The pitch in support of the demonetisation move keeps oscillating between various political slogans, while civilians stand in queues and the Armed forces stand at the border. When PM Narendra Modi says that banning Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes is a decisive war against black money and eventually terrorism, it becomes a difficult activity to assess the exclusive connection between the two. This gets more perplexing when the government changed the narrative from particularly terrorism to a cashless economy. Even if we consider the argument for a moment, can we truly say that an economy without cash is a guarantee for a state free from terrorism? Let us consider the most cashless economies, like Belgium and France. These two countries are considered almost ninety percent cashless, but it is quite evident that both the nations have recently faced some of the worst incidents of terrorism. Belgium had no idea that a small part of the country called Molenbeek was one of the largest incubating units for ISIS terrorism in the world. Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris was caused by terrorists who reportedly bought the arms from Belgium. All the indigenous and trans-border terrorism claimed hundreds of lives in more than a dozen incidents in recent times.
And although several kinds of research have indicated this, and it is quite a common sense that agencies in countries already know the tax evaders in a way, and terrorists are smart enough to not use their money. According to National security intelligence specialist Vappala Balachandran, Black Money does not work towards the principle of ‘costs, volume, risk, simplicity convenience and speed’. Basically, criminals, in general, are not considered loyal by terrorists, so outsourcing from them is rare if not at all. Additionally, terrorists generally do not do their funding from the same country where the planned attacks are about to take place. As a matter of fact, according to several risk assessment reports, terrorists have reportedly become quite innovative in their financing, most of the times putting up a legal facade to move their money. Proper ‘cover’ is used by charities, personal bank accounts to aid in bank frauds, trafficking, extortion and most of the times a centralised agency coordinates with these. So what matters more than a currency crackdown is a proper counter-terrorism measure. Moreover, technically and conceptually both money laundering and terror funding are opposites as most of the laundered cash is from criminal acts which are made to appear legal so that it can get into the system yet again. But terrorism in is most basic form do not care about the source but only the scope, as long as it poses least effort and risk.
Now, add to this the huge amount of ‘suspicious’ money landing in the country through foreign banks which are even more difficult to keep a check on. Many reports from other countries suggest that terror funding through legal channels is a very difficult task to guage, as there are many money service businesses which exchange money as a side business. This was evident when France formed the FATF (Financial Action Task Force) in Paris to fight against money laundering. The nice recommendations made by FATF is considered a standard in Combating the Financing of Terrorism (CBT). Even a country like the USA created the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program along with other countries and the UN. But in our country, this system gets even more complicated. With structural insufficiency and lack of administrative flexibility, it is difficult to maintain a central monitoring system which eventually makes it inefficient against innovative terrorism. Counterterrorism agencies operate differently in different states and the National Intelligence Agency never gets the popular consensus from all over. This results in a lot of delay in the acceptance of imminent dangers.
There is a dire need for de-radicalisation and indeed India has started to realise its importance after it saw the UK remain unaffected from ISIS only due to its proper counter-terrorism measures. So it is clear that it is more important to improve the counterterrorism measures of the nation, instead of singing government jingles.