Demonetisation — A Failure?

A month has passed since the demonetisation plan was announced. It was said that the difficulties faced by the people of India would cease around two weeks from the announcement. That however hasn’t been the case and a severe cash crunch still plagues the country. Dozens of people have died directly or indirectly due to demonetisation. Surprisingly, the government shamelessly claims that the issue of these deaths being raised by the opposition is publicity. Claims by the government that demonetisation has been a success, on closer scrutiny tell us something entirely different. An estimated Rs. 12.76 lakh crore has already made its way into banks and that makes up more than 82% of the total amount in old currency that existed in the system. People with black money simply don’t hold as much cash as the government believed or they have already deposited their money into the banks. Such a result within a month of the announcement should have sent shockwaves across the country as this is certainly evidence that the move has failed badly. However it hasn’t as most of the country is still being regularly misinformed about the status of demonetisation across the country. A clearer indicator of the failure of the government is the fact that the Income Declaration Scheme has been reintroduced with a five percent increase in the fine. However the mainstream media ever looking to please the government and the spineless opposition have been unable to seize the initiative and inform the people about the grave mistake the government of India has committed. Most of the country is still rallying behind the PM of India. That I believe can be attributed to the fact that most people are relatively unaware about the whole extent of the effects of demonetisation on the country. Facts that on closer inspection reveal nothing of significance have been dressed up and presented as vindicators of the government’s success. A figure of Rs. 74,321 crores is certainly huge and the government has used that figure well claiming that the Jan Dhan accounts of the poor were being used to deposit black money. However, closer scrutiny reveals that the number of active accounts is close to 20 crore, thus bringing the average deposit to Rs 3200- hardly significant. When we dive even further into the data, we stumble upon the figure of Rs. 45,636 crores in all these accounts on Nov 9. It is evident now that less than Rs. 30,000 crore was deposited in a month’s time averaging a meager Rs. 1500 per account. Does that even seem like black money to you? Actually that sounds like another grossly inaccurate claim that our beloved PM made to justify what is essentially a failed scheme. Also, the IT department has identified Rs. 2000 crore as undisclosed income and confiscated the equivalent of Rs. 130 crores. It’s difficult to explain this being touted as a success especially when a cursory glance at the tax revenue figures shows us that Rs. 14.5 lakh crore was earned as tax revenue in the last fiscal year. It’s laughable really. How can young educated people in India be fooled by all this. This attempt at covering up what probably is the biggest policy failure in recent memory is certainly an insult to our intelligence. Are we dumb enough to simply gobble up all this? Well, sadly we are. A simple scroll down anyone’s facebook feed in India will stand testimony to that.

It’s okay to be dumb though.Well, not okay, but certainly better than being cold hearted and lacking empathy. Ours is a country that has been persecuted by foreign invaders for hundreds of years and we pride ourselves on the freedom of thought and equality that millions of our forefathers laid down their lives to attain. Our constitution was made by the great Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar and he tried to ensure the protection and preservation of the weakest of the weak. India — if we avoid the smog of pseudo patriotism affecting our judgement and just look — is a country with the highest number of people in the world dying without food and water. It is also the country where 75% of the people in rural areas subsist on Rs. 33 a day. Dr. Ambedkar would have cringed had he seen today’s India. No major media outlet has made an honest to goodness effort at covering the plight of the downtrodden. It’s easy to understand why. For most Indians, have lost the one quality that makes us Indian — Empathy. We refuse to understand the problems that are being faced by the poorest of the poor. The PM’s call to go cashless might resonate well with the social media driven urban youth, but is an impossible dream to achieve right now. Too many people are sustained by the cash economy and any attempt as sudden and unplanned as this would only destroy them, slowly but certainly wiping them off the face of the earth. Is that a cost we are willing to pay to just go cashless? We didn’t need demonetisation for that. Cashless was just an option we could choose. We didn’t need it shoved down our throats.

Let us not fool ourselves and let’s state the obvious. We are a poor country struggling without basic amenities for the people who need it the most. A country where the poor go to sleep not with food in their stomachs, but with stars in their eyes; a country that rewarded hard work and perseverance; a country where hope wasn’t just a word for star crossed lovers but for everyone. And we are gradually killing off the facets of India we loved the most; its diversity; its inclusiveness; its equality, slowly forgetting the very reasons we called ourselves the best nation in the world. It isn’t too late though. Infact about time we educate the uneducated, lend a helping hand to the fallen and walk, rather march towards the light only this time hand in hand with every Indian, irrespective of caste, gender or socio-economic standing. This is a request to my fellow Indians. Don’t be fooled. Call the PM’s bluff.

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