Earlier this year, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange claimed that Indians have more money stashed in Swiss bank accounts than any other nationality.
Whether his assertion is true or not, it is believed that an incredible $1 trillion to $1.4 trillion or more — about 40 percent of India’s gross domestic product — is held in black money.
Now, the Indian government is asking Switzerland and other tax havens to bring the money back home, DNA India reports.
Here are five reasons why that action is much needed:
1. Black money can be used to fund terrorism and drug trafficking.
Law Minister Salman Khurshid said this week that these kinds of “anti-social activities” being funded by black money are major concerns of the government.
2. Black money chokes the country’s growth and development.
Over the past four decades, taxpayer money that could have been put toward the country’s growth and development has instead been funneled abroad. If not for this, Arun Kumar, author of the book “Black Money in India,” says, “India’s size of the economy would have been $ 9 trillion.”
3. India has a budget deficit.
India is one of only a few countries in Asia that has a budget deficit, “a particularly shameful state of affairs when so much wealth is being stashed overseas,” international current affairs magazine the Diplomat writes.
4. The money is needed for India’s social infrastructure.
With black money returned, Indian Web site First Post speculates, “India could have provided enhanced social infrastructure with better health care services, larger educational facilities and employment opportunities. We could have had the potential to feed 90 percent of the hungry mouths in the country. It means every family could have had a home, and we probably wouldn’t have to witness the distressing sight of a half-clothed child getting drenched in the rain.”
5. It’s a part of India’s larger corruption problem.
For the past several months, the nation’s attention has been trained on anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare, who has given a face to the nation’s long-held anger about the corruption of the rich and powerful. Black money is a major part of that anger. “Its persistent existence,” First Post writes, “is today compelling the aam-admi [common man] to angrily ask” what is happening.