wealth is lodged in secret Swiss banks and elsewhere is undisputed. The dispute is no more about the loot from India. But only about how big that loot is. The Congress masks the undisputed fact of the loot by questioning the maths of it. Obviously the party seems frightened about the Indian black wealth abroad becoming an issue once again after 1987 when the Bofors bribe scam broke out. The Congress spokesmen do not seem to be defending their party. They are actually exposing their leader whose connections with her Italian friend Quattrocchi who got bribes from Bofors out of the defence budget of India are well known. They seem to confirm the cynical ones who ask: “Do we expect those who assisted Quattrocchi to run away with the money caught stolen from India to bring back the Indian black wealth from Swiss banks?”

Understand why the Congress chose to hit its own wicket instead of hitting the Advani googly for a six?.

http://www.expressbuzz.com/edition/print.aspx?artid=rYnAPNoGwgw=

‘Indian money in Swiss & other banks is over Rs 70 lakh crore’

‘Indian money in Swiss & other banks is over Rs 70 lakh crore’
Vivek Kaul
Wednesday, April 1, 2009 2:41 IST
Mumbai: It is no secret that black money has been flowing out of the country into Swiss banks and other tax havens worldwide for years now. While there is no official estimate to quote yet, LK Advani, the prime ministerial candidate of BJP-led National Democratic Alliance, recently said it might be in the range of Rs 25,000 crore to Rs 75,000 crore. R Vaidyanathan, professor of finance at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore and a regular columnist for DNA, feels the real figure is many times that number.
At around $1.4 trillion (over Rs 70 lakh crore), it is way over India’s gross domestic product of Rs 43 lakh crore for 2007-08, Vaidyanathan, who was on Tuesday named the head of a taskforce by Advani for preparing a strategic document to get back the national wealth, told DNA. Excerpts:

Which are the various tax havens where the ill-gotten wealth of Indian businessmen and politicians is stored?
There are presumably more than 70 tax havens in the world. Indian wealth could be more in Switzerland and various British/ US islands.

How much Indian money do you think would be locked away in Swiss banks? What is the basis for the estimate you make?
I make this estimate on the basis of a report titled “Illicit Financial Flows from Developing Countries: 2002–2006, Global Financial Integrity,” written by Dev Kar and Devon-Cartwright Smith. It was a project sponsored by the Ford Foundation and the final report was released sometime back in December 2008.
Financial flows in the context of this report include proceeds from both illicit activities such as corruption (bribery and embezzlement of national wealth), criminal activity, and the proceeds of licit business that become illicit when transported across borders in contravention of applicable laws and regulatory frameworks (most commonly in order to evade payment of taxes).
In 2006, the most recent year of the Global Financial Integrity (GFI) study, developing countries lost an estimated $858.6 billion to $1.06 trillion in illicit financial outflows. Even at the lower end of the range of estimates, the volume of illicit financial flows coming out of developing countries increased at a compound rate of 18.2% over the five-year period analysed for the study.

How much of this was siphoned out of India?
On an average, for the five-year period of this study, Asia accounts for approximately 50% of overall illicit financial flows from all developing countries. This report shows that the average amount moved from India annually during 2002-06 is $27.3 billion. This means, during the five-year period, the amount taken away is $27.3 billion x 5 = $136.5 billion.
It is not that all these amounts went to Swiss banks; it has gone to different tax and secret shelters. The share of Swiss banks in this dirty money is a third of the global aggregate; some $45 billion out of the 136.5 billion stashed away from India would have been hoarded in these years in Swiss banks. This appears in page 30 of the report mentioned above.
The important point is that this is only for five years. More amounts were stashed away during the Nehruvian socialist regime. So the loot for 55 years would be several times the amount. In fact, in those days, the Indian rupee commanded a better value per US dollar, so fewer rupees could get a dollar. Hence the estimation that Indian money stashed away may be of the order of $1.4 trillion.

How did the money get out?
There are several methods/ reasons — under-invoicing/ over-invoicing of exports and imports and getting the balance stored abroad; kickbacks from major defence/ civilian contracts; in the olden days, smuggling of gold and illegal money; transactions done abroad and not reported here; hawala funds; funds earned by artists/ entertainment industry/ sports people and stashed away abroad, etc. When you want to indulge in adharma, hundred ways are open.

