Modi’s Only Guarantee Which Is Not a Jumla: Allow Adani–Ambani to Loot the Country

modi ambani adani

In a recently published 3-part article series, we had surveyed the economic situation in the country in early 2024, and how it was affecting the common people. In Part 1, we examined the veracity of the tall claims being made by the FM and official economists about India’s GDP growth rate. In Part 2, we inquired into the magnitude of the unemployment crisis gripping the country. In Part 3, we surveyed India’s poverty levels, and the hunger and malnutrition crisis gripping the country.[1]

While Modi Government’s policies have pushed crores of people into a monumental unemployment, poverty and hunger crisis, at the same time, they have enormously enriched the country’s richest people. That is because the Modi Government has unashamedly transferred enormous amounts of public funds and public wealth to the country’s biggest corporations. This has been the sole aim of Modi Government’s economic policies of the past 10 years. In this article, we present a brief overview of some of these transfers.


1. Tax Cuts

The Modi Government has sharply reduced the corporate tax rates. In September 2019, the Finance Minister (FM) sharply reduced the base corporate tax rate from 30% to 22%, and for new manufacturing companies from 25% to 15%. While making the announcement, the FM also admitted that this would lead to a loss in direct tax income of Rs 1.45 lakh crore every year.[2]

The steep cut in corporate taxe rates has made India among the countries with the lowest corporate tax rate in the world. France has a corporate tax of 31% to 33.3%; Germany also a similar net corporate tax rate; corporate taxes in the USA and Canada are around 30%, while in Brazil this is at 34%. Even our neighbour Bangladesh has a 35% corporate tax rate.[3]

The consequence of these cuts in corporate taxes is that the share of corporate tax in gross tax revenues (GTR) of the Union Government has drastically fallen from a peak of 39.4% in 2009–10 (when the UPA government was in power) to steadily decline during the Modi years to 22.6% in 2020–21, before marginally rising to 27% in this year’s budget estimate (Chart 1).[4]

Chart 1: Corporation Tax as Percentage of Gross Tax Revenue

corporate tax india

Apart from low tax rates, India has almost zero property tax and no wealth tax. India had a low wealth tax, but FM Arun Jaitley scrapped even this low wealth tax in 2015. During the UPA regime, India’s property tax, even though low, rose between 2005 to 2012, but has fallen precipitously since (see Chart 2).[5]

Chart 2: Property Tax as % of GDP for Various Countries

Property Tax India

2. Tax Exemptions

A much bigger scam than lowering of corporate tax and property tax rates is that the Modi Government has been giving tax exemptions to the rich — in corporate taxes, income taxes and excise duties — to the tune of several lakh crore rupees every year. An analysis of Union Budget documents reveals that these exemptions total at least Rs 55 lakh crore over the period 2014–24. That’s a mind-boggling sum — it is more than the Union Budget for this year (Rs 47 lakh crore)![6]

3. Loan Write-Offs

During the first nine years of the Modi Government (that is, 201415 to 2022–23), public sector banks have written-off loans totalling Rs 10.42 lakh crore. Of this, the banks have recovered Rs 1.61 lakh crore, which means the net loan write-offs (assuming that there is going to be very little additional loan recovery, these can also be called loan waivers[7]) is Rs 8.81 lakh crore.[8] These are official loan write-offs, admitted by the government in Parliament. Note that this figure does not include the interest accruing on these loans; including that, the loss could be as much as four times this amount.[9]

Even after all these write-offs / waivers, the total non-performing assets (a euphemism for bad loans) of public sector banks were Rs 4.28 lakh crore as of March 2023.[10] Considering the nature of the ruling regime, we can safely assume that the great majority of these are also going to be eventually waived.

But this is just the visible part of the total loan waivers given to the country’s super-rich. Additionally, public sector banks have restructured loans of the ‘high and mighty’ — a roundabout way of writing off loans. This too must be of the order of several lakh crore rupees (the actual amount is not known).[11]

What is the total amount of loans to big corporate houses that the Modi Government has written off (including write-offs under the guise of restructuring) over the 9-year period 201423? At the minimum, excluding interest, it should be of the order of Rs 20–25 lakh crore.[12] Including interest, it could be three times this amount, maybe even more!

