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Updated: August 29, 2011 11:04 IST

Centre keen on dissuading Ramdev

Smita Gupta
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Baba Ramdev
Baba Ramdev

Slew of anti-black money measures unveiled to make him drop fast plan

Four days ahead of Baba Ramdev's threatened hunger strike on June 4 on the issue of black money and corruption, the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs (CCPA) met to discuss the unfolding situation.

Informed sources said the government had decided to respond to the yoga guru's letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, listing the measures the government had taken to tackle the issue of illicit funds, and to impress upon him that there was no need for him to launch an agitation.

Fearing a situation similar to the one that the government had faced in April when social activist Anna Hazare went on hunger fast on the issue of corruption, the CCPA on Monday discussed what course of action it should adopt, and the possible political fallout of the agitation. The role of RSS-affiliated organisations in whipping up public sentiment and fuelling the anti-government agitation on corruption also figured in the deliberations.

Given the beating the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government has taken in recent months on the graft issue, it has, over the last week, unrolled a slew of measures in the hope of appeasing Baba Ramdev, who has threatened to go on an indefinite hunger strike at Delhi's Ramlila Maidan unless the authorities take some convincing steps to facilitate the return of black money stashed away in tax havens abroad.

These included a meeting of senior Finance Ministry officials with Baba Ramdev, and the announcements over three successive days, May 28, 29 and 30, of measures by the government, indicative of its seriousness to deal with black money. They include the creation of a committee to advise the government on how to strengthen the laws dealing with illicit funds, commissioning a study on the generation of black money and the setting up of a special Directorate of Income Tax (Criminal Investigation).

Baba Ramdev's object is to compel the authorities to facilitate the return of black money to the country; the UPA's is to persuade him to abandon his fast.

Mr. Hazare's fast ended with the government capitulating to his demand for a joint committee to draft the Lokpal Bill, but not before the issue had resonated throughout the country. With Baba Ramdev's publicists claiming that around one crore people from across the country will join him in his protest against corruption, the prospect is unnerving.

So a week ago, chairman of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) Sudhir Chandra — accompanied by a team of revenue officials — met Baba Ramdev to explain the steps the government had taken to tackle the problem, as well as the legal difficulties they faced in bringing back unaccounted money from the various tax havens. The yoga exponent had described the talks as “very positive,” but refused to change his plan until he saw some action.

Next on May 28, the government set up a committee under Chairman, CBDT, to examine the existing legal and administrative framework to curb the generation of black money, its illegal transfer abroad and its recovery. The committee, a government release said, would consider declaring wealth generated illegally as a national asset; enacting/amending laws to confiscate and recover such assets; and providing for exemplary punishment. The report should be ready within six months.

Fresh study

Then on May 29, the government announced that the Finance Ministry had commissioned an “in-depth and fresh study,” engaging three top national-level institutions to estimate unaccounted income and wealth held within and outside India, to throw light on the nature of activities that encourage money laundering and its ramifications on national security.

Curiously, this is not a new measure, as the same release says the study had commenced in March 2011 and was expected to be completed within a period of 18 months. Indeed, the information was first given by Minister of State for Finance S.S. Palanimanickam in a written reply to a question raised in the Rajya Sabha on March 1, 2011.

New directorate

Finally, on Monday, May 30, the government announced yet another measure to deal with corruption and black money: it said it planned to create a new Directorate of Income Tax (Criminal Investigation), to be headed by an officer of the rank of Chief Commissioner of Income Tax ‘to look into criminal matters having any financial implication and which could be punishable as an offence under any direct tax law.'

Ramdevji is trying to hike his publicity. Anna is a hero. But not Ramdev.

from:  Arul
Posted on: Jun 1, 2011 at 02:45 IST

It is easy to write not to abandon the fast by HH Baba. We are the cause for corruption. We should not encourage giving any bribe to anyone and if someone is taking bribe, we should expose the person who is taking the bribe. Of course, eradication of bribes is a very difficult task which can be achieved only by you all. Therefore to support Baba’s effort, all of us should join him in the fast. To achieve quick and positive result, media should join in this effort.

from:  Raghupathy Sankaran
Posted on: May 31, 2011 at 17:02 IST

Corruption is out of control, worse than terrorism. We must all fight it. Let us join Ramdevji in waking up India & UPA to not stop.

from:  Murlidhar
Posted on: May 31, 2011 at 16:51 IST

Ramdevji do not stop your movement at any cost and don't believe any body. Steps once put forward cannot be taken back. Go ahead.

from:  Vasant Rao
Posted on: May 31, 2011 at 10:28 IST

So many have turned this "fast unto death" into a farce, no one has yet died doing it. Corruption is not going anywhere, it has become part of Indian culture. It would serve the nation right if the Godman does not undertake this "death wish", instead start "Arab Spring" in Hindustan against corruption.

from:  Ram Sharma
Posted on: May 31, 2011 at 10:15 IST

I agree with Baba Ramdev's resolution to not back out on his indefinite hunger strike until he sees any action, as any justification given by the center on their limited powers to bring back the money stashed in tax heavens is illegitimate and intended to mislead the people of this nation. There is no point forming committees after committee if none works other than piling reports. We are now sick of this committee system. For past 50 years congress has been like this and they have empowered the corrupt governance. We cannot bear it anymore.

from:  Hitesh Pandey
Posted on: May 31, 2011 at 09:43 IST

Govt is not serious. Forming a committee is a tact to delay the matter.

from:  Tejinder Singh
Posted on: May 31, 2011 at 09:31 IST

Keep up the good work Ramdev Baba. This government is so corrupt that it is unable to stem the rot. A person of your stature can make each and every parliamentarian, minister, business person and civil servant to lose a lot of sleep and weight and bring back the loot stashed away.

from:  Mani sandilya
Posted on: May 31, 2011 at 09:13 IST

The government is afraid of Baba Ramdeo's fast and trying its best to dissuate him from his fast.

from:  sarvadeosingh
Posted on: May 31, 2011 at 08:15 IST

UPA govt. should convince Baba to abandon Satyagraha.

from:  Vyas K Susarla
Posted on: May 31, 2011 at 07:56 IST

Rs 400 lakh crores($1.5 trillion) is estimated black money outside India, with such large stake going out what was Government doing all these years? Panels are just formed to do estimate amount of black money abroad.

from:  Ghanesh
Posted on: May 31, 2011 at 07:27 IST
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