No sane person will dispute that black money saps the health of the economy of a nation, just as cancer debilitates the human body. If cancer is not treated in time, consequences for the patient are quite obvious.
If the generation, circulation, use and hoarding of black money remain unchecked, it too can devastate the economy beyond repairs.
So, even his strongest detractors will concede (at least in private) that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's announcement of the demonetisation of the currency notes of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 on November 8 was a bold and imaginative initiative.
The passion, zeal and conviction with which he has been urging people to embrace digital modes of payment underlines his seriousness to see this bold move through; he has put so much of his political capital at stake that he can't afford to fail.
But no matter how daring and courageous a military General might be, if his infantry isn't battle-ready, if logistics haven't been put in place, if the soldiers don't have the required weapons nor enough artillery, winning a major victory is nothing short of a miracle.
Nearly a month after that "surgical" announcement, unending long queues outside the banks and ATMs continue; over a 100 have died while waiting to withdraw their own hard-earned money; small and medium enterprises have suffered huge losses and lives of common men and women has been disrupted to a great degree.
All this suggests that effective implementation of the plan wasn't thought through.
PM's close advisers seem to have wandered in the footsteps of Gen Sudarji who is believed to have told Indira Gandhi that Bhindranwale could be flushed out of the Golden temple without firing a shot and boasted to Rajiv Gandhi that Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka could be tamed in six weeks! The rest is history.
|Demonetisation has added another facet to polarisation in India.|
Terming the incalculable hardships and disruption of lives of ordinary people as minor inconveniences is most unkind and insensitive. Didn't those who died standing in queues also have mothers, wives and children to look after? Given, they were not fighting at the border but they were fighting a battle nonetheless: to stay alive and support their loved ones.
Does the life of a common man mean nothing?
Demonetisation has added another facet to polarisation in India. Anyone who tries to highlight the plight of ordinary citizens and raise questions about the efficacy of implementation and rationale of the decision itself is branded unpatriotic and a supporter of black money!
No one benefits by surrounding self by yes-men and sycophants; listening to contrarian views helps in course correction. Dismissing discussion, debate and constructive criticism isn't good for democracy.
Both the supporters and the critics of demonetisation have been pedalling half-truths. Yes, higher digitisation of financial transactions will bring in greater transparency and help contain corruption and black money, deplete flow of funds for terrorism/extremism and boost the economy in the long run.
But to claim that it will end black money and corruption or make poor rich and gigantic infrastructure projects, health care centres and educational institutes will mushroom everywhere is naive.
The balance in hundreds of Jan Dhan accounts has suddenly burgeoned thanks to deposits by unscrupulous individuals. Unless all political parties commit to come clean, digitise their own accounts and massive electoral reforms are undertaken, success of demonetisation will remain suspect.
|Common man has become collateral damage of the demonetisation train.|
Incentivising the use of white money is the most effective antidote to fight black money. Digitising a nation of 1.25 billion, where nearly half of the population has no digital device to embrace is like putting the cart before the horse.
Literally forcing millions of farmers, small traders, street hawkers and daily wage earners to leave their work and stand in the queue day after day is unproductive. For example, demonetisation has hit hard the shoe manufacturing in Agra and banana market in Allahabad.
In the last one month, nearly 4,00,000 jobs have reportedly been lost in India. People living in mountains in Uttarakhand have to climb down the mountainous path for five hours to reach the nearest small town with a singular bank and a solitary ATM.
Sadly, the common man has become collateral damage of the demonetisation train.
One bestselling writer has likened demonetisation to administering chemotherapy to a cancer patient. Unless the dose is just right and side effects are kept in check, it can cause irreparable damage to the patient.
Hoping the unequipped and uninitiated half of the nation to digitise is like asking a cyclist to tie his bike behind a Mercedes car and keep pace. For a few meters it might work, but as the car picks up speed, the cyclist will crash!
(Courtesy of Mail Today.)