GoPro Hero6 Black Review

GoPro Hero6 Black Review

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The Hero6 Black supports 4K 60fps and 1080p 240fps video recording
  • Other improvements include a Touch Zoom mode and 5GHz Wi-Fi
  • The GoPro Hero6 Black is priced at Rs. 37,000 in India

GoPro’s latest flagship action camera, the Hero6 Black, arrived in India last year at a rather steep price of Rs. 45,000. However, the company cut that down to Rs. 37,000 in January. While this is still higher than what it retails for in the US, it’s a welcome improvement. The new model brings the Hero series up to speed with support for newer video codecs such as HEVC for capturing 4K video at 60fps or 1080p video at 240fps.

There are other improvements as well, such as the ability to digitally zoom in to your shot, HDR still photography, and improved stabilisation. Let’s take a look in our review of the GoPro Hero6 Black.

 

GoPro Hero6 Black design

Looking at the exterior of the camera, the Hero6 Black looks and feels very much like the Hero5 Black. It has the same blocky design with a grey rubberised coating over most of the body. You get a large shutter release button on the top, and a smaller Mode/ Power button on the side. The Hero6 Black doesn’t have any built-in storage so you’ll need to invest in a microSD card. There’s a microSD slot on the bottom of the camera, along with the compartment for the removable 1220mAh battery.

There’s a small non-backlit display in the front just beside the lens, which shows you what shooting mode you’re in, and the battery level. You also get a touchscreen at the back, which is useful for framing your shots and changing settings. The Hero6 Black has a flap on the side, which protects the USB Type-C port and a Micro-HDMI port. This flap can be removed with a gentle tug, allowing the camera can be used with accessories like the GoPro Karma Grip. There are also three microphones, and three red LED status lights placed around the camera so you can always see at least one.

GoPro Hero6 Black top ndtv GoPro

 

The Hero6 Black ships with the same set of accessories as most GoPro cameras. In the box, you get a flat and a curved adhesive mount, the mounting cage, and a baseplate. The cage is needed to attach the Hero6 Black to any GoPro accessory. The camera is backwards-compatible with accessories designed for previous Hero models,  so you can use you existing mounts, if you have any.

GoPro Hero6 Black features and specifications

The Hero6 Black features a 12-megapixel wide-angle sensor that’s capable of shooting up to 4K video at 60fps. There’s also a new GP1 processor, which promises to deliver nearly twice the performance as that of the Hero5 Black. A new 4K (4:3) aspect ratio mode is now available with this model as well. Just like before, there’s a wide selection of lower resolutions and framerates to choose from, including 2.7K, 1440p, 1080p, and 720p. GoPro has dropped the 960p resolution option, along with the Narrow and Medium field of view (FOV) options, leaving you with SuperView, Wide, and Linear. SuperView shoots 4:3 video and then stretches it horizontally to 16:9. While this gives you wider frame, it also creates the most barrel distortion. The Hero6 is water resistant up to a depth of 10m without the need for any external housing.

GoPro Hero6 Black screen ndtv GoPro

 

You can issue voice commands to the Hero6 Black just like before, by using the keyword ‘GoPro’ followed by the command. We found this to work pretty well provided you speak in a slight accent and are loud enough. You can even wake the camera up from standby with your voice, which is handy. However, it isn’t very effective in a noisy environment or if the camera is too far from you.

Electronic image stabilisation helps smoothen out footage when there’s motion. Three-axis stabilisation was previously limited to only a handful of modes with the Hero5 Black, but on this model, it can work at up to 4K 30fps.

The Hero6 Black now uses the 5GHz Wi-Fi band for connecting with your smartphone, so transferring content is slightly faster. Bluetooth and GPS are also available.  The camera syncs with the GoPro app, which is available for Android and iOS. You can change settings remotely, use your phone’s display as a viewfinder, and transfer all your footage to your phone. The Hero6 Black also works with QuikStories, which is GoPro’s automated story creation tool.

GoPro Hero6 black ndtv GoPro

GoPro Hero6 Black performance and battery life

The Hero6 Black is easy to set up and get started with. A swipe right on the home screen takes you to your recorded media, while swiping left takes you to advanced settings such as Protune, stabilisation, and wind noise reduction. Protune has been around for a while, and what it does is let you set the ISO and other exposure settings manually. Swiping down from the home screen takes you to the Wi-Fi, voice control and other system-wide settings.

