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Nawaz Sharif Debarred, but Who will Cage the Fat and Mighty Corrupt Indians Featured in the Panama Papers?

Will the stature of India's mighty postpone the probe caused by Panama papers indefinitely?

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Nawaz Sharif, Panama scandal
Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Wikimedia
  • Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif constrained out of office, on account of the Panama Papers
  • Sharif’s leave comes after a long-drawn fight in court which finished ominously for him
  • This raised questions about whether India’s mighty are at all prone to meet a similar destiny that Nawaz Sharif did

New Delhi, August 3, 2017: Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson of Iceland and Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan are similar in ways that they cannot be proud of. Both of them are prime ministers who were constrained out of office, on account of the Panama Papers, which is an investigative news coverage activity that revealed offshore shell organizations and tax shelters in light of spilled records from Panamanian law office Mossack Fonseca.

Be that as it may, while Gunnlaugsson surrendered, not long after the Panama Papers report prompted dissents in Iceland a year ago, Sharif’s leave today arrives after a fight that was long-drawn in court which finished ominously for him.

Also read: Chat With Donald Trump won’t Save PM Nawaz Sharif from Panama Papers scandal, says Imran Khan

In India as well, there is not lack of prominent names that were included in the list of Panama Papers. Indian Panama incorporates best legal counselor Harish Salve, industrialist Gautam Adani’s senior sibling Vinod Adani, and Bollywood hotshot Amitabh Bachchan. But contrasted with the speed at which Pakistan’s offices and judiciary followed up on the case of Sharif, is the pace of India on the subject of Panama Papers impressively slower?

Amitabh Bachchan was listed in Panama Papers. Wikimedia

The following is a passage from an article in Indian Express by Ritu Sarin in March 2017, one of the writers who was a part of the group exploring the Panama Papers.

“Nearly a year after The Indian Express published the Panama Papers, tax authorities have succeeded in obtaining 165 replies — partial or complete — from among 13 jurisdictions where Indian nationals had incorporated offshore companies through the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. According to data made available at the latest meeting of the Multi Agency Group (MAG) last month, the number of Indian clients of Mossack Fonseca, whose PAN numbers had been traced, has swelled to 424. Of these, 205 have accepted links to offshore entities named in the global expose. However, 60 other Indians named in the Panama Papers remain untraced.”

Sarin feels that it would be unfair to put an allegation on the Indian agencies of being relaxed in tackling the Panama Papers.
Rita Sarin added that she had hardly noticed the tax department act in such a swift manner. She compared investing offshore to the long process of peeling an onion, where you have to go layer by layer.

It is a fact that Pakistan managed to finish the Nawaz Sharif Panama case in barely a year, but what about the procedures on the prominent names of Indians displayed in the Panama Papers?

Sarin mentioned that all the individuals named in the Panama Papers, including the famous people were sent a notice. There will be a PIL in the Supreme Court. Notwithstanding when the duty dept is giving status reports to the SC. So in the event that they are not obliged to let even the SC know, there is no compulsion on them to tell us. Tax probes are exceptionally private, that is the idea of a duty examination. We will just become more acquainted with when individuals are prosecuted.

“All I can say is that each one of the people named by us were given tax notices. They must have been subsequently summoned and the case is in progress. Whenever there was a requirement or a suspicion of tax evasion, those requests were sent to the offshore jurisdictions. So that process is underway” she elaborated.

Indeed, even if the jokes proceed with it is worth asking if India’s mighty are prone to meet a similar destiny as Nawaz Sharif. Or, on the other hand, will their position and status postpone this test indefinitely?

