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No beating about the bush.
According to Dr Swamy, former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and his family has accounts abroad where they may have kept black money. He even alleged that Mr Gandhi was detained in the US for carrying $160,000 in cash without the mandatory declaration
Janata Party president Dr Subramanian Swamy has asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to provide information on the black money account of the Gandhi family. In a letter written to AP Singh, director, CBI, Dr Swamy provided information relating to the disclosure of offences committed under the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA) about three incidents and requested the agency to record it as part of the first information report (FIR).
In the letter, Dr Swamy said, in November 1991 issue, Schweitzer Illustrate had published an article disclosing that former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi had about $2 billion in secret bank accounts in Switzerland. “Although the information is two decades old, you are aware that there is no time limitation for corruption cases under the PCA. Also even if Rajiv Gandhi is now deceased, his likely beneficiaries are his wife, Sonia, and two children, two of whom are public servants,” the letter said.
Dr Swamy also said that Russian spy agency the KGB had paid some money to Mr Gandhi and his family. According to the letter, Russian scholar Dr Yevgenia Albats, in her book, ‘A State Within a State: KGB in Soviet Union’ disclosed the file numbers that contain evidence of the KGB payments to the then prime minister Mr Gandhi and his family members. In 2002 the then external affairs minister Jaswant Singh had taken this matter up with the Russians and was informed by the Russian authorities that the government of India may send a senior representative of the RAW to Moscow to obtain authenticated records of KGB payments to Mr Gandhi and his family, said the letter.
The Janata Party president also said that he had information that during the second half of 2001, Mr Gandhi was detained at Boston’s Logan Airport by US law enforcement authorities for possessing $160,000 in cash. However, Dr Swamy says, “The then principal secretary to the PM, Brijesh Mishra, to my knowledge, had intervened with the US Secretary of State, and arrangements were made get to Mr Gandhi released.”
“In his deposition to the US authorities before returning to London Mr Gandhi had declared that the money was his, and he had drawn it out of his secret account in Pictet Bank, headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland. I may mention here later that while studying in Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida, USA, Mr Gandhi paid his tuition and other fees to the College from his secret accounts,” Dr Swamy alleged.
Expedia (India), a largest online travel agency, rates India as the fifth most vacation deprived nation, after Japan and Korea. 26% of Indians prioritize work over holidays, while 28% would prefer getting paid for unused vacations, the survey revealed
Rohan Patel (name changed), has never been on vacation for the past three years. Software designer by profession, Mr Patel has used all his paid leaves doing petty things and attending family functions. “I feel irritated with my work, but I have hardly taken a break from it,” he says.
If statistics are to be believed, Mr Patel is not the only one. A recent survey rates India as the fifth most vacation deprived nation, only after Japan and Korea.
According to a study conducted by Expedia (India), a largest online travel agency, 26% of Indians (respondents) prioritize work over holidays, 28% would prefer getting paid for unused vacations and Indians still consider vacation as luxury as opposed to necessity.
The study, an annual analysis of vacation, spans across India, North America, Europe, Asia, South America and Australia. The poll was carried out amongst 7,083 employed people across 20 countries and reveals who gets the most vacation, who takes the most vacation and people’s attitudes towards vacationing and common themes, such as money, disapproving bosses, romance—impacting respondents’ vacations.
The study indicates that 29% of Indian respondents said “they couldn’t plan their holidays” owing to work pressures and non-supportive bosses as an excuse for not going on holidays stood at 28%. In the Asia-Pacific region, Indians receive highest number of holidays, on an average 25 days, but up to of 20% of these vacations remain unused. Whereas countries like Brazil use each one of it.
Manmeer Ahluwalia, head-marketing, Expedia (India) says that, “In India, vacations tend to be viewed as a guilty habit and as many as 54% Indians spend vacations usually secretly checking emails.”
While, most Indian vacationers find it difficult to disconnect from work, with 54% checking the e-mails, the situation is the reverse in the US and Europe. 41% of the respondents in the US never check their e-mail while on vacation and in Europe, except France, employees completely let go off with work.
Zelam Chaubal, director, Kesari Tours, finds the study contrary to the current trend. “Post recession there has been considerable growth in tourism industry with section of people such as working couples and retired people regularly taking a vacation break. If Indians were to be vacation-deprived than surely so many travel agencies would have to shut their business.”