The beneficiaries of majority of these loan waivers and restructurings are mainly the big corporate houses.[13]

Now, in an even more astounding development, the RBI has issued a circular (on 8 June 2023) allowing banks to go in for a compromise settlement of loans of wilful defaulters and companies involved in fraud. These are defined as:

  • a wilful defaulter is a borrower who refuses to repay loans despite having capacity to pay up;
  • a fraudster is one who intentionally cheats the bank with false documents/information and misappropriates the money.

Both are criminal offences.

This is absolutely shocking. It not only rewards unscrupulous borrowers but also encourages honest borrowers to default. The Modi Government is ruining the integrity of our entire public sector banking system.

It means that crooks like Jatin Mehta (a close relative of Adani), Vijay Mallaya, Meher Chokshi, Nirav Modi and others, who have fled abroad after looting the banking system, can now return, pay a small amount to the banks and have their slates wiped clean. The RBI circular even allows them to start borrowing again 12 months after executing the compromise settlement![14]

4. Transfer of National Resources & Assets to Private Sector

The Modi Government has handed over control of the country’s mineral wealth and resources to private corporations in return for negligible royalty payments; transferred ownership of profitable public sector corporations to foreign and Indian private business houses at throwaway prices; handed over control of infrastructure including airports, ports, telecom network, etc. to its corporate friends at hugely discounted prices; given direct subsidies to private corporations as ‘incentive’ for investing in infrastructural projects in the name of ‘public–private–partnership’; and so on. These transfers of public wealth to private coffers have resulted in enormous losses to the public exchequer — of the order of several lakh crore rupees every year!

In end-2018, the Modi Government decided to privatise six airports, at Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Thiruvananthapuram, Lucknow, Mangalore and Guwahati. Within just 3 months, it handed over all the six airports to the Adani group, in violation of its own rules that no single bidder would be given more than 2 airports, and that bidders must have prior experience in developing or operating airports (which the Adani group did not have). The whole privatisation process was manipulated to keep away other airport players from bidding for the airports, and conditions were set up that enabled Modi’s bosom friend to grab all the 6 airports put up for privatisation at a fraction of the actual value of the assets privatised.[15]

During the pandemic, the Modi Government auctioned 19 coal mines at such low rates that it cost several states thousands of crores of rupees in potential revenue.[16]

Another huge scam is the sale of Air India to the Tatas. In 2021, the Modi Government announced the sale of Air India, its low cost airline Air India Express, and Air India’s holding in AISATS, the ground handling company in which Air India is an equal partner along with Singapore Airlines, to the Tatas for Rs 2,700 crore. Tatas also took over Rs 15,300 crore of the total debt of Air India of Rs 61,562 crore. The remaining debt of Rs 46,252 crore was taken over by the government. (In the Union Budget 2022, the Centre allocated Rs 51,917 crore towards clearing Air India’s dues.)

In return for this, Tatas acquired control over the 141-aircraft fleet (including 49 wide-body long-haul jets) operated by Air India and AI Express. Tatas also acquired, in one stroke, control of 4,400 domestic and 1,800 international landing and parking slots at Indian airports, as well as 900 slots at airports overseas.[17] The total value of these assets thus acquired by the Tatas is a few lakh crore rupees.

Following the completion of the deal, Tatas managed to get a loan of Rs 23,000 crore from a consortium of public sector banks at an interest rate of 4.25%, to finance the Air India deal as well as for working capital.[18] In March 2023, newspapers reported that Tata-owned Air India had borrowed another Rs 14,000 crore from the State Bank of India and Bank of Baroda — it was a mix of fresh loan and refinancing of existing debt. And on 29 February 2024, the Economic Times reported: “Tata group-owned Air India has refinanced short-term loans with the State Bank of India and Bank of Baroda for a three-year loan at an attractive rate, thanks to the conglomerate’s strong credit profile. The new Rs 19,000 crore loan will be used to finance the carrier’s working capital needs and upgrade its aircraft fleet.”[19]

A new loan to replace the previous loan; another new loan next year to replace the previous loan … It shouldn’t be surprising if ultimately, the public sector banks end up waiving half or more of the Air India debt taken over by the Tatas (15,300/2 = Rs 7,650 crore). This effectively means that the Centre has handed over Air India and AI Express to the Tatas for free, and in addition has poured in a minimum of [51,917 + 7650 – 2,700 =] Rs 56,867 crore of public money to consummate the deal. Also, it is very much possible that in the coming years, a part of the new loan given to Tatas as working capital will also be waived, in the name of providing an ‘incentive’ to Tatas to develop Air India into a ‘world class airline’.

