Queue Kyu Queue Kyu…and the theatrics continue…
On 8th November 2016 around 8 pm, when most of us were finishing up our work for the day, some of us were on our way to home, some were already in the Tuesday temple queues, some were busy purchasing groceries for home, the current Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his nation-wide address announced that all the 500 and 1000 rupee notes in circulation will no longer be legal tenders from midnight. Almost everyone has termed this as Demonetization but in technical terms this is simply withdrawal of 1000 rupee notes and replacement of 500 rupee denominations. Let’s not get into that.
I don’t question the intention of the government…anyway you would come to know my stand on this by the end of this article. I, personally, am against corruption, unethical and illegal activities. Before you move further I must clarify that I do not belong to any political party and neither I am pro BJP nor pro Congress forget about the Kejriwals of the world. Everybody is the part of the same political system, which has and will continue to loot the nation. Most of the country present on social media has touted this as a bold move…a historic move…and what not. But I personally have my doubts with the vastness of a country like India about the execution required to make a decision a masterstroke.
I will begin by cataloging the four main points listed out by the BJP Government, which they have listed out as pillars for the so called ‘masterstroke’:
Issue of Black Money: This Black-money word in itself is very ambiguous. Even most of the literates don’t understand the difference between black money and black currency or black cash. Black money can be anything ranging from gold to property to stocks to money saved from tax evasion to cash collected without receipts to anything you can imagine gained or gathered illegally or unethically. According to a data from CBI Black money worth more than $500 billion is stashed abroad just in foreign accounts. Imagine what will it amount to if you include all the properties and other things already amassed with black money outside India. No investigative agency could even come close to an approximation for that…though some figures suggest that it is already running into trillions.
Allow me to delve into little stats from the Income Tax department of India. About 5-6% of Black money that is in India is in the form of Black Currency/Cash. This percentage would again lower down since IT dept has included ornaments as well in their calculations. If you put this in comparison with the total Black Money hoarded by Indians it would fall down below an appalling percentage of 0.1%. My first question is; what is the government really after…the 0.1% of the pie and that too at what cost?
Counterfeit Currency: Let’s move to the second argument of counterfeit currency. According to the data from government and agencies the counterfeit notes that are in circulation amount to about Rs. 400-500 crores. I know that in itself is a huge number but compared to a wedding worth Rs 500 crores it looks so miniscule. If you were really after this amount I have to say that the step begins to fall flat.
On many occasions I personally have encountered fake notes being dispensed from ATM machines. Isn’t this a failure of the banks, however small it may be, to at least take care of the notes that they are putting in the machines? Who will make sure that the new notes have features, which cannot be counterfeited? I have looked at the new currency denominations introduced and they do not come with such new features, so the process of counterfeiting will again begin. Wasn’t it a failure of the banks to keep a check whether the photos of these notes do not circulate on the social media because of which you had to take this decision in haste? What about the fake smaller denominations and fake Rs 10 coins? People who are hell bound in coming up with fake currency will find one way or the other to put them into circulation. Isn’t it a failure of the system again that how these sacks of cash on the first place cross the borders and get into the system.
Terror Funding: A lot of gung-ho is created around how this Black cash has a direct impact on terror funding. The PM said that the terrorists bring these with them from across the border. How many of you have ever heard this, that after neutralizing the terrorists, any huge amount of counterfeit cash has been recovered from them. They too are using the most advanced levels of technology. Still I believe that it does have effect on it. How come they use the electronic transfers that mean there are loopholes, which they are very easily able to exploit? Now when every average and poor Indian is standing in queues you have the means and machinery to check for every PAN…every account…every transaction, then why can’t it be used in the first place when the terrorist transactions are taking place.
It literally disgusts me the hypocrisy with which the social media and Alia Bhatt generation use martyrdom of soldiers to win their arguments. You can go and check stats that the highest contributors of terror funding are drugs & weed supply and piracy of Bollywood movies & songs. My question is to these new social media so called patriotic crusaders of India…Can you put your hand across your heart and say that you have never consumed any drugs or haven’t ever downloaded a song from songs.pk (it is a Pakistani website btw)? If you have then you are also part of terror funding, so stop blindly sharing things across social media without having the sense to check the authenticity of these posts. Why does every Bollywood movie release a day before on Thursday in Dubai, when the scheduled release is on Friday? It surely gives them an easy way to access to the content.
