Black money? What black money?

Black money is actually money painted black. I wish this definition was true. But it isn’t. The topic itself is sophisticated enough to repudiate claims of ‘Black  money! Gone.’

So what is it?
In the simplest language, it is the fund involved in a transaction of an illegal nature.

That is, something about the transaction is fishy.
Daal me kuchh kaala Hai.

Often it is referred to as undisclosed income which is bad for the country because no tax is paid on it.

Suppose someone earns Rs. 50000 a month, he pays income tax on his income. Imagine he is a dishonest clerk in a government office. Of course he doesn’t just earn that, he also earns in cash and kind, in lieu of giving files a nudge. But does he pay income tax on that money? No.

So that IS black money.

But how will he use it so that tracing it back doesn’t give Sherlock a dead end?

He moves it through numerous accounts until it becomes difficult to trace and because of that, it becomes white money. Now he can spend it as he likes.

Main purpose of converting this ill gotten money into white money is tax evasion. 

For this purpose, he will also try to pay in cash wherever he can, so that it doesn’t leave a trail.
One presupposes that for black money to leave us, more than a billion people in this country will have to overnight become sincere tax paying citizens disclosing all incomes.

The irony is that the very discreet nature of black market prevents us from accurately calculating how much undisclosed and unreported money exists.
We have to stop bribing officials to do their jobs and they have to stop asking for their share.
That will not happen ,at least not for decades. 

Of course an economy free of black money is a great news but to make it true, the black market has to vanish. Poof! Into thin air.

The black market involves much more than just black money.

It is a vicious space comprising of any product or service that is:

Illegal

Regulated

Unreported

Unaccounted for
As long as any such commodity exists that has a law debarring it from being sold, people will find ways to sell it anyway. And so, not every item in this market can be regulated.

For example, child trafficking is illegal. Yet children are bought and sold. There is a flow of funds. Where does this money go? 

A sum total of all such funds is invested in tax free investments. They are invested in shell companies abroad, in countries that are tax havens and remitted back as FDI, as white money.

The black market will exist for counterfeit notes. Money gathered illegally will move inside this marked to be laundered before it can be used.
The scale of the Indian black money dilemma can be gauged from the fact that India is amongst the top countries in the world with huge amount of black money, billions stashed away in Swiss banks. I don’t see what efforts are being made to bring this money back into the nation. We didn’t follow up on the Panama leaks. Doesn’t send a positive message regarding our will to even chase these accounts.

Demonetization did not bring this black money in it’s ambit though it makes up for a sizeable chunk.
According to data from Swiss banks, if all the black money that has been kept in Swiss bank accounts is brought back to India, that would be 210 crores in Dollars. 

Only that we don’t want to. We don’t want to face the facts.

We were busy incorporating offshore companies when there weren’t sufficient regulations to control the black money markets.

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Can we relate?

I have two brothers. And I love them to the moon and back. Siblings are a whole another lot of blessings that everyday, I feel I ought to be thankful for. To my own destiny at having them in my life.

So the first thought I have when I read about the lynching of a 16 year old boy by a mob is that he’s as young as my youngest brother was, a few years ago. And I realise I don’t actually remember what sixteen felt like.

And we are not horrified by the fact that someone can be beaten to death. Of all the ways a person dies, I believe this has to be amongst what we refer to as outrage worthy.

Every blow falls on your body with a vengeance that is unfounded. Every kick making you twist and turn, making you beg for your life. Blow by blow the will to survive leaves the body- a body covered in blood. 

Why do we hate them so much?

Nobody is saying this aloud yet, but the appeasement of these forces that have the confidence of taking someone’s life is only growing day by day. A few weeks ago seven men were lynched in Jamshedpur alone over rumors of them being child abductors. And these were baseless rumors. But the perpetrators got away with being a part of the riotous mob. 
And this is followed by the lynching of a sixteen years old innocent boy who had gone shopping for Eid and does not raise eyebrows yet.

Murder has become the new normal.

The absence of outrage is striking, though not surprising because the victim is Muslim. Gradually, we have grown more intolerant towards the community and it is not something to be kept under wraps. We don’t say this aloud yet but it is in the air: with beef eating considered to be synonymous with the community while we conveniently ignore the fact that beef is sometimes the only affordable source of protein to people on the lowly rungs of society- those that we’ve ourselves created settlements outside our residential premises for.

When do we know this is too much?

That one murder is more than enough to punish the perpetrators and appeasers? 

A boy, guessing by his age, a high school student perhaps, or the high school equivalent of your own brother, your own son is killed in broad daylight in front of people occupying the compartment of a fucking train. A boy is killed for protesting provocation. Just like the boy who is killed for protesting against men harrassing his sister. Just like the boy who was shot because he didn’t give way to the vehicle behind him. Just like the boy who was shot for trying to save his businessman father in an assassination attempt.

Boys who had their lives ahead. 

Victim’s brother recounts ghastly incident

Have we failed as a society by refusing to raise our voice in their support? 

I want to know how these people sleep at night- the ones instigating others to kill someone because they are offended, the ones deciding to kill someone to death.