According to the study, Indians favour travelling with their families to beaches over romance and spouse. Romance was the preferred option for the Japanese and Argentineans while Mexicans were four or five times as likely to select the beach as they were to choose a romantic holiday.
Europe, with its tens of religions, hundreds of mutually exclusive cultures and millennia of hatred, was at the centre stage of the bloodshed that took place during the first two World Wars. Will history repeat itself if the Euro breaks? UBS hints at it
The Eurozone debt problem is turning into a big concern. Swiss global financial services company UBS AG in a report has made a very bold and shocking statement. It says, “If most observers agree that a Eurozone break-up significantly increases the risk of widespread economic and financial mayhem... Reasonable people don’t play Russian roulette. So why are some economists suggesting that Europe should?”
In September, UBS’ economics team of Larry Hatheway, Paul Donovan and Stephane Deo had outlined the costs of breaking up the Eurozone. It said that the combination of cascading cross-border defaults, collapsing banking systems, soaring risk premiums, and currency dislocations would result in losses approaching 20% of the gross domestic product (GDP) for creditor countries and 40% of GDP for departing debtors.
On revisiting this, Mr Hatheway said he feels the estimates were probably conservative—the true costs could well be higher. That is because once Europe (and the world economy) finds itself in a depression; policy probably could not arrest the decline. Broken financial systems and ruined economies are the stuff of prolonged deflation or worse. In addition, it is by now abundantly clear that even unconventional macro-policies cannot deliver results if the financial system is in tatters, he said.
The report reminds everyone that anything but a ‘fix’ to a system that was broken from the very beginning would be a catastrophe. The Eurozone was flawed from the start. Wrong countries joined and the Euro area lacks the appropriate policy framework to deal with its imbalances, lack of growth, and internal inflexibility. “Break-up runs the risk of becoming one wretched scenario. Sadly, however, it can’t be ruled out, just as it would have been improper to rule out the horrors of the first half of the 20th century before they happened,” Mr Hatheway said.
He said that the unfolding Eurozone crisis is not something to be taken lightly. The consequences of policy action are material, not just for the 330-odd million residents of the Euro area, but assuredly for the world economy and financial system, as well. The crowd across Eurozone is saying that Greece, which is into huge debt, should leave the zone. Since the euro was introduced, Greece has raked up external liabilities (cumulative current account deficits) of nearly $300 billion, just over 100% of its GDP.
Mr Hatheway said, “The biggest reason why the ‘it’s only Greece’ narrative is naive and dangerous is that it almost certainly would not be ‘only Greece’. Once one country leaves the Eurozone, residents in other ‘at-risk’ member countries would plausibly conclude that their country might be next to go. Logic dictates they would send their wealth abroad, resulting in a run on their domestic banks, precipitating a collapse of their financial sectors and economies.”
There have been some suggestions of breaking the Euro and allowing countries to come out with new currencies as contingency planning. “Contingency planning is prudent. But just what contingency are we planning for? In a break-up, new currencies will be introduced. But will they trade freely? Probably not. As we noted in our original piece on the costs of break-up, it is highly probable that capital controls would accompany exit. Spot, forward, futures, swaps, options and other currency derivative contracts might not even materialize, or perhaps only for limited current account transactions.”
“Companies preparing plans on how they might manage multi-currency cash flows in a post-Eurozone world might be advised instead to pay attention to the risk of not getting paid at all, never mind in which currency. Counterparty risk— bank-to-bank and company-to-company—would soar as defaults mount.”
“Bank risk management teams would be similarly advised not to ask how far new currencies might depreciate or how high risk premiums might rise, but whether the bank would survive a collapse of the payments system, a run on deposits, and widespread default on assets,” the chief economist of UBS said.
Break-up runs the risk of becoming one wretched scenario. Sadly, however, it can’t be ruled out, just as it would have been improper to rule out the horrors of the first half of the 20th century before they happened. “But it is very hard to see break-up as a solution. Let’s hope Europe’s politicians and policymakers agree and take action this week to fix what is broken before it all really breaks up,” Mr Hatheway concluded.