Modi Government’s Demonetization: No choice, but a compulsion.
Special Report by Bipin Sharma
Ever since Prime Minister Modi announced the ‘Demonetization’ of 500 and 1000 rupees banknotes in his address to the nation on 8th November’2016, the high denomination currency notes ceased to be a valid legal tender from the stroke of the midnight hour the same night. Barring places like petrol pumps, government hospitals, consumer cooperative stores, railway ticket counters, public transport system, milk booths, crematoria’s/burial grounds, LPG gas cylinders, metro rail tickets, the only remedy left with citizens was to deposit their old 500 and 1000 rupee notes in the banks. However with the government setting the deposits limit to 2.5 lacs too, the intent of the government soon became crystal clear. Any cash deposits above Rs. 2.5 lakh during the 50 day period beginning from 10th November’16 to 30th December’16, of returning Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes could be taxed, and over and above a 200% penalty would be applied to those deposits if they didn’t commensurate with the declared income in the last ITR.
Thus, the government of the day, in one single ‘Masterstroke of Demonetization’ had taken care of myriad menaces- black money, corruption, terrorism, terror funding, drug peddling, counterfeit Indian currency, laundering, smuggling etc.
It was no choice, but a compulsion to initiate “demonetization” mode as the government was literally pushed to the corner as a result of massive black money hoarding, rising terror and militant attacks, ever expanding drug syndicates, counterfeit Indian currency etc.
The message going out was loud and clear.. Modi had waged a war against corruption, black money stashing and terrorism… all with one Masterstroke. ‘Hypocrisy’ will no longer work as the PM at the helm of the affairs meant ‘business’, and was here to correct the flaws that had been an integral component of our system since time immemorial.
The government spokespersons on their part, constantly assured citizens that the “Demonetization Masterstroke” move was meant to pave the way for speedy execution of various infrastructural developmental projects lying in limbo for a long while.
No different from what had been happening since Modi government came to power in May 2014, the “Demonetization” move by the government too evoked mixed reactions. However in stark contrast to the earlier opposition, the ‘Demonetization’ move in specific, seemed to have ruffled the feathers of the political class more than the aam aadmi. As a result, what soon followed, were series of protests and agitations in different hues by the political class both inside and outside the Parliament. Ironically while the ordinary man on the street was slowly, but surely getting accustomed to the newly transformed system, some political parties were desperately striving to trying to create ‘commotion’ by recklessly inciting the common man to put duress on the government for a ‘rollback’ on the Demonetization. It is quite evident from the face of it that some politicians were doing so, purely to fulfill and realize the fructification of their vested interests, and nothing more. While no denying that there were genuine inconveniences faced by citizens across the length and breadth of the country, a whopping majority of the population did give a resounding big thumbs up to the government’s Masterstroke initiative of Demonetization as they duly realized the long lasting ramifications of the move.
The survey conducted on PM’s app clearly reflected the nation’s mood, and it was in the larger interest of our democratic set up to regard the people’s voice as the ‘Supreme Mandate’. A substantial population gave its nod as it was convinced that the government’s unparalleled move was the only way out to counter the ageless menace of black money hoarding, and consequently steer the country to greater heights. Majority of the citizens believed the intent of the government to be sincere, and in tandem with nation’s welfare and overall progress. The honest tax payer was not at all rattled by the government’s demonetization step, and on the contrary fully welcomed the government’s bold move as the survey results indicated. The fact that the citizens of the country have so far displayed remarkable level of patience and support in enduring the new transformational glitches proves that they whole heartedly support their PM in his crusade against stashing of dirty cash.
As luck would have it, the opposition has been divided viz a viz ‘demonetization’. While some outrightly rejected and debunked the initiative terming it ‘anti-poor’ and ‘anti-middle’ class, some others while heaping praises on demonetization per say, blame the government for poor and inefficient implementation. A born and a gifted orator, PM Modi silences his critics by simply articulating that the real problem is not the good or the poorly executed implementation of demonetization, but the fact that his government gave no leeway or time to the black money hoarders to transfer and exchange their disproportionate and undisclosed funds. The central government on its part, have advised bank officials to work relentlessly, and to ensure smooth coordination in the larger interest of public welfare.
If the demonetization initiative of the government has been the biggest newsbreak of year 2106 till date, the myriad dastardly terror and the militant attacks too have created no less impact. With an eye on putting brakes on the rising incidents of militant attacks and cross border terrorism, it had become imperative for the government to undertake something as phenomenal and unprecedented such as “Demonetization”.
The move was all the more essential as counterfeit currency has perpetually been posing grave danger to the well-being of the innocent citizens. With clear evidences of counterfeit Indian currency flowing in from Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh, it was time to put an end to this serious peril once and for all.
It is impudent to imagine and believe that any big move in a democratic set up as big as India’s would have no implications on the lives of the ordinary man. Thus, on the expected lines, in the aftermath of ‘Demonetization’ what ensued were serpentine queues of citizens outside banks and ATMs all lined up to withdraw money, or deposit their old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 denomination notes.
However as someone aptly quipped, “Desh ko badalna hai, to thodi takleef to uthaani padegi!!
The role of some Media houses has been criticized for portraying one aspect of the situation, and showing only the long queues and the anguish of the common man. In all fairness, the positives of the ‘demonetization’ move too need to be highlighted and brought to the knowledge of the general public. Just like the two aspects of the same coin, the positives and the pluses of demonetization too need to be projected and highlighted before the masses.
Thank God that there is the ‘Social Media’ at the end of the day, as it does a world of good in such cases by highlighting the lacunas and stating the facts before the masses. On a comparative note, the social media for the ‘statistics’, has been highly appreciative of the demonetization move.
‘Demonetization’ happening in India is a watershed moment as it signifies a tectonic shift from a ‘corrupt’ era to a being a more ‘transparent’ one. We are all moving towards a digital cashless era which promises not just more ease, but all the more accountability in society and day to day life. The daily wage workers and the small traders need to quickly embrace the ‘digital mode’ of payment with both arms in order to catch pace with changing times. The time has come to shift gears from a cash-less era to a cashless digital phase. As for Modi’s ‘demonetization’ move, it was unsparing all the way, as it managed to stole the thunder from even the world’s most followed US Presidential elections. I am in absolute concurrence with the fact that this measure undertaken by the government is incontestably the biggest reform since Independence.
The opposition needs to be brought on board, and told how this step would play a crucial role in reviving the golden bygone era when India was referred to as the “Sone Ki Chidiya”, and one US Dollar valued at par with one Indian Rupee.
Albeit the “Demonetization to Remonetization” phase might consume a lot of time, we as citizens, must not remain oblivious of the fact that the landmark step undertaken by the Government of India will do a great deal of good in instilling an incessant element of fear and insecurity among the habitual black money amassers. The biggest impact of demonetization would be in drastically reducing the incidents of tax evasion and ushering in a phase of more transparency with more and more number of choosing to disclose their actual wealth and assets before the taxmen!!