Its touch response is good and navigating the menus is simple enough to master, even for first-time users.  We found the default brightness level to be adequate during the day, although you can increase it if you wish. The shooting modes and settings indicators are displayed prominently in a bar at the bottom of the screen, and it only takes a few taps to change the resolution or framerate.

The main shooting modes include Photo, Video, and Time Lapse, and they have nested modes such as Burst in the photo mode and a few low-light options for time lapse and photo modes. Sadly, GoPro has ditched the Video + Photo mode, which we last saw on the Hero5 Black. In this mode, the camera saved a still photo every few seconds while recording video.

There’s a new Touch Zoom option in the video mode, which lets you perform a digital zoom before you start shooting. The option is available only with certain resolution, framerate, and field of view combos. It’s a nice addition but video quality is degraded, especially when you’re shooting in low light. During the day, the Hero6 Black captures good footage. We took most of our videos at either 4K 30fps or 4K 60fps, and we’re quite happy with what this little camera can achieve. The higher framerate at 4K does add some nice fluidity to videos. Contrast levels are very good, and the camera is quick to adapt to varying light conditions.

Shot using Photo mode (Tap to see full-sized GoPro Hero6 Black camera sample)

 

Shot using Night Photo mode (Tap to see full-sized GoPro Hero6 Black camera sample)

 

When using the SuperView FOV, objects towards the edges of the frame exhibit a lot of barrel distortion, and this is slightly better when using the standard Wide FOV. You can now shoot slow-motion footage at 1080p at 240fps, which looks very nice. However, we noticed that such footage does require a relatively powerful PC or smartphone for smooth playback. This is mainly due to the newer HEVC or H.265 codecs being used, which isn’t widely supported just yet. You can check and see if you desktop machine or mobile device will be able to handle such high bit-rate videos on GoPro’s website.

We found that stabilisation worked decently. Even when we had the Hero6 Black mounted to the front of a motorcycle, it managed to compensate for vibrations quite well. When using the camera handheld, it also coped well, although jarring movements did result in some jerkiness in our test footage. Photos turned out nicely too, although in low light, we found it best to switch to Night Photo mode, which automatically adjusts the shutter speed based on current conditions. Handheld shooting at night isn’t recommended, as even slight movements will lead to blurring.

You can choose from several burst rate options, the highest being 30fps, just like on the Hero5 Black and Hero5 Session. A Class 10 microSD card is the minimum requirement in this mode, and for our testing, GoPro sent us a Lexar 32GB UHS-II microSD card.

 

Low-light stills and videos were decent as long as there was ample artificial light around. However, when shooting at night with only streetlamps illuminating the scene, there was a noticeable loss in detail in distant objects, and darker regions had a bit of graininess. Dynamic range is still handled quite well, and the sensor is able to capture colours decently well.

Like most GoPros we’ve tested before, the Hero6 Black tends to run hot when shooting video. Battery life varies a lot, based on the resolution you’re shooting at and whether you have Wi-Fi and GPS turned on. On average, we managed to get about an hour’s worth of recording time at 4K, which is not bad. Keep in mind that leaving the camera idling or playing around with the shooting modes will also eat into your expected battery life.

Verdict
The GoPro Hero6 Black is an iterative upgrade to the Hero5 Black, and the main appeal here is the support for newer video recording standards. There’s wider resolution support for the electronic stabilisation, and other little improvements such as faster Wi-Fi connectivity. GoPro cameras are often used for professional filmmaking too, for example in action sequences that would typically not permit the use of traditional cameras. For use cases like this, filmmakers will appreciate the extended framerate support at 4k and 1080p. For regular users, Rs. 37,000 is still a significant investment, especially you’re only going to be using the camera on occasional weekend getaways. For many casual users, the Hero5 Black is still worth considering, because at Rs. 27,000, it offers most of the features of the newer model.

