Income tax raids are one of our more barbaric traditions. Little men, who look a lot like Kejriwal, swoop down upon someone or other’s home in the early hours of the morning and put its occupants under virtual house arrest for the duration of the raid. You cannot call a lawyer or make a telephone call to a relative. You cannot eat, drink, sleep or go to the bathroom without a little man (or woman) watching you and even when they read your love letters or your private journals, you cannot stop them. Luckily the little men who swarm over your life like an infestation of cockroaches are usually very corrupt and at the end of the raid are buyable for a price.
How do I know all this? Because I have had the uncertain honour of being present at more than one income tax raid, since the days of Mrs Gandhi’s Emergency when she unleashed her officials on her political opponents. I also know from some of the finest economists and financial analysts that income tax raids are counterproductive and should be banned. They do not happen in civilised, democratic countries. But, as I have written before in this space, Kejriwal is no democrat.
He is, though, a media star and knows how to handle a television camera with skill. So I watched every minute of his press conference last week as if mesmerised. I listened carefully as he charged some of India’s most successful businessmen of stashing away hundreds of crore rupees in secret accounts in the HSBC Bank’s Geneva branch. He demanded that the businessmen be raided forthwith and that HSBC be banned from operating in India. To HSBC’s 32,000 Indian officers he said magnanimously that he would help them get jobs if they resigned.
He puts on a compelling TV show so it was only after the press conference was over that I sat down to analyse what Kejriwal said and realised that there was much gobbledygook. There was, for instance, the charge that HSBC operated through an army of nameless ‘hawala’ dealers who took your money from your home in Delhi, sent it off to Switzerland and brought it back to you immediately whenever you wanted it. All it needed was one telephone call to an HSBC official in Geneva for it to be changed back from dollars to rupees and for it to come back home. So why send it to a secret account in a Swiss bank in the first place?
Having said this may I clarify that I am fully aware that Indian politicians and businessmen have huge stashes of black money and that some of it may well be hidden in foreign banks. But, the really big stashes of black money, as Kejriwal will discover when he contests elections, are kept in India to be used during election time. On a smaller level, black money finds its way into real estate and jewels and expensive designer handbags. For me, the most interesting moment of the opening day of a Parliament session is when I calculate the cost of the handbags lady MPs carry as they stop to speak to reporters.
To come back to Mr Kejriwal and his political vision since this is what this piece is about, let me say as clearly as possible that I do not believe he would make a good political leader. He should give up his dream of starting a political party and fighting the next general election and reconsider his reasons for leaving the income tax department. He has the soul of an income tax officer and could really do a huge national service by cleaning up the most corrupt department in the Government of India. If he fails in this monumental task he can always get a job in television. He is fluent in both Hindi and English and despite not being much of a looker has a natural talent for talking to cameras.
As someone who has been trying for some time to decipher Kejriwal’s political vision, I consider it fortunate that I caught his whole press conference last week. It gave me a chance to observe nuances and listen carefully. And, my conclusion? He has a tax inspector’s vision. No more.
Follow Tavleen Singh on Twitter @ tavleen_singh
Initially I used to read Ms.Tavleen's columns with a lot of interest as she used to make sense thru' what she wrote. Unfortunately for the past few years she has joined the league of those hypocrites who wants to be in the lime light by using "aam aadmi class" for her own selfish motives and peasing her masters by putting their words in her columns!! with no sincerity of purpose.
Tavleen Singh must thank new brand of politicians like Arvind who give her the stories to survive. The old brands of Journalists who think like Tavleen must stop licking corporate boots in the ruling governance set up.For more details read my article :Animal Spirit Revival in Corporate : Impact on Common Man-revised version
What crap is is she writing. She belongs to the upper elites,who write saracstially. Time will tell on what kind of leader Kejriwal. Even ex-IT officers can be politicians, it is not the birth right of only the Gandhi Family !!!!!
