OPINION

Monthly Archives: DECEMBER 2016


Welcome the Eventocracy, tracked by Comedia
31.12.16 - Ravish Kumar*
Welcome the Eventocracy, tracked by Comedia



We live in an "eventocracy”. This is a new form of democracy where there is nothing greater than the event. Any policy announcement has so many events that people have begun to believe in the arrival of an avatar. They believe a divine voice is being heard from the skies.

The politician as policy announcer appears on a stage, like a divine being. The stage itself resembles calendar art, with heavenly rays shining behind a great soul’s head.

When the event becomes the norm of democracy, fact is replaced by fiction and implementation by intention — these become vital. In the era of demonetisation, intention has become divine, while implementation is merely human. Now is a good time to change the class ten essay topic. Instead of "honesty is the best policy”, "intention is better than implementation” and "fiction is better than fact” should be posed. These could elicit rather entertaining replies.

An eventocracy needs a new issue, a new controversy every month. This can’t happen without new fictional facts being used all the time; hence, it becomes essential to use news channels and other media in this work.

Governments can change. An eventocracy’s first-lead hero can thus change. But the hero of the second lead stays fixed. That is the news anchor. Friend of the big messiah — the small messiah. There is an old Bollywood film Ram-Balram — the politician and the anchor are the eventocracy’s Ram-Balram.

Anchors aren’t just creating fiction; they’re becoming characters in the fiction they themselves create. In the world of TV channels, facts are presented like fiction, so governments aren’t inconvenienced; fiction is presented like fact, so governments stay happy.

In February-March, with the JNU episode, this became formalised. JNU was necessary because without a villain, a hero can’t be a hero.

We need a Singham-like hero; but without a villain, the hero is a softie. In the JNU episode, through "nationalism”, fiction was treated like fact. This yielded several villains, all herded under one name: "Anti-national”.

To prove persons anti-national, anchors started using fiction over fact. (Before the Pulitzer committee could start awarding prizes for fictional journalism, to win these, Indian channels have started doing fictional journalism). A university campus, its teachers and students were made out to be villains. Students who were apparently shouting anti-India slogans haven’t been found to this day. The authenticity of the video where they were seen shouting such slogans is still debated over — was it real or false?

But in such fictional journalism, it is crucial that one section of the media announces itself as "real journalists”. Invoking the nation, many "real” anchors rose above fact. They announced that other channels, other anchors were anti-nationals. "Anti-national media” and "anti-national anchors” are two new categories under fictional journalism. Indeed, government-supporting nationalist anchors should immediately be declared national assets, so that 20 years later, they can be declared "heritage”.

We need some heritage in our journalism too.

In an eventocracy, there is only one hero. And whoever is not with the hero — opponents, critics, dissenters — can only be anti-nationals. Today, anchors using nationalism within fictional media have not just acquired the status of kangaroo courts. They have acquired the status of courts themselves. In fact, this year, within the premises of a court, a kangaroo court played out, lawyers attacking journalists.

News channels have become theatres, where the same film is shown under two or three different names; the aim is always the same. In an eventocracy, the theatre is quite important. This is why the court has now ordained the playing of the national anthem before films are played.

As the year closes, some good things are happening too. In the JNU block where the flag was unfurled and slogans shouted, flowerpots have been placed. In fact’s place, fiction has been set. When exactly poetry about flowers is fact or fiction though, only a good poet can tell us. Not a journalist.

I am moved to laughter. What would you call such a media? Why not "comedy-plus-media” or "comedia”? In western Uttar Pradesh’s Kairana, a Kashmir was discovered. Several stories about an exodus from Kairana were planted, over which claims and counter-claims erupted. But many believed that if the media was showing this, it must be correct. In the era of note-bandi, the announcement of there being a chip in the new Rs 2,000 note was made with the assurance of such a fact that, despite the government’s negation, people kept searching for the chip in the note.

The best writers of our country have not been able to understand the power of such fiction. Amitav Ghosh still writes fiction based on fact — our media has begun to write fact based on fiction.

TRPs are the new public mandate. The TRPs of interviews with politicians are shown as promos. We are told, so many crore people watched this — in a way, this is a mandate within a mandate. This is box office journalism. The ultimate decision now is, who is the media super-hit of the week and who flopped.

It is essential that the election commission now inducts the agencies that estimate TRPs — or the government announces these agencies as also being the election commission.
 
