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Demonetisation: War on black money won't be complete unless the top sharks are prosecuted

Are we now scraping the bottom of the barrel? A couple of crores in some old lady’s apartment. A relatively small sum in a hotel raid... all these are probably customary 'finds' based on snitches and inside information. A larger sum in Axis Bank in 20 false accounts, whatever those are… and if banks themselves are a string in the fiddle, what chance is there of winning this war?

Nowhere near the last month’s grandeur of so many lakh crores and 10 zeros and talking in trillions. Now, it is all common garden variety stuff, so does it mean the unearthing is largely over? Have all the ill-gotten gains been discovered and is black money a thing of the past?

Since no one can really put a finger on the figure of the parallel economy it is difficult to assess exactly how much has been dredged and who got away.

Suffice it to say that over these seven decades, corruption and the hoarding of wealth has been intrinsic to our lifestyle and our value system. It will come as no surprise to discover that the political-gangster-middleman-launderer-banker-underworld nexus is so well-entrenched that it will bounce back.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

I think it was Khalil Gibran who said if you have an enemy be sure that the blow you give breaks his back or else every blow will only strengthen it.

Black money and corruption have been twin enemies. The two inseparables have been given a blow, but has it broken their backs? That is a question that demands to be answered and as we wind down the 'collection' or the 'uprooting' or whatever you wish to label, it is necessary to ask what exactly have we gained, all of that mutually exclusive from anointing Prime Minister Modi for his courage or criticising him for his questionable execution of the master plan.

By that very token forcing a zipping of Rahul Gandhi's cavalier dismissal of the 8 November exercise and telling him to stop it, for heaven’s sake, at least some action was taken. Likewise, the Opposition parties who simply are against the demonetisation because they cannot be for it.

That not a single politician or high-profile businessman or leader of the gangster pack was apprehended is also a cause to be concerned about. One would have thought that just like the Chicago mobsters were targeted by Bobby Kennedy and decimated, the black market would have been raided in India and kingpins brought to book. In the thirties, they took down Al Capone and wiped out organised crime. In the eighties, the feds indicted the dreaded Joseph ‘Dove’ Aiuppa who allegedly planned the murder of Sam Gianca. In 2005, 14 bosses in the mob were locked up. 'The Outfit', as it was called, was mortally wounded.

A fed report says: A series of successful federal prosecutions over the years put many bosses behind bars and have forced mobsters and their associates into much lower profiles, practically destroying the mafia.

As far back in the 1920s Mussolini did the same in Italy and today the closest we see to the human element in the 'clean up' being placed on centrestage is the assault by President Duterte of the Philippines whose unprecedented war on drugs has him announcing that he has personally killed drug lords.

In comparison, not that one advocates that extreme, even nutty attitude, we have netted tiddlers and the tadpoles and no big fish.

The operation is still largely anonymous and we are no wiser who manipulates the strings of our black economy.

If they get away and the powerful nexus closes ranks then will this effort be a back-breaking exercise or one that simply replaces the old evil system with a fresh one?

It would be naïve in the extreme to assume that the bad guys are on the run. There is not just enough concrete evidence of that; more rhetoric than reality. By the same token so deeply ingrained is the chai pani to ‘kick back’ and ‘mark up’ concept that we must be conscious of an emergency plan the crooked have and one that is already in operation. The wall may have crumbled a bit but has it collapsed?

To ensure that the chapter is closed we need prosecutions of the top sharks, we need fast track convictions and we need to know that the underworld system is being dismantled and it’s back being broken.


Updated Date: Dec 15, 2016 16:28 PM

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