I am trying hard to decipher Tavleen Singh's 'jounalistic vision', just like she seems to be trying to decipher Kejriwal's 'political vision'. It is because right from the time Anna movement started, and later Kejriwal's, she has stopped being what she was earlier. One has a right to criticize anyone, and I don't deny Tavleen her right to criticize Anna or Kejriwal, but before mocking at Kejriwal and co., she should let us know if there is any other way in which corruption could have been brought centre-stage to this extent. Is it jealousy that is making her behave in this manner, as Kejriwal and co. have done something which the 'elite' journalists, 'with looks', chose not to do.
Corruption was always centre stage. We were always frustrated with it. Kejriwal has not brought attention to corruption but to himself. He has no good solutions to solving corruption. His vision of solving corruption is archaic and scary at best. he wants more government (big Lokpal etc) to solve corruption. He is against corporates and believes in government control of oil prices. All recipes for the crony capitalism he professes to oppose.
You lost your right to live. Go are Dead from now. I declare you dead. Rest in peace.
This is one of the most comic attempts at trying to make Kejriwal look like a minnow amongst giants in Indian corporate and political nexus. Atleast she was honest to detest tax officers as they most likely raided crony capitalist Ajit Gulabchand's premises for evading tax while she was there, for it couldnt have been Mr Taaseer, the pakistani politician her other extremely short affair besides Gulabchand. Tavleen is getting old now and obviously she has to find new adopters to get-by with living the lifestyle she has become used to, the only way she could think was to be their defense against the truth but alas she is not even the goto media person for such things, she is best limited to writing sunday breakfast articles giving a sneak peek into the lifestyles of the rich and powerful through the eyes of a person who struggled hard to be a part of this lifestyle.
And what expertise does Ms. Singh has in judging Mr. Kejriwal? Furthermore who gives her the right to pass her advice to him in public?
Your mocking of Kejriwal is totally misplaced! If we continue without challenging the ruling party, we will wind up with more corruption and worse condition for the aam aadmi!
Not a word against the billionaires who park their ill gotten wealth in swiss accounts. Not a word against a bank who incidentally has been named by the US tax bodies for abating black money. Not a word against government who lets tax evaders go scot free. An entire column dedicated to spewing venom at the messenger. Even if Tavleen singh is half right about Arvind, we must still know why she is so pusillanimous towards the corrupt rich. She never seems to taking on them. Should we take that picking a soft target like Arvind a way for her to pay obeisance to those swiss account types.
I agree completely with Ms. TAvleen Singh. This useless hysteria against corruption has paralysed the country and done incalculable harm to the economy. India as a country has so many convulted rules that corruption is often the only saviour of the middle class. We all sell our properties with a black component, bribe traffic cops when caught without helmets or talking on our mobiles. We are glad to contact a tout for railway reservations and understate our income wherever possible. Even the 2G scam ultimatelly resulted in cheap tariffs for users whereas the so called clean 3G auction resulted in prohibitively high charges leading to low penetration. I have been a businessman and found that all business within India is done by cutting corners, any business done strictly within the purview of the law is bound to fail! We need more corruption not less to save India !!
This has to be without doubt on one of the crappiest editorials that I have ever read. There is absolutely no substance in this article and the writer makes no attempt to hide her condescension and hatred for Arvind Kejriwal - who happens to be a Magsaysay Award Winner, prominent RTI Activist, Social worker. He's also an IIT graduate and an IRS officer which are bif achievements. This woman is defending the bathroom rights of rich men who are looting the country. I can smell crony capitalism (paid journalism) along with elitism. It shows the level to which Indian Express has descended under Shekhar Gupta. Criticising the CAG and people who are trying to do something positive is not the way to go forward. I am ashamed to be a reader of Indian Express.
The bane of our country is that we do not do anything for a just cause and wouldn't allow somebody else also to do. What is wrong if Kejriwal brings out the muck in our polity? You don't like it? Some people say it is not enough to level charges, but must give solutions too. Very nice, the Government can sit back and enjoy when somebody else does its job. Is it not the duty of the Government to investigate and punish the guilty(sic)? Kejriwal is doing something for the country selflessly. Allow him to do it, help him if possible. Please do not put obstacles in his path.
