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Money laundering by private banks

An undercover investigation spanning several months has unearthed a vast nationwide money-laundering racket run by three of the largest private banks in the country.

What’s more disturbing is that our very own home-grown banks are the primary culprits in this giant racket, encouraging the brazen criminal activity of channelising vast amounts of black money into the regular banking system as laundered white money.

The focus till now had been on the Swiss banks, which are believed to be the main repositories of unaccounted money belonging to Indian residents.

Money laundering in economic terms is defined as “techniques used to make the acquisition or possession of funds obtained through illegal activities appear legitimate, or to simply hide the source of the funds.” It is considered a crime in most nations due to the use of it in the funding of criminal activities.

In India, however, all we can do is wonder at the cheekiness of some of these banks carrying out such audacious ‘transactions’. There seems to be a ring of truth in some allegations considering that the private sector banks with greater parts of their equity being held by private shareholders make a distinct emphasis on maximising profits. Moreover, they are the major players in the banking sector today credited with handling the expanding business activities across the country.

The sting operation may have raised some eyebrows, but many have accepted it with a casual shrug of the shoulders. It is all the more disturbing to note that the three banks facing money-laundering accusations had their stocks closing higher over the previous close on the BSE. It clearly indicates that they did not see any risks to their stocks due to reports of alleged indulgence in money laundering.

This is the public mentality then. With the investors too showing a delightful appetite for earning higher dividends, the end certainly seems to justify the means!


Disputes with China

In an encouraging move, Li Keqiang, the newly elected Prime Minister of China, telephoned Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asking him for suggestions to boost bilateral ties.

However, past experiences should remind us that we should be wary of China. India should capitalise on this opportunity and settle the disputed border issue with China. We should also try to work out a water-sharing agreement over the Brahmaputra in the east.

It was recently reported that China was building new dams on the Brahmaputra. If China decides to release a large quantity of water from these dams in the future, a lot of damage could be inflicted on India and Bangladesh.


Education overhaul

The write-up on Education page, “Promote personalised learning in schools” (March 12), sufficiently highlights the presence of obstacles in the process of learning in schools. Traditional teaching methods have become outdated. After intermediate, a student is absolutely confused and is not able to choose his field of interest. He doesn’t go beyond what is printed in textbooks. He crams, memorises and reproduces the content of his books in his answer sheets and there ends his role.

In the present era, our education system should produce students who can introspect, have global approach and scientific outlook. This process must begin very early, preferably in the schooling stage so that the real potential of children is recognised and harnessed. Mahatma Gandhi has aptly said: “The real purpose of education is to bring out the best in the boys and girls. Their tender minds should not be filled with unwanted and ill-assorted ideas lest their originality become shadowed and they turn out into mere automata.’’

BR DHIMAN, Hamirpur (HP)

Dirty politics

Secularism is an important element of our Constitution. It exhibits that morality and education of our country is not based on any caste and religion. Apropos the editorial “Ideology disappearing in politics” (March 15), the secularism element enshrined in our Constitution is fading away as opportunism and propagation of religion-based politics have become an integral part of national/ state-level political parties. If this trend goes on unchecked, the very spirit of secularism of our Constitution will be in jeopardy. Almost all political parties don’t hesitate to play the religion card to garnish vote bank.

Candidly, the lacuna in law, “only charged with, but not convicted of” is acting like a shield for shady politicians who are legitimatising their illegal activities. This obscene and filthy politics is endangering national unity. People’s faith in democratically elected governments is taking a hard hit. Religious and caste-based politics is leading to anarchy. Political parties should blatantly refuse entry to opportunist elements with shady past and those who believe in propagating religious and caste-based politics. Such cleansing exercise will bring the nation out of the current mess.

KS SEKHON, Patiala

Coin crunch

The shortage of coins in the market is souring the shopkeeper-customer relationship in Bathinda.

Small-time shopkeepers are finding it very difficult to deal with customers, who are ‘forcibly’ being given candies or chewing gums as there are no coins available.

A coin-vending machine was installed at the local branch of the State Bank of Patiala. However, it generally remains out of order. When in order, only influential people are obliged. There are also reports that the coins are being “sold in black” by some people in the market. The authorities concerned should crack the whip on such elements.




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