Citizens' Issues
Black Money: News report shows 1195 names having Swiss bank accounts

According to 'Swiss Leaks', a joint investigation carried out by Indian Express, Washington-based ICIJ and Paris-based Le Monde, among 1,195 Indians named in the reports were members of top business families such as the Ambanis, Burmans, Rahejas and Salgaocars  

 

As many as 1,195 Indians – twice the 628 names given to Indian government by French authorities in 2011 – have accounts with the Swiss arm of HSBC Bank, says a report from the Indian Express. Reacting to the report, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said, most of the names (in the news report) already figure in the list submitted by the Government to the Special Investigative Team (SIT). According to a report from Reuters, British bank HSBC Holdings Plc had admitted failings by its Swiss subsidiary, in response to media reports it helped wealthy customers dodge taxes and conceal millions of dollars of assets.
 
The new list includes names of account holders and their balances for the year 2006-07.  The investigation, conducted by the newspaper in collaboration with Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and the Paris-based Le Monde newspaper, revealed names including prominent businessmen like Reliance Industries’ chairman Mukesh Ambani, his brother and ADAG chairman Anil Ambani, industrialist Yashovardhan Birla, real estate magnate Chandru Lachhmandas Raheja and Goan tycoon Dattaraj Salgaocar, among others.
 
According to the joint investigations by the newspapers, there are names of a few account holders with connections to politicians. Names of former UPA minister Preneet Kaur and former Congress MP Annu Tandon feature on the list. Neelam Narayan Rane and Nilesh Rane, the wife and son of Maharashtra's former chief minister Narayan Rane are also on the list. Smita Thackeray, daughter-in-law of the late Shiv Sena leader Balasaheb Thackeray, also features on the list.
 
Prominent names such as Rajendra Ruia, Vimal Ruia, Naresh Goyal and Swraj Paul are also in the latest list published by the newspapers. 
 
Jaitley said, the government will look into these additional names that have emerged in the reports and launch action against them if found to be Indian residents.
 
According to a report from the Guardian, that the files showed HSBC's Swiss bank routinely allowed clients to withdraw "bricks" of cash, often in foreign currencies which were of little use in Switzerland, marketed schemes which were likely to enable wealthy clients to avoid European taxes and colluded with some to conceal undeclared accounts from domestic tax authorities. 
 
"The data was supplied by Herve Falciani, a former IT employee of HSBC's Swiss private bank. HSBC said Falciani downloaded details of accounts and clients at the end of 2006 and early 2007. French authorities have obtained data on thousands of the customers and shared them with tax authorities elsewhere, including Argentina," says the report from Reuters.
 
Meanwhile, the SIT on black money is scheduled to meet later in the day to discuss status of cases of Indians found to have been holding illegal accounts abroad and disclosures made by an international private investigation.
 
According to reports, the SIT had already solicited information against Indian black money holders from the public. Some names have been reflected in the ICIJ list, which have not been there earlier and it will be discussed during the meeting today.
 

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Searching for ‘Sickness’
Is screening a dangerous marketing trick for your health?
 
There was an interesting article, some time ago, in The Atlantic, written by Oklahoma physician John Henning Schumann, which brings up the issue of over-screening—medical tests that simply are not necessary, or worse, detrimental. “General health checks did not reduce morbidity or mortality, neither overall nor for cardiovascular or cancer causes, although the number of new diagnoses was increased. Important harmful outcomes, such as the number of follow-up diagnostic procedures or short-term psychological effects, were often not studied or reported and many trials had methodological problems. With the large number of participants and deaths included, the long follow-up periods used, and considering that cardiovascular and cancer mortality were not reduced, general health checks are unlikely to be beneficial,” says the Cochrane Library.
 
I have been condemning routine screenings, especially cancer screenings, for decades. Many routine screening-detected ‘cancers’, in fact, are only incidentalomas which, if left alone or not detected in the first place, would have outlived the person. For example, the so-called ‘ductal carcinoma in situ’ in the breast is not a cancer at all. 
 