Do you feel international terrorist organisations use the tax-haven route to send across money to finance their nefarious activities?
Even our national security advisor, M K Narayanan, has spoken about it in Berlin.
You recently wrote, “Under pressure from federal authorities, Swiss bank UBS is closing the hidden offshore accounts of its well-heeled American clients, potentially allowing their secrets to spill into the open.”

Do you feel the government of India should also demand all the Indian black money in Swiss banks back?
Of course, India should and must act. We are not a banana republic.

How can the government go about doing this?
By putting it on the global agenda. Put it in G20. Put it in IMF. Put it in Egmont Group. Also take a lead among all developing countries. Support US/ German/ French efforts.

Do you feel Swiss authorities and other tax havens will cooperate with us on this issue if we take the initiative?
It is not our pressure but that of the US, which will make them cooperate. When a family is in deep financial crisis, it tries to look at the small amount saved under the sugar jar by grandma. In the same way, developed economies are desperate for every dollar.
Even if we do not act due to their efforts, the list of crooks may be out. Then, we will be in a dangerous social situation since the who’s who of India will be there. Instead, we should get the list and get the funds and decide on the steps to sterilise it and the punishment to be given out, etc. Otherwise the world will laugh at us. We will be worse than a Nigeria (Sani Abacha) or Phillipines (Markose).

Do you feel the government will do this, given that a lot of the black money belongs to politicians?
Public pressure will make them do it. Plus, the evolving global situation against tax havens also might act in our favour. The money belongs to the poor farmers and unorganised workers.

Do you see businessmen applying pressure on the government to thwart any attempt to get back this money?
The world situation is such that Indian businessmen will want to bring it back now, given the attractive returns in India. The entire proprietary notes route to invest in the stock market was conceived for that.

You wrote in one of your columns that the German foreign intelligence agency BND got the names of 1,400 clients of the Liechtenstein- based LTG Bank who were suspected tax evaders. Of the 1,400, only 600 were supposed to be Germans. Do you think the rest would include Indians? Has the Indian government approached the
German government for the list?
Indian names will be there. Our tax evaders and crooks are like Maha Vishnu, present in all continents and all tax havens, in the sea, on the earth, in the air. But our government has been lukewarm in its response to this issue. It should have immediately dispatched senior officials and the finance minister to get the names.

Advani on Swiss bank Money from India

‘UPA has adopted a policy of deafening silence and inaction’

March 29, 2009 | 16:08 IST
At a press conference in New Delhi on Sunday, Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader and the National Democratic Alliance’s prime ministerial candidate L K Advani questioned the United Progressive Alliance’s ‘deafening silence about Indian wealth’, estimated at between Rs. 25 lakh and Rs 70 lakh crore, hoarded in secret Swiss bank accounts.
Advani claimed that the money was a mix of ‘political bribes, crime money and venal business’.
This is the full text of his speech:
Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh is going to attend the G-20 summit in London on April 2. Ahead of this meeting, I wish to bring a highly important matter to the attention of the people of India.
It is well known that Swiss banks provide secrecy and safety for tax evaders, corrupt individuals and criminals of various nationalities to hoard their monies. Several offshore tax havens are also used for murky financial dealings. The extent of illicit money lodged in Swiss banks is mind-boggling. Estimates vary.
According to Wikipedia, they totaled $ 2.6 trillions (Rs. 130 lakh crores in today’s exchange rate) in 2001. In 2007, they were believed to be about $5.7 trillions (Rs. 285 lakh crore), a staggering 80% increase in six years.
It is equally well known that many wealthy Indians have deposited their illicit monies in secret Swiss bank accounts and tax havens elsewhere around the world. As per credible estimates, these amounts range between $500 billion (Rs. 25,00,000 crore) and $1400 billion (Rs. 70,00,000 crore).
So long as the West-dominated world economy was doing well for the western countries, their governments winked at the secretive functioning of Swiss banks and tax havens. However, the current global economic crisis, which put several of their important financial institutions on the verge of collapse, has forced them to take many unconventional steps to revive their ailing economies.
The leaders of France, Germany, UK and other countries have joined forces with the US President Barack Obama in the battle against tax havens. They are mounting pressure on Switzerland and offshore tax havens to put an end to banking secrecy to bring back their tax-evading citizens’ hidden wealth.
This is likely to be an important point on the agenda of the G-20 Summit in London. In February, UBS, the largest Swiss bank, was forced by the US tax authorities to reveal the names of some 300 presumed tax evaders. The US threatened to sue the UBS. Fearing that this could lead to the demise of the bank, the Swiss authorities invoked an emergency clause in their banking law and gave the data to the US. Soon thereafter the Obama administration announced a law to uncover illicit American money in all secretive tax havens, including the Switzerland.