For those who want the convenience of a touchscreen but want to save even more money, GoPro has recently announced the GoPro Hero priced at just Rs. 18,990, and the balance of value and features that it offers could be good enough for a lot of people.
Price (MRP): Rs. 37,000

Pros

  • Waterproof, rugged body
  • Supports 4K 60fps recording
  • Good video in daylight
  • Easy-to-use app

Cons

  • Struggles in low light
  • A bit expensive

Ratings (Out of 5)

  • Design: 4.5
  • Performance: 4
  • Value for money: 3.5
  • Overall: 4

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Black Mirror Season 4 Episode 1 ‘USS Callister’ Shows How Technology Enables Creeps

Black Mirror Season 4 Episode 1 'USS Callister' Shows How Technology Enables Creeps

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Black Mirror season 4 is available on Netflix
  • “USS Callister” is the first episode of new season
  • Charlie Brooker co-wrote, stars Jesse Plemons

Spoilers ahead for Black Mirror season four episode one, “USS Callister”. If you haven’t seen the episode, turn away and come back later.

At its surface, “USS Callister” – the first episode of anthology sci-fi series Black Mirror’s fourth season, out since Friday on Netflix worldwide – seems like a parody of Star Trek. It’s how the poster, stills, trailer, and the title have been set up, but that’s merely because marketing any episode of Black Mirror is a challenge, given its reliance on twists. (It’s also why Netflix prohibited us critics from revealing much about it.) The one in “USS Callister” appears less than 10 minutes into the episode, when it’s revealed that it’s all just a locally-stored Trek-themed fork of a popular virtual reality game.

From that moment on, the Trek inspiration turns merely into elaborate dressing, from the clothes to the sets, which hews as closely as possible to Gene Roddenberry’s vision with the 60s original series, without getting the CBS lawyers off their cushy seats. The real target of the episode are the power fantasies of human beings, and how can they can go very quickly from harmless to beyond creepy with advances in technology. Black Mirror has always been fascinated with digital consciousness – first with “White Christmas”, then “San Junipero”and now this – though it gets a much heavier focus on “USS Callister”.

Out in the real world, Robert Daly (Jesse Plemons) is the brains behind the online multiplayer VR creation, but he’s always been the ignored nice guy. He doesn’t get the credit unlike the public-facing Walton (Jimmi Simpson) – the CEO calls himself the “shiny front-end”, and refers to Daly as the back-end – he’s laughed at by his colleagues at the company, and he doesn’t get the reception he expects from the receptionist. Black Mirror makes it easy to sympathise with him, and view him as someone who can’t catch a break, but then turns that image on its head over the next hour.

black mirror season 4 uss callister nanette Black Mirror season 4 USS Callister

Annoyed and incensed by how he’s treated, Daly has created a modded version of the game, and he’s slowly introduced digital clones of his co-workers by stealing their DNA from the office, and using high-end tech to recreate them in the virtual reality. New employee Nanette (Cristin Miloti), who admires Daly professionally, is pulled in after he overhears her dismissing the idea of liking him in personal capacity. There, he expects her to be nice to him and forces her to comply when she refuses, like he’s already done with everyone else. In short, he’s the God.

But unlike, say, in a game of The Sims, his actions are far from harmless. The digital clones can think and feel pain like their counterparts outside, so when Daly demands a kiss from every female crew member at the end of each playthrough, or torments someone by creating a clone of their son and killing him in front of them repeatedly, that carries a lot more weight than starving a Sims baby to death. Black Mirror has always tried to warn us about the unanticipated dangers of new technology, and “USS Callister” posits how it can enable harmless creeps – Daly doesn’t seem bold enough to be a criminal – from acting out their fantasies.

That doesn’t make his actions any less criminal, though whether the laws in “USS Callister” have caught up to the available technologies is entirely unknown. Is Daly as bad as someone who would torture people in real life? Since the in-game versions of his co-workers have consciousness too, should Daly pay the same price as a criminal would in our world? And should a citizen be allowed to own a device that can help you digitally clone someone in the first place? Those are all questions raised by the episode, which has been directed by Toby Haynes (Doctor Who, Sherlock).

