benami angst

this has been in news for the last few days in andhra pradesh: white ration card holders owning liquor shop licenses. only below poverty line (bpl) families are given white ration cards in the state. this news report says:103 liquor shops owned by white ration card holders.that's more than one third of all liquor shops in that district.

how can any 'below poverty line' household manage to buy a liquor license (to run a liquor store) worth crores?

bpl families owning one third of all liquor stores in one district. and it's not just one district, news coming in from across the state indicate that nearly 30-40% of liquor stores in all districts are owned by 'bpl' families. it's obvious that many of those crorepati poor families don't actually own those stores. in fact, many of those 'owners' are not even aware that they own those stores. and many others actually work as wage earners in those stores which they are supposed to 'own'. who actually owns those stores? other people, real crorepatis and power-wielders.

so i had to dig up this old post i'd first started working on ages ago:  

and some more sputtering of prejudices provoked by uid:
Educated Indians will not accept being told that that they have “no identity” as it questions their parentage and legitimacy of birth. Aadhaar is tantamount to bastardisation of the poor and branding the poor for life, institutionalising poverty.  
read that iitian mind: educated indians are not stupid, they will not accept this gaali. but the poor might. the poor are stupid enough to accept all gaalis. people without honour....

the writer's benami indignation on behalf of the poor hides so many prejudices. the distinction he makes, between educated and poor indians (and not educated and uneducated indians), seems premised on the belief that poverty and stupidity go together. the poor are stupid. the ba^%$#ds are poor because they're stupid. the poor are poor because they're people without honour. illegitimate #$$%&^5.....

but that's the way of the meritocratic iits: we're here because we're meritorious, not because of caste or wealth. they can't get in here because they're poor, not because of caste. and if some of them do get in here, it is because of wealth and caste, not because of merit.   

you might think stupid is a better antonym of meritorious. but no, here too, 'poor' is used as a stand-in for the politically incorrect 'stupid'. you could call it a whole way of life: this endless pursuit of benamidars to bear the burden of all the greed, ambitions, fears, passions and anxieties of the brahminized classes. look at the iits themselves, a prime example of nehru's 'temples of modern india', and also the best examples of benami institutions. in name, all indians owned them, but in reality, only the brahminized classes enjoyed the privilege of studying there.

the brahminized indian always speaks through benami identities. he was a 'nationalist' when he wanted to grab power from the colonial rulers, a 'socialist' when he wanted to move from the agrarian economy to industrial jobs (and a maoist when he couldn't), a 'hindu nationalist' when he wanted to divert the focus of the mandalized bahujans away from his excessive privileges (and a 'secularist' when he couldn't). he flaunts an 'indian' identity to challenge a caste census and becomes a 'moving republic' when he wants global recognition...

one main reason why he doesn't like the uid is that it could shake the material foundations of his benami world a little. this news report says:
Industry experts say the real-estate markets in Delhi, Mumbai and Ahmedabad see the most benami deals. Typically, in land, about 50% deals are benami, while in constructed premises, 20% are benami.
the experts are being coy. with so much land being cornered by a few, who would be wealthy enough to buy the rest (of land) at prices so artificially high? more rich indians using more clever benami identities.or another benami class of indians: indians who don't even live in india. or yet another benami class of indians: indians who live in india but don't work in india, in a way. like quite a few in the it/ites sector.. and so on. how much of india is left to indians who don't fall in any of those benami categories? very little, you could say.

you could also say the practice is more widespread, and not just geographically. all spectacular stock market scams/frauds since harshad mehta have involved hundreds if not thousands of benami identities and entities.. the number of pan cards in india is many times the number of individuals filing income tax returns: how are those excess cards being used?

the use of benami cards in the stock market is a worry. two years ago, when the 'educated' indians hadn't fully woken upto how the uid could affect their 'parentage and legitimacy of birth', lawmakers in india were contemplating how they could use uid to curb fraud in the stock market:
Large-scale fraudulent deals mostly involve entities that are financially sound and often enjoy political patronage. These entities include promoters and stakeholders of large-cap companies who do hold PAN and, hence, such deals are often consummated using accounts held in fictitious names, or benami accounts. 
“UID will help in tracking benami account holders and the transaction done through such accounts,” said an income-tax official, who did not want to be named as he is not authorized to interact with the media. 
 “For instance, even if an individual does not provide a PAN, a bank account or any transaction account can be created today just by submitting Form 16 of income tax.

Besides, many have multiple PAN cards, which can be misused. 
If UID is assigned to every individual and if it is mandatory to quote for every transaction, the account can be easily traced to the owner,” the tax official added.
that would have helped, a little, any stray lawman, if he were so inclined, to attempt to get a little closer to pulling down many benami facades hiding ill-gotten wealth. if he were so inclined. and so were his bosses.

so when the brahminized indian talks of opposing the uid because it invades his 'privacy' and questions his 'parentage' and honour, understand that he uses those terms as benami identities to hide his real concerns about 'property' and 'privilege'.
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