War on Black Money

Shiban  Khaibri

Could not fully agree to describe the recent move to demonetize high value currency notes as mere surgical strikes against black money in a TV debate where this writer was one of the panelists, I termed it as a full- fledged war on black money, horrendous circulation of counterfeit currency, funding terrorism and drugs and narcotics trade. The Prime Minister decisively deserves accolades for showing strong political will , administrative grit and economic farsightedness which no Prime Minister has perhaps shown so far  excepting 38 years back in January 1978 by  Morarji Desai by demonetizing Rs. 1000 denomination notes but that had comparatively   very little impact. The right of criticizing exercised by some select opposition parties led by Congress , in most of the cases , just for the sake of criticism and raising question marks and casting unwarranted apprehensions notwithstanding, it is heartening that the public,  mostly middle income earners  and those of even  moderate  means, showed exemplary courage in facing short term hardships on this surprise move even when they could not shop, spend and in most of the cases, even earn for two days of this nationwide crusade against black money. The only thing that was the “common factor” to brave the inconvenience was the sincere purpose, behind declaring Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 currency notes as having ceased to be legal tender from November 9.
It is really surprising that the Congress Party which has to its credit absolutely no such daring step having taken in the recent past to control, let alone contain, the menace of running of a parallel economy to the parent economy cannot criticize the Government over it citing frivolous fears and above all, on the issue of the cost of printing new currency notes which Mr. Chidambaram put at around R.20000 crore saying,” the economic gains from the demonetizing should equal that cost”. The criticism by Rahul Ji is, however, nothing beyond casting sarcasm, as usual, on Modi and nothing on technical or economic reasons. Gulam Nabi Azad calls it “Sarkaar  Ki  Tanaashahi” or  dictatorship  of the Government. It is one thing to criticize because one has to, and say anything, it is quite another when it comes to speaking plain and simple economics and related matters.
Trinmool Congress,  originally a breakaway group of the Congress Party has not only criticized the NDA Government over this drastically needed step but has demanded a “roll back” and one of its MPs has decided to file a PIL against the Government in Kolkota High court. It is believed that 80% of the smuggled fake currency is sneaked into the country from the Malda hub of West Bengal and the situation has taken a very serious turn for the last four to five years. If it is said that counterfeit currency “trade” has assumed the proportions of a cottage industry at Mohabatpur,  Dangipara, Chaknainpur, Sasani and other areas of Malda district, it won’t be an exaggeration. People from this area are also forming a labour force working in Rajasthan, UP, Delhi, Punjab, Assam etc and carrying such currency along to ensure it melts into the financial system.  Malda borders with Bangladesh and narcotics and drugs too are smuggled here and sent across the country using the counterfeit currency. Should, therefore,   a demand be raised to have the historical decision rescinded? Communists, bête-noire of the TMC ,  as usual, too must float myths and susceptible apprehensions and criticize the Government with intent to spread fears and doubts , is surprising. Aa  Aa  Party  Chief Kejriwal too has registered his allegiance with the “anti” group, yet claim to be against corruption etc.
It is pertinent to note how the two Parties of UP – the SP and the BSP too have taken not “lightly” the move of the NDA Government and  Akhilesh Yadav  has wondered as to why it was not discussed in the Parliament prior to its announcement  and also “sees” potentiality of black money generation in the new Currency notes of the denomination of Rs.2000. Akhileash Yadav must either be kidding  or making the sensitive issue prosaic in that he should know that the element of surprise is the kernel , the soul of  announcement of  such a decision of far reaching consequences. If it is debated, then the sparrow will fly deep into the sky , neither we can catch it nor see  in which  direction it flew .Mulayam Singh wants a roll back of the demonetization  scheme as according to him, it has resulted in an anarchy in the country and people are not able to make purchases. Mayawati Ji while strongly criticizing the central Government has alleged that the initiative taken by the Prime Minister has “benefitted” the people of Gujarat and Mumbai only. This is how the Parties in opposition are extending their “cooperation” to Government on  an issue which is to deal with the unaccounted or black money, the scourge of corruption, the menace  of counterfeit currency, the threat of terrorism getting financial oxygen through counterfeit currency and Hawala transaction, the problem of drug and narcotics trafficking  and allied matters. We saw how most of them reacted to our army’s surgical strikes against infiltrators in PoK a few days back. We see how encounters with jail breaker terrorists were doubted. We see how Ishrat Jehan encounter was doubted. We see how friendship parleys with Pakistan were criticized and how taking a mild tough stance was commented upon as “Modi encouraging a war with Pakistan”. The very concept of healthy and constructive criticism, the right of the opposition, the soul of Parliamentary democracy, is thus losing its glitter, sheen and purpose and gets confined to settling personal scores.
The other side of the picture needs deep analysis as a rough estimate of the operation of unaccounted or black money is a worrying over 40%  of our GDP. It therefore robes the economy of its due in matters of the mopping of tax revenues to be used for rapid economic development of the country. A paltry disclosure of nearly Rs.65000 of undisclosed money as on Sept30 this year must have topsy- turvy the applecart of the expectations of the Government and since innumerable raids and exercise of voluntary information was not possible, this master stroke of Modi has been taken in the right spirit by the people rather they have  welcomed it. It has rendered ill gotten money turn into pieces of paper, no wonder in Bareilly, sacks full of burnt 500 and 1000 Rupee currency notes were found burnt on roads following scrapping of these high value notes.
The greatest threat to our peace, tranquility, sovereignty and territorial integrity continues to be the Pakistan sponsored terrorism which is funded and hence sustained through black money and demonetizing of Rs. 500 and Rs.1000 value currency notes shall break their vertebra. We saw stone pelting brigade paid in cash for the detestable job in Kashmir and for running terror operations the element of black money plays a cardinal role which shall be increasingly affected by this move. Narcotics and drugs , another weapon used by elements from across the border to adversely affect the health and potential of our youth, too gets lubricated and supported by both counterfeit currency and black money . To contain the menace, this initiative shall be much effective.
Those who are habitual of making loud claims about being champions of eradicating of corruption and generation of black money must be the ones to feel their stand having been vindicated and must support the decision of the Government and not try to undermine it through tweets, speeches or in debates on TV Channels. India is a fit vibrant country needing a vibrant strong economic policy and broad based reasonable tax structure to rank world’s one of the most powerful economies to improve upon the lot of the people. While public expects no undue harassment from tax authorities, at the same time, let honesty be celebrated as honest people have nothing to be afraid of.


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