ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Calcutta Diary

AM FINALLY, amnesty on the international scale. This was the missing fragment of the emerging fiscal picture, people had been waiting for it with bated breath, now it has come. Within the country, tax evaders, black- marketeers, smugglers, others of their ilk who had surreptitiously stashed away incomes, had already been hailed as honoured citizens. All they had to do is to pay up their past dues, and there would be no penalty, no questioning, no recriminations, One cannot however afford any asymmetry in such matters. If crooks and thieves who operate on the domestic scene are amnestied, hugged and kissed on both checks, those operating on the international scale ought also to be treated alike, otherwise the picture will be lacking in harmony. The union finance minister is a wise man, and obviously a tremendous believer in symmetry. He has proved himself worthy of the trust reposed in him. Amnesty for crooks and thieves has now been internationalised. Those who have, in the past, indulged in over-invoicing imports or under-invoicing exports and thus succeeded in cornering huge foreign exchange on the sty, those who awarded, or arranged to award, a contract to a particular party for a consideration and the consideration was in the form of payment in foreign exchange in a Swiss bank account, those who smuggled gold or other precious metals out of the country and, as a consequence, came to hold extensive foreign money in Hong Kong or the Bermudas, this great, many-splendoured fraternity need no longer feel alienated. All they have to do is to declare their external holdings to the Reserve Bank of India, they will even be allowed to keep back in foreign accounts a substantial part of these holdings, only the rest have to be remitted home. A magnificent gesture, whereby national integrity will be immeasurably strengthened, crooks and thieves and smugglers operating on the international scale will be reunited with the rest of the nation. It is such a remarkably rare, precious occasion that one feels like breaking out, full-throatedly, into the national anthem, and, pardon us, the Supreme Court can have no say in the matter.

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