he Modi government is now in hot water with new revelations from France. One of France’s leading newspapers, ‘Le Monde’, has reported that France waived taxes worth 143.7 million euros to a French registered telecom subsidiary of Anil Ambani’s Reliance Communications in 2015. It is interesting to note that this waiver came just a few months after India’s announcement of buying 36 Rafale jets. The company in question, Anil Ambani’s Reliance Flag Atlantic France, which owns telecom infrastructure in France, was let off paying a settlement of 7.3 million euros against the original tax demand of 151 million euros.
The Congress has been alleging massive irregularities in the Rafale deal after the cost per aircraft soared from Rs526 crore finalised during UPA period to Rs1,670 crore in the fresh deal by the Modi Government. Noteworthy is the fact that India’s state-owned defence manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) was dropped in the new deal signed by the Modi government and replaced by the newly formed Reliance Defence as an offset partner for Dassault Aviation, the manufacturer of Rafale.
The BJP-led Modi government came to power in 2014 with a promise that it will end the era of scams and bring back money stashed abroad, supposedly by Indian politicians. Interestingly, however, now it seems that it is not really individual politicians that possess incredible amounts of wealth outside the borders of this country. The concept of corruption seems to have changed. It is not understandable in a simple manner how tax evasion committed in France by an Indian corporate can be offset by the government of India. It is a known fact that all Western industrialised countries are passing through an extremely bad phase of economic downturn. Dassault is a major arms manufacturer of France. Among the few countries that have large trade of arms in the global scenario, France ranks high. By purchasing Rafale fighter jets from Dassault, the Indian government has successfully given a new lease of life to that company and helped protect hundreds of thousands of jobs in France. It is possible that by jacking up the initial purchase price of the fighter jets, the Indian government has indirectly assisted a particular Indian corporate because this may result in a more lenient view of French taxation officials towards the said corporate. These, no doubt, are hypotheses which will be very difficult to prove in the present Indian scenario. Take for example the 2G Telecom scam in India. The then concerned minister was indicted for wrongdoing. Much later and even after the Congress had gone out of power and Modi had become Prime Minister, the charges fell through at a trial level of judiciary. Whether it be the Adarsh Housing scam or the HDW submarine matter, no corruption charges levelled against politicians and the governments they formed prior to 2014 has been conclusively proven. The matter pertaining to Bihar’s Lalu Prasad Fodder scam is wholly different. The difference is not difficult to understand. Lalu’s corruption is neither big nor did it involve any big corporate. Whereas all the wrongdoing at Delhi, except probably Commonwealth Games, in which too nothing was proven, involved major corporations with extremely deep pockets.
It is important now for the common citizen of India to understand what the word corruption implies. It is not similar to a policeman or a peon accepting money. The colours and shapes of corruption have grown manifold. With our present judiciary and legal system, it is impossible to unearth major wrongdoing. This allegation exposed by ‘Le Monde’ is one such great example of how corporates are growing large by plundering and looting India.