A year of demonetisation

Kashmir Times. Dated: 11/10/2017 11:32:45 PM

The demonetisation of high value currency notes almost a year back has miserably failed in curbing the black money

The NDA-government's decision to demonetise the high value currency notes of Rs 1000 and Rs 500 almost a year back was perhaps the worst in developing country like India, which was still coming to grips with slowdown affected by both the internal as well as the external factors. The tall claims of the union finance minister Arun Jaitley that withdrawal of high value currency notes striking a severe blow to the militancy related activities in Kashmir particularly stone-pelting and incidents of attacks on para-military and security forces in other parts of the country have fallen flat. In fact, the figures and assessments of the security experts on Kashmir have pointed out to continued incidents of stone-pelting particularly when cordon and search operations and the encounter sites. Besides this, the claim that there has been 75 percent decline in stone-pelting incidents is also surprisingly found to be hollow. The security experts have been voicing their concern over the increasing number of incidents during the past one and a half years particularly in post-Burhan Wani's killing. Aptly so, the assessment of security agencies is more and more youth joining ranks of militants after the last year's disturbances which witnessed total disruption in normalcy for almost six months since July 8, 2016. The number of militants in the last one and half years is more compared to any corresponding period of previous years in Kashmir. Even at the height of militancy in the mid-1990s, the killing of militants and attacks on the security and para-military forces was not matching the killings of the past one year. The attacks on the army and other forces carrying out counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir have increased over the years. Similarly, it is unfortunate that attacks on the political beings have also witnessed an increase during this period. The number of civilian killings has registered an unprecedented increase for the reasons best known to the security agencies or those watching the situation from a different angle. How far the claims of Arun Jaitley are worth taking serious note of are before the people to judge. The year 2017 has witnessed the highest number of attacks on para-military and police forces in other parts of the country where disturbances have been witnessed by tribal population. How demonetisation has affected them is yet to be seen.
Apart from these failures, the desired effects of demonetisation to curb black money could, unfortunately, never be achieved because of poor implementation in pouring out the new currency into the market to overcome the panic created among the common masses. After this announcement of declaring high value currency notes in valid, whole lot of common masses were queuing up before the banks, post offices and other financial institutions for exchange of invalid currency notes with the newer ones. The opinion of the economic and financial experts is that printing and circulation of Rs 2000 currency notes could have been avoided. In fact, availability of sufficient new currency notes should have been made before such a decision is announced. The higher denomination currency note of Rs 2000 further added to the woes of the common masses as around over one hundred died in queues outside the banks. The rich and those having hordes of high value currency notes were sitting pretty in their homes or offices without any risk of loss of their money in the process when tensions were running high among the people on streets. The shortage of small currency notes further hit the economy and made the small and medium sized businesses cash starved. The decision played havoc with the rural and agriculture economy of the country with farmers forced to thrown their produce on the roads or allow it to rot in the fields. This was mainly due to the reason that the farmers were not getting even the minimum price for their products. At one point of time, the ministers of the NDA-government while trying defend the demonetisation decision argued that prices of essential commodities have come down and inflation has been lowest. Even when the whole economic slowdown set in, the prices of food stuffs have continued to rise during the past one year adversely hitting the farmers. Another decision of the centre of raising the limit for jewellery purchase from Rs 50,000 to Rs 2 lac without Income Tax PAN cards reversed the gains of checking black money while it the same is required for depositing and withdrawing Rs 50,000 from the bank accounts of individuals. The ill-planned decisions of making digital India succeed for monetary transactions without proper infra-structure in place has further played havoc with the economy when internet facilities and those required for online payments. Anyhow, the nonsensical demonetisation will be remembered by the common masses in the years to come for the havoc it played with financial autonomy of Indians.



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