Black money stashed away by Indians in banks abroad, mostly in safe havens, is far too serious an issue for the government to be playing politics with it.
It appears the finance minister himself has succumbed to the temptation of trying to derive political capital out of the lists of names of offenders, which have been bandied about for a very long time now.
The rumours to the effect that Indians may have secret stashes above a trillion dollars have been around long enough for the government to have acted much earlier in this regard.
By dragging the issue of Swiss secrecy for an interminable time, Indian authorities may have been guilty of giving the culprits ample time to make their moves. As we know, moving money in the electronic age takes only an instant.
India was seen to be a slow coach in taking advantage of laws that were changing in a dramatically altered political and legal environment in the modern age, including in Switzerland and Liechtenstein, two of the older safe havens available more readily to Indians.
The reasons are not far to seek since the names of politicians may have been involved in the secreting of funds abroad on which taxes were probably not paid in any country.
Even now, the talk seems to be unnecessarily focused on political figures of the previous regime more than on the crux of the issue, which is to do with citizens of India denying their country the taxes due on their earnings. Fundamentally, black money is an economic issue and it must be fought rigorously so that the honest people and the country are not cheated.
It stands to reason that the authorities must act quickly to register cases against the known offenders whose names have come out of lists leaked in Europe and then handed over formally by governments.
Only then can those who have been cavalier with the laws of the land be named in public and shamed. They should also be fined as per existing laws while also ensuring that the taxes due on the concealed income and wealth are paid.
We have come some way since the issue became a major election plank this year and a promise was made to the people that the recovery process would be initiated against the offenders.
Switzerland is by no means the only tax haven in which Indians have salted away money. There are innumerable places in the world that have allowed money, irrespective of their source, to be stashed — Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands, Bahamas, St. Kitts, Mauritius, Dubai, to name just a few.
To unearth the whole loot and bring it back to the country is a Herculean task. However, it is only fair that the task be attempted sincerely so that the honest Indian is not discriminated against. This is time for action more than political arguments on who are the culprits.