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Demonetisation is now a law and order crisis

Surendra Kumar
Surendra KumarNov 25, 2016 | 09:03

Demonetisation is now a law and order crisis

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement on November 8 that the currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 will cease to be a legal tender from midnight was a bold and imaginative move to deal a crushing blow to the generation and circulation of the black money, funding of terror by induction of fake currency notes and the way political parties fund their activities, especially the election campaigns.

In the long run, it should impede the ill effects of parallel economy and bring large amounts of black money into circulation in the form of white money and facilitate numerous developmental plans.

The government deserves kudos for maintaining absolute secrecy and taking the black money hoarders by surprise.

Insensitivity

However, looking from the perspective of ordinary citizens, who are neither generators of black money nor hoarders who go about their uneventful daily lives with paltry sums of money in their hands to buy basic necessities, the execution of the brilliant idea has been a nightmare.

Supporters’ claim that its implementation has caused minor inconvenience is incorrect; they live in their ivory towers, cut off from the grass roots distress.

Most of them haven’t stood in a queue for eight hours for exchanging Rs 4,000 and gone back without getting the new notes and returned to join the queue the following day in hope of a better luck!

Calling millions of Indians’ harrowing experiences as a small inconvenience betrays utter insensitiveness and callousness. An old man in his 70s had to walk 10km every day to the only bank near his village on four days to get Rs 2,000 on the fifth day!

In late 1970s, no one could disagree that population control was in India’s national interest and deserved to be undertaken nationwide on priority as, in terms of population, we were adding one Australia every year.

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PM Narendra Modi. (Photo credit: Reuters)

Obviously “nasbandi” was an inexpensive and effective family planning option.

However, the overzealous implementation of a sensible initiative created havoc. Rest is history.

The government and the ruling party are playing down the devastating disruption of normal life of millions of honest, upright common men, small farmers, small traders, daily wage earner: the unorganised sector which constitutes 86 per cent of India’s workforce which has little access to banks/ATM and plastic money.

The chief justice of India has expressed apprehension about the situation getting out of hand and causing law and order problem.

Some questions seek answers:

1. If 86 per cent of the black money is not kept in currency notes but in gold, bullion, real estate or staked abroad; demonetisation can only make a partial dent against black money.

Disruption

2. The biggest users of the black money are the political parties and the biggest provider: India Inc. Unless the elections are wholly funded by the State or donations to the political parties are legalised and parties commit to accept contributions only through cheques/credit cards, circulation of black money can’t be eliminated.

3. Black money in most countries is generated because of the high rates of direct and indirect taxes. Hoarding and using black money can be dis-incentivised by drastically bringing down the tax rates.

4. Until rural banks and ATMs multiply many fold and use of plastic money expands exponentially current inconvenience and disruption of rural economy and unorganised sector will persist.

Manpower

5. Exhorting citizens to be honest and transparent is easy; all political parties should set an example by bringing themselves under the ambit of the RTI.

6. What about a white paper about the loss to the economy in terms of man days lost on account of crores of people queuing up rather than working? Will GDP rate decline?

7. While some parties are crying hoarse as their black money allegedly became dust, why are some parties so nonchalant and not worried about funds?

(Courtesy of Mail Today.)

Last updated: November 26, 2016 | 16:14
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