To add insult to injury, the jeweller had the temerity to seek asylum in the UK claiming political persecution.
Absconding diamantaire Nirav Modi seems to be running rings around the might of India. It’s the country’s diplomatic heft that comes into question as Modi seems to be freely travelling around the world, although at least one Indian passport was revoked. A major doubt arises over what sort of system we are running if the rich and powerful and felons can play games with the system, holding multiple identities and passports and cocking a snook at authority. Nirav Modi’s passport was revoked in February, according to the CBI, which says it had also written to six major countries and raised a red flag about the businessman and his uncle, who had duped a public sector bank of sums exceeding $2 billion and remained at large. To add insult to injury, the jeweller had the temerity to seek asylum in the UK claiming political persecution.
The point is that these things are not supposed to happen with a so-called strong government in charge in New Delhi, with a single party having gained a parliamentary majority in the Lok Sabha after 30 years. And it’s strong Prime Minister is thought to be highly regarded overseas to the extent of rubbing shoulders with the world’s most powerful leaders. These kinds of acts of fleeing from a country after committing a gigantic fraud and being seemingly immune from arrest globally is supposed to happen only with cronies of leaders heading plutocracies. What message this conveys to honest taxpayers living in one of the highest-taxed countries in the world, both direct and indirect, is open to question too. We may come across business failures in many parts of the world, but not of this kind, in which outright fraud is perpetrated and felons flee and live fancy lives in other nations while the taxpayer’s money disappears.
The system is clearly at fault, which means someone has to stand up and accept that he/she is accountable — either the external affairs ministry that issues passports or the home ministry that does the vetting. Corruption may be at the bottom of it all. How does a country save itself if it does not have a system to check this? When 2,000 Aadhaar cards are found at a scrap dealer or someone is known to have six Indian passports, it is obvious the system has failed. The aam aadmi, who live largely honest lives beyond the confines of the government behemoths, must wonder if the government alone is responsible for depredations. And the system keeps spending thousands of crores of public money to build a whole new identity system like Aadhaar while devious fraudsters are laughing all the way to foreign banks while openly showing contempt for India and its identity systems.