This is the case with each and every public sector corporation being privatised by the Modi Government — each of these public assets has been sold at heavily discounted prices to foreign and Indian private corporations. So, when the government claims that it earned Rs 46,000 crore in disinvestment income in 2022–23 (Actuals, as mentioned in Union Budget 2024–25), and Rs 30,000 in 2023–24 (Revised Estimates), it actually means that these deals would have caused a (notional) loss to the public exchequer of the order of Rs 5–7 lakh crore, or maybe even more.

The Modi Government has also launched a scheme to ‘lease’ out Rs 6 lakh crore worth of physical assets, like railway lines and stations, telecom systems, power transmission lines, oil & gas pipelines, roads, bridges, ports etc., to private entities, over four years (FY22 to FY25). The actual value of these assets, so painstakingly built over the years, is obviously going to be many times this amount. These so-called ‘leases’ will run for up to 40 years. This is actually sell-off disguised as lease! According to media reports, the private entities taking over these assets are gigantic funds, based in developed countries, who seek to invest their billions globally for quick and juicy returns. So, they will not be interested in maintaining or improving the health of the assets being leased out to them by the ‘nationalist’ government ruling Delhi, but will seek to maximise their returns in the shortest possible time.[20] According to the Niti Aayog, the government has earned Rs 1.14 lakh crore through asset monetisation during FY22 and FY23.[21] Another notional loss of a few lakh crore rupees!

5. Refusal to Act against Black Money

One of the important promises made by the Narendra Modi during the 2014 elections was that if voted to power, he would take action to bring back the black money stashed abroad by the corrupt, and deposit Rs 15 lakh in the account of every citizen.

After winning the elections, the Prime Minister Modi made a complete U-turn on the issue. In fact, soon after coming to power, the Modi Government went to the extent of refusing to divulge the names of foreign account holders in the Supreme Court. Commenting on the application moved by the Attorney General on behalf of the government in the Supreme Court, senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, who was the petitioner in the case, stated, “The government has made an application which should have been filed by the criminals. I am amazed.”[22]

This is despite the fact that there have been several leaks of names of Indians who have stashed away black money in illegal bank accounts in tax havens abroad. These include the ‘Swiss Leaks’ of February 2015, when names of 1,195 Indians with accounts in HSBC’s Geneva branch were revealed by the Indian Express; and the ‘Panama Papers scandal’ of 2016 wherein names of 500 Indians with links to offshore firms were made public. These names include prominent Indian businessmen, diamond traders, politicians and film stars. Then in October 2021, the Indian Express reported yet another leak of offshore financial records of wealthy individuals and businesses in what has come to be known as the ‘Pandora Papers scam’. This list contains the names of more than 300 Indians. [23]

The Modi Government has so far not prosecuted any of these individuals. Instead, it has diluted the anti-corruption legislations in the country.[24]

The government’s unwillingness to act against those who have illegally stashed huge sums of money abroad, its refusal to take firm steps to curb illicit flows of black money, has resulted in huge loss in tax revenues to the government.

Direct taxes are collected by the Centre. The direct taxes as a percentage of GDP have hovered at around 5.5–6% of GDP. In 2023–24, total direct taxes collected by the Centre were Rs 18.2 lakh crore. Prof. Arun Kumar, one of India’s best known experts on black economy, estimates that had the government taken steps to check black money, the direct tax to GDP ratio would have conservatively risen to 12% of GDP [25] — implying an additional revenue of Rs 18 lakh crore! That’s huge!

6. Electoral Bonds: The Biggest Scam Since Independence

In 2017, the Modi Government rammed the Electoral Bonds (EBs) scheme through Parliament. It used its brute majority to force the Lok Sabha to pass the scheme as a money bill, to avoid discussion in the Rajya Sabha where it did not have the necessary numbers. The government claimed that the scheme would bring in transparency into the system of political funding, by ensuring that only white money flows to political parties, as the donors will have to donate through proper banking channels. The most important features of the EBs scheme were:

  1. Electoral bonds will ensure anonymity — the names of the donors and recepients will not be revealed. The transactions between the political parties and EB donors will remain completely hidden from the general public.
  2. Till 2017, the law was that corporate donors must be profit-making entities for three years before giving the donation, and they could donate at the most 7.5% of their average profit of the past 3 years to political parties. The Modi government removed this restriction.
  3. The government amended the FCRA to make it possible for foreign companies with subsidiaries in India to donate to political parties.