The author is a news anchor with NDTV. The article was translated from Hindi by Srijana Mitra Das

(*courtesy: Indianexpress.com)




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Nationalism with different variety
27.12.16 - MASOOD PESHIMAM
Nationalism with different variety



Sir Winston Churchill had sarcastically thanked Germany for partially attacking England and diverting its whole resources and arsenal in assaulting Russia as it was to the advantage of England.  He could visualize the collapse of Germany under Hitler as the Russian forces were not capable of tolerating the vicissitudes of the chilling Russian cold.
 
The visualized consequences of the multiple conflicts in the teeth of the second world war flowed form Churchill’s expression.
 
It is said that the thoughts flowed from Churchill’s cheroot or the cigar. One often quoted thought of Churchill was that the politics is the last recourse for the scoundrels. With certain alteration the new concept can be defined as the patriotism is the last recourse for the vested political interest.  It is the vested political interest which has developed the knack and flair of whipping up the pseudo nationalism or the ultra patriotism carrying the undertones of jingoism combined with the communal politics which has become the monopoly of the certain section of the political culture.  The misplaced passion for patriotism is not for promoting the common good but to practice the politics of divisiveness with the sole emphasis to create the climate of confrontation to nail those already on the weakest turf.
 
It is in line with belligerent nationalism born of vested political interest that the BJP M.P. Parvesh Sahib Singh Verma said that Muslims do not vote for BJP because it’s a patriotic party.  Mr. Verma arbitrarily decided that Muslims are not patriotic which is far from truth.  Muslims in the country are no less nationalistic or patriotic than their counterparts. 

Notwithstanding the vituperative politics the fact remains that Muslims are rooted in Indian soil and are not largely involved in the acts of terror here or abroad.  There is no betrayal of the larger national cause.  There may be some aberrations but the aberrations do not define the general law.  The aberrations are not restricted to Muslims alone.
 
While besmirching the reputation of Muslims with the terror tag the very acts of terror at Mecca Masjid, Samjhuta express, Malegaon and other places by the forces with other shades are overlooked.  What about Sadhavi Pragya Singh Thakur, Swami Asimanand, COL Purohit and others.  No one community or class can be identified with the acts of terror.
 
The former Prime Minister late I.K. Gujral had appreciated the fact that Indian Muslims are not largely involved in the acts of terror the world over.  The fact also remains that in our country there are attempts to falsely implicate Muslims in the acts of terror who are later over a period of time are exonerated or acquitted by the Courts of Law and the trial takes so much of time that precious time of life is ruined by the time the exoneration or acquittal takes place.  The bigger worry is that with the communal forces at the helm the cause of justice is jettisoned.  The justice is the biggest casualty when the different institutions of the government are injected with the communal influence.  The furtherance of the communal influence is manifest with the BJP at the helm of affairs.
 
While playing the communal card in the name of patriotism Mr. Verma failed to recollect that the communal forces had no or little role in the freedom movement.  Instead some of them played the role of the puppets to the advantage of the erstwhile British masters.  The freedom movement against the Britishers was fought irrespective of any consideration but mentioning of Muslim sacrifices has become some sort of taboo or the forbidden fruit.  History is subverted to undermine the role of the Muslim freedom fighters.
 
What is more that just after the independence the culture of intolerance had claimed the life of Gandhi whose great sacrifice symbolized the Hindu Muslim unity.
 
It is this culture of intolerance which many a time raises its head in the name of patriotism.
 
The expression of free will and opinion is the hall mark of democracy which is being undermined in the name of patriotism.  Any expression of opinion inconvenient to the particular brand of ideology or thought is mired in the controversy taking recourse to nationalism.  The nationalism has grown in to a big stick to beat those refusing to toe the line of particularly brand or thought.  The criteria of nationalism lies with the powerful identity or communal politics.
 
 An Urdu couplet symbolizes the anomalous situation:

Khirad ka nam pad gaya Junu aur junu ka khirad
Jo chchahe Aap ke husne Karishma saaz Kare
[The reason has assumed the name of passion and the passion has assumed the name of reason
 It is the miraculous beauty which decides the criteria]
 
It is the crushing of the dissent which made the government supported Science Congress to deny the invitation to Amartya Sen distinguished for receiving the Nobel Memorial Prize on Economics and other national and international honors.  He is denied the invitation on the pretext that he is not the man of science though other invitees also did not belong to the realm of science.  He was ignored for the simple reason that he raised the murmurs of protest against Modi’s demonetization policy.  It is observed that those viewing the government’s views with skepticism are put in a messy domestic imbroglio by the band of the supporters practicing the divisive politics.  It is not Amartya Sen alone but those not subscribing to the communal politics have borne the brunt of it.  Any crushing of the freedom of expression poses the terrible danger to the very survival of democracy.
 
