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Still a long shot away

 Pinaki Bhattacharya |  2016-12-09 20:58:06.0  |  New Delhi

Still a long shot away

We all know now that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is merely is just another reformer, not a revolutionary. But one should keep in mind that his demonetisation move is hugely courageous and shows gumption at making big decisions. Yet, he fails on the revolutionary index because he did not take concomitant measures needed to make demonetisation a success. They were attaching unaccounted wealth in real estates, gold trade, healthcare, education and a few other sectors which all of us are aware.

To be fair, Prime Minister Modi has talked about taking on the gold trade and the ‘benami’ real estate. But the fact remains that he should have moved simultaneously on both these sectors along with the demonetisation drive. He would have then choked off the belief amongst the people that the measure is certainly a shock therapy against the black economy, but it won’t remove the scourge of chai-pani culture of the bureaucracy which facilitates trades in the parallel economy in the first place.

The opposition on the other had have caught the tail of the demonetisation tiger. They are statistically challenged and unaware of the reality of the real Bharat. 

Even as they scream and shout concerning the hardships of the common man, they do not realise that there is still that 60 per cent of the population who do not get acquainted with MK Gandhi embossed on a Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes almost never. These people in ten dime coins, twenty buck currencies and at the maximum, a Rs 50 note, and if it is a problem, Rs 100.

So the opposition is talking about the creamy layer – the wealthy and the middle peasantry and urban underclass – not the real have-nots. It’s a pity though even the 60 per cent section of the economy of which about 30 per cent work as casual labour or contract employment are losing jobs because their employers don’t have the necessary liquidity to keep them working.

Small wonder, the RBI on 8 December has reduced the projected GDP growth rate of the year by 500 points from 7.6 per cent. It is a signal failure of this opposition to not have pushed the impervious government to create a plan of quick remonetisation of the economy by which these marginal people could survive instead of becoming the real collateral damage of PM Modi's ‘war on black money.’   

It remains to be seen how much of the ‘black money’ surfaces after exhausting all methods of saving its day. Interestingly, the government of the day did not even close off the avenues through which the diversions could take place. In fact, the government has gone into a kind of stupor even since it made the big decision on 8 November. After that, everything seems to be on autopilot.

Though one hears of an odd Enforcement Directorate raid on individual bank officers who were caught trying to launder funds for their clients, these instances are only a few and far between. The primary sting of the Black Money operation has been diffused. What one quickly needs is the next round of measures on that count.

PM Modi seems determined to close off the parallel economy. He is pushing for digitisation of financial transactions in the country that is mostly not digitally connected. The mobile applications for financial transactions may prove complicated for the semi-literate and the illiterate population, who can barely take calls on their phones. 

It is like a one shot mantra to take the Indian people and their monies into the 21st-century advanced economic mode. His logic may be sound, though. If the society as a whole becomes cashless, it is tough to demand cash bribes and pay them. But it is a long shot. One has to see how far the Prime Minister succeeds in his endeavour. 

(The author is an independent journalist. Views expressed are strictly personal.)

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