UPA government’s evasive reply to my earlier demand
It is baffling that, in the face of this growing governmental activism in the West, the UPA Government has adopted a policy of deafening silence and inaction. It has taken no steps whatsoever to get information about illicit money kept abroad by Indian nationals and to strive to get it back.
Last year, I had written a letter to Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh about the need to get the names of Indians, presumed to have secret accounts in LGT Bank in Liechtenstein in Germany. I was disappointed to see that the reply I received from the then Union Finance Minister was evasive. (Copies of both letters attached.)
Commenting on India’s ambivalence, Transparency International (TI) said that India has maintained “a stoic silence over the issue and has not approached the German government for this data” (The Economic Times, 25.5.2008). Some ministers in the UPA Government are reported to have made several trips to Switzerland as the personal leg of their official tours abroad.
Considering the size of the Indian wealth hoarded abroad, the government is duty-bound to take proactive steps to bring it back. The amount involved constitutes 3-10 times India’s overseas debt, and 50-120% of India’s GDP. Even if we take the lower limit of the estimated amount of Rs. 25 lakh crore, the money is sufficient to:
Relieve the debts of all farmers and landlessÂ
Build world-class roads all over the country  from national and state highways to district and rural roads;
Completely eliminate the acute power shortage in the country and also to bring electricity to every unlit rural home;
Provide safe and adequate drinking water in all villages and towns in India
Construct good-quality houses, each worth Rs. 2.5 lakh, for 10 crore families;
Provide Rs. 4 crore to each of the nearly 6 lakh villages; the money can be used to build, in every single village, a school with internet-enabled education, a primary health centre with telemedicine facility, a veterinary clinic, a playground with gymnasium, and much more.
What a transformation it can make to the ordinary and poor Indian lives!
Financial RDX with terror links
The need to put an end to hoarding of Indian wealth abroad, and to bring back the wealth already hoarded, is all the greater since the illicit money seems to be a mix of political bribes, crime money and venal business. The money trail in the Bofors scam in the 1980s had revealed the involvement of secret Swiss bank accounts. Last year, when the stock market was booming, National Security Advisor Shri M.K. Narayanan publicly stated that terror money might be operating through fund flows. What he had in mind was the Participatory Note [PN] mechanism for investment of undisclosed funds from abroad in Indian stock markets. The PN mechanism was introduced when India was desperately in need of forex inflow. The UPA government has permitted this mode of investment even after it had grown to alarming proportions. More recently, a hawala operator from Pune was found by the Income Tax department to have unaccounted wealth valued at Rs 35,000 crore. He is also suspected to have secret bank accounts abroad.
The BJP sees in secret banking the RDX that has the potential not only to blow up national financial systems but also to support and fund global terror networks whose attacks on India increased during the UPA regime. We do not expect any action from the UPA Government, which has shown total disinclination to act in this matter. In any case, its days are numbered.
If the people of India elect a BJP-led NDA Government in May 2009, we assure the nation that India will join the global effort to put an end to banking secrecy and intensify it by every means  diplomatic, political and economic � to get back the real Sovereign Wealth of our country. The BJP will intensely and actively educate the public opinion on this issue and take it to the masses and create intense public pressure on the system to uncover this nexus between secret foreign money, terror, and politics.
BJP’s promise and plan of action
1. The Bharatiya Janata Party will conduct mass public opinion polls on April 6, 2009, Foundation Day of the BJP, on Indian money in secret accounts abroad.
2. The Chief Ministers of the BJP-ruled States will write to the Prime Minister urging him to write to the Swiss and other authorities to disclose the names of hoarders of Indian monies abroad, since it is a huge loss to the state exchequer.
3. The BJP will form a Task Force comprising experts in law, accounting, management and intelligence to prepare a strategic document for India to recommend ways to get back the national wealth stashed away illegally by the corrupt politicians, venal businessmen and criminal overlords. Shri S. Gurumurthy, well-known chartered accountant and writer specializing in investigative journalism; Dr. R. Vaidyanathan, Professor of Finance at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore; Shri Mahesh Jethmalani, a renowned lawyer; and Shri Ajit Doval, an acclaimed national security expert, have agreed to work voluntarily on this Task Force.
Courtesy:Â http://www.lkadvani .in

Elect those who choose India as life-force

http://world.rediff.com/news/article/www/news/2009/mar/09guest-elect-those-who-choose-india-as-life-force.htm