These features clearly give the lie to BJP’s claims about the scheme. In the name of transparency, EBs actually made the system of political funding opaque. The removal of the restriction on how much companies could donate to political parties meant that loss making businesses and even businesses that did not exist could now donate infinite amounts to political parties! Also, it has now become known that while the opposition political parties knew the identities of the donors who had donated to them, but did not know anything about donations received by other parties, the BJP was in the know about everything — which party was receiving how much and from which company. By removing funding limits for corporate donors and by opening a backdoor for the funding of Indian elections by foreign interests and lobbyists, and by making the whole funding opaque, the scheme legitimised high-level corruption on an unprecedented scale.

And yet such a nakedly unscrupulous scheme remained on the statute books for six long years, even though Common Cause and Association for Democratic Rights (ADR) had jointly challenged the constitutionality of the Electoral Bonds scheme in a PIL in 2017 itself, even before it became law.

The Supreme Court finally struck down the EBs scheme on 15 February 2024. A five-judge Constitution Bench of the Court deemed the scheme “unconstitutional” on the grounds that it violated the right of the people to be informed about who is donating how much to political parties; that it could lead to quid pro quo arrangements between corporates and governments headed by these political parties; and that it distorts the level playing field by giving a massive advantage to parties in power. It also forced the State Bank of India to disclose the full details of the scheme to the Election Commission of India (ECI), which uploaded the entire data on its website — who purchased the electoral bonds and donated them to which party.

The data reveals that a total of Rs 16,492 crore was received by political parties through EBs, of which the BJP received Rs 8,251.8 crore, just over half the value.[26] If we match which corporate donor had given how much to each political party, the data shows that much of the donations were indeed given as quid pro quo arrangements — as the Supreme Court had prophesied. An analysis of the EBs data by ADR shows that at least 33 groups of companies got 172 major contracts and project approvals from the Modi Government, of a total value of Rs 3.7 lakh crore, in exchange for Rs 1,751 crore in electoral bond donations to the BJP.[27] Not only that, in return for these kickbacks, the BJP also —

  • allowed companies to get away with money laundering;
  • allowed companies to cut corners in executing projects that even led to accidents and deaths;
  • changed environment laws and procedures to allow companies to get away with environmental destruction;
  • amended the Mines and Minerals (Development & Regulation) Act to allow private mining companies to make windfall profits;
  • amended the Electricity Act and Telecom Act to benefit private corporations;
  • twisted procedures and ignored protective laws for tribals making it easier to hand over precious mineral blocks cheaply to private miners.

Even more horrifying than all these criminalities is that the BJP allowed drug companies to get away with making sub-standard drugs, in return for kickbacks of a few hundred crore rupees![28]

Consequence of Transfers to Rich

1. Rising Indirect Taxes

There are two types of taxes, direct taxes and indirect taxes. Direct taxes are levied on incomes, such as wages, profits, property, etc., and so fall directly on the rich; while indirect taxes are imposed on goods and impersonal services, and so fall on all, both rich and poor. An equitable system of taxation taxes individuals and corporations according to their ability to pay, which in practice means that in such a system the government collects its tax revenues more from direct taxes than indirect taxes. The developed countries collect the bulk of their tax revenues from the rich, that is, through direct taxes. According to data given by two economists (Rohit Azad & Indranil Chowdhury, who teach economics at JNU and PGDAV College, Delhi University, respectively), the ratio of direct taxes to total tax revenue is 76.6% for USA, 67% for Japan, 61.8% for South Korea, 57.1% for Germany, 59.6% for UK, 74.5% for Australia, and 72.7% for Canada.[29] The Economic Survey 2017–18 of the Government of India too mentions that direct taxes account on average for about 70% of total taxes in Europe.

In India, because of the huge concessions being given to the uber rich, the Government of India’s direct tax revenues are low. To make up for this shortfall in revenues, the Modi Government has hugely increased indirect taxes:

  • it has imposed GST on even essential commodities of daily consumption, like pre-packed and labelled wheat, rice, pulses and other foodgrains, several milk products like curd and paneer, fish and meat, several stationery items like pencil sharpeners and ink, and so on.
  • it has hiked excise duty (including cesses) on petrol and diesel; this is the most important reason for the steep hike in price of petrol and diesel over the past 9 years — price of petrol has gone up from Rs 80 per litre in 2014 to more than Rs 100 per litre today, while diesel has gone up from Rs 62 per litre to more than Rs 92 over this period (See Table 1).