The communal card is also played in the name of nationalism to divert the attention of the people from the economic and social chaos triggered with the fall out of the demonetization move.  The distressing woes of the people are too manifest to need any further recounting though it’s a different proposition that those in the corridors of power have no sensitivity to the harsh circumstances experienced by the people.  A couplet mirrors the harsh reality. 

Patta patta boota boota hal hamara jane hai
Jane na jane gul hi na jane baug to sara jane hai.
[Aware are the leaves, branches and creeps of our condition.
Unaware is the flower but acquainted is the entire garden with the scenario].
 
Those mercilessly flogged in the name of being anti national are those who are bereft of all the three Ps as Paisa [money], Power and Position.  It is easy to tar the weak and humble with the anti-national brush and spread the lawlessness against the victims who have no potential of Paisa [money], Power and Position to clear the cobweb of misunderstanding.  The worst human right violation can well be justified in the name of national interest.
 
The self styled votaries of the nationalism indulging in the hate politics with the manufactured notions of patriotism are out to fragment the polity to harvest the electoral fortunes.  Invoking jingoism in the name of nationalism to target a particular set of people is a great disservice to the nation.  True nationalism lies in uniting the people and not dividing the people and those questioning other’s credentials of patriotism may be having something else in their agenda which needs to be exposed sooner the better.




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Space for democracy is shrinking
19.12.16 - H K Dua
Space for democracy is shrinking



Strength and quality of a democratic polity in a large measure depends on the functioning of the constitutional institutions -Parliament, the Executive and the Judiciary. Over the last 70 years since Independence these have declined in their effectiveness and prestige.

Parliament and state legislatures no longer enjoy the respect of the people who in the initial years of Independence used to look to them with awe and sometimes with reverence.  Unchecked, Influence of money, criminalisation of politics and demonstrative disregard of democratic norms and rules have led to internal decay of Parliament and State Assemblies.  The Executive is callous, distant from the people and indifferent to their problems. The people still look to the court as the last hope but overburdened with crores of cases and some shortcomings, it is unable to dispense justice to the people in time and at affordable cost.

While these major organs that run our hard-earned democracy are fast losing public trust, occasionally they are getting into inter-institution confrontational mode and often turf wars which further reduce their effectiveness. These turf wars are exploited by ambitious political leaders who on coming to power with sizeable mandate often misread it and try to consolidate their rule or expand their authority. Sometimes they begin to think that they are above the institutions that are supposed to serve the public interest.  

Indira Gandhi after the 1971 ‘Garibi Hatao” election was on the top of the world. The victory in war with Pakistan and the liberation of Bangladesh  made her feel that she had become a  ruler whose writ these institutions won’t be able to question. After victory in the Bangladesh war, Mrs Gandhi began speaking about "committed press”, "committed judiciary” and "committed bureaucracy”. She wanted to be an unquestioned leader of the land. Mrs Gandhi did not like the press which did not sing her praises or the judges inclined to exercising  independence of mind, and the bureaucrats who did not toe her line.  

To prevent the Supreme Court from blocking her way, she tried to pack the court with obliging judges.  With a vigilant people and the bar and the judiciary she failed in her purpose.  She could not control the press in the beginning until she placed the country under the infamous emergency raj in June 1975. She imposed the emergency after she was disqualified as a Member of Parliament in an election petition to the Allahabad High Court.  By this authoritarian assault on democratic set up, she practically placed herself above the law and the Constitution. She got arrested lakhs of Opposition leaders, switched off electricity of the newspapers placing them under censorship, transferred High Court judges, abrogated fundamental rights of the people, including the sacred Right to Life. A spineless Supreme Court led by Justice Y V Chandrachud  even  supported Mrs Gandhi’s wanton exercise in denying even the ”Right to Life”. All this was done by the daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru who had taken pains in the making of the Constitution and to ensure that the nation would always remain democratic in nature.