But Charlie Brooker, the creator of Black Mirror and co-writer on “USS Callister”, is more interested in creating an empowering story. Nanette is the true protagonist here, as it becomes clear, but the episode hides that by introducing us to the world from Daly’s eyes. We’ve all experienced situations where we’ve wanted to have control over someone, and that makes seeing Daly go through with that all the more harrowing, because there’s a bit of him in all of us.

black mirror season 4 uss callister deck Black Mirror season 4 USS Callister

“USS Callister” also ends up being accidentally timely, what with a woman having to escape from the clutches of a man who views her as an object serving as an allegory for the ongoing #MeToo social movement that erupted across the globe in the wake of sexual assault allegations levelled against major Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. In the episode, the video game versions of Callister employees are stuck in a universe where Weinstein is the only movie producer, so they have to work within those restrictions or face retribution.

While her other co-workers have chosen to give in, Nanette comes up with a strategy to free themselves from Daly’s control, which involves blackmailing her own self out in the real world. By doing so, she actually makes the original version of her self commit a crime – breaking and entering – who remains completely oblivious to how she’s helping a few digital souls escape their tormentor. We aren’t told how this impacts real-Nanette when Daly is inevitably found dead, but clone-Nanette ends up in a procedurally-generated world with infinite possibilities.

Black Mirror also gets in a dig about online gaming, with the first encounter for the digital clones being a conceited gamer – cheekily voiced by Aaron Paul’s distinctive voice – who threatens to blow them up for not serving his purpose. As an exasperated Nanette instructs her crew to warp away, he proclaims himself as ‘the king of space’, the words sounding hollow as you look at the vast virtual emptiness. The world will never be perfect, “USS Callister” argues, but you’ve always got to fight to make it better.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Paradise Papers: Seven Steps Modi Must Take Against Black Money

Workers wait for a cargo ship to beach at Mundra Port in Gujarat April 2, 2014. Credit: Reuters/Amit Dave

The ‘Paradise Papers’ expose carried out by the Indian Express in collaboration with a German newspaper and the International Consortium of Journalists (ICIJ) once again reveals the extent of the black money menace and the lack of political will to take it on. By now it is clear that the Narendra Modi government that rode to power on widespread popular anger against corruption and black money has let the people down and is actively collaborating in covering up rather than uncovering black money. In this context, celebrating ‘Anti-Black Money Day’ on the anniversary of demonetisation is nothing but a cruel joke on the people of this country.

There is a set pattern by now. Instead of taking proactive and concrete action, the government reacts only to leaks that come out from time to time. Whether it is the leaks about accounts in Liechtenstein’s banks or in HSBC bank or the Panama Papers or Paradise Papers, every time the government defends its own people and says that it has set up some task force or the other. Thereafter, we don’t know what happens. We have not seen any details of any accounts of Indians abroad obtained by the government on its own proactively or any amount recovered or any culprits jailed. For all big claims of black money caught through demonetisation, we are yet to see any names or lists. Even very specific information on black money given to the government has not led to any prosecution. Since all such exposés name politicians of the ruling party as well as the opposition, there is no concerted public campaign to bring the guilty to the book.

This is a global menace and arguably the biggest challenge to democracy today. The Paradise Papers, and Panama Papers earlier, present another example of how big corporates and the ultra-rich of various countries move their money to tax havens and out of their countries through shell companies and trusts created for this purpose. Siphoning off funds of corporations to tax havens in this manner is today arguably the biggest business in the world, involving amounts in excess of $100 billion a year. It is a malaise which lies at the root of corruption, black money, income inequalities and the continuing hold of corrupt politicians and their parties over the levers of power through this illicit money.

These two exposés reveal a standard modus operandi. In most cases, the money is the product of siphoned off funds from domestic companies by over-invoicing and under-invoicing through intermediary shell companies. Siphoning out of huge funds leads to non-performing assets (NPAs) since most of these companies take loans from public sector banks on the basis of over-invoiced costs, as the Adani, Essar as well as Sterling cases show. This also leads to the defrauding or cheating of electricity consumers by higher tariffs imposed upon them, as well as cheating of these public companies by their promoters. This is why we see this phenomenon of companies like those of Vijay Mallya going into bankruptcy, while the promoters manage to have huge assets, mostly abroad. Some of these funds could also be cases of tax evasion and not necessarily siphoning out by over-invoicing and under-invoicing. However, hardly any part of it is likely to be legitimate or above-board, because there was no reason to park it in tax havens. And it should have been declared upfront to the authorities.