I guess it’s pointless to even discuss about drugs because it is one such thing in India that even the most elite and the poorest consume in different forms. You want to build a nation then just change yourself in a constructive and positive sense. What a pity and shame it is for our country that if the PM doesn’t come out with a campaign on cleanliness we aren’t even ready to pick up a broom and clean our houses…roads and cities. Let’s not digress.
Corruption: Moving to the most important issue, which the withdrawal of currency tries to address. Corruption!! Black money is just the end product of Corruption. It is corruption that creates Black Money and not the other way round. Corrupt practices can be done by white and legal money as well. If you try to clean up black currency by these steps and have no process and procedure in place to curb corruption people will find one or the other way to convert the same and come up with newer methods and it will continue to be in a repetitive cycle.
I have heard a lot of experts say that we know who are some of the biggest hoarders in the country, Why haven’t there been a crack down on them? What about those who converted the money into legal forms let’s say a week before the announcement and what about those who will begin to hoard in the denomination of Rs 2000. How many enquiries have you ordered when your own BJP member Gali Janardhan Reddy’s daughter’s wedding bill is estimated to be around Rs 500 crores when a common man is fighting a battle of Rs. 4000 on a daily basis? Everybody from media to government to people to agencies knows that he is one of the biggest Mining barons of the country but I haven’t heard any probe against him. Wasn’t this a mockery of the poor and a signal again that no one can touch these people or Does the government wants the country to believe that all that Rs. 500 crores is white money?
The government said it wants to fight against corruption when just the very next day after the announcement it said that no political parties should come under RTI. Why can’t the funding to political parties be transparent? Remember you only said that you want a Black money free India as an agenda of your Election campaign. One of the arguments you have given is that this move will make Elections cheaper. How can I believe a party on this stand when their spending on campaigning and marketing of General elections 2014 was more than the cost of the elections itself? The Indian Premier League is the biggest extravaganza of Business…Black money…drugs…and prostitution. But since it involves the religion cricket, the logic for India becomes everything else can be ignored.
Early this week only you came up with a new policy that would be formulated soon, where no investigative agency like CBI etc. will be allowed to investigate any central government employee without the government’s prior permission. Every Indian at some point in life would have come across a govt employee and hence s/he would be well aware of their honest and uncorrupt practices (sarcasm). Now what’s the guarantee on this that the government wouldn’t ever try to protect their favored employees?
Some other points which I would like to highlight here related to the same masterstroke:
Cashless economy: Mr. Arun Jaitley laid a lot of emphasis on how this would drive India towards a cashless economy. I am still trying to understand…a country, where 1/4th of it’s population is still below poverty line, where 55% earn their livelihood through agriculture, where 80% are employed in unorganized sectors, where only 2.6 crores out of 130 crores Indians have credit cards, where below 7% people are computer literate (a computer literate is defined by a person who can just switch on and off a computer), where internet penetration is around 15%, where 80.8% of the rural population is not covered by banks…what magic will be infused where one move will change and move the country towards cashless economy. People these days derive at consensus from social media, which again proves my point that what is the percentage of people that are there on these mediums and how can that be used to decide for whole population.
The first move should be to provide basic infrastructure where all this can be used. We don’t have proper 2G connectivity all across the nation and hence it is too ambitious to think India is ready for cashless economy. It was awesome of Reliance Jio to come up with data prices lower than potato prices, with the PM endorsing in front-page pics on every major newspaper. But wouldn’t it be more appropriate, if the data can be provided at these rates, then the government bodies like BSNL and MTNL should have taken such an initiative? I know most of the people don’t know but government bodies only provide the entire telecommunications infrastructure, then why can’t they enhance their reach first? You want a cashless economy what are the steps you took to increase the landline connections since the cables required and infrastructure was already in place? I guess you are being successful at this, as the poor villagers have gone back to the age-old system of barter.