Cancer screening is not only useless but downright dangerous. The best studies (these are studies done over 10-year durations in Canada, the US and Europe) have found that you have to screen 2,100 women every year for 11 years to prevent one death. So, to answer the question, ‘Is it lifesaving?’ Yes. One in 2,100 women would benefit from being screened over an 11-year period. 
 
But, at the same time, of those 2,100 women, about 600 to 700 will have a false-positive. They will find something unusual or something abnormal and that will require biopsies, open surgeries, mastectomies and psychological trauma wrote Alan Cassels of University of Victoria (BC) who has authored several books on screening. The best one, according to me, was: Seeking Sickness: Medical Screening and the Misguided Hunt for Diseases. This book is an encyclopaedia of the scam of screening.
 
Screening in apparently healthy people is encouraged mainly to make lots of money from post-screening activities. It is just another marketing trick and a potentially dangerous one at that.
 
One can have a cancer in his/her body and live a perfectly long and healthy life. The cancer literature in medical science which is funded by the industry is mostly wrong. John Ioannidis at Stanford found that most of those studies cannot be replicated independently. Of the hundreds of studies by John Ioannidis, most did not stand up to scrutiny. This applies especially to cancers and statin drugs for prevention.
 
I would end this by quoting Dr Andrew Oxman of the Norwegian Knowledge Centre for the Health Services in Oslo, who told Reuters: “There are lots of examples where things start to be used and have entered the market based on surrogate outcomes and then actually proved harmful.” He mentioned the heart rhythm drugs encainide and flecainide which, for many years, were given to people with acute heart attacks. But trials showed they were actually bad for these patients. 
 
“These drugs were given by well-meaning clinicians, but they actually killed more people than the Vietnam War did,” Oxman said. I still remember the days when I was senior registrar in cardiology at The Middlesex Hospital, London, where the protocol in the CCU was to give all these drugs one after another even if a couple of innocent premature beats are seen on the monitor in this order—Lignocaine, procainamide, encainide, flecainide. Most of these drugs were later shown to be killers!
 
I was once hauled up before an enquiry committee for not following the protocol in a healthy MP admitted one evening directly from the House of Commons where he felt ‘suffocated’. He was, of course, absolutely normal, as proved by later tests. He was grateful to me but I had to face a trial for dereliction of my duty in preference to my patient’s safety!
 
“When it comes to screening, a doctor who says ‘Let’s err on the side of caution,’ may actually err on the side of reckless ignorance and grave harm.” – Otis Webb Brawley
 
(Professor Dr BM Hegde, a Padma Bhushan awardee in 2010, is an MD, PhD, FRCP (London, Edinburgh, Glasgow & Dublin), FACC and FAMS.)

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COMMENTS

Sreekanth Yelicherla

2 years ago

Prof, it is high time that you should think about writing a book which creates awareness among the people. Please think about it. These online articles appear for a week or two and have limited target. But a book can be gifted to elders to read.

Joseph Korah

2 years ago

Thanks Dr. Hegde for spreading the awareness of unnecessary medical tests.

What's Behind Wen Hair Care's Anti-Shampoo Claims
A look at what the shampoo-bashing product is really selling
 
When Wen hair care says to “stop using shampoo” as it does in the above TV commercial for one of its “cleansing conditioner” starter kits, it doesn’t mean stop using all shampoos — though that’s probably the takeaway most viewers get.
 
No, Wen means stop using “shampoos containing harsh sulfates.” (There are, by the way, many sulfate-free shampoos.) A fine-print disclaimer clarifies this but it’s almost impossible to catch between the video’s quick cuts at the start of the commercial.
 
We tracked down the commercial and hit pause:
 
 
Disclaimers are by nature less conspicuous than the message advertisers want to impress on consumers. Wen’s message in this commercial is that its so-called “natural” product is better than shampoo, which the company says causes “finer, thinner [and] weaker” hair.
 
But is Wen here referring to all shampoos or just those containing sulfates? It very well may be the latter, which may explain why Wen decided to plug in that elusive disclaimer at the start of the commercial. So don’t go throwing out all your shampoo just yet.
 
And in the end, what the company is really selling is a negative-option offer that charges nearly $100 every three months for additional products unless you cancel the program.
 
For more of TINA’s coverage on hair care products, click here
 

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