What is wrong? What should be done?

Demonitisation of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes by Modi Government

I am blogging after a long time. Actually, thanks to Modi Government, I woke up to smell the coffee. There are many people who have commented on the advantages and disadvantages of this action of the Modi Government as well as on how it has been implemented and I thought that I might as well add my 10 cents to the discussion that is going on.

First, I would like to make it clear that what I am going to say, as usual, will be based on logic. Its not about politics. Its not about BJP vs Congress or one political party against another or a group of them vs another group of them. I am sorry to make a generalisation here, that is, as far as I am concerned all politicians are the same.

Second, we all know that we have a dual economy. Also, that it has been in existence for the last at least 50 years. I doubt anyone will dispute this fact.

Third, we would all like to know who is responsible for this dual economy. I think I can safely say that we are all responsible for creating the dual economy. We all participate in it directly or indirectly. For instance, we all want to buy goods without paying sales tax. It has become a way of life in our country. Of course, some of us would want to know who is to blame for this mess or who started it or who should be proverbially shot for creating this mess. Well the answer is also simple. Politicians, bureaucrats and corrupt businessmen. If I had to guess, the starting point was the licence raj.

Today, I am sorry to say but corruption has become a significant part of our DNA. If you would like to know how something that is legal is made illegal with the involvement of black money, such illegal activity is being carried out openly with the connivance of all, has ultimately become part of our way of life which even the government (because of vote bank politics) or the courts (because of difficulty in reversing the illegality) find it difficult to resolve, please read my article in this blog titled “DNA of Corruption in India.” The disease of corruption and illegality is so widespread and ingrained in our way of life that even people who do not want to get involved in it have got involved in it one way or the other. Its a complex issue and cannot be resolved by one single action or in one day or one month.

Fourth, we all know that India is a very diversified country in terms of practically everything. As such, implementing an across the board policy would be a nightmare and should be approached with caution.

Lastly, governments (irrespective of the political party) should realize the poor implementation skills of the government as well as the inadequate availability of infrastructure and resources in India before implementing any across the board government policy.

Irrespective of the political party which is in power, I have seen that any government policy when it is implemented, it is the people who suffer and the poor and the weak suffer the most. Just take the odd-even plan implemented by the the Delhi government. It was the poor who travelled on buses who had to face the difficulties. Though the government promised more buses but we know what happened. Once I remember UP govt stopped operation of Delhi buses going to UP. Who suffered? The common man. The second thing that gets violated is the rights of the people.

Apart from the above, lets look at what our constitution says. Only people who have read law and few others would know that the directive principles of our constitution which serve as a guiding force for the government say that we should have compassion for all living beings including animals. I think you all will agree that it is the duty of our government while implementing its policy to be compassionate towards all its people especially the weak and the poor.

So what is the point that I am trying to make. Its simply involves four points as follows:

1. The poor and the middle class which constitute the majority of the Indian population are already a troubled lot. They lead a difficult life. Most of them survive on a day to day basis. Lets not create more problems for them by implementing across the board policies in a hurry. In my 63 years of living in India, I have not come across any government policy that could not wait for a month or two taking into consideration that practically every policy taken out by any government is always late by couple of years anyway.

2. The Government should first do what it is supposed to do, that is, fulfill its responsibility of good governance before asking the common man to suffer. For instance, no action to curb pollution is taken by the Delhi government and when push came to shove, it shoved the odd-even plan down the people’s throat.

3. The government should accept the nature of our economy, characteristics of rural economy, government’s implementation capability and our way of life before implementing any across the board policy like demonitization.

4. Rights of the people should not be violated. For instance, we cannot inconvenience the total population of the country and infringe upon their rights even if a few crooks with black money got away. We cannot punish an innocent man even if a few guilty get away. It is the job of the government to target the crooks but not the whole population. If robbery is taking place in one town, government cannot arrest all the people living in that town as that would amount to dictatorship and breach of an individual’s fundamental rights.

I am simply proposing that the government of India should follow some guidelines before implement across the board policies some of which are given below:

(a) is it absolutely necessary?
(b) can it be implemented in stages ?
(c) if its implementation can cause hardship to the poor and weak and or the general population, suitable steps should be taken to counter the same.
(d) will it affect their daily livelihood? This is very important. If there is even the slightest chance of adversely affecting the livelihood of people, appropriate measures should be taken to absolutely minimize the same.
(e) will the policy be easily understood by all those who will be affected? If yes, again the implementation should be done in stages.

The key being that the people of the country especially the poor and the weak should not be inconvenienced unnecessarily to implement a government policy like the demonitization of the currency has done by the Modi government. Of course, I will use some the above principles to examine if the decision to demonitize the way it has been done was not correct or not .

Avinash Narula

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