Don't believe them people who say Yashwant Sinha is a bad man. He isn't.
Okay, it did appear that the Union finance minister was below board. But that was the work of a strong bear cartel in Bombay. It prompted an MP to raise that shindy over the Mauritius route.
The said MP claimed that certain foreign institutional investors, using letterhead companies in Mauritius, were raking in huge profits without paying income or capital gains taxes in India. What New Delhi lost in revenue thus was -- hold on to something, gentle reader -- Rs 30 billion, according to one estimate.
Sinha is a baddie because he defended the Indian obligation under the Double Taxation Avoidance Treaty signed in the '80s with Mauritius. In an official note prepared when Dr Manmohan Singh was finance minister, it was mentioned that India stood to lose because of the treaty.
Dr Singh had decided not to plug the loophole for two reasons. One, to maintain friendly relations with the tiny Indian Ocean island nation. Two, to attract more investment.
Both these objectives were being served well by the treaty until a clever income-tax officer in Bombay decided to slap a show-cause notice on some FIIs asking them why they shouldn't be taxed for the profits they were making on Indian bourses. Whereupon Sinha's Mauritian counterpart sent him an angry letter asking that the notice be immediately withdrawn.
Now back to the bear cartel. Given the downward trend on the bourses in the post-Budget period, a bear cartel headed by a well-known share broker stood to lose a lot in case of market revival. Incidentally, he was one of the leading bulls along with Harshad Mehta in the 1992 run.
This cartel had the ears of our friend the MP. He raised the issue of the Mauritius route till his senior party leaders summoned him to Delhi and told him to shut up.
Since fresh elections are due in Mauritius later this year, any action by India that violated the Double Taxation Avoidance Treaty would have had an adverse effect on Indo-Mauritius ties. Especially when the opposition parties in the island nation never miss an opportunity to paint the incumbent regime in Port Louis as pro-India.
Which is why we say, Sinha isn't all that bad.
Handsome is this newly elected member of Rajya Sabha, S S Ahluwalia.
Once part of the Rajiv Gandhi Shouting Brigade in the upper house, the well-built, fair-complexioned Sikh now adorns the BJP benches -- and uses his considerable lung power to shout at the Congress.
He recently attracted notice for something other than his vocal chords: his colourful attire.
Seems the always natty Sikh has earmarked certain days for particular colours. Thus, on Mondays the colour of his turban is pink, on Tuesdays red, Wednesdays green, Thursdays saffron, Fridays grey, Saturdays blue or black...
Sundays, the joke goes, are strictly no-turban days!
His wife's husband
They call him Mr Sushma Swaraj.
Swaraj Kaushal had once become lieutenant governor of Mizoram thanks to his more able and famous wife. Now he is a member of the Rajya Sabha -- again solely because of that. But this does not prevent Mr Swaraj from trying to queer his wife's pitch.
Time someone told him the story of the goose that laid golden eggs...
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