TRUN VIJAY

March 14th, 2009

Elect those who choose India as life-force

Surrounded by failed States and terror dens, India needs a strong leadership that will not hesitate to take punitive action against the erring State or non-State ‘player’ and organise the strength to withstand a spillover. Wars and inner conflicts are not won with machines. You got to have a heart that’s firm and courageous. The war machine’s role is secondary.
India was never so vulnerable and foolishly spineless as it stands today. Not because we do not have the power to defend our people and land but because of a leadership that’s a delight of the alien invaders and petty boat infiltrators. Our leaders join politics to earn money and sell conscience — they have no credentials except to boast of a family name or caste and muscle power. We have a galaxy of non-political leadership but that too boot polishes the nincompoop rulers in search of reflected glory. These holy men and women are so detached from the realities of their nation’s pains and agonies that they go on a six-month long world tour for establishing peace in Palestine and Iraq and show off their pictures in the galleries of the United Nations as proof of their expanding influence. And surely they get quite a number of gullible people to believe they are great.
And we are increasingly surrounded by a Nepal, once a Hindu nation and now a threat for Hindu survival. We have a Pakistan and Bangladesh that have bled us continuously for the last three decades of intermittent terror wars — Khalistan, Operation Topac, the jihad in Kashmir and the ignominious forced exodus of Kashmiri Hindus.
We have lost more than 60,000 Indians in terror attacks directly sponsored and encouraged by Pakistan — whether its army or Inter Services Intelligence or the sheepish conspiratorial silence of their leaders, only the naive would make a difference and absolve the culprits. The simple arithmetic is that Pakistan, a creation of intense hate against Hindus, has always felt a sadistic pleasure at our discomfiture. It’s the very basic element of Pakistan that has not let us live in peace since August 14, 1947.
But we refuse to see history and continue to lose geography.
Post-1947, we have lost more than 1.25 lakh square kilometres of land to Pakistan and China and Indian Parliament had passed a unanimous resolution to take the lost land back.
But not a single political party would dare to mention in its election manifesto that if voted to power it would strive its hardest possible to implement Parliament’s resolve.
Why?
Cats would remain cats unless they are born as tigers.
The last 100 years has seen India shrinking to half and the Hindu population being overwhelmed by a demographic invasion that hates to see Hindu dominance in any sphere of life. They have vanished from Kabul, Balochistan, Pakhtunistan, Multan and Dhaka, humiliated in Kathmandu, killed, converted and incapacitated in Sri Lanka, turned invisible in Sindh, Rawalpindi, Lahore and Chittagong, driven out of their last bastion in the saffron valley and increasingly reduced in Nagaland, Arunacahal, Mizoram and Jammu. And we fight over sackfuls of currency notes as we saw during trust vote on the nuke deal and are busy winning votes through dramas like a night’s stay in a Dalit home.
That’s India of today — reduced to an Orwellian play by murderers and bribe-seekers who are again seeking an entry to Parliament by investing huge chunks of money.
There are those who still believe that Pakistan will, or it can, or it may become brotherly to us. Perhaps Uncle Sam, now Chacha Obama, will help.
Even Gods refuse to help such worms.
Elect those who at least know a little bit of India and love her people. A leader that wouldn’t hesitate to serve from South Block even if it means incurring personal monetary loss, but inspiring newcomers to stand and live proudly on their earnings through labour and merit. Living on peoples’ money must come to an end. Forget the temples, mosques and churches for a while and just concentrate on two basic factors, removing illiteracy and bringing every fellow Indian above the poverty line with a one-year period as deadline. It has to be on a real war footing to make up for the losses due to a lethargic, vision less and self-serving leadership.
Trust me, we can do it if we have the will. Have courses in science, mathematics, engineering and technology upgraded, spread out and quality marked. We terribly lack in the manufacturing sector because there is not enough engineering talent available. Even the best of engineering colleges are facing a serious dearth of proper faculty and it results in less than appropriately equipped students. It’s good to see a number of technology and engineering colleges, institutes and private universities that have sprung up in most of the cities and metros that must be the envy of even a developed nation. But are they really providing what they announce and do they have the right kind of facilities and infrastructure to produce credible graduates confident enough to start a swadeshi enterprise of world class standards?
If a post-World War America, Japan and Europe can rebuild their ravaged countries into models of modern development and human endeavour, why can’t we? Why can’t we set our own goals and standards that must make the most developed nation too follow us? Swami Vivekananda said all expansion is life and all contraction is death. Barring politics, we have shown the world the extraordinary capabilities and the astounding acumen to achieve the impossible in recent years. It happened, as is said, in spite of bad politicians. Let a new crop of good politicians take over Parliament and change its fossilised and stinking contours to a vibrant new hope commensurate with the professionalism being exhibited by Indians elsewhere.
And this is not at all age related but only needs a mind and heart that works for the nation.
And they must have the sinews to expand militarily unabashedly. India must show a will and the power to control her region. We are bled because of a meaningless large-heartedness that makes jihad factories on both sides of our territory send mercenary self-destructionist lunatics who kill and maim and destroy our people and city life. Bangladesh and Pakistan have got to be brought to their senses through instilling fear in them, a genuine and serious one. They have to be made to think twice before being silent or encouraging an anti-India terror policy. State policy makers must be clear in their mind that sometimes revenge is the only word the enemy understands and why must we not avenge the brutal killings of our patriotic citizens?
Hence choose those who choose India as their life-force and not just a platform for money making and dying like dirt. The choice is yours to practice in the coming elections.

