Tax havens

Published : Jun 05, 2009 00:00 IST

TAX havens are responsible for corruption in India and other less developed nations because they offer safety for depositing ill-gotten wealth (Tainted money, May 22). Many of the banks in these tax havens are at the vortex of the global financial meltdown and are prominent providers of evasion services. The banks may argue that providing information on account holders is a breach of Swiss or their national laws, but then the amounts deposited are also tax-evaded funds and so have breached the laws of the host countries.

India came closest to laying its hands on secret funds during the Bofors investigations, but the effort fizzled out on account of Swiss banking regulations and the Indian governments apathy.

The U.S. has taken the initiative to pry open the secret accounts of its citizens who have deposited their tax-evaded wealth. UBS, the largest Swiss bank, has acceded to the U.S. demand and has disclosed the names of a few clients. The financial meltdown is making the financial cake smaller. The fight to get these illegal monies back is therefore getting fiercer. India should join other nations to get back the tax-evaded wealth deposited in tax havens.

H.N. Ramakrishna BangaloreSri Lanka

THE Cover Story analysis of the current situation in Sri Lanka was precise and logical (May 22). As the war is drawing to a close, Colombo will have to adopt an effective carrot-and-stick policy extending political and economic concessions to win the hearts of Tamils and counter-insurgency measures to curtail violence. Continuing the armed struggle will only worsen the plight of the Tamils living in penury. The Sinhalese are also ready for a political solution after having paid a heavy price for their discriminatory policies.

It is time politicians of Tamil Nadu stopped looking for political dividends out of the ethnic crisis; instead, they should help to arrive at an amicable solution.

K.R. Srinivasan Secunderabad

IN the reports, there is no criticism of the excesses of the Sri Lanka Army or the media blackout. It will be interesting to have your views on media freedom (or the lack of it) in Sri Lanka in the context of journalist Lasantha Wikrematungas killing.

C. Shanmugakumar Leeds, U.K.

THE Sri Lankan governments announcement that combat operations are coming to an end will put leaders such as M. Karunanidhi and Jayalalithaa on the defensive. Competitive chauvinism in Tamil Nadu between political parties who use the plight of Sri lankan Tamils for electoral gains should not cast its shadow on Indias foreign policy.

J.S. Acharya Tarnaka, Hyderabad

WITH the near-total defeat of the LTTE, an independent state for Tamils in Sri Lanka does not seem possible. An autonomous state in a federal set-up could go a long way in reconstructing the island and ensuring the security of Tamils. Both sides should agree to a referendum under U.N. auspices to end hostilities.

P. Adhiyaman Neyveli, Tamil NaduGeneral election

THE article Halfway and hung (May 22) covered the election scene well. This election is going to produce a hung Parliament. It reflects the collective failure of parties to convince the voters to vote in any one partys favour.

Dr. Sanjiv Gupta Perth, AustraliaObama initiative

IT is heartening that President Barack Obama is out to undo the mistakes committed by his predecessors in dealing with Cuba and Venezuela, once considered arch-enemies of the U.S. (American rally, May 22). It is not just these countries but the U.S. too that stands to benefit from this attempt at change. A country that championed globalisation and trade liberalisation should not continue with embargoes, sanctions and protectionism.

K.P. Rajan MumbaiBlack money

CHASING black money is the need of the hour (Tainted money, May 22). There are at least 70 tax havens in the world. One estimate puts the total amount of black money in them at $13 trillion (Rs. 6,50,00,000 crore). Of this, $1,456 billion (Rs. 72,80,000 crore) belongs to about 100 Indians. In a country where nearly 25 per cent of the population live below the poverty line, this is unacceptable. Sadly, instead of pressing bank authorities in Leichtenstein to divulge the names of Indians in the LGT Banks secret accounts list, the UPA government has advised the Indian Ambassador in Berlin not to press the Germans for details.

S. Raghunatha Prabhu Alappuzha, KeralaSpy satellite

THE article Tango with Israel (May 22) fails to mention why the so-called tango is dangerous. How else is India supposed to address its defence needs? It was Israel that came to Indias rescue with laser-guided bombs during the Kargil incursion.

Anshul Gupta Bangalore

WHAT is so sinister and dramatic about India-Israel military cooperation? The article goes on and on about the technicalities of spy satellites and their detailed mechanisms as if turning this whole thing into a Tom Clancy novel. Only in the last paragraph is there a vague mention that cooperation would cause a backlash. What that would be is not explained.

Rajiv Thind Christ church, New ZealandG-20 summit

JAYATI GHOSHS compact analysis has exposed the real outcome of the G-20 summit in London (Fanfare & failure, May 8). World leaders presiding over neoliberal regimes have not learnt their lessons despite the increasing number of jobless and homeless people in their respective nations.

S.V. Venugopalan ChennaiVembanad lake

SALLY DUNCAN has given a very grim picture of the state of one of our major wetlands (Wetland or wasteland?, May 8).

The story is the same in other parts of India as well. Governmental assistance is necessary to keep eco-balance intact.

In this context, the efforts of the Singapore government to preserve the countrys wasteland and greenery and convert them into major tourist attractions are noteworthy. We too can do the same with our environment, which is far richer than that of Singapore.

K. Nehru Patnaik VisakhapatnamIsrael

THE article A crime record (April 24) brings out truly disturbing facts about Israels human rights violations. And to think that rehabilitation and justice may still be a far cry for the victims in Gaza makes it even worse.

Priya Parikh Jaipur

THE photographs accompanying the article are disturbing. The world should wake up and constitute Nuremberg-model courts to try the war criminals.

P. Mohamed Hajee Tirur, KeralaNehru

A.G. NOORANI seems to have acted as a PRO for Jawaharlal Nehru and the Congress party in his essay Power drive (April 24).

If in 1963 Nehru was right with his observation that the danger to India was Hindu right-wing communalism, why did he and his party agree to Partition and the two-nation theory?

He made a mess of Kashmir, and it remains so to this day though three generations of his family have ruled India. He initiated dynasty rule in the country.

What communalism actually means can be learnt by going through the history of South Asia in the past 200 years. Invaders such as Ghazni and Ghori and the Mughal rulers who followed destroyed hundreds of Hindu temples and imposed the jazia on Hindus.

V.N. Ramaswamy SecunderabadMercy petition

V. VENKATESAN has given some useful facts about the mercy petition of Mohammed Afzal (Mercy guidelines, April 10); for instance, the arguments put forth by him regarding the seven specific guidelines on mercy petitions.

There seems to be no time limit for the disposal of mercy petitions, which is not good.

As the saying goes, justice delayed is justice denied. Even Afzal has expressed his disgust at the inordinate delay in deciding on his petition.

Dr. Nutan Thakur LucknowSolar eclipse

THE article SOLAR spectacle by Amalendu Bandyopadhyay gives a vivid and lucid description of various phases of a total solar eclipse (April 10).

However, he could have given some details of the testing of the theory of relativity from the total solar eclipse of May 29, 1919.

J.K. Srivastava JamshedpurAfghanistan

MARC W. HEROLDS article Terror, U.S. style is false (March 27). The figures do not reveal how many terrorists were captured or killed. The U.S. had been waging wars on many fronts prior to Obamas takeover as President.

The figures will be realistic only if statistics on all the war fronts are given, not just Afghanistan. Afghanistan is not Obamas creation but a legacy of the Reagan and Bush eras. Why blame him for it?

He has created no new conflict zones. He has merely tried to discern the enemies of his country and focus his energies in neutralising them.

Korath V. Mathew BhopalANNOUNCEMENT

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