Table 1: Excise Duty on Petrol and Diesel, 2014 to 2023 (Rs / litre)[30]

 May 2014May 2020January 2024
Excise Duty on Petrol9.4832.9819.90
Excise Duty on Diesel3.5631.8315.80

The total income of the Union Government from both these heads is given in Table 2.

Table 2: Centre’s Revenue from Petrol–Diesel Taxes and GST, 2014 to 2023 (Rs lakh crore)

 2014–15 to 2023–24 (Apr–Dec)
Income from Petrol–Diesel Taxes34.54
 2017–18 to 2023–24
Income from GST32.28
Total66.82

The total income of the Centre from GST since the government introduced it in 2017 till 2023–24 (RE) was Rs 32.28 lakh crore.[31] And the total income of the Central Government from taxes and duties on crude oil and petroleum products from 2014–15 till December 2023–24 was Rs 34.54 lakh crore. [This figure does not include the revenue of the Centre from corporate / income tax and dividend income from the petroleum sector. This income totals Rs 5.4 lakh crore (for the period 2014–15 to December 2023). If we include this, the total income of the Central Government from the petroleum sector increases to Rs 39.94 lakh crore.][32]

The total income of the Centre from these two indirect taxes during the 10-year period 2014–15 to 2023–24 totals Rs 66.82 lakh crore (Table 2). These two indirect taxes together contributed nearly one-third (31.3%) of the total Gross Tax Revenues of the Central Government over these 10 years.[33]

Because of this massive income from indirect taxes, in India, for every Rs 100 collected by the government (Centre + States combined) as tax revenue, around Rs 35 comes from direct taxes, and the rest, Rs 65, from indirect taxes.[34]

Chart 3: Direct Taxes as % of Total GTR

Direct Taxes India

Note: All data are Actuals. For 2021–22, the data is Revised Estimates. States direct taxes, indirect taxes and total taxes exclude States’ share in Central taxes as reported in Central Government Budget documents.

The burden of paying the indirect taxes falls disproportionately on the poor, both individually as well as collectively. At the individual level, a poor person pays a larger portion of his/her income as indirect taxes as compared to the rich. And collectively too, the bulk of the indirect taxes collected by the government come from the poor. A 2023 Oxfam report on growing inequality in India estimates that the bottom 50% of the population pays six times more on indirect taxes as a percentage of income compared to the top 10%. And of the total GST collected from food and non-food items, 64.3% comes from the bottom 50%, one-third from middle 40% and a meagre 3–4% come from the top 10%.[35]

It is this huge rise in indirect taxes that is responsible for the steep rise in inflation over the past few years. And it is the poor who are the worst sufferers of rising inflation. So, they are double hit.

2. Low Government Tax Revenues

In every capitalist country in the world, especially the developed capitalist countries, while their governments essentially run the economy for the profiteering of the rich, they also collect significant amount of taxes from them and spend it on providing education, healthcare and other welfare services to their people. The average tax revenues of the governments of the developed countries (the 38 countries of the OECD) as a percentage of their GDP (this is called the tax-to-GDP ratio) was 34% in 2022.[36] The tax-to-GDP ratio for India’s Emerging Market peers like Brazil, Argentina and South Africa was 33.3%, 29.6% and 27% respectively — not significantly lower than that of the developed countries.[37]

Despite the huge increase in indirect taxes, the direct tax concessions and exemptions to the rich are so massive that on the whole, India’s tax-to-GDP ratio is less than half of the developed countries and the Emerging Market Economies. India’s tax-to-GDP ratio (taking into consideration all taxes of the Centre and the States) has been fluctuating between 16 and 17% over the period 2014–15 to 2022–23 (Chart 4).[38]

Chart 4: India Tax-to-GDP Ratio, 2014–15 to 2022–23  (in %)

India Tax to GDP Ratio

3. Low General Government Total Revenues

Of the total revenues of all kinds collected by the Centre and States, including Centre’s borrowings, the Centre collects roughly 70%, and the States’ own revenue is 30%.[39] Furthermore, while the Centre has great flexibility in raising resources if it wishes to do so, the States have few independent sources of revenue and limited access to emergency borrowings. Therefore, the main responsibility for raising budgetary revenues of the general government (that is, Centre and State governments) lies with the Central government.