Don’t communalise the fight against terror – By L. K. Advani

http://www.rediff.com/news/2008/oct/08lka.htm

 

Don’t communalise the fight against terror

L K Advani | October 08, 2008 | 14:08 IST

Over-familiarity with a problem sometimes lulls one’s awareness about its seriousness. Therefore, it may surprise many to know that the problem of terrorism has persisted for nearly half the period of the life of independent India.Since the closing years of the 1970s, India has been in the vortex of foreign-sponsored terrorism, which has claimed nearly 80,000 lives, both civilian and of security forces — in Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, north-eastern states, and in the rest of India. There is no country in the world which has been a victim of terrorist onslaught for so long, and which has suffered such enormous loss.�

If a menace has continued for so long, it means that its perpetrators have a definite purpose, a definite goal. We in the Bharatiya Janata Party had correctly assessed right in the beginning that the goal of terrorists and their patrons abroad was not only to threaten the common man and the civil society, not just to create ordinary law and order disturbances , but to endanger the very unity and security of the nation. What is happening in India today has vindicated our assessment.


History will not pardon us if we fail

In the history of nations, it is important to know what challenges they face. But it is far more important to know how they respond to these challenges. Nations oblivious to the threats that eat into their vitals run an imminent danger of losing their ability to protect themselves. The warning bells are loud and clear that, even though the nation’s internal security today stands seriously threatened, our response lacks political will. India does not have a seamlessly integrated counter-terrorism strategy backed by resolute operational capabilities.

There is one more thing to be said about internal security challenges. These do not manifest suddenly, nor do they mature overnight. The ominous signals they send over a prolonged period of time can be noticed unmistakably. However, if we choose not to notice them, or are incapable of taking self-protective action, history will not absolve us. It is our charge against the Congress party that it is keeping its eyes wide shut, choosing not to see, nor to strike, all for the fear of losing its vote-bank.

As far as the BJP is concerned, let me make it absolutely clear that we shall never conduct ourselves in such a short-sighted way that history would hold us guilty of not doing our duty at the right time and in the right manner. We are prepared to make any sacrifices for defending the unity and ensuring the security of our Motherland. Our vision is not limited by the considerations of where will our party be after the next elections. Rather, it extends to caring about whether India will be united and strong after a hundred years, after a thousand years.

In the last millennium, India suffered many a blow. In the last century, India suffered blood-soaked Partition on account of a pernicious ideology. Therefore, all political parties and all sections of our society should so conduct themselves that no evil power, external or internal, can� set its eyes on destabilizing, debilitating and dividing India.


Terrorism: Invisible enemy’s low-cost, asymmetrical war

For such strong protective force to emerge, it is necessary to know that in today’s world, failure to protect internal security has emerged as the most potent threat to the unity and integrity of nations, to the stability of their polity and to the protection their constitutional values. In the post-World War period, failure to deal with internal security challenges, as opposed to foreign aggressions, has been responsible for the degradation of a large number of nation-states. Most States when confronted with serious internal threats thought it to be a passing phase and allowed the drift to reach a point where retrieval was no longer possible.

Quite often, the adversarial forces won not because of their own strength but because of the weaknesses and mistakes of the regimes that were hit. Thus, history has a big lesson for us and it would be tragic if we failed to learn from past mistakes, both of our own and of others.

