Not everybody’s Maan Ki Baat
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday delivered the year’s last episode of his popular radio talk Maan Ki Baat. As expected, in the talk he touched at length about the issue of demonetisation. He tried to justify the move as being pro-people and tried to assure that he would bring very fruitful returns for the nation in the long run. This is something which he has been saying ever since he addressed the nation on the television on the night of November 8 announcing the scrapping of the Rs 500 and Rs 1000 denomination notes. On Sunday in the radio talk, in the midst of threats of more action he held out against the corrupt, he also tried to defend the harassment which the common people have faced from his government’s - if not ill-willed, certainly ill-implemented - scheme. The Prime Minister said that the rules had to be changed on the feedback of the common people. Well this is only half-truth. The fact is that the rules have been changed as while implementing the scheme, no proper thought was given on its possible fallouts. The pilferage of the new currency notes to those eager to convert their untaxed income in from old currency to new is one example of how system failed to withstand the pressure. There is such incongruence in what government is announcing and what its agencies are implementing. The demonetisation process started with the claim that it was a fight against black money. The intent was to create a financial system without the dirt money. The government planned to do it through the network of the banks across the country. The efficiency of our banking system was over-estimated especially in the matters of integrity. Even as the taxpayers continue standing in queues to withdraw their clean currency, the bank managers are siphoning off notes to their ‘dirt money’ paymasters. The Finance Ministry in the first stance failed to foresee such a situation and even after having come across it has so far failed to arrest it. The Prime Minister on the radio talk tried to justify the pilferage and siphoning of the new currency notes on the fact that such a huge exercise was never before taken up in the history of the country and thus, such road blocks would come in their way; but claimed that he had the backing of the people who wanted him to take the scheme to the logical end. This raises the big question: where is the scheme moving towards? It was initially hawked at targeting black money and subsequently tweaked to claim that the initiative was targeted at creating a cashless economy. The Prime Minister should realise that such lack of clarity while pushing biggest ever economic policy, which has impacted every citizen whether rich or poor, can only harm the interest of the people, specially the weak and the meek. Not everybody suffering the harsh measures can write emails to him or leave message on MyGov. The Prime Minister must find out if he was getting a feedback on everybody’s Maan Ki Baat.