A MOVE TO BAIL OUT GOVERNMENT?
The sudden decision to withdraw Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 currency notes, no doubt a laudable one, appears to have been taken to bail out a beleaguered government. The much touted surgical strike in response to the Uri terrorist attack has failed to arrest attacks by Pakistan on our army as well as civilian population. The almost daily killing of army personnel or civilians in Jammu & Kashmir was becoming embarrassing for the government. The carefully crafted image of a strong man Narendra Modi was under threat. Meanwhile, strife in Kashmir continues with more than 90 deaths. A new strange phenomenon of schools being destroyed has really left all sensible people in a state of stupour. Why would anybody like to play with the future of children? Jawaharlal Nehru University student Najeeb Ahmed’s disappearance following his thrashing by Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad, student wing of Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, is another blot on the Hindutva brigade. Killing of eight Students’ Islamic Movement of India members in cold blood by Madhya Pradesh Police after a jail break in a fake encounter has raised doubts about the complicity of these youth in the incidents for which they were arrested. This is not the first instance of fake encounter but the Bhartiya Janata Party government botched it up. Final straw was the suicide by Ram Kishan Grewal over the One Rank One Pension issue whereas Narendra Modi while celebrating Diwali with soldiers on China border in Uttarakhand had just declared that he had met the demand of sodiers related to OROP. Narendra Modi was proved false. Narendra Modi’s new found sympathy for Muslim women while arguing for ban on triple talaq was also not taken seriously as Muslim community has been at the receiving end in the regime of Narendra Modi as Prime Minister and before that in Gujarat when he was the Chief Minister. Treatment meted out to his own wife also raises questions on the genuineness of his concern for women. Jasoda Behan has failed to get her passport made from Regional Passport Office, Ahmedabad because of her inability to produce a marriage certificate!
Narendra Modi had started appearing to be a PM not in control of things or somebody who didn’t know how to deal with certain problems. The highhanded approach in responding to any dissent has evoked sharp reaction from people. His overseas blitzkrieg visits meant to portray him as a Statesman in the Nehruvian mould backfired. His attempt to get Pakistan labeled as a terrorist country failed as the countries which mattered – United States, Russia and China – were not willing to go along. In fact, all three want friendly relations with Pakistan. In the end Modi appeared to be a very parochial leader with negative tendencies. Even in the decision to ban Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes he has used the reason of fake currency circulated by Pakistan to fund terrorism. Overall, he has spoiled relations with Pakistan, China and Nepal.
When the same media which catapulted Modi into power started holding the government accountable for above mentioned incidents the government in a desperate move decided to ban transmission of NDTV for a day. This came as a shock to most politically aware people as it reminded them of Emergency days. The strong reaction from media and citizens has for the time being forced government to go on back foot.
Narendra Modi wanted to make security as the most important agenda for the government. Security has now become his falling. He has left the country insecure, both externally and internally, not knowing how to proceed. If he had tried to do anything more in this area he may have worsened the situation.
Hence he chose an unrelated area of economy. The immediate implementation of the decision to withdraw Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes will have people talking only about this. Everyone will now be trying to get rid of all the big currency over the next some weeks. Narendra Modi knows that people are selfish first and then nationalists. The middle class and the upper middle class which gets moved by the propaganda on nationalism is also the one who will be worrying about disposing of their Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes. Nationalism can wait until they’ve cleared their closets. People will not talk about the failure of Modi government on all the above mentioned issues, which had taken away the sheen from BJP’s campaign in Uttar Pradesh for forthcoming assembly elections where it’s prospects had vastly improved over past several months.
The poor, for whom the issues of livelihood are more important than nationalism, in any case got to see a Rs. 500 or Rs. 1000 note only once in a while. They will neither have to bother about depositing bundles of these notes in Bank, if they are lucky enough to have an account, before December 30. Hence they will be least hurt by Modi’s surgical strike on big currency as they are least affected by Pakistani attacks. Their lives are under continuous threat, whether there is an attack by Pakistan or not.
The decision to withdraw Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes will no doubt help check corruption. People who have stashed black money will find it difficult to cough it up. The government’s move will mop up large amount of black money. People who have stored very large sums have probably no option but to just distribute them among poor because they will be under scrutiny by the regulatory agencies if they try to deposit it in Banks.
The decision will also clean up electoral politics to some extent. It’ll now be difficult to use black money during election campaigning. Once use of black money can be stopped in elections the problem of corruption can also be tackled. Use of black money in election campaigning is the root cause of corruption in India.
By Sandeep Pandey
Vice President, Socialist Party (India)
Lohia Mazdoor Bhawan, 41/557 Tufail Ahmed Marg, Narhi, Lucknow-226001
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