Our country deserves a place in the Guinness Book of Records for the incredibly bizarre events that take place here, not without a touch of comedy. Recently a sadhu, Shobhan Sarkar, dreamt of a king who introduced himself as Raja Ram Baksh of Unnao. The king pointed the sadhu to a treasure of gold buried near the Shiva temple where the king worshipped the deity. As a patriotic citizen, the sadhu wrote about his dream to our President, our Prime Minister, the chief of the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) and to local politicians. Owing to the considerable pressure generated, the ASI undertook a survey of the area, where a dig was under way with about 10 to 12 labourers using simple tools. The site of the dig was cordoned off by a bamboo boundary wall. By Thursday the area around the site had turned into a mela ground of sorts for locals. An enterprising individual had set up a makeshift tea stall that attracted several locals.
It is said that the ASI’s excavation strategy is based on sadhu Sarkar’s dream. ASI officials, however, have stated it is not the sadhu’s dream alone that galvanised them into action but a report by the Ministry of Culture citing observations by the Geological Survey of India that there could be some ‘metal bounty’ under the earth.
It will be worthwhile to know the content and value of this metal bounty. And who will be declared its owner – the deity, or some individuals? Income tax officials must be itching to spring into action. Not unexpectedly, lawyers will have a bountiful day unravelling the inevitable legal issues, thanks to the sadhu’s dream.
But pray, what about the patriotic sadhu? Will he be rewarded monetarily by the authorities? Or in keeping with his spiritual status, will he be content with an appropriate Padma award?
We have to await the list of 2014 Padma awardees.
Historic Swiss Move: Switzerland is no longer the most sought after haven for tax evaders and corrupt gentry. Bowing to international pressure for repeal of the Swiss secrecy laws which facilitated massive tax evasion, and owing to whistleblowers giving out details of money laundering by individuals and companies, Switzerland at long last signed the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters.
The Swiss Federal Council gave its approval to the treaty on October 9. This marks the end of banking secrecy in Switzerland, which will be breaking its own time-honoured and time-tested laws on banking secrecy. The Swiss move is seen as preparing the way for automatic exchange of tax information. One view is that under the convention as it stands, the automatic exchange of information is optional. The convention provides the option to undertake automatic exchange, while requiring an agreement between the parties interested in this form of assistance. With the support of the G20, automatic exchange is becoming the new international standard, and Switzerland in due time is likely to exchange financial information automatically.
All said and done, the Swiss move is a salutary development and should be a major boost to our country in the battle against black money stashed overseas.
India is already a party to the convention and the fact that Switzerland has now joined will help Indian authorities obtain information with greater ease on Indian money illegally stashed away in Swiss banks, provided there is the requisite political will. The latest Swiss move will have an impact on the case pending in the Supreme Court regarding Swiss Bank accounts and disclosure of the names of the account holders. According to latest official figures released by Swiss National Bank, total funds held by Indians in Swiss banks is about `9,000 crore. The latest Swiss move is likely to give some of our country men sleepless nights. After all, uneasy lies the head that has numbered Swiss accounts.