In India, the Modi Government has not only been giving huge tax concessions to the big corporate houses, it has also been transferring huge amounts of public funds into the coffers of the rich, through means mentioned above like loan write-offs, subsidies given in the name of PPPs, ‘strategic disinvestment’ in public sector corporations, transfer of mineral wealth to private corporations for negligible royalty payments, and so on. Because of all these concessions and subsidies, not only is the total revenue of the Central government low, the general government revenue (that is, revenue of Centre and States combined) is also low. This is borne out by a comparison with the general government revenues of other countries. India’s total general government revenue as percentage of GDP is among the lowest in the world.

According to the IMF Fiscal Monitor, in 2023, the general government revenue as a percentage of GDP for the 19 Euro area countries was 46.4%. For the Middle Income Economies of Europe, it averaged 34.6% of GDP, and for Emerging Market Economies of Latin America it was 30.2%. But total general revenue of the Government of India (Centre + States combined) was much lower — just 20.2% of GDP (see Chart 5).[31]

Chart 5: General Government Revenues as % of GDP,

 Developed Countries & Emerging Market Economies vs. India, 2023

Govt Revenues

From this comparison, we can draw the conclusion — that may appear to be outlandish but is actually not so if one thinks rationally — that it should be possible for the Government of India to increase its revenues by 50%. If it succeeds in doing so, its revenues would still be only 30% of GDP, just about the same as that of its Emerging Market Peers! That this is very much possible, we discuss in a subsequent article.

References

1. For those interested in reading this article series, they have been published by Countercurrents.org, and can be read online at: Neeraj Jain, “Is India Becoming a $5 Trillion Economy Soon?”, 28 April 2024, https://countercurrents.org; Neeraj Jain, “The Economic Situation in 2023–24 Part 2: India’s Appalling Unemployment Crisis”, 29 April 2024, https://countercurrents.org; Neeraj Jain, “The Economic Situation in 2023–24 Part 3: India’s Grim Poverty Situation”, 30 April 2024, https://countercurrents.org.

2. “Corporate Tax Cut to Cost Govt Rs 1.45 Lakh Crore”, 20 September 2019, https://www.businesstoday.in.

3. “What Is Corporate Tax? India’s Corporate Tax Comparison with Other Countries”, 20 September 2019, https://www.newsx.com.

4. Our calculations, based on Union budget figures.

5. Rohit Azad and Indranil Chowdhury, “Making a Case for the Old Pension Scheme”, 18 October 2022, https://www.thehindu.com.

6. Our estimate. Budget documents reveal that in 2014–15 and 2015–16, the Modi Government gave tax exemptions to the country’s uber rich totalling Rs 11 lakh crore. For 2016–17, the government changed its methodology of making this calculation to show a much lowered figure — we have calculated that actual tax concession was the same as the previous year, Rs 5.5 lakh crore. (For more on this, see our article: Neeraj Jain, “Pandering to Dictates of Global Finance”, Janata Weekly, 19 February 2017.) In the subsequent years, the government stopped making a full estimate of these tax concessions. However, in a paper published in 2020, economists Reetika Khera and Anmol Somanchi of IIM Ahmedabad, have estimated government revenue foregone, that is, government tax exemptions to the super-rich, based on the older methodology, for the years up to 2019–20. They conclude that the crash in the government estimate of revenue foregone completely disappears if the calculations are redone based on the older methodology, and in fact exceed Rs 6 lakh crore for 2018–19 and 2019–20. (See Figure 1a, Fixing A+B in: Reetika Khera and Anmol Somanchi, “A Comparable Series of Tax Revenue Foregone”, May 2020, https://web.iima.ac.in.) Even if we take the tax exemptions / concessions given by the Modi Government to be Rs 5.5 lakh crore every year, then, total tax concessions for the 10-year period 2014–15 to 2023–24 = 5.5 x 10 = Rs 55 lakh crore.

7. When a bank recognises that a loan is no longer collectable, it writes off the loan, but it does not mean the loan account is closed. The bank continues to try to recover the loan amount. On the other hand, a loan waive-off is a complete cancellation of a loan account, the borrower no longer needs to repay any part of the loan. Data provided by the RBI shows that almost 85–90% of the loans written off by the banks are never recovered. (Vivek Kaul, “Bad loans Are First Written-Off, Then Waived” 30 July 2023, https://www.deccanherald.com; Ashish Kajla, “Banks Paying Heavily for Corporate Loan Waivers: RTI”, 30 July 2020, https://www.cenfa.org.)

