Demonetisation, since its inception in the Indian economy, has been a thorny flower. It has cost livelihoods but it certainly does come with the promise of a better one in the ‘long run’. While, this statement, both halves of it, can be put to debate, agreed and disagreed on, it would only be a waste of time. This might well have come to the notice of the common folk via the volatile political debates that have been puncturing their conscience without any let forget any sign of conclusion. The Opposition has, without break shouted, protested, marched against Narendra Modi, while the Prime Minister and his allies could not hear them over the ear-shattering sounds of nationalism they themselves were creating. And what should have been an intelligent discussion/debate between economists of distinction has become a shouting match between the ignorant and the arrogant. This has now become a battle of perception now.
Demonetisation is not THE solution to curbing black money. What it does is, take down the stashes of cash buried deep within the walls and under the beds. In fact, there have been reports of people exchanging Rs 1000 notes for lesser amounts, people sending other people to deposit money in the various accounts and even DTC officials taking small denomination notes they got from the sale of tickets and instead of depositing the same in Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes. And almost everybody walks out clean. As I had mentioned in my last article, demonetisation pauses the use of black money without touching the flow of black income. It can be done through account books. One can buy a property for Rs 1 lakh and write it down as Rs 1.5 lakh, hence making Rs 50,000 in black money. To quote renowned economist Arun Kumar, “you understate revenue and overstate costs”.
And here is a guess. When was the last time anyone heard a member of the Opposition saying or discussing or even mentioning the nuances of the economics of demonetisation? Sure, Rahul Gandhi is worried about the people dying in queues. Mayawati wants the PM to dissolve the Parliament. Mamata Didi called the PM, ‘Hitler’. It is said that it is against the Constitution to put a limit on a man from withdrawing his own hard earned money. But here is what the Opposition is missing. People are standing in queues and it has been weeks now. And irrespective of how lame PM Modi’s app survey was, a lot of these people are willing to stay in these queues in ‘larger interest of the nation’. The Winter session of the Parliament started a week after the announcement of demonetisation. Instead of being prepared and digging deep, the Opposition chose to sit on the surface and resort to name calling; Hitler, Mussolini, Gaddafi – even ‘Modi’ Antoinette. In fact, Ghulam Nabi Azad’s comment on the Uri attack and comparison with terrorists was simply uncalled for. It seems that our elected leaders have poor reading skills. Or they believe themselves to be too good to even try scratching beneath the surface. It could clearly be seen from Arvind Kejriwal’s outburst during an interview with the BBC!
The public may be naive, but not stupid. When Mamata Banerjee goes to the streets against demonetisation, what the public sees is a politician out for campaigning for 2019 elections. Rahul Gandhi standing in front of ATM queues creates even more inconvenience for the crowd that has been standing there for hours. These steps are just juvenile. The Opposition has demanded that the PM speak up in the Parliament. All things considered, are we actually expecting Prime Minister Narendra Modi to explain the nitty-gritty demonetisation scheme? Well, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley remains present in the Parliament!
It has to be understood that the Opposition is playing it safe. These leaders, including Yuva Neta Gandhi, are having trouble finding words to criticise the ‘economical’ impracticality of demonetisation without being termed ‘corrupt’ and ‘anti-nationals’. Rupa Ganguly, BJP leader had even said that the long queues were made by the people of the Opposition. The Bharatiya Janata Party and its allies have had a longstanding habit of ‘nuking’ the arena they stand in with a heavy dose of nationalism. Besides, the various emotional breakdowns by the Prime Minister on various occasions just cater to an audience that loves soap operas and had voted him to majority.
The fight over demonetisation is no longer a logical battle in the Parliament by intelligent people chosen to rule over the people. It has merely turned into a battle of attrition in a much bigger show. And the audience is troubled and uninterested.