An important lesson that we in India should learn — this lesson is indeed globally relevant — is that conventional wars are becoming increasingly cost-ineffective. As instruments of achieving political and strategic objectives, their outcome is unpredictable � and, often, counter-productive. Hence, foreign aggressions today come disguised as proxy wars in the form of terrorism and other forms of violence. The enemy targets internal fault-lines for furthering his strategic and political objectives. Even less powerful nations are able to exercise this low-cost sustainable option, giving rise to the new doctrine of asymmetric warfare.

We can see this clearly from what both Pakistan and Bangladesh have been doing to us. Neither can match India’s military strength. Yet, both have been threatening India with cross-border terrorism.

This warfare is waged by an invisible enemy, for whom the civil society is both a source of sustenance and the target. The enemy exploits the liberties, freedom, technological facilities and infrastructure to his advantage, making even the more powerful, better equipped security agencies feel helpless.


Maligning of security forces: A dangerous new trend

Maligning the security forces is often a deliberate ploy employed by the civil society supporters of terrorist outfits. Unfortunately, it sometimes influences the thinking of even well-meaning human rights activists. However, it should not be forgotten that our security forces work under extremely difficult circumstances. The rest of society can sleep peacefully only because of the diligent service rendered by our police, paramilitary and armed forces. I fully agree that innocent persons should not be harassed and penalised. But let us spare a thought for this question: What will happen to our society, to our nation, if the morale of our security forces is allowed to be weakened?

Sadly, this is precisely what has happened in recent times. What is sadder is that leaders of the Congress party and the UPA government have allowed this denigration of our security forces to take place in the mistaken belief that those who are targeting our uniformed forces are defenders of “secularism”. Their thinking about secularism has become so warped that anybody who targets the BJP becomes their friend.

For example, there is this book, Khaki and Ethnic Violence in India by Omar Khalidi, an Indian scholar based in America, which provided the inspiration for the Sachar Committee to seek a communal census in the armed forces.

Another example is a book by Arundhati Roy, a well-known author, on the terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament on December 13, 2001. The book argues, quite nonsensically, that the attack was not carried out by terrorists but orchestrated by the security forces themselves with prior knowledge of the leadership of the NDA government. Her recent statement that “India needs azadi from Kashmir as much as Kashmir needs azadi from India” is seditious. The intellectual and literary community should strongly condemn such anti-national pronouncements, which are being given legitimacy by pseudo-secularists.


Minorityism has gripped the Congress mindset

Here is yet another example of how the UPA government has chosen to be influenced by the sinister and sustained campaign launched by such people. In spite of a Supreme Court verdict, it has not carried out the death sentence on Afzal Guru, who has been convicted for his role in the terrorist attack on Parliament. His was no ordinary crime. It was an offence of hitting at the country’s legislature, the highest seat of India’s constitutional authority, which symbolises its sovereignty and democratic polity.� Not even the national outrage on this issue has dented the UPA government’s apathy. Not even the extraordinary decision of the families of the martyred security personnel to return the gallantry awards has made it act. Such indeed is the grip of minorityism on the Congress mindset today.

The same mindset has dictated the Congress party’s anti-national� response to the issue of unchecked infiltration of Bangladeshis into Assam and other parts of the country.� I was in Guwahati last week where, among others, I met Jaideep Saikia, an eminent Assamese scholar who has written a widely acclaimed book Terror Sans Frontiers: Islamist Militancy in North East India. The book is indeed an eye-opener, a strong warning against a problem which the Supreme Court itself, while striking down the IMDT Act as unconstitutional, has described as external aggression. The UPA government’s response to this external aggression is simply to turn a blind eye.

Once again, the same mindset has dictated the UPA government’s decision not to give approval to the anti-terror laws passed by the assemblies of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, on the lines of an identical Act that exists in Maharashtra.

I can understand a government not succeeding despite making its best efforts. But I cannot but strongly indict that government which does not take even a single positive step at the legislative, political, administrative or operational levels to counter a threat which is so profusely bleeding the nation.


Stigmatising any faith in the fight against terror is wrong

Friends, no campaign of terrorism that has continued for so long can be without an ideological motive. Recognising the anti-India ideological driving force behind terrorism, and evolving a proper nationalist ideological response to it, is critical to achieving long-term success. Here I would like to state two things emphatically. Firstly, no religion and no religious community can and should be blamed for the criminal acts of some individuals belonging to that community. Stigmatising any community in the fight against terrorism is wrong, counter-productive, and must be condemned.

