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Last Updated Sunday April 02 2017 02:05 AM IST

Crackdown on black money smacks of a cover-up

Prem Udayabhanu
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The currency chaos triggered by the Modi government's decision to demonetize notes of the denomination of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 has without doubt triggered chaos.

There has been an information deluge about what to do and what not to do, and that has accentuated a panic reaction.

This had to be foreseen given that about 86 percent of the currency in circulation that ceased to have any value at the stroke of midnight on November 8 were of these denominations.

In other words, that would be roughly Rs 14 lakh crore or $217 billion.

So, the authorities had every reason to carefully calibrate such a massive exercise.

Perhaps, there is a failure on this count, but the defense is too weak.

This cannot be an administrative failure, a euphemism to put all the blame on bureaucrats, or banking officials in this case, to cover up for the lack of vision expected from a political leadership.

How is it that all the chaos that erupts during NDA regime alone is administrative failure? The same political masters who were in opposition when the UPA government was in power had cried about policy paralysis umpteen times.

This lack of integrity to blame officials for all and sundry during crises, and raising a hue and cry about policy paralysis while in opposition should apply to the Congress-led UPA also.

The previous UPA dispensation had withdrawn old Rs 500 notes from circulation in January 2014 and the BJP had termed it as anti-poor then.

How is that two years later when a BJP government is in power the same exercise now turns out to be in national interest and hence not anti-poor.

The issue here is not about curbing black money – at least no one among our political masters are battling against the crackdown on black money, or unaccounted wealth.

The issue is political expediency.

Our governments have over the years made crucial decisions based on political vested interests, albeit with exceptions.

But now that our political discourse has undergone a paradigm shift post Modi's ascension to power, a creepy formula has been thrust into our social fabric.

Anything can pass muster if you package it in the garb of virulent nationalism.

That is why we have been exhorted by 'Bhakts' to make some sacrifices in national interest now – remember the same voices had shed crocodile tears during the demonetization exercise in 2014.

This leads us to another conspiracy theory – the entire initiative is to cover up faulty printing of Rs 1,000 notes, which the RBI itself has admitted.

If those faulty notes would reportedly amount to a massive Rs 30,000 crore, it would lend some credence to such insinuations.

The ATM counters have dried up a day after it was supposed to shell out a maximum of Rs 2,000 to the aam aadmi.

There is utter chaos in the country without doubt.

And the blame squarely lies in the lack of vision of our ruling class.

Ahead of the first UPA government's coronation, BJP leader Arun Jaitley, who is now the finance minister, had attributed a steep fall in stock markets to some irresponsible comments made by a key leader of the Communist Party of India. These leaders were enjoying “power without responsibility”, Jaitley had said then.

Those words should now come back to haunt Jaitley and his party which rules a country in which only one third of its villagers can reach a bank without plying five kilometers.

The plight of the remaining villagers is anybody's guess.

The opinions expressed here do not reflect the views of Malayala Manorama. The responsibility of opinions expressed here lies solely with the author. According to the IT Act, derogatory statements towards an individual, community, religion and country as well as the use of obscene words are punishable offenses. Legal action will be taken against such practices.
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