Mismanagement of the highest order: It has been just 10 days since the announcement and the economic experts have come out in the open how this masterstroke might become nothing but a joke because of the epic proportions of mismanagement. The PM during his address mentioned how they had prepared for this for the past 8-10 months, which in one way explains the ouster of Raghuram Rajan, but it also highlights the sorrowful state of advisors or planners that the PM is surrounded with. If it was so well planned why more Rs. 100 notes were not printed in advance? I understand the secrecy angle but the ATMs could have been calibrated for Rs. 50 denominations or best at least the size of new notes could have remained same. The only thing I fail to understand is that, commoners like us might not have great understanding on these matters but the people in RBI and ministry should have better understanding than what they have displayed.
The time chosen to announce was highly inappropriate as the wedding season and the sowing of the new crop season is about to begin. If you could plan for 10 months then you could have taken couple of more months to counter in the loopholes that might be there rather than asking for 50 more days. On one hand you have allowed post offices to dispense and exchange cash but at the same time not allowed the rural co-operative banks to dispense. Plus all these 10 months you only planned without action since all the new notes have the signature of the newly appointed RBI governor Urjit Patel.
Everybody including some of your supporters has questioned the move to bring in a higher denomination of currency, which, by economics, fails the whole logic of this move. Lower denominations would have prevented people from doing transactions for large sums in cash and it would have ensured people to use the banking way but introducing a similar and a higher value denominations negates the whole move in one go.
You said India has about 200000 ATMs out of which only 120000 are operational. Why wasn’t it made sure that they are all up and running? India has about 678000 villages and almost every village atleast inhabitats about 300-400 person. Even the policy of village panchayat formation is on the basis that there should be a minimum of 1000 people in that village. If you really had thought it through to execute this at such a massive scale why didn’t you come up with elections like arrangements? You couldn’t because you knew there isn’t enough capacity to print this much cash.
The daily press conferences of Mr. Shaktikant Das, economic affairs secretary, should be broadcasted simultaneously on All India Radio and FM channels so that it has the maximum reach and one knows what’s happening on a daily basis. You stand in the queue in the night with some guidelines and by the time you reach the counter the next noon the guidelines have changed without being properly communicated.
I guess this is what happens when you have a very good lawyer taking care of the Finance Ministry.
Banks: Under UPA everybody said that CBI works under the influence of Government. I am shocked to see how the RBI is working under the influence of the current government. If you are a student of law and you know a bit of economics you would definitely know how many laws the government broke just to announce this order. So many legislative and judiciary procedures have been teased at.
The Economy and the banks would have benefitted the most, if major part of black currency that is out there had come back into the system. You could have extended the voluntary income disclosure scheme after the announcement. Why did you openly announce that whosoever declares more than 2.5 L would be scrutinized and about the 200% penalty? You can have done that secretly too, but by making a huge announcement you have shunned more people away and they are ready to burn or throw the cash away in rivers rather than making it a part of the economy.
I know it would make the banks cash rich and may help them clear off some NPAs but don’t forget that the same people whom you have forced to deposit, will withdraw the amount in newer currencies as well and you will get to know the correct picture only after March 2017. In fact one of the most interesting points is the cash that is being accumulated in banks as a part of this exercise, what’s the guarantee that it won’t be further lent out to bigger corporates? Why are the corporates biggest gainers of tax exemptions when they themselves are the biggest defaulters? Wasn’t this a failure of Banks that Vijay Mallya got crores of credits after credits without any repayments? Can a common person in India get loan after loan like this? What were the immigrations at airport doing when such a huge defaulter was leaving the country?
The banks are overloaded with work and I totally sympathize with them. Something has been forced upon them too. But they are happy doing their duties on the name of nationalism. They are saying that no other banking function would be performed in the meanwhile at least for this 50-day period. I want to know what about the other banking functions that have been stopped currently for these days, wouldn’t it be a huge backlog for the banks itself when they will resume normal banking functions? Don’t forget the election duties and the March closing.
Patriotism and Nationalism: There is a new movement started in this country especially from this year where on every instance in your day-to-day activities you have to prove your nationalism and patriotism. For every event there is a social media campaign on what pain the soldier goes through. I totally understand that pain as my father has served in the army for twenty years but this was never done earlier. Nothing pains me more to see a soldier get hurt but that doesn’t mean that for everything you need to bring in the soldiers to win your argument. With all due respect I know the armed forces’ role in the nation building and securing the country but I believe that everybody is important in this chain. You cannot say that a soldier is only important to this country and others are just free riders. A farmer is equally important and so is a bank officer. An administrative officer is equally important and so is a postman. An IT guy is equally important and so is a merchant. Everything in totality makes the whole machinery known as Nation move and function properly. If one wheel goes off…so does the balance. Stop patronizing everyone who has not served the country in armed forces. We all love and respect our armed forces and we are very proud of them.