Waking up

I have woken up to this. And a slight headache that’s been troubling me for days. It will go. I know I was up at 8, and later at 9 and finally right now. I had this dream that I am trying to recall. But it doesn’t come to me in order. Maybe the later bits are coming in first. Or maybe the dream wasn’t in a logical sequence at all.  Can it not be that this wonderful brain tries putting a random sequence of images in order after we wake up so that the dream doesn’t drive us insane.
I saw many photographs and found my brother as a kid in one of them. So I immediately shared it to our group on instagram. My brother, little as he was, running around and being brought to a stop by my aunt. But that’d make it a video. 

And as far as I remember, at our Granny’s the video recorder was brought out for the most special of occasions. Strange that my brother’s antics be captured in it.

Next I find myself walking: walking in the backyard of my own house but my vision being limited. My field of vision relegated to a slit inside a helmet of sorts as I kept waking. What a purposeless thing to do in a dream! 

So I wake up a little late, my head heavy, my conscience telling me I have studied nothing for my Accounting exam tomorrow and I just keep staring at the door. Tomorrow.

Atonement

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I am currently reading Atonement again. To tell the truth, I came across the movie earlier than I read the book. The movie recommended the book to me. It is a brilliantly made movie, though feels to drag for a while too, specially the later half. But no movie could ever do justice to a book. A movie is just one perspective to view a book. When we read it, we all imagine it to be unique. Our own interpretations of the same scene are entirely different.
The movie is a treat to the eyes and your mind too. There is so much to deduce and the timeline of the plot starts playing inside your mind time and again as soon as you realise there is a play on the interpretation of memories. You want to remember as much as you can.

I am reading the book again because although there is nothing much to miss, I always stumble across a new detail that I hadn’t paid any attention to, earlier.
Ian McEwan is brilliant with the imagery. The scenes are so well illuminated that you see them unfolding right before your eyes. The movement back and forth in time presents a misguided version of the actual events as seen through the eyes of 13 year old Briony.
There is meticulous detailing of appearances and state of mind as well.
The best parts are when the author really delves deep into the stream of thoughts playing inside the character’s mind. A point in case is when Briony is inspecting her fingers and speculating movement:

A

nd when she did crook it finally, the action seemed to start in the finger itself, not in some part of her mind. When did it know to move, when did she know to move it? There was no catching herself out. It was either- or. There was no stitching, no seam and yet she knew that behind the smooth continuous fabric was the real self

VIP, anyone?

If we voted you to power, I don’t see how we gave you a mandate to skip the queue or to deserve VIP treatment. How does a servant of the public become a celebrity that ought to be put up on a high pedestal?
Yes, a servant of the public- that is what a member of parliament is.
But the public is so used to seeing their politicians have a claim to better treatment that though it may irk them, they are still individuals who speak for themselves. Members of the public aren’t the ones surrounded by bodyguards and yes men.
Suddenly, everyone around such a politician starts considering himself a very important person too.
So you have the driver abusing other commuters and misbehaving with toll booth staff. The assistant demands attention as the stepping stone to the MP if you want to be heard. The distant relative flaunts his relations everywhere with the very common, तू जानता नही मैं कौन हूँ।
Power can be that addictive to those who simply bask in someone else’s influence.
The step taken by Air India and other 6 members of Federation of Indian Airlines in barring Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad from their flights after he blatantly misbehaved with an AI staff is commendable.
He created the ruckus when he was seated in economy class of ALL ECONOMY Pune Delhi flight.
What is the airline supposed to do in an all economy flight to accomodate him?
A. Seat him in the cockpit and let him fly the plane.
B. Seat him on the roof of the plane itself.
C. Apply to add business class section to the flight and wait until it is approved, sanctioned and made available.

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These carriers stood up for their staff and that boosts employee morale. The last straw in the hat you need is your employer being apologetic to your client for misbehaving with you.
It has set a great example. Tell me, by what yardstick does a politician deserve special treatment at our expense?
This is a culture that needs to be discouraged.
Politicians are people like you and me, only worse because they apparently live above the law.

Poverty

I, the privileged one,
With food to last two square meals in my stomach,
Do not understand how,
You can die of poverty.
Go find yourself some work.
Stop being the scum that is upto no good,
Always tapping at out car windows,
Asking for alms.
Toil and labour,
For the sky is the limit I heard.
Fall into the clutches of vicious moneylenders.
We’ll find you by the pavement,
Drunk in a stupor.
But dream,
For the world is your oyster.
Aspire!
I refuse to believe you can die of poverty,
Or starve of opportunities.
I refuse to see beyond the promised land.
Come, brother,
Hold my hand and watch this nation change.
So cold.
I hold the soul of a man in my bare hands,
Cold and evanescent.
So long,
And dead.
@bewitchinglyme

Shrinking Women

I walk,
Down alleyways and passages,
Corridors and lanes,
And roads,
As if I am one person too much,
Occupying more space than I exist in.
So I make myself small,
Pull my hands in
And hold them folded,
Against my body.
I stick to the straight line,
That becomes fine while I walk.
And I envy that fiery stride
You take.
Step after step moving forward in silent determination,
You hold your head high for the world to see
And though you hinder me not,
I,
Unsure of my gait,
Tone it down.
And I jump in my skin,
When I hear footsteps behind me,
Or voices that I know for sure are talking about me,
Or eyes that I know are burning a hole in my clothes,
To see what lies underneath.
Is it skin?
Is it fresh meat?
I don’t know.
I gather myself up,
Shrink a little,
Trying to dissolve into thin air.