Dr. Subramanian Swamy’s public lecture on Black Money and Corruption menace in India organized by India Awareness Foundation (IAF) on August 6 (Saturday), 2011 in Atlanta, GA, USA.
In recent months political activism has increased dramatically with many making nationalist demands and challenging the Corruption issues in India. In the forefront have been Baba Ramdev, Anna Hazare, Professor Subramanian Swamy (a visiting professor at Harvard University and President of Janta Party in India), and many others individually or collectively.
Atlanta was fortunate to witness Professor Swamy reiterate the menace of widespread corruption in India at the Roundtable Luncheon attended by over 200 members of the Diaspora and hosted meticulously by the India Awareness Foundation (IAF), a national advocacy organization and think tank based in Atlanta, on Saturday, August 6, 2011 at Ashiana Banquet Hall, Global Mall, Norcross, GA., USA.
Dhiru Shah, President of IAF led the Atlanta gathering in a rousing welcome with gratitude for Dr. Swamy for his whirlwind visit to Atlanta despite of his overwhelmingly busy schedule of speaking engagements in the USA. Shah said we all are eagerly waiting for a delightful treat and insightful analysis covering the much neglected aspect of Indian politics, namely Corruption and Black Money. Shah briefly presented an overview of the India Awareness Foundation (IAF) since it’s founding in 1999. Shah added that IAF had strived very hard to create awareness and positive reinforcement on various issues related to India including India’s history, culture, traditions and its social, economic and political affairs.
Subash Razdan, a well-known national leader introduced Dr. Swamy in his characteristic manner with anecdotes from his association as a student of Dr. Swamy at IIT, Delhi in 1969. Subash humorously described Dr. Swamy as a handsome and articulate intellectual with a tendency to take on the powerful women politicians from India starting from Indira Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi and of course Jayalalita of Tamil Nadu..
Following his brief introduction, Dr. Swamy took the center stage and for the next hour he captivated his audience with his stagecraft and his spell binding analysis of black money and corruption in India.
He emphasized that overseas Indians must participate and take active interest in India even though they may be staying thousands of miles away from India. He pointed out that during the independence movement of India; overseas Indians played a very constructive and helpful role. He said that if India is strong, no country can undermine the cause of the Diaspora. He gave the example of the Chinese living abroad who never face the types of human rights abuses that the Indians have to face in their day to day life. He cited the suffering of Hindus as minorities in many foreign countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Fiji, Malaysia, and many other places.
Moving on the subject of corruption, Dr. Swamy said that as per the prevention of Corruption Act in India, corruption is defined as making personal gains using the political and government office. He elaborated the recent corruption scandals including 2G scam in which billions of dollars bribes were taken by some of the current central and state ministers while allocating the 2G spectrum. Dr. Swamy said that he has filed several legal cases in the Supreme Court of India against the corrupt ministers, businessmen and officials. Some of them have already been sent to the prison and many more will follow them in a short period of time.
Dr. Swamy then explained the impact of black money on the country. A part of black money generated by such massive corruption scams is siphoned off to foreign countries by way of ‘Hawala’ transactions involving sometimes terrorists and criminal elements. The money stashed away in foreign banks could then be brought back to India via a financial instrument called ‘Participatory Notes’ (PN), which are issued by the international financial organizations like Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch etc. The holder of the PN can buy stocks in the Indian stock market legally and when the market goes up he sells these shares and converts the entire proceeds into foreign currency of his choice approved by Reserve Bank of India. He added that it is mind boggling that a tiny tax-haven island, Mauritius has become the biggest investor in India, three times more than USA. Thus, black money held in foreign country is used to manipulate the Indian stock market. He stated that once about $61 billion came into India just in one week alone. He said as per some estimates the amount of such black money stashed away in foreign bank runs between 1/2 to 1.3 trillion dollars. If this money is brought back to India, the country could solve many of its economic problems like infra-structure and build several universities and which will make India as one of the most powerful countries in the world.
