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Black Money: Indians Declare $9.5 Billion in income that was never Taxed or Reported

64,275 Indians who declared so-called black money during the four-month period that ended Friday would pay 45 percent in taxes to the state but avoid criminal prosecution

People wait in front of an income tax billboard at a bus stop in New Delhi, India, Sept. 26, 2016. VOA

October 2, 2016: Tens of thousands of Indians have come forward over the past four months to declare a collective $9.5 billion in income that was never reported or taxed, India’s finance minister Arun Jaitley announced Saturday.

Jaitley said that number could increase because some declarations are still being processed.

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Under a government plan announced by Jaitley earlier this year, the 64,275 Indians who declared so-called black money during the four-month period that ended Friday would pay 45 percent in taxes to the state but avoid criminal prosecution.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who vowed to curb tax avoidance when he was elected in 2014, congratulated both Jaitley and those who chose to declare their black money Saturday.

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“I compliment all those who chose to be tax compliant in IDS-2016. This is a great contribution towards transparency & growth of the economy,” he tweeted from his official account.

This is not the first time the government of India has instituted such a tax amnesty program — Jaitley said a program in 1997 brought in $1.5 billion to the government.

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The government faced opposition to the action since the release of the so-called Panama Papers in April, which listed individuals and companies that had avoided taxes by setting up shell companies in Panama. About 500 Indians were among those accused. (VOA)

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Aadhaar Helpline Mystery: French Security Expert Tweets of doing a Full Disclosure Tomorrow about Code of the Google SetUP Wizard App

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Google comes up with a new feature

Google’s admission that it had in 2014 inadvertently coded the 112 distress number and the UIDAI helpline number into its setup wizard for Android devices triggered another controversy on Saturday as India’s telecom regulator had only recommended the use of 112 as an emergency number in April 2015.

After a large section of smartphone users in India saw a toll-free helpline number of UIDAI saved in their phone-books by default, Google issued a statement, saying its “internal review revealed that in 2014, the then UIDAI helpline number and the 112 distress helpline number were inadvertently coded into the SetUp wizard of the Android release given to OEMs for use in India and has remained there since”.

Aadhaar Helpline Number Mystery: French security expert tweets of doing a full disclosure tomorrow about Code of the Google SetUP Wizard App, Image: Wikimedia Commons.

However, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommended only in April 2015 that the number 112 be adopted as the single emergency number for the country.

According to Google, “since the numbers get listed on a user’s contact list, these get  transferred accordingly to the contacts on any new device”.

Google was yet to comment on the new development.

Meanwhile, French security expert that goes by the name of Elliot Alderson and has been at the core of the entire Aadhaar controversy, tweeted on Saturday: “I just found something interesting. I will probably do full disclosure tomorrow”.

“I’m digging into the code of the @Google SetupWizard app and I found that”.

“As far as I can see this object is not used in the current code, so there is no implications. This is just a poor coding practice in term of security,” he further tweeted.

On Friday, both the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) as well as the telecom operators washed their hand of the issue.

While the telecom industry denied any role in the strange incident, the UIDAI said that he strange incident, the UIDAI said that some vested interests were trying to create “unwarranted confusion” in the public and clarified that it had not asked any manufacturer or telecom service provider to provide any such facility.

Twitter was abuzz with the new development after a huge uproar due to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Chairman R.S. Sharma’s open Aadhaar challenge to critics and hackers.

Ethical hackers exposed at least 14 personal details of the TRAI Chairman, including mobile numbers, home address, date of birth, PAN number and voter ID among others. (IANS)

Also Read: Why India Is Still Nowhere Near Securing Its Citizens’ Data?