I do not know whether the decision to scrap the Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes is a “dark political decision” or a “bright economic decision”. Is the government's bid to demonetise these notes part of a larger scam? It's hard to tell. But I know for sure that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken this step in such haste, leaving many people to suffer unnecessary hardships and face a chaotic marketplace.
The hardships citizens have been suffering for almost a week now are unprecedented, and the decision is proven to be anti-aam aadmi. Markets across the country are in dire stress, and despite having their legitimate money in the pockets, the purchasing power of the people has dwindled. More than anyone else, it is the commoner who is feeling the pain.
The nation has been witnessing glimpses of political anarchy for past two and a half years. It is observing a situation arose out of economic chaos during this week. Who does not want to fight against black money? Who does not want that terror financing through black money be stopped forthwith? But do you initiate any such move with half-cooked preparations?
Can you push a country to stand up in the kilometers long ques before the banks with a form in their hands to be filled up to claim their own hard earned money, that too in merge periodic installments, where more than a third of the population does not even know how to read and around half of them have no bank accounts?
Since the stroke of the midnight of August 15, 1947, until the night of November 8, India has been seen as one of the world leaders. First, for making untiring efforts to come out from the clutches of hunger with industrialisation and green-white revolutions. Then, having a lead role in the ideological struggle for non-aligned countries. Then, making well-meaning efforts in the areas of economic reforms and securing a place in the nuclear club fighting against all the odds. The dignity, respect, and the strength that India could command across the world through the efforts of past decades are in shamble after what has been seen on the streets of this great nation during last few days.
The questions that have been raised after the demonetisation of Indian currency have dented India’s rating in the eyes of the world as never before. National and international communication mediums are raising doubts over the real purpose of the initiative taken by our government and questioning the manner in which it was done. Serious doubts have been expressed about the tip-offs of the plan to favourites. The appearance of the photographs of new notes on social websites before the official announcement is a fact that cannot be hidden.
The publication of the news items about demonetisation by certain newspapers well before the government announcement is also something which creates several doubts. There are reports that some people bought gold, dollars, euros, and security bonds in bulk between the third weeks of October and November 8. India’s political parties are demanding that the government should disclose the names of people who bought all this worth over Rs. 50 Lac during this period.
They have also demanded that the government release the Swiss Bank list it received recently; make the list of corporate houses public whose loans above Rs. 500 Crore have been declared non-performing assets; release the names of the corporate houses whose debt of 5000 to 60,000 Crore has been restructured and partly written off; and the list of the corporate houses who gave donations of Rs. 100 Crore or more to Bhartiya Janta Party through cheques.
Indian economy is functioning only with 15 percent of the required currency notes at the moment. As a result of this, there are incidents of loot in shops, chaos in hospitals and boom of informal money changers. The forms that are to be submitted to get the change of your Rs. 4,000 are on sale outside the banks at a price. There is no business in the market; restaurants have practically no customers; weekly bazaars for poor have no purchasers; and there are scenes of crying parents praying to save the lives of their children or parents as they do not have exchangeable money to pay for the medical tests, medicines, or doctors’ fee.
The real euphoria in support of the decision of demonetising drowned within two days, and if the reactions, comments, and queries on different social media generated from within the country are any indication, Modi’s action has now taken a boomeranging turn. From outside the country, the way non-resident Indians and others are expressing their disgust must get Modi worried.
Modi was at his peak when he addressed a gathering in Japan this Friday while mentioning about his historical step of demonetising the Indian currency and told with utmost confidence that he is getting minute-to-minute information of the activities of his country’s banking sector there and is not going to spare anyone. I don't want Modi to spare anyone. I only want him to spare those who are paying the price of his well-conceived but badly executed venture. It's hard to understand why in order to catch few thousands of crocodiles, Modi should kill Crores of innocent fishes?
While announcing the demonetising, Modi said that he is taking the step to bring the black money out as the fake currency playing a significant role in terror funding. As per Reserve Bank of India data, there are 17 lac crore rupees are in circulation out of which 400 crores is fake currency. Why should a Prime Minister block 85 percent of his country’s currency just to destroy few hundred crores?
I hope, Narendra Bhai is given regular feedback these days by his “Men Friday” not only about the banking sector activities but also about the ground reality his countrymen facing, about their actual reaction, about the serious unrest in the minds of Indians living abroad, and more importantly about what his party people and colleagues in his government actually think. Those who want you to keep your eyes closed from the real facts will not be there when it comes to paying a cost. Narendra Bhai, do not demonetise what you have earned.
(The author is Editor and CEO of News Views India. Views expressed are strictly personal.)