He further stated that black money is also used to buy food grains direct from farmers and then hoarded in warehouses and thereby creating food shortages. Such speculative practices have resulted in 16% inflation in India while India’s GDP growth rate is only 8-9%. Black money is also used to buy luxury goods on a massive scale resulting in a boom in luxury producing industry. He pointed out that today in India 70% of investment is made in production of luxury goods when 300 million people live in poverty. Another use of black money according to him is to buy real estate. This has driven up its prices very high. Dr. Swamy emphasized that therefore it is necessary to remove this corruption; otherwise the country will be ruined.
Dr. Swamy also mentioned that the German government has recently shown willingness to give the names of the Indians who are holding black money in the Swiss banks. But the present UPA government has been dragging its feet. In spite of the intervention by the Supreme Court, the government is dodging from disclosing the names of the Indians having foreign bank accounts on one ground or another. Swamy added that he had even written to the Prime Minister of India in this regard but the PM has yet to respond.
Dwelling on the cause of such high level corruption in India, Dr. Swamy said that historically Indian people were basically honest because of the high standard of ethical and moral values based on Sanatan Dharma. While making money was considered completely legitimate, it was clearly understood that it has to be done in an ethical manner which will help the entire society. Such society was known to have very high standards of ethical values in the past wherein all classes of people lived in harmony following the values based on Dharma. However, unfortunately now due to westernization and globalization, the Indian people have forgotten the Dharmic values wherein making money by hook or by crook has become their main goal and objective. This has resulted into massive corruption on a monumental scale which is likely to ruin India if the menace of Corruption remains unchecked. He asked the NRIs to follow the Dharmic duties based on Sanatan Dharma and report corruption issues and money laundering by corrupt politicians to benefit the entire society of their land of origin.
During the Q & A session, he answered that India’s military is powerful enough to fight back the Chinese and defend the nation effectively. In his opinion, India is likely to overtake China economically in the near future. He felt that the time has come to remove the corrupt and criminal government and bring in a new government which looks after the needs of all sections of the society and which fights the terrorism effectively and forcefully.
Dr. Swamy received a standing ovation for his lucid articulation.
IAF then recognized three out of many outstanding leaders of Atlanta community by awards presentation by Dr. Swamy. Aswin Patel of Shakti Mandir for his leadership and philanthropy in creating positive image of India and Indian American in USA; Journalism; Ravi Ponangi of India Tribune for Journalism and for his homage to truth by sharing news and information accurately and objectively with Indian American and mainstream audiences; and Ram Sidhaye for advocacy and for his initiative in creating positive image of India through his populist campaigns against distortion of Hindu history, culture and traditions in Western academia.
Echoing the sentiments of Dr. Swamy for the need of a Federation, the gathering was quick to heed and launch a new umbrella organization called The Federation of Hindu Association of America (FHAA) with the blessings of Dr. Swamy. In an auspicious Hindu tradition, Sneha Mehta, interim Chairperson, and Indu Dey, interim President, lighted the lamp for its successful launch. The national FHAA plans to endeavor and federate under its umbrella various Hindu organizations, Hindu Temple associations, and Hindu Advocacy groups of the Continent of America with the specific purpose of helping its member organizations to conduct, coordinate, network, and promote activities directed to preserve the Hindu faith, heritage, culture, traditions and language.
The vote of thanks was given by Swadesh Katoch, a budding young leader of ‘Seva’ organization. Swadesh thanked Mr. Shiv Aggarwal, Ashiana restaurant, audio/video professionals, representatives of Media and numerous volunteers who helped making the event a great success.
The Master of Ceremony, Amitabh Sharma, an active member of IAF, ensured that the entire program proceeded in a timely and presentable fashion…
Swamy was in Atlanta, “A City too busy to hate” for less than 24 hours. Yet he displayed the energy and humility to attend and oblige numerous community requests. On Friday, Aug. 5th Dr. Swamy interacted with prominent community leaders on various issues of NRI community interest over Dinner. Next morning, he inaugurated the GOPIO Atlanta office in the Global Mall, which was then followed by the Press Conference with the Indo-Georgia media.
All those who were present and interested in the well being and future of India found Dr. Swamy’s mesmerizing keynote address especially valuable.