Given the 'one scam a day' times we live in, most Indians have become immune to hearing of thousands of crores being looted by white-collar criminals. Nirav Modi, Vijay Mallya, Telgi and so many others have made away with so many crores that now the enormity of the sums stolen do not really make an impact. So when Shiv Pratap Shukla, the Union Minister of State for Finance informed parliament that in the past three financial years, Indian banks lost Rs 70,000 crore in scams, it probably did not shock too many. According to records he submitted in Rajya Sabha, in 2015-16 the amount lost to scamsters was Rs 16,409 crore, this amount in 2016-17 rose to Rs 16,652 crore; but in 2017-18, it rose by more than double to Rs 36,694 crore.
Just to give you a small idea of how much India really lost because of scams, let us just say that Rs 70,000 crore is enough to fund – not one, two or even three trips to the moon – with this much money you can go to the moon and back 181 times!
India's history of scams goes back several years. But among the most discussed scams of modern India is the Bofors gun deal where middlemen allegedly got away with Rs 64 crore. The 1992 Securities Scam cost the country Rs 5,000 crore. Then in 2012, the NHRM scam of Uttar Pradesh cost India double that amount Rs 10,000 crore.
For most of us, it is tough to tell how many zeroes there are in a crore. A sum like Rs 64 lakh crore is unimaginable for us. But we should know how much that money really is because it comes from us. It comes from our savings, from our taxes and from our hard-earned salaries. Just to give you an idea, here is what Rs 70,000 crore could have done for India.
When ISRO had sent Chandrayan-I to the moon in 2008, that mission had cost Rs 384 crore. The Mars Mission of 2013 had cost Rs 470 crore. The next moon mission, Chandrayan-II is expected to cost Rs 800 crore. In fact, the annual budget of ISRO for 2018-19 is only Rs 10,783 crore. Where does this stand in front of Rs 70,000 crore lost in scams?
Coming to farmers. The new, revised Minimum Support Price for the kharif crop which is expected to benefit 12 crore farmers will cost the government Rs 35,500 crore. Just a little over half the amount stolen from banks in the last three years. This money, distributed according to the new MSP rates among farmers, would benefit almost 24 crore people.
Sugarcane farmers can get three times the compensation announced by the government
Two months ago, the central government had announced a compensation package of Rs 7,000 crore for sugarcane farmers and sugar mill owners. Farmer leaders say that the government will divide this package by giving Rs 1,200 crore for buffer stocks of sugar and Rs 4,400 crore to promote ethanol production from sugarcane. So farmers will only get whatever is left after that. Already, the compensation due to the farmers is more than Rs 23,000 crore. By these calculations, Rs 70,000 crore lost in scams in the past three years, could have paid the sugarcane farmer's compensation three times over.
So many of the budgetary allocations of 2018-19 are chicken-feed in front of the enormity of the money lost in scams. Some of the schemes announced for farmers are: Aquaculture Infrastructure Development Fund and Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund were established with a mere Rs 10,000 crore. A measly Rs 2,000 crore was given for Agro Market Infrastructure Fund. The highly publicized National Bamboo Mission got Rs 1,290 crore. To take care of the health of the nation, the National Health Policy will ensure that health and wellness centres are opened all over the country. For this, they have been given Rs 1,200 crore. The Digital India Programme aimed at making India digitally literate, Rs 3,073 crore has been allocated. For India's telecom infrastructure, Rs 10,000 crore has been granted.
In Rs 70,000 crore, every district of UP can have its own Metro Rail. The UP government proposes to spend Rs 500 crore on its Metro Rail expansion in 2018-19.
So this is the level of development that India could have achieved with an amount like Rs 70,000 crore. And all that money is now in the hands of scamsters who have in all probability fled the country.