An even newer trend is accusing anyone of anti-nationalism who questions the government. Democracy is ‘to the people’…’for the people’…’by the people’, so where does the question of anti nationalism arise. Even withdrawal currency move, if you question the execution then you are an anti national. Why does an Indian have to abide by what a certain political party or certain segment of society thinks as patriotism? If questioning the government or PM was a criteria for anti nationalism, then I believe everybody in their lives at some point or the other would have disagreed to a statement or a policy of PM or government. Does that mean everybody is anti national? Why Why Why!!!
I think Muhammad Bin Tughlaq would have also convinced everyone to move from Delhi to Daulatabad on the name of patriotism and nationalism otherwise why would everyone move.
Argument of Poor People: It deeply saddened me today to see a responsible citizen like Anupam Kher retweeting an article where it said that the argument of poor people was a very weak argument. I believe I have shared enough data to tell what and how much the poor and rural population exists in India and it is not a secret what they are going through on daily basis to cope up with this move. It’s very easy to sit in ACs…ordering a pizza online and posting on twitter to ask everyone that the trouble is just ‘a bit’. I challenge those people just to keep a fast for two days and they will understand how would the others be managing in queues. I am afraid; a farmer who survives every year on the crop which he sows for that season, wouldn’t be able to fight this battle till March. Be prepared for more suicides.
What about those who earn their livelihood on daily wages? For some it is a ‘mere’ 50-day period…but for some…it might turn out to be a lifetime. When loans and taxes more than 2 lakh crores can be waived off for the corporates in the past two years then why can’t it be done for poor farmers?
The Hypocritical Side: I have been taught from my childhood that the Supreme Court and Chief Justice of India are the supreme authorities in India. On one hand you want the public to believe in your fight against corruption and on the other hand you are making it sure that the Judiciary comes to a stand still. The SC itself has pulled up the government on multiple occasions including the CJI; who at least twice was very vocal of the same issue or the Bhakts believe that CJI is also a congress agent. But you continue to block…block and block.
You made a lot of uproar about Robert Vadra’s business transactions and security provided. I haven’t seen a single step taken against him. He still enjoys all the privileges, which he got under UPA governments. What are the actions on those whose names have appeared in Panama Papers? The Supreme Court on numerous occasions came down heavily on the Govt and RBI to make public the name of the largest willful defaulters of India…but I am yet to read a single name.
Pakistan is such a huge problem. Why haven’t you officially declared it as an Enemy state and stop all the privileges that it is enjoying on the name of a neighbor? Stop all the business transaction across the border with Pakistan but you also know the truth that thousand of tons of Onions are imported from them. Stop misleading the people how you want to save cows. I also worship cows but can the government explain why has beef export risen by 40% under their regime? Forget about the whole of India why isn’t the hyped Gujarat Development Model being replicated in at least those states where you have the 2nd and 3rd terms of BJP as government. Why was the common man asked to boycott Chinese decorative lights on Diwali worth Rs. 20 when the government is busy distributing contracts worth Rs 3000 crores to Chinese firms? I haven’t seen anyone from the twitter generation to boycott his or her laptops and smartphones.
Political mileage: It is really laughable of the government to say that the opposition does everything for political mileage. Politicians are out there to politicize an issue and use it to their advantage. Didn’t the government do the same with surgical strike when their hoardings in UP showcased the PM as Lord Rama with a bow and arrow without a single word on army or was it the first time that India did any surgical strike against Pakistan? I applaud the government for the same but don’t forget that earlier governments have also fought and won wars for the country with even braver prime ministers like Lal Bahadur Shastri.
If this was not about politicizing then why was this announced when you are on the verge of assembly elections in five different states? You could have it announced later, would have given you more time to prepare and would have saved you some indelible ink which now the Election Commission has also said is wrong to use in this case.
Blind Supporters: Won’t write anything under this as the supporters might find it difficult to read.