At the same time, it is equally important to recognise that religious extremism of a certain kind provides the ideological fervour and outward justification for terrorism and separatism. After all, religion was indeed misinterpreted and misused to construct the two-nation theory, which had disastrous consequences for India, for both Hindus and Muslims. The ideology behind the ongoing war of terrorism against India is a continuation of the separatist ideology that created Pakistan. Which is why, the anti-India forces in Pakistan have sponsored cross-border terrorism as a deliberate policy to achieve Kashmir’s secession from India, and also to weaken India in many different ways.

In recent years, an important new experiment has been introduced into this policy of cross-border terrorism. A section of Indian youth, misguided and exploited by their mentors abroad and radicalised by an interpretation of Islam that is propagated by Al Qaeda, have been inveigled into the vortex of terrorism. SIMI and Indian Mujahideen have emerged as the face of indigenised terror. Their literature speaks volumes about their aversion for the very idea of a secular, plural and democratic India, and also about their resolve to destroy India as we know it.


Contrast between NDA and UPA governments

How did the NDA government deal with SIMI? And how has the UPA government dealt with it? I shall not go into all the well-known details, except to say that the contrast is stark. The contrast is between one alliance that cares for India and the other that cares only for its vote-bank. So much so that two Cabinet ministers in the UPA government had the audacity to publicly defend SIMI, which is banned as a terrorist organisation, and the prime minister did not even upbraid them!

This contrast is also evident in the manner in which the two alliances have dealt with the issue of a strong anti-terrorism law. In a country that has suffered so much due to terrorism with international operational and financial linkages, the need for an effective anti-terrorism law ought to be so self-evident as to preclude any divisive debate over it. After all, the BJP supported the TADA Bill when Rajiv Gandhi’s government introduced it in Parliament. Without TADA, some of the culprits in Rajiv Gandhi’s murder case could not have been chargesheeted. When the NDA government assumed office, TADA had already ceased to exist. Therefore, we legislated POTA.

One of the first acts of the UPA government in 2004 was to repeal POTA. As a matter of fact, the war against terror figured very low in UPA’s Common Minimum Programme. The CMP did not mention a single step to check trans-border infiltration, choking terror’s sources of funding, and smuggling of weapons and explosives, etc. The government’s weak-kneed approach, as was inevitable, proved fatal in course of time. It not only emboldened the extremists groups, but also brought down the efficacy of country’s security apparatus. The momentum generated by the series of initiatives taken by the NDA government to strengthen national security, particularly the internal security, was lost within a year.

During the first year in office, the UPA government enjoyed the fruits of the efforts of the previous government and, as a result, not a single incident of terrorism occurred outside J&K.� But in the last three years the country has been brought to a pass where the terrorists are bleeding it with the frequency, place and time of their choice. There is mushrooming of sleeper cells and subversive modules of terrorists, both indigenous and foreign, in different parts of the country. As a result, every citizen of the country from Kashmir to Kanyakumari today feels insecure about his safety.

POTA remained in existence from September 2001 till December 2004. During this period, only eight incidents of terrorist violence, including the attack on Parliament and on Akshardham temple in Gandhingar, took place in India’s hinterland, leading to 119 deaths. Contrast it with what happened after POTA was repealed: The footprint of terrorism has grown alarmingly larger in the past four years. Jammu, Ayodhya, Varanasi, Samjhauta Express in Haryana, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Malegaon,� Jaipur, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Delhi �and, in the latest attack, serial blasts rocked Agartala in Tripura just two days ago. During this period, 625 persons have been killed and 2,011 injured, depicting a five-fold increase in those killed and injured. It is the same country, same people, same police and same intelligence agencies; what then explains this unprecedented increase? The answer is very simple: Weak laws have emboldened the terrorists and appeasement has failed to change their intentions.


Congress cacophony about anti-terror law

Since the serial bomb blasts in New Delhi on September 13, 2008, people’s pressure on the government to enact a strong anti-terror law has greatly intensified. But the manner in which senior leaders of the UPA government and the Congress party have responded to this demand is pathetic.

On September 17, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, while addressing the governor’s conference, said: “We are actively considering legislation to further strengthen the substantive anti-terrorism law in line with the global consensus on the fight against terrorism.”