Mrs Gandhi belied his expectations. She simply won’t tolerate dissent. With opposition behind the bars, she rushed through a captive Parliament the 42nd Constitution Amendment giving her regime more supreme powers. 
The imposition of emergency was a sort of shock  she administered to tighten her hold on the country  but she would meet her nemesis. In less than two years when she lost parliament elections. Mrs Gandhi and her son Sanjay Gandhi could not win their own seats in Uttar Pradesh.  She lost because the people did not accept an assault on democracy and on their rights guaranteed under the Constitution. 

The emergency was the first major blow on democracy in India since Independence but apparently it is not the last. The end of emergency doesn’t mean the dangers to democracy have disappeared. Powerful rulers still can assume that, if not willing consent, they can command compliance of their wishes.  Such rulers don’t listen to well-meant advice, independent voices are unwelcome; criticism of government decisions despised. A chunk of the Press, which often allows itself to be manipulated by authorities finds that  only praise  of the government is considered objective; and its criticism biased or mischievous. 

In Indira Gandhi’s days, talk in  Delhi used to be of "committed press”, "committed judges” and "committed bureaucrats”. "Nationalist” is the label popular these days with the present authorities and its over-enthusiastic supporters who don’t like the concept that in a democratic country, dissenting voices and freedom of expression are of fundamental importance and useful to the rulers and the ruled.

 Our constitution provides for a plural polity providing space for all religions, castes, creeds and languages. Democracy also involves respecting the rights of minorities.  Nationalistic credentials should not be questioned simply because a citizen belongs to a minority community or an ethnic group. 

What is worrying is the atmosphere of confrontation that is developing between the Executive and the Supreme Court.  On surface, the two vital organs of the State are fighting over the appointments of judges to the High Courts and the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has held ultra vires  the law passed by Parliament denying the Executive the power of selecting judges to the higher judiciary.

At the core of the issue is not the appointment of judges in the higher judiciary but the constitutional guarantee of independence of the judiciary.

Also, Narendra Modi’s government does not relish the Basic Structure of the Constitution which protects some fundamental aspects of the Constitution from frivolous amendments by the Executive and Parliament. The Modi government, like Mrs Gandhi’s pre-Emergency regime, wants to change the composition of the Supreme Court by acquiring the right to pack the Supreme Court by convenient judges. The present set of judges has seen through the government’s plans and seem to be determined to protect the Supreme Court’s  independence as also the Basic Structure of the Constitution.

The Modi government is also finding itself caught in conflict with the Rajya Sabha where the BJP government is in a minority. A government which is in majority in the Lok Sabha finds  its bills can get blocked later in the Rajya Sabha. It certainly does not like what its responsible spokesmen describe as "tyranny” of the unelected”.  Hence, some of what used to be non-money bills are labelled differently as money bills and are pushed through the Lok Sabha.  Such stratagems  aggravate the distrust and the confrontation between the government and the opposition in Parliament.
 
Unfortunately, the government is not making any genuine attempt to build a consensus on essential issues and avoid an unhealthy atmosphere in Parliament. Some give-and-take and a consensus can always spare Parliament many a stalemate as was done in the last session on the GST.

After a long time a government with a majority in the Lok Sabha has come to power in the country. It should use the opportunity of providing an exemplary atmosphere of governance. All that  is required is  respect for the institutions, a consensual approach and tolerance of dissent.  These are after all the salt of democracy. 

Senior journalist, political commentator and former member of Parliament, H K Dua is adviser at the Observer Research Centre, New Delhi.




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Crossing the federal line
16.12.16 - H K Dua
Crossing the federal line



Prime Minister Narendra Modi is by no way a casual person. Hence, it would be a mistake to take his recent statements, suggesting a debate on simultaneous elections to Parliament and state assemblies, casually. His proposal could be part of a larger design to extend his party’s — or his personal sway — over the entire country. He could be pursuing the thought that simultaneous Parliament and assembly polls would be to the BJP’s advantage, ensconced as it is at the centre and in most northern and western states without depending on another party. Also, opposition parties are in disarray and unlikely to join hands against the government.

Interestingly, Narendra Modi did some thinking aloud on simultaneous polls at an all-party meeting chaired by the speaker, and later at the BJP’s national executive some months ago. He then raked up the theme again just a few days before demonetisation. It is now known in the public domain that he recently went one step further and asked the Niti Aayog to work out details, if simultaneous Parliament and assembly elections were to be held in 2019 or earlier.

