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Indira Gandhi, Manmohan Singh, and the rise of Black Money

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The snapshot of the 1974’s union budget might give us some hints. During Indira Gandhi’s era in the 1970s, income tax was at an all time high. It appears that the top slab had a tax of 97.75%. Entrepreneurship did not die, it was forced to go into a hibernation of economic death. And who was the saarthi of the Indira Gandhi’s Rath one may wonder?

However it’s almost impossible to find a direct article on this issue in major newspapers. It was none other than Dr. Manmohan Singh. 1972 to 1976, Singh was the Chief Economic Adviser in the Ministry of Finance and in 1976 he was Secretary in the Finance Ministry.

He couldn’t speak when he was not a PM, he couldn’t speak either after he became one.

1974 was the start of the brain drain from the country. The able minds, the honest minds chose to move out than stay. The people started avoiding paying taxes. Small businesses were hit hard. Biggies couldn’t survive. As if this was not enough, it was followed by the great Emergency of 1977.

Fundamental rights were suspended. Politicians were jailed. The opposition was detained. Revolutionaries were tortured to death. That was the era of a dictator not of a democratically elected Prime Minister. Apparently quite different from the Baago me bahaar hai Aapaatkaal hai that Mr Ravish Kumar often mentions. Ohh sorry, Ravish Kumars of that era were in jails. In fact, there was virtually no press for 2 long years.

When the policy adopted by Indira forced the honest, the loyal to pay more than they could afford, it also paved a way for the corrupt, the crooked to not pay the taxes. Leading to which the birth of the parallel economy which would bear the brunt of 1974 tyranny.

Soon there was an exceptional rise in the black money. And our great eminent respected economist Dr. Manamohan could do nothing about it. Okay, he did one thing. He was silent about it.

May be liberalisation was more like an act of atonement than an economic achievement. That is also thanks to PV Narasimha Rao. However, Gandhi Parivar made sure he compensates for that one good that he did. He was made a puppet Prime Minister, who made sure the black money and corruption remained as strong as ever.

At a time when the media is singing how great Manmohan Singh is, this story needs to be told and shared.

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