Earlier, The Hindu reported on September 13: “In what is seen as the UPA government speaking with different voices over the need for states enacting tough anti-terror laws, the Union home ministry has not taken kindly to the suggestion of the National Security Adviser M K Narayanan favouring the Gujarat government’s proposal to have its own law to deal with terrorist activities and organised crime. The NSA’s suggestion was contained in a letter which he recently wrote to the home ministry. He reportedly saw no reason to turn down the request of the Gujarat government to have an anti-terror law. He also reportedly cited demands by a number of senior police officers both at the central and state levels for enacting a comprehensive, tough anti-terror law. Mr Narayanan did not see anything wrong in supporting such a demand.”

The Administrative Reforms Commission, appointed by the government under the chairmanship of senior Congress leader Veerappa Moily, strongly supported the need for stringent anti-terrorist law. Speaking to the media on September 17, he said “a strong anti-terror law with equally strong safeguards to prevent its misuse is needed.”

On September 24Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi said, “There should be a strong law to deal with terror. A powerful law, not a failed law. POTA is a failed law.”

In spite of these pronouncements, what is the net result? “No, no, we do not need a new law. Existing laws, if strengthened, are enough to fight terror.”

How can India be safe under a government that has no mind of its own, that speaks in so many voices, and that is led by a prime minister who has an office but no authority? It is difficult to find out who runs this government and who takes the decisions.

Our commitment: To make India terror-free

Friends, there is no point any longer in demanding anything from this spineless and visionless government. As they say in Hindi, the ulti ginati of this government (reverse counting of its days in office) has begun. The people of India will dethrone the UPA rulers whenever the next parliamentary elections are held.

However, let me present some of our concrete promises, commitments and ideas to make India safe from terror.

If voted to power, the NDA will re-enact POTA. The critics of POTA have so far been unable to show a single shortcoming in it. Therefore, the least we expect from our friends in the Congress party is that, now that many of its senior functionaries have spoken in favour of a strong anti-terror law, they should support re-enactment of POTA in the 15th Lok Sabha.

I am saying this because the time has come to treat the fight against terrorism as a national issue requiring broad national consensus. It is in this spirit that I recently I wrote to former President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, wholeheartedly supporting his suggestion for a bipartisan approach to combat terrorism.

The BJP favours setting up a federal anti-terror agencywhich has become absolutely necessary for evolving effective coordination between the Centre and the states — and also among states themselves — in intelligence-gathering, intelligence exchange, action, investigation, prosecution and planning and execution of preventive operations.

The Vajpayee government, for the first time since Independence, had formulated an integrated policy for national security.� A group of ministers, supported by experts’ taskforces (I had the privilege of heading this GoM), had made nearly 300 comprehensive recommendations for completely overhauling India’s security apparatus and management in the areas of defence, intelligence, internal security and border management. The UPA government has shown callous neglect towards implementation of these recommendations. The next NDA government will take up this task with the highest priority.

Implementation of the recommendations of the Malimath Committee on overhauling the criminal justice system will be done in a time-bound manner.

The chain of India’s anti-terrorism apparatus can be only as strong as its weakest link. Today one of its weakest links is the local police station and its intelligence gathering capabilities. Therefore, modernisation of the police force with adequate central assistance, which had been started by the NDA government, will be rapidly intensified.

Finally, I wish to make a fervent appeal to all sections of our society and polity: Let us not communalise the fight against terrorism. Terrorists have no religion. They are enemies of the nation and of humanity as a whole. Let us not imperil the security of India — and, going further, the very unity of India — by going soft in the war against these enemies. This is not a war that any a single party or any single community can win. It is a battle for the survival of India, in which all communities and all political parties are equal stake-holders.

We wanted to extend our whole-hearted support to the incumbent government for any positive action that it is prepared to take to combat terrorism. Unfortunately, it has not taken even a single initiative in this direction to which we could extend our support.�

While enemies of the nation are uniting and coordinating their actions, it is sad that narrow electoral considerations are standing in the way of political parties and governments giving a concerted fight to the menace of terrorism. I do hope that the public opinion in this country will create required pressure for political parties and their leaders to think beyond electoral considerations and fight terrorism with single-minded determination.

One last point. The Navratri festival has begun. It will conclude on Vijayadashami, which symbolises the victory of Good over Evil. I suggest that, in addition to Ravan Dahan (burning of the effigy of Ravan), let Navratri pandals all over the country also do Atankvaad Dahan (burning the effigy of the Demon of Terrorism). Let it symbolise our collective resolve to make India terror-free.


Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha and the NDA’s prime ministerial candidate L K Advani delivered this speech while inaugurating a national seminar on terrorism organised by the Rambhau Mhalgi Prabhodini in New Delhi on October 4