India media: Government 'embarrassed' over 'black money' list

Indian Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi (C), is seen at the Supreme Court in Delhi on 29 October 2014. Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi (C) says the government has "nothing to hide" on the issue of black money

The India government is facing criticism in the media over its handling of the "black money" issue, despite its decision to give the Supreme Court the names of all Indians suspected of holding untaxed assets abroad.

The list of 627 names was handed over in response to an order from the court, after it rejected the government's argument that doing so would infringe international agreements.

Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's administration was criticised for initially naming only seven relatively unknown suspects, with some accusing it of protecting powerful individuals.

The Times of India reports that the new list - which will not be made public - also does not contain the names of any major business or political figures.

Quoting unnamed government sources, the daily reports that over half the overseas accounts on the list are old and contain small deposits, while the rest belong Indians living abroad who cannot be prosecuted.

A commentary in Firstpost says that being forced to hand over the full list had been "deeply embarrassing" for the governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

"After making the much publicised election promise of bringing black money from abroad and revealing the names of the culprits, the government is now running for cover, not knowing where to hide," it says.

An editorial in The Tribune agrees, saying the government of Mr Modi "deserves the criticism it has received from the Supreme Court for trying to provide 'a protective umbrella' to black-money holders."

Living like a king?

Meanwhile, images posted online of a senior police officer in Indian-controlled Kashmir apparently flaunting his "king"-like lifestyle have provoked outrage and accusations of abuse of power.

The pictures of Deputy Inspector-General Shakeel Beig posted by his son on Instagram show people - apparently junior policemen - tying his shoelaces, holding his umbrella, acting as his golf caddy and clearing the road for his vehicle, the Times of India reports.

"Real King - My Dad!" one caption reads. "Last time he put his shoes himself was almost 15 years ago! #BossLife#Kingxx"

The images - since deleted - quickly went viral on social media. "Let's throw up on these nauseating pictures. Utterly disgusting," one Facebook comment quoted by the Indian Express said, while a Twitter user fumed: "Well lets see who is the real king now the #ShamelessSuperCop or the people of democratic India."

Something in the air

And finally, Delhi's notoriously poor air quality has made headlines again after an alarmed US embassy warned children not to play outdoors, The Times of India reports.

On Wednesday, the embassy's hourly air-quality index reportedly showed pollution at levels deemed "very unhealthy" by US standards, and a note went up on the embassy website urging older adults and children to "avoid all physical activity outdoors".

The Times of India described the warning as somewhat ironic, since - according to the daily - it came on a day when pollution was actually comparatively low.

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