Demonetization,- so much has been debated about this issue already that even the most devoted followers of Modi are slowly getting tired for spreading half cooked truths about this bold but evil measure. If you are a blind follower of Modi, you would have already decided to stop reading this after the first statement and would only scroll down to type down some abuses in the comments section. But if you are a human being who loves the fellow countrymen and care for the country with both heart and brain, do read what we argue below, because the country now needs people like you like never before.
Lies all around – No Stop of Corruption but boost to black money
The first big lie being spread is that the demonetization action will destroy people with black money. Sure, it will create inconvenience to the black money hoarders and those that deal in illegal business through cash transactions, to a small extent. But this inconvenience is also only temporary and a matter of time as argued in our article Demonetization – Illegal Trade to Continue.
The Income Tax Department themselves has revealed that in average people evading tax or indulging in illegal business keeps an average of only 5% of their money in cash! So if Modi’s target was to bring this 5% cash out to daylight, then India is indeed heading to dark days because in reality nothing is being done about stopping Illegal trade or corruption at the root. Illegal trade routes still flourish Jan Lokpal and such demands which took people by storm during the Anna or Ramdev Movements are dead ideas. Worst, Modi is about to table a bill which will allow Government servants immunity from legal cases, including charges of corruptions!
Another reality conveniently being ignored is that apparently only Modi and just a few handfuls of people knew about the plan of demonetization. While opposition parties like Trinamool are alleging that BJP did know about this and that large amounts of cash was deposited by party before announcements were made; the truth about this will always be hidden. However there are more worrying thoughts. Almost immediately after Modi’s announcement of Demonetization, social media was abuzz with fake news like the new 2000 rupee notes having digital chip and sensors; how demonetization would help the common man, how this was a surgical strike etc. Criticism from Economists never appeared in top of Google searches, nor was being shared or liked by thousands in social media; but positive impression that praised Modi’s decision were shared in abundance. Several hoax as well as news was spread instantly in different Indian languages in a polished way, in high digital and mobile friendly images across the globe which means there was a very strong PR lobby at work, whose role was to influence public opinion towards the decision. This was driven professionally to spread good positive vibes across the land. This clearly means that it was not just Modi and his closed door comrades who knew, but a great workforce was kept on standby to kick start this campaign as soon as the announcements were made.
In fact the whole demonetization campaign that also beings in a higher currency of Rs 2000 will lead to more convenience for those who indulge in illegal trades or have so called black money. On the other hand, there is already a large underground network created to convert the black money and denominations of 500 and 1000 into legal tender.
Countries such as USA even now have the highest denomination of Dollar as $100 only. They had demonetized $500, $1,000, $5,000, and $10,000 notes in 1969 to curb corruption and never printed anything higher than $100. Euro has the highest denomination of €500! But our Prime Minister demonetizes old ₹500 and ₹1000 rupee notes, brings them in new avatar and goes a step ahead to print an even bigger ₹2000 rupee note! We all know who will be benefited most by such a measure in long run.
Fake Notes, unrest control in Kashmir and Insurgency – Demonetization not the solution
Reports from the one of the most trusted Statistical institutions, The Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata who did a study on behalf of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) stated that about 400 crores worth of fake currency is in circulation in the Indian economy. The 400 crores do look alarming and it was indeed essential to stop this. But people are not informed that this is only about 0.03% of the overall 14,180 billion worth currency demonetized through ₹500 and ₹1000 notes!
India could have taken more diplomatic and aggressive decisions on those who produces the fake currencies; those in Pakistan, Bangladesh or other neighboring countries by choking those channels. However the Prime Minister just decided to fight back by keeping the common Indians in ransom. This is definitely not what is expected from a person who is claimed by his followers to have chest of 56 inches!
There are also claims that Kashmir has turned back to normalcy because of demonetization. If an unrest comes to normalcy after taking lives of 100 people, injuring more than 11,000 people that included children, women and aged people through Demonetization; this is a slap on the face of Indian Democracy, Politicians and worst of all, a shame on the Security and Defense Forces. Kashmir has 1 Army Personnel against every 5 civilians in the valley, they have a government inclusive of the ruling party at center and yet if a billion people across the nation has to suffer through demonetization to control the unrest created in a state where people feels ignored and dominated, god Save this country! In future demonetization cannot take place every month or every year; but uprisings and unrest can take place whenever there is mass grievance. The same applies to Naxal hit areas, North East, etc as well.
On the other hand, there are already reports from across the country of circulation of fake 2000 rupee notes. For sure, if some lobby in Pakistan or Bangladesh can print fake 500 rupee notes today, there is no reason why the same cannot be done for new notes tomorrow.
Modi did not care about the common man – All Statistics were ignored
All Statistics were ignored – Various reports and official statistics have showed that in India, 97% of all transactions by volume are done in cash. Further, the Finance Ministry itself has stated that only about 30% of the Indian population has access to the banking system and even then, third of all bank branches in only about sixty Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities and towns! Needless to say, people in rural India are the worst sufferers and the truest victims of demonetization! In Assam, for example when several million people were rendered homeless in floods, not a penny came in from the Modi Government for relief; but the same people are either walking miles and miles to stand in long queues in the only bank closest to them (which is several miles by foot) leaving their farming work or are at complete state of helplessness.