The people angle: The generation that is shouting the loudest…please go and ask your parents how they saved and saved to make you literate so that you can send a tweet one day. Do you think that everybody who deals in cash and in unorganized sectors is carrying black money? Why does every salaried employee try to save the maximum tax amount through bogus declarations? If everyone is so concerned with nation building then I believe no one should opt for any tax savings. Pay your complete tax and do your bit for the nation.
It’s the people who are corrupt and not the currency one should always remember. Get hold of them and you will curb corruption but not this way. Haven’t we heard about corrupt Income tax officers or sales tax officers? Now you are making them even more powerful without a proper check mechanism. This move ridiculously slaps everyone as hoarders of black money…with the real culprits still finding ways to swindle.
This social media generation is getting fooled time and again cause of marketing tactics, which they aren’t intellectually capable to understand. Biggest examples are Donald Trump getting elected as American President, BREXIT, Kejriwal getting elected. These were the same people who were marching and raising slogans at Jantar Mantar. I have all the rights to believe that the same is happening in this country now at this very moment.
The patriotic crusaders should understand that writing on notes destroys more currency, which amounts to more than the total counterfeit currency. RBI loses currency worth more than 2000 crores just because of notes that become unusable because of scripting on them. Shouldn’t we first change this habit of ours? There is a liquor ban in Gujarat doesn’t the same people who are supporting the move purchase liquor in Gujarat through illegal mediums? According to bhakts everybody is corrupt barring them. They are the biggest Messiahs out there who approve others of their nationalism and patriotism. I guess the government should also come out with AADHAR card like thing where they can have parameters for patriotism and whosoever qualifies can get a card to prove he is a patriot.
And the theatrics continue: I know he has been trained by versatile actors like Anupam Kher and Paresh Rawal and it is certain from the way he takes jibes on others during speeches. Why did the PM shed tears in one of the rallies after announcement? Isn’t it a kind of emotional blackmail? If you said that this is the biggest economic move that will change India then why to shed tears. Be confident and manage the things properly. Or is the value of a PM’s tear more than that of a common man who is taken apart daily by the scathing system? Wasn’t one of the biggest economic moves was Manmohan Singh’s declaration of LPG in 1991 as Finance Minister? I believe there wouldn’t have been an economy today if those steps weren’t taken place back then.
When PM’s 90 years old mother went to the bank wasn’t that publicity stunt? Doesn’t she stay with Modi’s other siblings or were they so busy that their mother had to go out? These are the most dangerous of tactics through which he is making everyone think that whatever life people are spending in queues would eventually turn out in their good and India would become a black money free country. What the people don’t understand is that the rich continues to grow richer and the poor continues to remain poor. This has always happened and in a shocking stat the divide between the rich and poor has increased since the Modi government came into power.
Even Smriti Irani was displaying the same level of theatrics when during a Lok Sabha session, speaking on Rohith Vemula she became more of a mother to him rather than her own mother and was severely criticized by Rohith’s own mother. She wants me to believe that justice has been served by setting up a one-man committee. One man cannot be mentioned as committee unless you are writing a joke.
In one of the latest speeches he even compared the 19-month (actually it was 21 months) period of emergency under Indira Gandhi with this 50-day period. So he himself agrees that the hardships caused, which are sold and packaged on the name of patriotism and nationalism is a kind of economic emergency. What he actually forgot was what happened to Indira Gandhi in the next election after the emergency. He himself has a policy that nobody in his cabinet should be above 70 years of age then I wonder how would he assume office as he would be so close to 70 by the next elections or that would turn out to be another gimmick.
Stop branding that everybody who is questioning the move has black money. Some people are just not blind. I always thought that the PM, who always speaks about his humble background, would have his sensitivities attached to that class but I guess that is the section of the society which is the most hit.
I hope you will disclose at some point that to bring in these moves what all legal procedures have you skipped to announce the withdrawal of currency notes.
I know people and the blind followers will come and abuse. Some would even try to lynch me if this one goes viral but I am not afraid, instead would request you to try to raise the quality of your arguments.
I will end with simple logic that prevails in law that we can let go of many culprits but no innocent should suffer but I guess you only know your logic.
The first day of MBA taught me that every opportunity is not an opportunity until it is totally aligned with your strengths and resources. Similarly every good move is not good until it is implemented properly and serves the larger and common interest of people.
I would be the happiest if whatever I have written above; government proves me wrong in the future.
– A hopeful Indian