Demonetisation: Modi should apologise for fooling the country

Rajeev Dhavan
Rajeev DhavanNov 28, 2016 | 11:16

Demonetisation: Modi should apologise for fooling the country

"Surgical Strike" has become the presently popular phrase in the metaphor of Indian politics. The work "surgical" comes from the noun "surgeon".

In England, there is an old standing distinction between those who are called "doctors" and "surgeons" who are called "Mr".

A deeper etymological analysis shows that the surgeons were originally barbers or butchers. Those who had the tools to invade the body were "surgeons".



So, "surgical strike" meant the precise manner with which incisions are made to the body. I guess this is equally true of butchers separating parts of the body.

The "surgical" strike directed against Pakistan was because jawans acted with precision.

The Demon(etisation) - or "demon strike" has no precision and is directed against the Indian people.

Both strikes are part of the BJP chest-thumping that they are braver and courageous than their predecessors.

Chest-thumping may be good for political exaggeration but is bad as value politics in the public interest.

Demonetisation was used by the British in 1946 (withdrawing Rs 1,000 and 10,000 notes). Morarji's government demonetised Rs 1,000, Rs 5,000 and Rs 10,000 notes in 1978.

Politics apart, the capacity to print and circulate the 85 per cent of notes is limited. (Photo credit: PTI) 

These values were to be found amongst the hugely rich beyond the capacity of the normal rich. The "demon" policy of 2016 is different. The demonetised Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes constitute Rs 18 trillion (85 per cent) of the money in circulation.

The rest of the currency below Rs 500 was 2.7 trillion (15 per cent). This means that the policy affected 85 per cent of the money economy.

Politics apart, the capacity to print and circulate the 85 per cent of notes is limited. It will take months for the new Rs 2,000 and 500 notes to be produced.


The purported purpose of the "demon" policy is: a parallel economy, counterfeit currency and terror funds. This is a confession of failure. Has our surveillance system failed in these areas?

We are supposed to have a system to detect fake notes. The anti-terrorism law mandates confiscation of an organisation found to be unlawful.

Find the source confiscate the notes. The parallel economy will always exist. Village after village may continue to use Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, as long as they agree to accept this as a currency amongst themselves.

The parallel economy below the "sophisticated" will continue. Necessity and acceptance creates a parallel economy.

The insufficient bank credit system, the moneylender, will not make a shade of difference.

Let us not mix-up these problems of demonetisation of the economy and creating an electronic economy.


The argument that 80 per cent of the adult economy has access to phones is as stupid as it comes.

The question is not who has phones or even smart phones, but how many know how to use them to enter the electronic economy? How many have the collateral to get a proper plastic debit-credit card?


Are we waiting for the entire economy to go plastic or electronic? That may take several years.

PM Manmohan Singh invoking the famous Keynesian aphorism repeated: "In the long run we will be dead".

Demonetisation is anti-poor. Go back in time. A few decades earlier the Rs 10 note was the maximum hope of the poor. Today that sum is Rs 500 or more. Who was in a hurry to change Rs 500 or even Rs 1,000 notes?

The poor and lower middle class. The latter had banking options of up to Rs 2.5 lakhs with a PAN Card and a bank account. The well-off had their means and methods. The long queues. The lack of money in ATMs until they were "calibrated".

Alas it was the people who were getting calibrated to wonder how they will pay for their next meal.

The filthy rich are cleverer than government who they control. What we saw and heard was agony. To this agony, the response was indifference that it will all work out.

Over and above this, Manmohan Singh's reasonable prediction for the next few months is certainly two per cent reduction of the GDP.


The plea of secrecy is asinine. Before budgets, details are obviously not made known. The rhetoric defending "secrecy" is banal. Transparent democracy has some demands.

Firstly, a white paper showing all discussions, notes, files, decisions, mistakes, responses and modes of efficiency must now be revealed. This will be a true "surgical strike" into the demon(etisation) policy. Mayawati wanting a general election is misconceived. We need all the information about this before we move further.

Secondly, democratic accountability through Parliament is ill-served by hulla gulla tamasha. There is a need for a proper debate and adjournment motion so that the government's head is on the line.

Thirdly, an informational complete disclosure white paper should attach to that debate. Our PM should take these discussions in Parliament seriously. His job is not just to be present to answer questions directed to him.

And fourthly, apologise to those stood in queues, borrowed for sustenance, suffered loss of jobs and self-respect for a hare-brained scheme inimical to the disadvantaged.

True democracy demands that not any, nor all will ever be fooled in this way.

(Courtesy of Mail Today.)

Last updated: November 29, 2016 | 11:38
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