Modi & demonetization
This is the last chance to rid the country of black money.
New Delhi: It is time to break the silence on the Central government’s decision to scrap certain denominations of currencies. The Supreme Court has done no service to the country by observing “There may be riots” because people are standing in queues to get their monies. The Court has been seriously misguided by Opposition and mainstream media hysteria to make a statement that interferes with a key and core function of the Executive, which is to issue, control and manage the currency of the Republic. In view of the enormous respect and deference that is owed to the Supreme Court by this writer and every other citizen of this country, nothing more can and should be said with one exception. The highest court of the land should exercise the utmost restraint when engaged with matters as sensitive as demonetization.
The demonetization programme has not been implemented with one hundred per cent efficiency. Often in programmes undertaken on this scale in a continental-sized country like India, there are choke points that cannot be easily identified; and the crisis was compounded by the secrecy that was absolutely necessary for demonetization to succeed. The programme has succeeded. There is no question of that. One of the principal aims of the programme was to snap terror and insurgency funding. Kashmir has become quiet since the demonetization of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes and Naxalism has been markedly affected. These issues have not been highlighted by the mainstream media because it is implacably opposed to the Narendra Modi government. The Opposition, with the honourable exception of a few, will pass over all these gains because their black money hoards have been figuratively destroyed by the Prime Minister’s demonetization programme.
This does not mean there is no suffering on the streets. But it does not translate to automatic anger and grievance against the government’s decision. This writer was in a queue for a regular banking transaction yesterday. It took three hours to get the job done. This writer does not at all feel discomfited by the experience. There was grumbling in the queue to be sure. But the overwhelming opinion was that demonetization was necessary and essential. There was widespread acceptance that short-term hardship would lead to long-term gains. And most of the grumbling in the queue was about its disorderliness, about people breaking lines and so on; common occurrences in this country. This writer nowhere saw a “riot-like” situation that a Supreme Court bench speaks of. The Supreme Court’s ill-founded observation should not become an incentive for the Opposition to engineer riots. Some in the Opposition are quite capable of that.
The question that probably needs to be answered is this. Why did it take this writer three hours to accomplish perfectly normal banking transactions? The transactions, as a matter of fact, took no time at all. The bank staffs were wonderful and efficient as always. The problem lay with the queue, or rather two queues. The queue for normal banking transactions moved at glacial speed because the second queue for exchange had to be catered to faster. This writer observed the exchange queue closely. Those who sought to exchange their own scrapped currency for new were in a sharp minority. The majority were who are being called “human mules”, hard-faced men with multiple identity documents thronging the banks to deposit the black currency of hoarders. They worked in gangs and knew their way around. These lowlifes have swelled the crowds that you see on television screens and on newspaper front-pages. They front for the crooks. And it is these crooks and hoarders that the mainstream media and the opposition are backing. The mainstream media hates Narendra Modi’s guts to be transformational. And the Opposition is terrified of the transformation where its black money politics has been destroyed in a few hours by the Prime Minister.
The Bharatiya Janata Party should not look for political opportunities in this much needed decision of demonetization. There are some decisions which are taken in national interest and must remain above politics. Equally, the Supreme Court should keep away from needlessly politicizing demonetization. It should be guided by verifiable information placed before it and not by newspaper and political sensationalism. The Congress party had ten years to fight black money and terror funding. It did nothing. The two UPA governments rate as the most corrupt since Independence. By seeking to clean the stables, Prime Minister Modi has taken the greatest risk with his government and his own career. The country should back him.