Web Based Polls are used to claim that people are supporting the decision – There are several different web based polls conducted by different apps, newspapers as well as covert pro-BJP organizations which states that high number of people have favored Modi’s demonetization. These polls often done by Apps and Internet have taken feedback mainly from the Tier 1 and Tier 2 Cities and from people who have access to Internet, Paytm, Smartphones etc; who are not the biggest sufferers of the evil move. The ones who own at least a Debit card or a Credit Card are not the true sufferers. It is the ones who do not have these privileges. The Daily wage laborer in rural Odisha or the old village man of Arunachal Pradesh is not voting here. Anyway who cares about them!
Infrastructure and Human Resources not considered – Even for those with a Credit or Debit card, 90% of ATMs were expected to be completely functional only by end of November as there needs to be overhauling of Software and Hardware. While the Bank Managements are keeping silent on the issue as this has resulted in sharp and exponential increase in savings deposit, the employees nationwide are going through an extremely hard position and can result in massive strikes soon, if not handled with care. Banking infrastructure is going through radical changes with several parts and components of hardware being purchased from China (Those rooting for boycotting Chinese goods have turned blind,deaf and dumb) There are reports of bank employees dying in duty because of high pressure work and this is not good news.
Modi – The Next Mao of India? A few days back, writer Amit Varma had compared Modi’s demonetization decision to Mao’s The Great Sparrow Campaign in 1958 where the decision to kill all sparrows in China to save crops led ultimately to rise of locusts which destroyed crops and created a famine that killed millions of people. Modi’s demonetization has not taken lives of millions yet, but affected billions already in every section of the country. News of 40% rice yield having no buyers this year has already scared every farmer, small time businessmen and traders are in great pains, economists are certain that country’s growth is expected to fall for two quarters from such effects and people in rural areas are back to barter systems, reminding us of the great civilizations that we were (We are back in those times, aren’t we?)
What about Corporate Loans and Taxes that were written off by Government?
The Prime Minister is making emotional appeals to control the masses and his followers are citing examples of reports where some notes were burned, or recovered from few people. Recovering stolen items from a thief who just got arrested does not hurt the thief or robber financially, as it anyway does not belong to the robber but to the common man from whom it was robbed or stolen. Similarly the black money or money from corrupt practices being recovered, that too after making the notes invalid is completely a waste.
However more importantly, nobody is questioning or reminding Modi and his puppets about the different waivers and write-offs given to corporate taxes and loans to huge capitalists last by them in last financial year and budget. UPA and BJP Government had done the same thing,- since they need to keep their finances, i.e these big corporate lobbies and crony industrialists happy. Between financial years 2013 and 2015, Twenty-nine state-owned banks wrote off a total of Rs 1.14 lakh crores of bad debts! In fact when BJP came to power, allegedly close to 6 Lakh crores of corporate tax was written off for different corporate houses, as per statistics and numbers from the “Statement of Revenue Foregone” of the last budget.
Raghuram Rajan, the previous Governor of RBI war wary of this bad loan from Banks and he wanted to clean this up. There were about 6 Lakh crores of bad loans and more than 80% of it was due to Public Sector Banks (PSBs). The Government was under tremendous pressure to get money back yet they could not afford to displease the corporate lobby. Modi himself was often reportedly seen flying in an Adani helicopter during 2014 election campaign and Adani Group has a debt of over Rs 96,000 crores! Same applies to several other capitalists such as Vedanta Group (Over 1,03000 Crores of debt), Reliance Group (Over 125000 Crores of Debt) and many more. Since the powerful corporate lobby would not budge, it is we the common people who are queuing up in lines to deposit our money. Raghuram Rajan, who would not have agreed to Modi’s way was shown the door and the plan of Demonetization was carried out as required. Banks have already got over 4 lakh crores of deposits since demonetization and the game plan to bring money to banks is working. The common men is standing in the queue with a hope for better country while the capitalist lobby is promoting Modi’s decision as master stroke against Black money and supporting it like anything , as they know why this was done and who is the true beneficiary.
Democracy is being killed in the mood of Modi fever and demonetization.
Indian democracy is claimed to have the structure of four pillars, those of the legislature, the executive, the judiciary, and the press. Unfortunately all four were ignored or not given due consideration in the execution of the whole demonetization. The Supreme Court has clearly expressed its concern about the whole affair and there are PILs that accuses of the demonetization process to be unlawful. The petition, filed by Supreme Court advocate V.K. Biju who is known for taking up public interest causes, on behalf of the petitioner Adil Alvi has raised several eyebrows with legal issues and is a closely watched hearing for the practitioners.
However blind followers of Modi are found to be insulting The Supreme Court itself! The Press has been vocal to some extent against the issue but those who writes against Modi is labeled as Paid Media nowadays! Several Noteworthy Professors of Economics, the former RBI Governor and even the current Chief Economist of the World Bank have raised their concern against demonetization; but all of them are being ignored in the social media or termed as traitors, Congress Followers etc!
Modi is now trying desperately to save his face with emotional speeches, asking people for feedback in Mobile Apps (Which will be again inaccessible to the Poor and real sufferers) and promising dreams of the future. A large Majority of people still believes him only because there is no other credible political leader who can challenge for the PM’s Post yet.
If a democratic nation stops giving respect to different opinions and debates, disrespects the teachers, questions the judiciary and mocks the press, the democracy itself is dead. Very clearly an authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government is visibly controlling our lives in India, and by definition from all dictionaries, this is called Fascism.
Priyankan Goswami is the Editor of Times of Assam’s Political Analysis section. He is also founder member and member of the Executive board of Times of Assam.
By Academic Priyankan Goswami is MBA & Mechanical Engineer.