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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2042

Dubious Ways to Claim People’s Approval

By Atul Cowshish - Syndicate Features

According to Indian government announcement, an App ‘survey’ has found that well over 90 per cent of the countrymen and women support ‘demonetisation’ (an inappropriate nomenclature, according to some) as a result of which Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes became illegal within four hours of the Prime Minister Modi making that known on November 8 evening.

The ‘historic’ survey was expectedly applauded by the government and Prime Minister, the author of ‘demonetisation’, who obviously thinks that the half a million urban Indian participants in the ‘survey’ represent the whole of India, a country of 1.25 billion people of great diversity.

This kind of survey might have been well received if the questionnaire was not prepared as a brazen exercise to project the image of the Prime Minister for an action of his that has upset nearly the entire population of the country. It is getting crazier the manner in which the communication industry—private and government-owned—is building up the personality of one man in the country.

The Prasar Bharati run radio and TV, of course, are extensions of the government. Lately they have become uninhibited propaganda arms of the government and the ruling party.

The private TV channels are doing more than their bit in putting the Prime Minister on a pedestal higher than one occupied by any other Indian previously. It does not matter if in the process they make a mockery of themselves. Their news coverage depicts the travails of the ordinary men and women trying to get hold of their own money but their ‘experts’ in evening shows ignore that fact as they compete with each other in praising ‘demonetisation’ and its principal author.

It has been said that the Indians who gave the thumbs up sign to ‘demonetisation’ have no complaints about the ‘inconvenience’ it has caused them because they know that every cloud has a silver lining. In fact, the supporters of ‘demonetisation’ have already sighted a rainbow—they believe that the evil troika of black money, corruption and terrorists will be crushed after Modi ‘surgical strike’.

Only someone who is totally oblivious of certain realities in India will concur with the view that replacing old notes with new ones will end the scourge of unaccounted (black) money. Same goes for ending corruption. A change in legal currency does not and cannot end bribery which is rampant across a wide section of society right from the Moghul times if not much earlier.

The boast about breaking the back of terrorism with the help of ‘demonetisation’ was exposed when a terrorist killed in a security operation in Jammu and Kashmir was found to carry a new Rs 2000 currency note—a genuine one. If terrorism is linked to printing of fake notes how can it be said that it will no more be possible because the new notes have certain ‘special’ features—much publicised in the media.

If Modi and his army of admirers are really serious about ending black money and corruption they have to search for the root causes which will not require an App help or a closed ended questionnaire. As a layman one can guess that perhaps the biggest reason for a thriving ‘parallel’ economy in the country is the general aversion to paying taxes. Only the salaried class seems to pay the taxes because taxes are deducted before the salary reaches their pockets.

It will be stretching credulity too far to believe that cash dealings is about to end when cash transactions provide jobs or means of livelihood to nearly half the Indians. Nor will ‘hoarding’ of money in Indian household end where people do like to keep aside in their homes some amount for use in emergencies or something like that.

The microscopic minority of dissenting Indians (less than 10 per cent?) would be dubbed ‘anti-national’ because they supposedly failed to flow with the current of ‘patriotic’ fellow citizens who gladly suffer the agony of standing in endless queues outside banks and occasionally get beaten by the police; some, actually, died while standing in line. Those who have questioned the wisdom of the ‘demonetisation’ programme and its deeply flawed implementation can only rub their eyes in disbelief at the findings of the App survey and cry in wilderness about their unjustified labelling as unpatriotic.

That the government had to resort to an entirely phony survey to justify a non-existent merit of which it has been trumpeting day and night is not as surprising as the fact that the survey shows a winning margin of over 90 per cent. This is something that would be natural in a dictatorship or a communist regime rather than in a democracy where dissent can be quite vocal, visible and sizeable.

What took the breath away was the skewed questionnaire which provided the basis for hailing the ‘monetisation’. Every question had three possible answers, none of which with the option of disagreement with or rejection move.

The credibility of the App survey is in sharp contrast to the daily reports of death and distress suffered by the people. In about two weeks after the two high value notes were declared illegal, nearly 70 people died for reasons that can be linked directly to the hardship caused by the ‘Tughlaqi’ decision to declare in one fell swoop 86 per cent of currency in circulation as illegal.

The triumphalism and jubilation in the government after the ‘demonetisation’ move betray an appalling callousness and indifference to the plight of common man and woman. No regrets seem to have been expressed over the deaths of a large number of citizens who were already being called all manner of names if they questioned the ‘monetisation’ decision.

Critics of ‘monetisation’ have been clubbed with those who make money through dubious means. These people, Modi and his cohorts keep saying day in and out, are not able to sleep because their allegedly ill-gotten wealth was being confiscated by the government.

According to Modi, ‘demonetisation’ is just the beginning of his crusade (?) against black money, corruption and terrorism. The Supreme Court has burst the anti-corruption bubble of the government by asking it why it has failed to appoint the Lok Pal.

- Asian Tribune -

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