-prepared by Harsimran Kaur of Newsgram. Twitter Hkaur1025

 

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Surfeit of Choices and Too Many Alternate Options of Engagement Gradually Eating into Time Spent before Box

Broadcast TV now faces a media landscape which its once prime position is being threatened

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Time, Box, Indians
A surfeit of choices and too many alternate options of engagement are gradually eating into the time spent before the box. Pixabay

A surfeit of choices and too many alternate options of engagement are gradually eating into the time spent before the box. Although Indians still spend nearly four hours a day watching TV, the shift to alternate screens is happening fast. Broadcast TV now faces a media landscape which its once prime position is being threatened. A shift in socio-cultural preferences is igniting this change in viewing habits. Cord cutting, as the phenomenon of actually giving up your Cable or Satellite connection which is quite apparent in markets like the US, is now slowly making an entry into Indian homes. I know many people who now access all their news and entertainment via Internet and on demand is becoming more dynamic and democratic than ever before. As broadcasters, we can propagate programmes online and on demand, and if we can catch the viewers attention, they will be discussed and recommended by thousands of people on social networks in real time, becoming instantly accessible by new viewers.

Globally, there is a trend where many large telecom firms like AT&T, Comcast, Singtel, Airtel and Jio are acquiring media (and entertainment) companies — and tech companies like Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook, Netflix, Sony (they acquired Columbia three decades ago) are diversifying into content. A handful of entertainment giants like Disney, Bertelsmann, Discovery and Viacom are still in the race of eyeballs. Of course, there are hundreds of local and regional players around the world and some of them like Times Group in India are of a significant size. Besides, several OTT platforms/services are still out there pretty much panning the proverbial gold. Where do simple vanilla broadcasters fit in the everchanging world of tomorrow, specially in India with its diverse audience of a billion plus is consuming more inexpensive data i.e. information and entertainment than even highly developed markets like US Europe.

Three billion viewers all over the globe are not going to junk their TV connections in a hurry but within the next four or five years, half of them will switch to streaming on demand services. Unfortunately, technology and regulators worldwide are adding to the woes of conventional TV networks. Long-form entertainment is still very much in broadcasters’ domain. The real threat is the changing lifestyle and habits of today’s generation. Increasingly, we are seeing the success of made for streaming films, dramas and documentaries etc are stealing audiences. With larger budgets, courtesy deeper pockets even the talent is attracted towards the tech turned media conglomerates and OTTs . There is not only a shift in consumers but purveyors of media and entertainment away from linear TV. Gaming and short form content is another magnet pulling millions apart from the box. Multiple media across multiple devices is the new normal. From archetypical family viewing home entertainment is getting individual, interactive and instant. Streaming audio/video and personalised TV with a smorgasbord of different formats both genres and duration is the way forward for sure.

Time, Box, Indians
Although Indians still spend nearly four hours a day watching TV, the shift to alternate screens is happening fast. Pixabay

Content, a term used for anything from a tweet to a thesis, news to exposes, a song to a music channel, a short video clip to a library of films is hardly a differentiator in most cases. Even exclusive coverage major sporting events, political upheavals, wars, disasters or triumphs of the human spirit can get you only fleeting audience. Nothing is sticky anymore. Regurgitating of the same story in different formats is hardly compelling. One reason that broadcasters will lose this battle is their inability to innovate their programming. A cookie cutter approach where formatted shows are universally produced and screened are now reaching a fatigue level. Every successful show or programme is replicated. More of the same works to a large extent and it has in case of television but now it’s coming to the end of the course. After a point familiarity breeds contempt.

Also Read- Apple Needs to Sell More Devices and Create More Desi Content to Bring More People into Its Ecosystem

In fact, so far OTTs have had successes which had either a different look and feel than existing broadcast shows or went into darker areas. However, programmers and creators must be wary of falling in a similar trap as their predecessor. If everyone is going to rely on a similar matrix, albeit in a broader spectrum of genres, only the best will survive. I believe that the present average of 4 hours a day of tele viewing is about the optimum to sustain. Unlike appointment TV which has a fixed point chart and hence limited programming options online watching streamed or stored has virtually no limitations of choice. The next enhancement for consumer will be virtual reality and immersive TV and customisation. The coming five years is festival time for Indians as we will be offered a large array of content by different platforms. Creative fraternity needs to understand the new fragmented and attention deficit audience. It’s broadcasters who have to begin thinking of a strategy for the next decade or face extinction. (IANS)