One month has passed since the "historic" demonetisation decision. Opinions remain divided. There are a lot of uncertainties. Some experts are predicting doom for the Indian economy, some are predicting best days ahead.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s demonetisation announcement on November 8 took the entire country by surprise. In one stroke, India declared all Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes illegal. PM Modi said the note ban would help in ending corruption, black money and terror funding. People across the country immediately hailed the decision, while political parties scrambled to deal with the situation.
However, the initial euphoria among many people ended when they witnessed serpentine queues outside ATMs and banks. Some took it as an attack on their “hard-earned” money, others wondered how it would end black money and corruption. Meanwhile, the serpentine queues gave the Opposition cue for further politics.
One month has passed since the “historic” decision. Opinions remain divided. There are a lot of uncertainties. Some experts are predicting doom for the Indian economy, some are predicting best days ahead. For the first time perhaps, common people are wondering if there is any economist who can be trusted. However, this is just the beginning and as many BJP supporters say, the making of a “new India” has just begun, no matter whether demonetisation fails or succeed.
Here we take a brief look at all that have happened in the 30 days of demonetisation.
1. Protests, politics and polls: Mamata takes centre-stage as Kejriwal finds a new mojo and Rahul remains in shadows; Nitish walks the lone path
Demonetisation ahead of crucial Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab shocked the Opposition. It is no secret that elections in the country are mostly cash-driven. The note-ban thus triggered a political war. While the major opposition parties in Delhi were making measured reactions, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee launched the most scathing attack against the move and PM Modi.
For Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, demonetisation provided a new mojo. He didn’t hesitate in making even personal attacks against the Prime Minister and his “popularity” increased. Both Mamata and Kejriwal positioned themselves as main challengers to PM Modi, while Congress’ vice-president Rahul Gandhi continued to remain in the shadows of Congress’ legacy. Curiously, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar supported the move and improved his credibility in Bihar. PM Modi was also not silent. He toured across the country, gathered support for the move.
2. Parliament disrupted, no end to logjam in sight
The Opposition and the government failed to reach a consensus on how to debate demonetisation in Parliament. Disruption became a norm in both Houses of Parliament.
3. No end to terror attacks, situation still tense on Indo-Pak border; Maoists surrender, Kashmir protests go silent for the time being
The government had said demonetisation would help end terrorism. However, terror attacks in Kashmir are still happening. It is possible that terrorists are agitated because of the cash crunch or, maybe, the government is bluffing. Meanwhile, reports from Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh said a number of Maoists surrendered after the note-ban. The Government claimed that Kashmir protests also ended after demonetisation.
4. Banned and new currency notes recovered from unexpected places; BJP accused of parking funds in land
Old and new currency notes have been recovered from unusual places like trains, drains, garbage boxes, rivers etc. Even new Rs 2000 note was found in the possession of terrorists who died in an encounter in Kashmir some days ago. Several people were arrested with large amounts of old and new notes and the Opposition alleged that the ruling BJP saved its black money by buying lands across the country before demonetisation.
5. New India in the making: Modi in a new avatar, gets compared to Mao
PM Modi was hailed by many for heralding a “new era” in India that would be financially more inclusive and open. Writing in Mint a few days ago, financial markets expert Manas Chakravarty, said what the government is doing with demonetisation, Benami Property law and pushing GST is nothing short of a “revolution”. Comparing Modi with Mao, he wrote: “The original Great Leap Forward, after all, was an unmitigated disaster. But perhaps Modi believes, like Mao,’There is great disorder under heaven; the situation is excellent.’”
6. Over 80 people allegedly die but ATMs still running dry, role of banks staff under scanner
The Opposition claimed that over 80 people in the country died due to demonetisation. Most of the ATMs continue to run dry and the role of bank staff came under the scanner. The Enforcement Directorate reportedly raided 50 banks across the country.
7. India’s march towards cashless economy, total financial inclusion begins
The government launched a massive drive to make Indian economy cashless. It is attempting to bring everyone in the banking system. Proposals like Islamic Banking for integrating Muslims with the banking system are also doing the rounds.
8. PM Modi continues to get overwhelming support for demonetisation
Despite opposition, PM Modi continues to get support for demonetisation from both the influential business community as well as the common man.
9. Economists divided: Indians listen to ‘politician’ Manmohan Singh
Economists are divided in their views on demonetisation. Ex-PM Manmohan Singh termed the move ‘organised loot and legalised plunder’. His statement, however, sounded more political than driven purely by economics. Nobel laureate Amartya Sen also attacked demonetisation. But then there are scores of others like Niti Aayog’s Bibek Debroy who remain optimistic.
10. Jan Dhan accounts swell with cash; people debate, mock nationalism like never before
Lakhs of dormant Jan Dhan accounts were filled with cash. As per estimates, around Rs 21,000 crore was deposited in these accounts. Meanwhile, people on social media debated and mocked nationalism like never before. India appears divided ideologically. Curiously, this time the division is dual — between those who support the move and those who don’t.