Why do political leaders in India head for countries with lax banking laws ever so often?
The answer is simple – most countries with colonial pasts retained strong connections with the banking systems of their erstwhile colonial masters. And there is not a single country with a colonial past that does not maintain offshore tax havens, often even very much onshore, to continue to retain a grip over their erstwhile dominions and colonies.
Interestingly enough, despite the huge difference in languages, the equivalent term for “colony” remains pretty much the same across all the different European countries. Colônia, colonie, kolonie, colonia, koloni, koloniya, koloniën. One thing they agreed on, it would seem, was how to colonise the world to their benefit. And control the banking.
It has taken India, with all its technological skill and some good luck in the last 8 years, to break the shackles of financial yokes to quite some extent. The recent visit of everybody’s funny friend, Pappoo, to England ostensibly to visit a University, soon after the continued departure from his cohort of many senior members, needs to be seen in that context.
It is like this – if the guys who were handling the finances and the admin and the fine print and the rest of it for your company, sorry, political formation, left for whatever reason to move on variously, the earliest thing you would do is to head to the bank – run or fly as the case may be – and change the signing authorities as well as mandate a quick audit.
If it becomes too hot in the home country, or if there are not enough funds left to justify returning, then very often one will see these political leaders take up residence in these global banking centres, till the rest of the world forgets about them – though social media now helps them stay in touch. If, however, there are pressing reasons to return – like close family who are still in India, with an unsaid and unwritten rule that all of them can not leave the country together – then our champions have to return.
So how do these funds parked in the “home” country or countries re-generate themselves; money is, of course, finite? Kickbacks variously is the most obvious reason. And towards that, the huge spate of “atmanirbhar”, especially in defence purchases but also agri-commodities, is one big reason that the cohort of our neo-colonial remnants is hugely upset.
Take the recent launch of the second in a series of deep sea bathymetry survey ships, capable of scanning below water till about 20,000 metres below the surface. That’s more than the deepest point in any ocean globally. Most of the competing technologies use sub-sea submarine type vessels for this work, at much higher cost, with a fraction of the efficiency. Do understand, over 80% of the ocean floor is still unmapped, and the Indian Ocean is the most un-mapped.
With resources beyond imagination, literally at India’s feet, for the taking. From any point on the Indian Coast till Antarctica, the complete Indian Ocean (please do not refer to it as the Arabian Sea, even the Arabs refer to it as Al-Muhit Al-Hindiu shortened to Al-Hindi or similar, incidentally and the Joint Naval exercises between the Arab countries and India are known as Al-Mohed Al-Hindi) is to be mapped.
But, and this is important – can we even begin to imagine how much the kickbacks would have been if these ships had been imported?
Now you know why out of work politicians from the colonies go running to their masters. They need to check what’s left in the bank accounts there. And how long it will last.
(Meanwhile, pretty much every navy in the world is trying to collaborate with India for this undersea mapping technology, just as additional information. Will India make this, also, open source?)
(Veeresh Malik was a seafarer. And a lot more besides. A decade in facial biometrics, which took him into the world of finance, gaming, preventive defence and money laundering before the subliminal mind management technology blew his brains out. His romance with the media endures since 1994, duly responded by Outlook, among others.)