India’s Underground Economy

June, 27, 2014

Generations of Indians have grown up imagining a bank with high ceilings and chandeliers in Switzerland, where shadowy Indians go to leave a lot of illicit cash in the care of practical white men. In popular lore, the “Swiss bank account” is an essential part of Indian villainy, even though illicit money is a common household possession.

So, last week, when a news agency quoted a Swiss official as saying that Switzerland was willing to share with the Indian authorities information about Indians of dubious nature who hold bank accounts in that country, the Indian government appeared to give the news considerable importance. Considering the infamy of the Swiss bank account in the Indian imagination, data released last week by Switzerland’s central bank, the Swiss National Bank, contained a surprise.