Never before in media history a single issue earned so many headlines as did demonetization. Its the race of TRPs! Same news – more than two or three days? Never happening! This time however, the cards changed! Demonetization was the ‘Ace’ played by Honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This ‘Ace’, cleanly defeated the daily border visits of reporters. To believe the motive, demonetization (is said to have) hammered the black economy in India.
On the 8th of November, amid tight tension across borders due to continuous ceasefire violations, sudden news breaks in. Prime Minister Narendra Modi to address the nation “live at 8 PM”! Media started their build up. “PM met the Army chief earlier this noon, could be an important announcement regarding the border tensions”, nurturing common anxiety among the masses.
The announcement came as a confusion where the active estimated 2300 crore 500/- and 1000/- notes were declared illegal tenders instead. That too with an immediate effect from 12 am midnight! As the address nears the end, things are quite clear. Banks are declared closed the next two days. The exchange procedure, with certain norms, (very familiar now) are repeatedly forecast. The Prime Minister grants a 50 days period to exchange all the notes. This 50 days ultimatum, (ended 31st December 2016) is one of the prime reasons behind the continuous headlines in media screens. The 50 days!
The Prime Minister is proved shrewd with this move. He establishs his step towards the most sought promises among his election campaign manifesto – Black Money. In the 8th November address to the nation, PM Modi repeatedly insists that the common mass has “nothing to worry” about. The common mass, he adds, can easily get their 500/- and 1000/- denominations exchanged from banks on the production of a valid ID proof.
“The real revolutionary armies are in the villages and in factories, the peasantry and the labourers.”
Thus wrote Bhagat Singh, in his essay titled “To the young revolutionaries”. Nearly 85 years later, his statement holds enough rationality. Demonetization is no less than an economic revolution. It is surely one of the greatest India has seen. This revolution also proves that it’s this common stratum of the country which is actually revolutionary. The price of “nothing to worry” was seen. Evident were those long lines outside banks and the general discontent among the poor and the middle class.
The price of “nothing to worry” was thus seen in these struggling masses who sacrificed their daily wages in their “worry” to get the notes exchange. In vain due to unavailability of ample cash! The first few days were terrible but like always, the mass responded positively. The method of implementation was criticized. People, in lines for the strenuous exchange, though raged, praised the move by the Prime Minister giving a way to their blind trust on him.
Why this blind trust?
Nearly 60 years of Congress rule -now blotted with the charges of corruption and black economy. Moreover, the scams charges linked to the most educated man to hold the PM chair, Dr. Manmohan Singh -the fresh wound to people’s faith in Congress. This time BJP targeted black economy and corruption during the election campaigns. Public entrusted their vote to BJP. In the wait for “achche din” the slogan “Abki baar- Modi Sarkar” proves true. With ‘all the better’ PM Modi is doing, people believe that the country is now meant for good. Came again ‘demonetization’! Claimed to be counter-black economy, it was a promise waiting to be fulfilled. So the blind trust!
What was the scene during the last few days? The common man still stands in long queues outside ATMs. The density has now slightly reduced. ATMs are not working, to add to the problems!
Demonetization came as a shock for the common mass. However it was a calamity for the black money holders, if one attends the claims of the ruling elite. The “other elite” which in democracy is called the opposition, has something else to say, so far which has seemed not effective due to ‘comparatively less’ popular support. To believe the media, the ill effects of the sudden move but came from the lower strata rather than the black money holders. This should be a cause of concern. Half of the country was still bearing the brunt of cash unavailability when news showing seizure of lakhs and crores of money in new denomination from round the country broke in. This was salt on the wounds.
How man! Really, how?
When long waits in the lines for 2500/- couldn’t fruit well, how did the new-notes reach some others in such a huge number is a big question. This shows the deep rooted corruption in the system. It is surely the inability or the failure of the vigilance departments. So much of money was illegally exchanged without a trace? The IT Department and the CBI were nabbing the culprits every day. Even so, the very possibility that one or the other may slip under their neck cannot be refuted. If this happens, it would be a blow to people’s trust and a betrayal of their struggle in this revolution. It is highly expected that the government and these vigilance agencies keep up with public hopes.
