Black money seized in new notes crosses Rs 230cr: What was the point of demonetisation?

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The database presently lists 106 different cases of new currency being seized by the government.

More than a month has passed since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the whole country by shock with his demonetisation drive. The November 8 national announcement informed the population about the prime minister’s high-stakes plan-of-action to attack black money and its hoarders by decommissioning the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes, that amount up to a staggering 86 per cent of India's cash economy.

Even as Narendra Modi shifts his goalposts from removing black money, to Digital India, possibly because of the move's ineffectiveness on that count, the pile of black money cases (post demonetisation) keeps rising higher. The general population waits in ATM queues for hours at a stretch in hopes to withdraw just enough money to last the next few days, and the babus and the politicians enjoy wads of the new currency without even breaking a sweat. That's the deal.

NewsLaundry columnist and Twitter user Meghnad S, in a bid to calculate the amount of black money being hoarded in the new currency, created a crowd-sourced live database that tracks stories reported by various media outlets about the new currency being stashed. The database, updated by various people, lists 106 different cases of new currency being seized by the government so far. The amount of money, on the basis of just this data base is over Rs 230 crore. 

The database of new currency stashers. [Photo: Screengrab]

The database also breaks this figure down into several more observable parameters, such as number of ATM transactions it would need to accumulate this kind of cash, number of wedding that could be managed etc. We created a few infographics on the basis of this data.

Total amount in new currency siezed. [Photo: DailyO]
Simple average of Amount seized. [Photo: DailyO]
Number of persons required to withdraw by cheque (@ Rs 24000/person/week). [Photo: DailyO]
Number of persons required to withdraw from current A/c (@ Rs 50000/account). [Photo: DailyO]
Number of ATM Card transactions required to withdraw (Rs 2500/day/card). [Photo: DailyO]
Number of weddings possible (Rs 2.5 lakh/wedding). [Photo: DailyO]

Because this data is subject to media reportage, there is likely to be some margin of error and some duplication. Also, by the virtue of being a live database, it's subject to change at any given moment. What it does provide though, is a more-or-less accurate picture of the demonetisation being a losing battle against black money. The move that disrupted the lives of the entire population of the country came with a promise to curb black money.

The prime minister's aim with this was to check unaccounted for cash and counterfeit currency. If this is a partial representation of the reported incidents of black money in the new currency being seized, imagine just how huge the actual ammount may be. But let's not fret, for it is just a "minor inconvenience".

(Photos: Reuters)

Also read - Demonetisation explained in numbers: Why India's cash crunch is such a big deal