This phenomenon is widely used by large corporates, and known and understood by the politicians and bureaucrats, and by this government. This device has been transparently visible in a number of big cases investigated recently by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Income Tax Department, the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate. Unfortunately, as the following cases show, the government has not taken any effective action.

The Modi government’s failure to tackle black money is quire evident from some of these cases:

1. Sterling Biotech: More than Rs. 5,000 crore allegedly siphoned through over-invoicing and under-invoicing

On June 28, 2011, the Income Tax Department conducted a search and seizure under Section 132 of the Income Tax Act covering 25 premises of the Gujarat-based Sterling Biotech and Sandesara Group of Companies.

During the raid, certain incriminating documentary evidence was found and seized from the premises of the group at Mumbai and Vadodara. As per the FIR, a “Diary 2011” was found from the company premises during a raid, which detailed the monthly payouts to the accused income tax officials and several police officials and politicians in Gujarat. The FIR states that:

“The Documents seized revealed that the Sandesara group has been acting as a depository for receiving funds on behalf of persons including public servants and for further delivery to them at the place of convenience. The evidence collected by the Income Tax Department showed corruption of various public servants including three senior IRS officers”. More than 5000 crores were found to have been loaded by this company through over invoicing and under invoicing and more than 74 accounts were opened in foreign jurisdictions particularly tax havens. (FIR dated 25.10.2017 registered by CBI)

The Modi government, however, promoted Rakesh Asthana and appointed him as special director in the CBI despite the fact that his name figures in the list of persons who have received the payment and also despite the fact that the CBI director had strongly opposed his promotion citing the ‘integrity clause’ requirement.

A second, more incriminating FIR was lodged by the CBI on October 25, 2017 against the Sandesara Group company Sterling Biotech Limited, its directors, chartered accountant and the then director of Andhra Bank for allegedly cheating public sector banks of Rs 5,383 crore. The FIR alleges that the Sterling Biotech group companies availed of more than Rs 5,000 crore in loans from State Bank, Andhra Bank and other public sector banks, which turned into non-performing assets. The CBI has alleged that the group was laundering money through a circuitous route and indulged in insider trading. The FIR states that the directors falsified the records of the company related to production, turnover and investment in capital assets using various India-based entities and entities situated abroad. On the basis of these false and fabricated documents, manipulated balance sheets were prepared to induce the banks to sanction higher amounts of loans, which were later diverted for personal purposes.

The CBI has alleged that the company even falsely represented its market capitalisation. For this, the CBI says, “the shares in India and abroad in the names of non-promoters were in fact held by the directors themselves which were concealed from the banks with the dishonest intent to cheat them.” According to the CBI, manipulations were done in reporting turnover, investment in capital goods and taxes to be paid on the turnover. The bogus turnover was in turn arrived at through bogus sales to benami companies in Dubai and India and inflated export bills. (FIR dated 25.10.2017 registered by CBI)

2. DRI investigations of Adani Power and Essar

Indian power companies directly import the coal/equipment from the OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers), based mostly in China. The foreign intermediary company is a wholly controlled/owned subsidiary of these Indian companies, set up solely for the purpose of generating two sets of invoices for such imports. The invoices generated by the OEMs on the intermediary company reflect the actual price of the imports. The invoices generated by the intermediary company on the Indian companies can be inflated almost to the extent of 400%. The amount of over-valuation is the illegal profit generated by the promoters of the Indian companies, in the garb of costs, which is siphoned out by their subsidiary intermediary foreign companies, into accounts owned by the promoters situated mostly in tax havens.

Artificial over-invoicing of coal and power equipment by such companies is a practice adversely impacting millions of consumers in the form of higher tariffs since the increase in the inflated costs of coal/equipment is realised from the consumers in the form of higher electricity tariffs. Further, the share holders of such power generating companies have been cheated of their rightful dividends since these companies artificially reduce profits by showing higher costs. Moreover, the loans issued by banks for the purpose of imports, are used to disburse the loan amount to foreign intermediaries, in the garb of inflated invoices, for generation of unaccounted profit. This is a major reason for the alarming growth of non-performing assets in the banking sector. The Income Tax Department is also unable to tax huge profits since the amount is absorbed by the foreign intermediary company, incorporated in tax havens such as UAE and Mauritius, leading to the evasion of tax of thousands of crores of rupees.