8. “Rs 10.4 Lakh Crore NPAs, 9 Years: Which Banks Wrote Off, Recovered How Much?” 1 March 2024, https://www.newslaundry.com.

9. Sucheta Dalal, “Loan Write Offs Is the ‘Biggest Scandal of the Century’”, 9 May 2016, https://www.moneylife.in.

10. “Banks Write Off Rs 14.56 Lakh Crore NPAs in Last Nine Financial Years”, 7 August 2023, https://economictimes.indiatimes.com.

11. For more on this, see our booklet, “Is the Government Really Poor?” Lokayat publication, Pune, 2018, http://lokayat.org.in.

12. We are not exaggerating. At a time when the total NPAs of public sector banks were Rs 7.3 lakh crore and they had written off around Rs 1.14 lakh crore during the past 3 years, Dr. K.C. Chakrabarty, a former deputy governor of the RBI and a veteran public sector banker, in an interview to First Post stated that the total problematic loans of the banking sector was of the order of Rs 20 lakh crore: “I’ll put the figure around Rs 20 lakh crore. It is not correct to say that NPAs are only Rs 6 or 7 lakh crore. One should include all troubled loans including reported bad loans, restructured assets, written off loans and bad loans that are not yet recognised.”[Dinesh Unnikrishnan, “Exclusive: Actual Bad Loans About Rs 20 Trn; Govt, RBI Clueless, Says ex-RBI Deputy K C Chakrabarty”, 27 February 2017, https://www.firstpost.com.]

13. “SBI Tops Corporate Loan Waiver List”, 11 October 2019, https://www.dailypioneer.com; Rohit Prasad & Gaurav Gupta,“Data Check: Loan Defaults by Corporates have Cost the State Much More than Farm Loan Waivers”, 18 February 2019, https://scroll.in; Ashish Kajla, “Banks Paying Heavily for Corporate Loan Waivers: RTI”, 30 July 2020, https://www.cenfa.org.

14. “RBI Supports Frauds and Wilful Defaulters – 3 Articles” (Articles by Thomas Franco; ‘The Wire’ staff; and E.A.S. Sarma), 25 June 2023, https://janataweekly.org.

15. Ravi Nair, “How Modi Bypassed Norms to Try and Enable Adani’s Entry into Airport Business”, 27 March 2019, https://www.newsclick.in; “Adani Paid Rs 74.5 cr for Mangaluru Airport Assets Valued at Rs 363 cr, Says AAI Union”, 7 October 2021, https://www.thenewsminute.com; “Finance Ministry and Niti Aayog had Raised Red Flags Before Adani’s Clean Sweep of Six Airports”, 15 January 2021, https://indianexpress.com; “Modi Government Flouted Rules, Favoured Gautam Adani to Lease Out Six Airports to His Firm”, 15 October 2020, https://www.nationalheraldindia.com.

16. Shreegireesh Jalihal & Tapasya, “Coal Auctions: Modi Govt’s Policy Push to Private Miners Will Cost Chhattisgarh Rs 900 Crore a Year”, 16 August 2021, https://www.newslaundry.com.

17. Ravi Sharma, “Air India: Sold for a Song”, Frontline, 19 November 2021, https://frontline.thehindu.com; V. Sridhar, “Air India: Family Silver Sold for a Song”, 15 October 2021, https://www.newsclick.in.

18. “Tata Plans to Borrow Rs 15,000 Crore for Air India’s Working Capital”, 29 October 2022, https://www.business-standard.com; “Tatas Pick SBI, Two Other Banks to Finance Air India’s Old Debt”, 29 January 2022, https://economictimes.indiatimes.com.

19. “Air India Raises Rs 14,000 cr Loan from SBI, BoB”, 30 March 2023,”, https://www.livemint.com; “Air India Refinances Loans with SBI and BoB at Near G-Sec Yields”, 29 February 2024, https://economictimes.indiatimes.com.

20. Subodh Varma, “Who is Taking Over National Assets in India?” 17 April 2022, https://www.newsclick.in.

21. “Assets Worth Rs 26,000 Crore Monetised in FY23: NITI Aayog”, 23 February 2023, https://economictimes.indiatimes.com.

22. Dhananjay Mahapatra, “Now, Modi Govt Too Refuses to Name Foreign Bank Account Holders”, 18 October 2014, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com.

