Indian media: 'Black money' revelation a damp squib

Papers want the government to disclose the names of politicians suspected of tax evasion Papers want the government to disclose the names of politicians suspected of tax evasion

Newspapers highlight the government's decision to name people suspected of illegally hiding money abroad, with many casting doubts on the move's effectiveness.

Papers say the government wants to be seen to be fulfilling the pre-election promise of a wider crackdown on corruption made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, following accusations that it appeared slow to act on the issue of "black money".

Indians are estimated to hold $500bn (£297bn) in overseas tax havens.

The Times of India reports that one of those named in the government's affidavit to the supreme court - Goa-based mining company owner Radha S Timblo - donated funds to both Mr Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the opposition Congress party.

Of the others named, bullion trader Pankaj Lodhya denies having any foreign bank accounts, while Pradip Burman, a former director of health products giant Dabur, says his account was opened legally when he lived abroad.

But most papers have highlighted the fact that those named include no politicians.

Front page of the Hindustan Times on 28 October

"No big bang in government's new black money list", says a Hindustan Times headline, while the Indian Express calls it a "mountain out of a molehill".

The Hindu focuses on the fact that the government has asked the Supreme Court to water down an order requiring it to reveal all foreign bank accounts.

Prominent lawyer Ram Jethmalani, who was expelled by the BJP for criticising its record on corruption, accuses the government of going back on its promise to reveal all names to protect powerful individuals.

In the Firstpost, one commentator says that in any case, the government's move may be too little, too late.

"After shouting about it for five years, we have probably alerted the big crooks to move their money elsewhere," R Jagannathan writes. "Those who have not done so are probably dead or dumb. Or both."

Vietnam ties

Meanwhile, papers see Vietnamese PM Nguyen Tan Dung's India visit as a sign of a deepening strategic partnership between Delhi and Hanoi at the expense of China.

Business daily Mint reports that on Monday Mr Nguyen invited Indian investment in biotechnology, IT, engineering and infrastructure.

The daily says the two-day trip comes after "a spike in tensions" with Beijing earlier this year over territorial claims in the South China Sea, and "is illustrative of Vietnam looking towards India as it grows increasingly wary of China".

According to The Hindu, the two countries will also sign agreements on oil exploration in the South China Sea, economic and cultural cooperation during the visit.

"After kicking-off submarine training for Vietnamese sailors last year, India is likely to coach Vietnam Air Force pilots in flying Sukhoi fighters as well," adds The Times of India.

Taj Mahal 'under threat'

And finally, The Times of India is worried that the Taj Mahal is in "some real and present danger" after 150,000 people "swamped" India's most famous monument on Diwali weekend.

"The seventh wonder of the world is losing its sheen with thousands of people rubbing their palms at every possible space," Surendra Sharma, president of the Braj Mandal Heritage Conservation Society, tells the daily. "If this assault continues, the shine will be lost forever."

The paper says officials are now considering limiting the number of tourists who can visit the Taj Mahal on any given day.

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. For more reports from BBC Monitoring, click here. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

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