For more than three years since May 2014, the DRI sat over this matter, after its initial show cause notices to various companies which detailed the entire modus operandi of over invoicing through shell companies and money laundering to tax haven accounts owned by the relatives of the promoters. However, after The Guardianpublisheda detailed and very embarrassing story on Adani, the adjudicating officer of the DRI passed an order saying that this does not amount to over-invoicing, citing some untenable reasons.

In March 2016, the DRI issued an alert that about 30 power generating companies have been indulging in artificial over-invoicing of coal which is being imported from Indonesia. The DRI alert said that this is being done for two objectives: “(i) siphoning-off money abroad and (ii) to avail higher power tariff compensation based on artificially inflated cost of the imported coal.” (DRI alert circular dated 30.03.2016). However, no action has been taken despite the passage of more than one and a half years. No show-cause notice has also been issued so far to major companies like Adani etc mentioned in that note.

3. Complaint against Mukesh Ambani

The Indian high commission in Singapore made a starting disclosure to the government of India in a letter dated August 31, 2011. The high commission stated that Rs 6,530 crores have come into India from Bio Matrix Marketing Ltd., a one room company in Singapore that does not do any business. It was pointed out that this is a company with no assets, no equity and does not file an income tax returns in Singapore claiming to be a small company. Yet, the huge investment by this company of Rs 6530 crores is the single biggest FDI into India from Singapore. The high commission had stated that all this money has gone into the Reliance group of companies in India with the major chunk going to Reliance Gas Transportation Infrastructure Ltd, which is a company 100% owned by Mukesh Ambani personally.

We had, therefore, made a detailed complaint on July 8, 2014 to the SIT on Black Money but still not action has been taken.

4. Complaint against Anil Ambani

The CBI in its chargesheet in the 2G scam had confirmed that Swan Telecom was set-up by Reliance Telecom owned by Anil Ambani. We all know that as consideration of the transfer of Swan Telecom to Balwa and Goenka, they could not have directly transferred the money to Anil Ambani companies since that would have exposed the fact that Swan Telecom was owned by Reliance. Hence a circuitous route had to be followed. We had therefore found and complained to the SIT on Black Money on July 18, 2014 that M/s AAA & Sons Enterprises (an Anil Ambani company) received a huge sum of $750 million from a company, EMITS Singapore in December 2007, which was later transferred to other Anil Ambani-owned Reliance group companies. The entire amount transferred by EMITS Singapore was not used for any project by AAA & Sons but only transferred to other group companies. Though this was also an apparent case of taking funds abroad and then bringing them back to India circuitously, no action was taken even on this complaint, which was backed by all documentary evidence.

5. Finance Act amendments

Instead of taking action on such clear cases of siphoning of funds through over invoicing and instead of using that money and bringing the culprits to book, the Modi government has made many retrograde amendments to the laws dealing with political funding in order to allow foreign companies and Indian corporates to donate unlimited anonymous funds to political parties.

Retrograde amendments have been made by the government through the Finance Act, 2016 and Finance Act, 2017, both passed illegally as money bills. These amendments have opened the floodgates to unlimited corporate donations to political parties and anonymous financing by Indian as well as foreign companies which can have serious repercussions on the Indian democracy. These amendments have removed the caps on campaign donations by companies and have legalised anonymous donations.

The Finance Act of 2017 has introduced the use of electoral bonds which is exempt from disclosure, opening the door to unchecked, unknown funding to political parties. The Finance Act, 2016 has also amended the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), 2010, to allow foreign companies with subsidiaries in India to fund political parties in India, effectively, exposing Indian politics and democracy to international lobbyists who may want to further their agenda. These Amendments pose a serious danger to the autonomy of the country and are bound to adversely affect electoral transparency, encourage corrupt practices in politics and have made the unholy nexus between politics and corporate houses more opaque and treacherous and is bound to be misused by special interest groups and corporate lobbyists.