23. Ashish Mehta, “Surgical Strike? This was Aspirin for Cancer”, 9 November 2016, http://www.governancenow.com; Ritu Sarin, “Exclusive: HSBC Indian List Just Doubled to 1195 Names. Balance: Rs 25420 Cr”, 9 February 2015, http://indianexpress.com; “Panama Papers: From Amitabh Bachchan to Adani’s Brother, Names of 500 Indians Leaked”, 4 April 2016, http://www.business-standard.com; “Exclusive: Panamagate India”, 8 April 2016, http://www.theindianeye.net; “Over 300 Indian Names in New Data Leak That Sheds Light on Offshore Dealings: Report”, 3 October 2021, https://thewire.in.

24. For more on this, see our booklet: “Demonetisation: Yet Another Fraud on the People”, Lokayat publication, January 2017, lokayat.org.in.

25. Arun Kumar, “The Hollowness of the Modi Government’s Tall Claims and Self-Praise on Economy”, 18 August 2023, https://thewire.in.

26. “How Much Money Did the BJP Really Get From Electoral Bonds?” 18 March 2024, https://thewire.in; Snigdhendu Bhattacharya, “Bonding with the Bonds”, 21 March 2024, https://www.outlookindia.com. See also: “Updated Data on Electoral Bonds – January 2024”, 15 February 2024, ADR, https://adrindia.org.

27. “41 Companies Facing Probe by Central Agencies Gave Rs 2,471 Crore to BJP Through Electoral Bonds: Petitioners”, 23 March 2023, https://www.dailyexcelsior.com.

28. For more details on all these issues, see our article: Neeraj Jain, “The Electoral Bond Scam: The Biggest Scam Since Independence”, 9 May 2024, https://countercurrents.org.

29. Rohit Azad and Indranil Chowdhury, op. cit.

30. “Petrol, Diesel Fuel Price Calculator with Full Tax Breakup”, https://www.mycarhelpline.com; “Excise Duty on Petrol was Rs 9.48/ltr, Diesel Rs 3.56 in 2014: Minister”, 1 August 2022, https://www.business-standard.com.

31. Figures taken from the Union Budget for various years, and totalled by us.

32. “Contribution to Central and State Exchequer”, Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell, https://ppac.gov.in. The data given here does not include the contribution of the petroleum sector to the State Exchequer.

33. Our calculation, based on Union Budget figures of various years. For 2023–24, we have taken the Revised Estimates.

34. We have taken the data from ‘Table 106: Direct and Indirect Tax Revenues of Central and State Governments’, given in the RBI publication, Handbook of Statistics on Indian Economy (2022–23), available at https://m.rbi.org.in.

35. “Survival of the Richest: The India Story”, Oxfam Report, 15 January 2023, https://www.oxfamindia.org.

36. “Brochure: Revenue Statistics 2023”, OECD, https://www.oecd.org.

37. “Revenue Statistics LAC: Key Findings for Brazil”, OECD, https://www.oecd.org; “Tax Revenues: Tax-to-GDP ratio – Key Findings for South Africa”, OECD, https://www.oecd.org. Accessed on 13 May 2024. Data for Brazil and Argentina is for 2022; data for South Africa is for 2021.

38. Our calculation. We have taken the data for total tax revenues of Centre and States from: ‘Table 106: Direct and Indirect Tax Revenues of Central and State Governments’, given in the RBI publication, Handbook of Statistics on Indian Economy (2022–23), available at https://m.rbi.org.in.  Tax data for 2021-22 are Revised Estimates and data for 2022-23 are Budget Estimates. And we have taken the data for GDP from National Accounts Statistics 2023; and updated it with data given in “Press Note on Second Advance Estimates of National Income 2023–24 …”, 29 February 2024, https://www.mospi.gov.in.

39. Our calculation. This calculation is for the period 2014–15 to 2021–22. For states own revenue, we have taken data from the RBI publication, Handbook of Statistics on Indian States (2021–22), https://m.rbi.org.in.

40. “Methodological and Statistical Appendix. IMF Fiscal Monitor”, April 2024, https://www.imf.org.

Neeraj Jain is a BTech in Electrical Engineering. He is a social-political activist with an activist group called Lokayat in Pune, and is also the Associate Editor of Janata Weekly, a weekly print magazine and blog published from Mumbai.

Email: [email protected].

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