Outlook wholeheartedly welcomes Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s bold move to curb black money. Trashing of high-value currency notes, no doubt, is a sure step towards reaching the government’s goal. To say that corruption and its end product, black money, are the greatest ills that plague this nation is to repeat an embarrassing cliché. Whether our Hindutva friends of the Ramanand Sagar troupe agree or not, from Lord Ram downwards, we are a corrupt nation (don’t forget the bribing of Vibheeshana with the offer of a crown, no less). Corruption and black money are the two biopolymer strands coiled around each other to form the Indian nation’s double helix DNA structure, a little like our unique ardhanareeshwara. In that sense, the entire subcontinent has the same dark convoluted DNA. The most sanctimonious among the Indian lot would seek the largest portion of black money during a land transaction. To cheat the taxman is supposed to be a national pastime. If we listen carefully to the dhak dhak of our hearts, we can hear the chanting of that exhilarating slogan: “Black money is our birthright and we will have it.” The way we treat our chartered accountants, it would seem as if they have passed a national exam in tax evasion. No wonder bright Indian minds of even multinational audit firms keep getting caught in scams.
Amongst the millions of very erudite articles that came out in the last one week on demonetisation, the best probably was by the redoubtable BBC. It explained that this is not to curb black money or counterfeits or to stop terror financing. It is to stop tax evasion. Several lakhs of crores of rupees are getting deposited in the banks now, with the country’s taxable income shooting up exponentially. Black money in India is primarily a tool to evade tax. So, even perfectly honourable professionals like doctors regularly accept their fee in cash without even looking the patient in the eye. So, here is a great opportunity for all of them to pay taxes. But will they? Well, that is not the big question now.