It is up to PM Modi to sincerely do worth of these 50 days of struggle of the citizens. The common mass became ‘no less than’ revolutionaries at his single call for national interest. Demonetization and the hardship faced by people should fare well. If it won’t, the revolution may also turn to a “mutiny” in the coming elections. The rival parties will not spare any stones unturned to use demonetisation as their ‘instrument of criticism’ in the upcoming elections. The winter session of Assembly was a good evidence for the rival intentions.
Demonetization and ‘the Opposition’
The opposition parties caused ruckus in both the houses of the parliament, disabling the functioning. Even when the demonetization drive reached its last phase, the opposition wasn’t done with their disapproval. The parties demanded to withdraw it. Lacking ‘real public outrage’, the opposition could have wisely chosen to somehow allow functioning of the parliament. The amount of financial loss the ruckus and the non-functioning of the parliament caused was at par. It seems the opposition is barely interested in progress of the country. On the contrary, their interests vested in political benefits are crystal clear.
The ruling party should not be spared as well. It is their inability that in spite of good majority in the houses, things could not be normalized. The winter session of the Parliament nearly flopped. The opposition too looked ridiculous in their protests. If the public was really opposed to the government’s action, they would have taken to streets. This time people seemed helpless instead. It was their hard earned money. They had everything to lose.
Forget the minority staunch supporters of certain political parties, there was seldom any protest to take note of. The withdrawal of the protest would otherwise yield BJP an edge over them. Demonetization is now the “bramhastra” for the coming election campaigns.
Also Read: Untouchability, India and Us.
See it this way…
It is thus evident that the parliament, due to the ugly political spats and feuds, has merely become a battlefront for political parties. The only time both the ruling and the opposition stand together is when they hung their heads down in respect or condolences for a deceased or a late leader (for J.Jayalalitha on 6th of December, this session). It was the only productive activity in the parliament this session. The “thing” it produced was “silence”. Commendable!
To quote former PM Shri A B. Vajpayee (when he could not garner majority, and his government dissolved in 1996),
“Hum sadan Mein sabse badein virodhi dal ke rup mein baithengein aur aapko humara sahyog le kar sadan chalan padega, magar sadan chalanein aur thik tarike se chalanein Mein hum aapka pura sahayog denge yeh aapko aashwasan Dena chahatein hain”
Too much idealistic to digest nowadays. Ofcourse! The parties in opposition now never said this. Amidst battles for party’s interest and power’s foul play, it really seems that democracy has turned ugly in its world’s largest arena- India. Irrespective of the parties (includes the BJP and others in power), the opposition seems more interested in the fall of the ruling government (say, party) and not in the welfare of the country.
In the meanwhile, the rickshaw puller who now earns some 200/- instead of his usual about 500/- daily, the tea vendor still striving whole day for the reduced number he earns now (all because of the lack of change in small denominations) and numerous other common people struggling through, have accepted demonetization as clearly as they have accepted the seen- “worthlessness” of the winter session of Parliament. But they are still hopeful! And they are willing to bear this change, for the change they want to see.
What happens next?
Hasty predictions on demonetization will be an illogic. Believing politician’s dogmatic statements is accepting fallacies. Claims of either side are questionable. The real outcome will surely be seen only in the long run. The dawn of 2017 brought forth a new ray of hope for the common mass. The long term effect, well or ill? As predicted by the most learned occupant of PM chair, Dr. Manmohan Singh, demonetization will lower the GDP by an estimated 2%, which was and is something to worry. Dr. Manmohan Singh, an able economist is the mind behind India’s survival during the economic crisis. He has also been the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India and so his perspective couldn’t be ignored amid the chaos of the parliament.
Looking the revolution in a non-rational way, the damage is considerate. At least for the instance, it is really the damage that counts. Public sentiments cannot be ignored. As of December, the 30th, more than 70 lives were claimed to have lost. Numerous other aspects may have escaped media cameras. All the good in the hasty predictions is eagerly awaited. The PM is promoting a Digital India. Moreover, new schemes where the black money could be utilized for the welfare of the poor, were launched. This should be worth.
To trust this adamant move of Honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi, (and also the gingered promises) the “black” group will now be “looked after well” by the government. Eyes will however be on how the “white and clean” group is prized for their blind trust on the most popular Prime Minister of India.