Modi is essentially in tune with the RSS’s thinking which has always spoken for one country, one language, one civil code, etc. The BJP’s earlier avatar, the Jana Sangh, also favoured simultaneous polls and a unitary system. However, of late, Modi has invested every ounce of his political capital and energy on demonetisation. Although some sections have welcomed his move for rendering a blow to black money, many people think he has gone for a big gamble without working out the details of how to run a cash economy with 86 per cent of Rs 1000 and Rs 500 notes withdrawn, and only 14 per cent cash left in the hands of the government, banks and people.

Many BJP MPs, chief ministers and MLAs are sulking and waiting anxiously for applause that is not forthcoming from the long queues of people waiting for a pittance of their own money. Many BJP MPs and MLAs are not sure about the impact of demonetisation on their own electoral prospects. The test will come in the forthcoming Uttar Pradesh elections likely to be held in just three months. The outcome of the UP polls will define politics through Narendra Modi’s two remaining years during his present term. The UP election may also decide whether he will be able to go in for simultaneous polls to Parliament and state assemblies.

From Modi’s speeches, it is clear he has chosen to go to the people almost daily to justify demonetisation, promising better days ahead if they go digital and run their lives with e-wallets via their mobiles. It is not yet clear whether his assurances will cut much ice with the people. But even if his party puts up an impressive performance in UP, his plans for simultaneous polls may not have smooth sailing. Indira Gandhi earlier, and the Janata government after the Emergency, dissolved state assemblies, declaring the assemblies had lost the people’s mandate taking into account the outcome  of the Parliamentary election — a point that is always presumptive. It will be difficult for Modi to find an argument for dissolving existing assemblies in the name of simultaneous elections on the plea that these will save the nation considerable money.

While state chief ministers will look at Modi’s plan from their own point of view, the judiciary can prove to be a major impediment. The Supreme Court could stand in the way. It could hold cutting short a duly elected assembly’s life, which is still enjoying a majority, as ultra vires. The Supreme Court may invoke the "basic structure” theory it pronounced in1973 when Mrs Gandhi was fiddling with Constitutional values and institutions, holding that Parliament and the executive cannot amend the basic structure of the Constitution to suit their political convenience. It could pronounce that the federal principle and the articles defining the lakshman rekha between the central authority and the states’ rights are a part of the basic features of the Constitution; these cannot be done away with by the centre’s fiat suddenly dissolving assemblies.

Strong leaders heading single-party governments at the centre have the tendency to consolidate their hold in the country through convenient governments in the states. They tend to disregard the federal principle enshrined in the Constitution. But there is a fine balance between the powers of the centre and what falls in the states’ remit.

Mrs Gandhi used all means, often by encouraging defections, even encouraging factionalism within her own party units in the states, to change regional chief ministers. She liberally used Article 356 to impose central rule in states, often by contriving situations. Narendra Modi’s government has shown a similar predisposition. This is clear from recent moves his party and centrally appointed governors made in Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh — but the courts didn’t look kindly at these centrally-sponsored toppling operations.

Simultaneous polls will clearly involve cutting short several assemblies to impose President’s rule. Exercising wilful central authority to displace elected state governments can hurt regional pride. The dissolution of state assemblies will be unwelcome in most states. Such moves may advance the Modi government’s designs for a unitary form of governance, but wouldn’t advance its democratic credentials, nor the concept of cooperative federalism his party has spoken about in its manifesto. Such moves can be dangerous for the country.

The writer, a former editor in chief of ‘The Indian Express’ and Rajya Sabha MP, is advisor, Observer Research Foundation, Delhi.




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Making of a mammoth tragedy
11.12.16 - Manmohan Singh
Making of a mammoth tragedy



The decision to demonetise will cause grievous injury to the honest Indian who earns wages in cash. The dishonest black money hoarder will get away with a mere rap on the knuckles.

It is said that "money is an idea that inspires confidence". At the stroke of the midnight hour, on November 9, 2016, the confidence of more than a billion Indians was destroyed. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had declared that more than 85 per cent of the value of money held in notes of Rs.500 and Rs.1,000 was worthless overnight. In one impetuous decision, the Prime Minister has shattered the faith and confidence that hundreds of millions of Indians had reposed in the Government of India to protect them and their money.

The Prime Minister in his address to the nation said, "there comes a time in the history of a country's development when a need is felt for a strong and decisive step,” and propounded two primary reasons for this decision. One was to check "enemies from across the border… using fake currency notes”. The other was to "break the grip of corruption and black money”.