Seven demands

If this government is at all serious about the menace of black money, it should take some immediate steps and carry out some long-term changes in the legal framework instead of sham exercises like ‘Anti Black Money Day’.

One of us (Prashant Bhushan) had, in fact, written a letter to Prime Minister Modi as far back on June 23, 2014 pointing out the steps that need to be taken to tackle black money.  The letter had suggested the following changes in the legal frameworkFirst, a new law, or an amendment to an existing law (such as the Prevention of Money Laundering Act), requiring all Indian citizens to disclose all their assets and liabilities, including their stakes in companies or trusts registered abroad, needs to be introduced. Second, any income or assets not disclosed in the required form would be deemed to be “proceeds of crime”, and included as ‘predicate offences’ defined under the UNCAC. Third, instruments such as participatory notes and anonymous investments by funds or shell companies need to be disallowed with immediate effect.  In the case of investments made in the name of a company or a trust, the major stakeholders of the company, or the trustees of the trust, must be determined and duly recorded, before the investment is allowed.

We therefore demand that:

  1. Specific and immediate action must be taken in all the cases detailed above.
  2. The government must disclose full details of the action it has taken on black money by way of recovering any money from named individuals as well as prosecutions of named individuals.
  3. Instead of making vague claims about the unearthing of black money through demonetisation, the government should disclose the details and make public all the cash deposits made by all MPs, MLAs or political parties and their office bearers between November 8 and December 31, 2016.
  4. We understand that the SIT on Black Money has also made several recommendations to the government but in most cases these recommendations have not been implemented. The government must therefore place the reports and recommendations of The SIT before the people as well as the action taken by it on those.
  5. The government must rollback the retrograde amendments made in the finance act of 2016 and 2017 relating to the FCRA as well as the funding of political parties, including electoral bonds.
  6. A law must be passed on the lines suggested above requiring all citizens to declare their foreign assets and providing for confiscation of all undisclosed assets.
  7. Rakesh Asthana must be removed from the CBI forthwith as suggested by the CBI director.

Source:-thewire.

Demonetisation, corruption and black money

ON the evening of November 8, 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi went on all media channels to announce that his government had decided to demonetise 500-rupee and 1,000-rupee currency notes “to break the grip of corruption and black money”, and announced that the “five-hundred and thousand-rupee notes hoarded by anti-national and anti-social elements will become just worthless pieces of paper”. It is not that demonetisation as a monetary measure is not resorted to by other countries. In fact, the Economic Survey 2015-16 does refer to over 20 countries resorting to demonetisation with different purposes and different rationales, with varying results. But the manner in which Prime Minister Modi made the announcement brought a certain sensationalism to this measure of the government. “Demonetisation” is a financial or monetary measure, and normally involves the central bank or the Finance Ministry. But in this case, neither the RBI Governor nor the Finance Minister came to announce it, raising serious doubts whether they were involved at all in the decision-making. The Prime Minister took it upon himself to personally announce the decision for almost 40 minutes in Hindi, and another 40 minutes in English. The speech did not stop with the policy decision and soliciting the people’s support for it but went on to list over 20 points of procedural detail which would normally be part of any government notification. But the choice of such a method of announcement was obviously a well-designed strategy to make people believe the priority that the Prime Minister was according to wiping out the past evils. As many behavioural psychologists or even behavioural economists would know, the less one knows about the reality behind the numbers or the procedures, the more awe and respect people would develop for them and for those using them. Such political strategies are increasingly in evidence across the world. There was no sign of any financial or economic crisis. On the contrary, the Prime Minister began his speech by describing how, when he took over, there was a feeling that “I” in the BRICS was shaky, and how, under the new government, India became strong and emerged as an economy with the highest GDP growth. True, the magnitude of the measure of withdrawing almost 86 per cent of currency in circulation was an extraordinary measure that needed convincing the people. But more than that, much of the speech was devoted to whipping up people’s anger against corruption and black money, and building on people’s imagined notion of black money stashed in cash that could be wiped out. There was an emphasis that whatever “pain” people were likely to face would be short-lived, and wiped out by the gains of unearthing black money and wiping out corruption.

Source:-.frontline.i