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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
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  • 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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Is Chutney out of place in Carnival?

Chutney has been able to resist the domination of calypso as the heartbeat of Carnival music

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Chutney has been able to resist the domination of calypso as the heartbeat of Carnival music. Wikimedia Commons
Chutney has been able to resist the domination of calypso as the heartbeat of Carnival music. Wikimedia Commons
  • Chutney soca music is a crossover style of music incorporating Soca elements
  • The satire on Prime Minister Rowley’s mother has been arguably the most controversial song in the history of calypso, soca and chutney in the country.
  • It is the International Chutney Queen Competition to be held on February 2 at Guaracara Park in San Fernando, the second largest city in the country

By Dr Kumar Mahabir

When people get angry, they tend to speak their mind. Their emotions explode in words that they have been suppressing for some time. Psychologist Dr Jeffrey Huntsinger proved this theory after conducting experiments at Loyala University in Chicago in the USA in 2012.

Chutney Soca promoter George Singh really spoke his mind when he became upset on learning that his 2018 show was not funded by the National Lotteries Control Board (NLCB), an agency of the Afro-dominated Government in multi-ethnic Trinidad and Tobago  (T&T).

At a news conference which he convened, Singh said that “the decision by the Government not to support chutney soca was an insult to the art form” (Express 05/02/17).

George Singh is a Chutney Soca promoter. Wikimedia Commons
George Singh is a Chutney Soca promoter. Wikimedia Commons

Singh raged: “The Government, over the last three years, has consistently reduced funding to Chutney Soca Monarch and various members of the present administration have stated directly to me that chutney soca brings no value to Carnival” (emphasis added).

At the same news conference, Singh said that the Government had approved a budget of TT $146 million to the National Carnival Commission (NCC).

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“I think this administration is hell-bent on seeing that it [chutney soca] has no place in Carnival. It is a slap in the face to Indo-Caribbean entertainment,” he said.

Singh’s outburst was a public exposé of what the Indo-Trinidadian (Indian) community had always known i.e. Indian culture (e.g. chutney, pichakaree ) is given marginal or no space in “national” and regional shows (e.g. CARIFESTA).

Sing’s rant is more revealing since he has admitted that he has “family ties” to Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi (Express 27/12/17).

Carnival in Trinidad has long been the cultural preservation of the Afro-Trinidadian (African) community. Wikimedia Commons
Carnival in Trinidad has long been the cultural preservation of the Afro-Trinidadian (African) community. Wikimedia Commons

In all his anger, Singh was careful not to confirm what almost every Trinidadian suspected i.e. that Government initially denied him funding because he was allowing Massive to perform his hot chutney hit “Rowlee Mudda Count.”

The satire on Prime Minister Rowley’s mother has been arguably the most controversial song in the history of calypso, soca and chutney in the country.

I have always contended that chutney concerts, competitions, tents and fêtes must be recognised as part of Carnival and must be a given an equitable share of culture funds, media space and stage presence.

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My argument is contained in detail in a chapter entitled “Chutney Music in Carnival:

Re-defining National Identity in Trinidad and Tobago” in the book Caribbean Dynamics:

Re-configuring Caribbean Culture (2015). The book is edited by Drs Beatrice Boufoy-Bastick Savrina Chinien and published by Ian Randle in Jamaica.

In the chapter, I discussed how Carnival in Trinidad has long been the cultural preservation of the Afro-Trinidadian (African) community. To this day, the major players and champions of calypso, soca, extempo, steelpan and masquerade, whether in Jouvert (“Jour Ouvert”) or Dimanche Gras, remain participants of African descent.

The emergence of chutney music and artists in 1995 – when Basdeo Panday was elected as the first Indian Prime Minister of T&T – was historic. In 1996, the rendition of Sonny Mann’s runaway hit “Lotay La” by DJs in soca parties, and by steel bands as their Road Mach tune during Carnival signalled the advent of chutney into the national urbanized festival/centre.

Chutney is being strongly influenced by calypso and soca rhythms and dance styles. Wikimedia Commons
Chutney is being strongly influenced by calypso and soca rhythms and dance styles. Wikimedia Commons

In the following years, Indians continued to change the ontology of “the national festival” to the extent that Carnival has to be re-defined to include Chutney Monarch, Chutney Brass, Chutney Soca, Chutney Calypso, Chutney Glow and Chutney Mardi Gras.

For the first time this year, a new chutney show is being introduced to the Carnival calendar. It is the International Chutney Queen Competition to be held on February 2 at Guaracara Park in San Fernando, the second largest city in the country. The event is being hosted by Randy Glasgow Productions.

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Chutney is being strongly influenced by calypso and soca rhythms and dance styles, but the genre is also used as an alternative to the Afro-Creole music formats. There have been two institutionalised chutney calypso theatres: “D” Massive Gosine Roving Calypso/Chutney Tent and the National Chutney Calypso Touring Tent.  Now in its eighth year is the National Carnival Schools Intellectual Chutney Soca Monarch Competition held at the Queen’s Park Savannah in Port of Spain.

These chutney competitions cum fêtes allow Indians to gain a sense of inclusion in this grand “national” festival, although on the periphery of the capital city. These cultural incursions also allow Indians to actively participate in Carnival without losing their (sense of) ethnic identity.

Dr Kumar Mahabir is an anthropologist who has published 11 books
Dr Kumar Mahabir is an anthropologist who has published 11 books

In 1998, cultural critic Burton Sankeralli wrote: “Indians are claiming Carnival space as Indians…. [and] … The flagship of this Indocentric presence and contestation for space is chutney …” With the re-creation of chutney, Indian artists are refusing to be subjected to silence and invisibility on mainstream radio, television, newspaper and the stage.

Chutney has been able to resist the domination of calypso as the heartbeat of Carnival music. The subversive spirit of calypso and Carnival is perhaps being re-incarnated in chutney.

(Dr Kumar Mahabir is an anthropologist who has published 11 books)