Both these intentions are honourable and deserve to be supported whole-heartedly. Counterfeit currency and black money are as grave a threat to the idea of India as terrorism and social division. They deserve to be extinguished using all the firepower at our disposal. However, the popular saying "the road to hell is paved with good intentions” serves as a useful reminder and warning in this context.


The underlying premise behind the decision of the Prime Minister to render Rs.500 and Rs.1,000 currencies as illegal overnight seems to be this false notion that ‘all cash is black money and all black money is in cash’. This is far from reality. Let us understand why.
 
Life thrown into disarray

More than 90 per cent of India’s workforce still earn their wages in cash. These consist of hundreds of millions of agriculture workers, construction workers and so on. While the number of bank branches in rural areas have nearly doubled since 2001, there are still more than 600 million Indians who live in a town or village with no bank. Cash is the bedrock of the lives of these people. Their daily subsistence depends on their cash being accepted as a medium of valid currency. They save their money in cash which, as it grows, is stored in denominations of Rs.500 and Rs.1,000 notes. To tarnish these as ‘black money’ and throw the lives of these hundreds of millions of poor people in disarray is a mammoth tragedy. The vast majority of Indians earn in cash, transact in cash and save in cash, all legitimately. It is the fundamental duty of a democratically elected government in any sovereign nation to protect the rights and livelihood of its citizens. The recent decision by the Prime Minister is a travesty of this fundamental duty.

Black money in India is a genuine concern. This is wealth that has been accumulated over years by those with unaccounted sources of income. Unlike the poor, holders of black money have access to various forms of wealth such as land, gold, foreign exchange, etc. There have been various attempts by many governments in the past decades to recover this illicit wealth through actions by the Income Tax department, the Enforcement Directorate and schemes such as Voluntary Disclosure. These measures were targeted strikes at only those suspected to be holders of such unaccounted wealth, not on all citizens. Evidence from these past attempts has shown that a large majority of this unaccounted wealth is not stored in the form of cash. All black money is not in cash, only a tiny fraction is. Against this backdrop, the decision by the Prime Minister is bound to have obverse implications by causing grievous injury to the honest Indian who earns his/her wages in cash and a mere rap on the knuckles to the dishonest black money hoarder. To make it worse, the government has actually made it easier to generate such unaccounted wealth in the future by the introduction of a Rs.2,000 note. This brazen policy measure has neither tackled the stock of black money holistically nor has it stemmed the flow of it.

It is no surprise that the logistical challenge of replacing billions of old currency notes with new ones is a monumental one. It is a huge challenge in most nations, and in a country as vast and diverse as India it was bound to be doubly so. This is also one reason why most nations that have undertaken such currency swap operations have done so over a certain time period and not as a sudden overnight operation. It is heartbreaking to see and hear of millions of poor Indians standing in long lines to withdraw some money for basic sustenance. As someone who has experienced long lines for rationed food during war time, I never imagined that one day I would find my own countrymen and women waiting endlessly for rationed money. That all of this suffering is due to one hasty decision makes it even more disconcerting.

The macroeconomic impact of this decision of the government is likely to be hazardous. At a time when India’s trade numbers are at multi-year lows, industrial production is shrinking and job creation is anaemic, this policy can act as a negative shock to the economy. It is indeed true that India’s cash to GDP ratio is very high vis-à-vis other nations. But this is also an indicator of the Indian economy’s dependence on cash. Consumer confidence is an important economic variable in a nation’s growth prospects. It is now evident that this sudden overnight ban on currency has dented the confidence of hundreds of millions of Indian consumers, which can have severe economic ramifications. The scars of an overnight depletion of the honest wealth of a vast majority of Indians combined with their ordeal of rationed access to new currency will be too deep to heal quickly. This can have ripple effects on GDP growth and job creation. It is my humble opinion that we as a nation should brace ourselves for a tough period over the coming months, needlessly so.

Unintended consequences

Black money is a menace to our society that we need to eliminate. In doing so, we have to be mindful of the potential impact on hundreds of millions of other honest citizens. It may be tempting and self-fulfilling to believe that one has all the solutions and previous governments were merely lackadaisical in their attempts to curb black money. It is not so. Leaders and governments have to care for their weak and at no point can they abdicate this responsibility. Most policy decisions carry risks of unintended consequences. It is important to deftly balance these risks with the potential benefits of such decisions. Waging a war on black money may sound enticing. But it cannot entail even a single loss of life of an honest Indian.

Dr. Manmohan Singh was Prime Minister of India from 2004 to 2014.
 
(Courtesy: The Hindu)




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