So Tavleen u mean to say that people who pay taxes honestly in India are foolish and who fraud tax system and keep money outside India are saints ? Is HSBC saint ? So, as per u democratic and civilized countries like UK and USA r wrong to punish who have frauded on taxes in there countries ? I guess, if u were our PM or FM, India would have been the most corrupt country in the world. Poor would have been always poor. U must be ashamed of urself Tavleen.
I completely agree with this article of Tavleen Singh. I also recall Jaya Jaitley (BJP) (whose daughter married an Indian cricketer) describing accurately the obnoxious behaviour of income tax Gestapo. She said she was "ordered to make hot chappattis & endless cups of tea....". Megalomaniacs like Kejriwals remind of the infamous EVR of Tamil Nadu who shot to sudden messiah status with his Hindu Gods ( exclusively Hindu Gods & Hindus religious belief systems , rituals etc)) bashing called "pagutharivu"(rationalism) so much a lot of today's Tamil Nadu people proudly flaunt their credentials as followers of EVR. Which is the reason today's alleged dengue & power cuts hounding them causes not a trace of sorrow in me.
Leave Tavleen behind, Kejriwal in the front. India wants people like him who have become deficient since independance.
Tavleen, having read your piece twice I must admit what you say is true - good tax inspectors make bad politicians. For all his devotion & commitment, the Kejriwal expose thus far have already been public knowledge thru YouTube and irresistible Swamy. Unfortunately, with the foreign bank accts, he has shot in his foot very badly. Many have already commented that Kejriwal should devote attention to the root cause of corruption - small and big - and provide practical solutions that public can understand and demand reforms. We all love & respect Gandhi and similar leaders because their innate honesty and ability to find solutions suitable for the day and ensure that he could deliver. Finally, I want to be kind: Kejriwal seems a good man for the job he proves to be unsuitable. With so many man-eaters roaming in our so called democratic political arena, I do not want him to be a easy prey.
Yes Kejriwal is not perfect. His abilities and credentials as an administrator are unproved. But what is the alternative ? Thugs like Sharad Pawar, Lalu Yadav, Nitin Gadkari, Sushma Swaraj, Mayawati, Vilasrao Deshmukh ???? and the List is endless. The first priority is to have honest people as custodians of nations institutions and wealth. Honest people will make mistakes, but honest mistakes are far more palatable than this brazen loot. And yes Kejriwal so far has shown far more fearlessness, sacrifice and courage (More courage than the Journalism of courage !!) than most, including our arm chair critics. If he had chosen he could have led a very comfortable life and amassed crores as many of our IRS officers or chosen to come to US after his graduation in IITs (Have you looked at his home..how ordinary it is ??). At least have the decency to acknowledge his courage and honesty. Without it, I cannot but conclude much of the media is hands and glove with political class.
sIR, I TRUELY AGREED WITH U. ATLEAST HE HAS THE COURAGE TO ENTER IN TO MUD FOR CLEAING IT.WE CANT DOUBT HIS INTEGRITY,MAY BEWE HAVE THE RESERVATION ABOUT HIS POLITICAL ABILITY BUT HE WILL IMPROVE DAY BY DAY.MR tavleen singh SHOULD REMEMBER ONE DIALOUGE FEOM MOVIE NAYAK..AMRISH PURI SAYS AND I QUOTE"I HAVE THE 20 YEARS EXPERIENCE IN POLITICS"UNQUOTE. TO THIS ANIL KAPOOR REPLY IS" YOU MAY BE HAVING 20 YEARS EXPERIENCE BUT FIGHTING WITH YOU FROM LAST ONE YEAR MY EXPERIENCE GONE TO 21 YEARS" BY PRACTICE YOU WOULD BECOME PERFECT..
Tavleen what is the other side of the coin ? Are the cronies and the capitalists saints?