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Common man caught in the hopeless trap of demonetisation

Gulab Kothari | Updated on: Fri, 10 Feb 2017 01:36:00 IST

In yet another announcement on demonetisation, the RBI has stated that old currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 exceeding Rs 5,000 can only be deposited once per account until 30 December 2016.

Fallout fears

The decision - somewhat contrary to the other recent declarations on demonetisation - has once again shown that government fears the fallout of the note ban.

What else explains the spate of supplementary orders being issued on demonetisation every other day? Senior ministers like Arun Jaitley and Ravi Shankar Prasad have claimed on several occasions that currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 were delegitimised only after taking every aspect into account.

Also read - Note ban is not demonetisation. And Modi was aware of the demon it unleashed

What is the need for so many changes and corrections then? Whom does the government fail to trust? The Executive, the public, or its own rationale behind the decision?

Decision after decision

A close scrutiny of all the announcements related to demonetisation after 8 November points towards just how perplexed the government. Many of its decisions have backfired. The daily discussions in bazaars and a rebuke from the corrupt is forcing the government to come up with new declarations.

Earlier, there was no cap on the amount of old currency notes that could be deposited till the end of this month. Now, the central bank has imposed a limit of Rs 5,000. The money exceeding this amount can only be deposited once, that too after showing reasons for not doing so earlier.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's speech on 8 November had not mentioned any such condition.

What prompted the government to supersede the Prime Minister's announcement? This has come as a jolt to the people who had not yet deposited old currency notes due to various reasons.

Earlier, there was no cap on the amount of old currency notes that could be deposited 30 Dec

On 26 November, the government had allowed unaccounted deposits in old notes till 30 December at a tax rate of 50%. April 1, 2017, was declared as the date of the complete ban on old notes. Petrol pumps and hospitals were exemp from the ban for a limited period. This exemption was withdrawn on 15 December. The corrupt people have been given the option to deposit the delegitimised notes by paying taxes.

Now, the people waiting for the frenzy outside the banks to subside a bit before depositing old currency will suffer the consequences of the latest RBI announcement. Those planning to deposit small amounts of Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000 will only get one chance to do so. This will also require satisfying bank officials about the cause of the delay in depositing this sum.

On the other hand, the tax evaders are free to deposit any amount just by paying taxes and fines. Is this not a confusing situation for the common masses? What is the guarantee that the government will not come up with new rules?

A prestige issue

Demonetisation has become an issue of prestige for the government, a prestige that seems lost at the moment. Notwithstanding Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's assurances, fake notes are already coming out of ATMs. Many experts suspect that a large amount of counterfeit currency has reached the banks. But, the government has not clarified the truth regarding the matter.

Earlier, it was stated that no questions would be asked about deposits up to Rs 2.5 lakh. Now, there is talk about issuing notices and interrogating such depositors. This simply means that the government was drawing these people into its net. What is one to call such behaviour of the government with its own people? Even Chanakaya's theories would fail to explain this stand.

What is the guarantee that the government will not come up with new rules?

The government appears to be openly asking the people to usurp somebody else's money deposited in their accounts, instead of returning it. This is nothing short of encouraging corruption among the masses.

Only the honest taxpayer is at the centre of this upheaval. The government seems to be ignoring the plight of 95% of the population. Are we to understand that democracy is alive only for the rest of the privileged 5%?

The soul of the nation at stake

No amount of godly reincarnations can save 'dharma' if social conduct, culture and civilisation are not in harmony with nature. No penances, yajnas, devotion or veils of knowledge can save such a society. A society without 'dharma' is a thriving place for demons. Such a society can only be redeemed through collective efforts.

Today, the soul of the nation is mired in deep slumber. The power of the youth is blinded by consumerism. It is least bothered about nationalism. The country is witnessing an intense power struggle as the common man watches in silence. The term 'cashless' was floated when banks were bereft of any money. This was meant to deflect attention from the misery of the common man.

Soon, the bank accounts of working class will be at the mercy of hackers and fraudsters

The ruling class appears interested only in clinging to power through any means. It wants to spread its influence while people are still not out of the shackles of slavery. It is not yet ready to struggle for true freedom. Slavery seems to have been inscribed as its destiny. The common masses only need to feel the illusion of their rule by sending representatives to the Parliament and the Assemblies. The note ban has snatched the liberty enshrined in democracy.

There was still a ray of hope until now. But even the hard-earned money has slipped out of the hands of the people and gone to adorn the bedrooms of the elite classes. The e-payments will further devoid the common man of his money.

While the rich and the powerful will own real money, the 'cashless' people will be left to worship their debit cards. The bank accounts of working class will be at the mercy of hackers and fraudsters.

A deadened country

The current situation in the country is fuelling unemployment. The governments are depriving the poor of two times of the meal. The manufacturing is coming to a halt; industries are closing down. The rulers have nothing better to offer than hollow promises. The media has sold its credibility. It has ceased to have an independent viewpoint.

The initial euphoria surrounding demonetisation has faded. The wounds of the poor have deepened. The new notes are not likely to heal their misery. People were hoping that corrupt leaders and officials will be targeted in the second phase of demonetisation. Nothing of the sort has happened. On the contrary, new rules being framed every day are only deepening the sense of despair.

The only solution lies in the awakening of the masses. The highly-educated citizens of billionaire industrialists have no reason to stay in the country. Why would the income tax officials want the citizens to honestly contribute to nation's progress? Their prosperity depends on the corrupt 5% of the population.

So far, no government has pledged to bring down the percentage of people living below the poverty line to 5-7% in five years of tenure. An increase in the number of such people is development for them.

The many failings of the government

Surprisingly, even such destitute are being lured to go 'cashless' through various sops. An unsuspecting public is falling into a trap. Neither the Election Commission nor the judiciary seems interested in alleviating these masses as well as democracy.

The constant juggling with demonetisation rules proves the government's failure on this front. These efforts are also symptomatic of the government's efforts to hide behind masks. The people who stacked black money to evade 34% tax are not likely to declare it by paying 50% or more taxes. Especially, when they can easily exchange this money by paying a commission to bank officials. One can even buy dollars at a 50% premium if paid on old notes. Many billionaires are adopting this route to turn their black money into white.

The govt drained out the entire pond to catch crocodiles, but it is only the fish who are suffering

The government drained out the entire pond to catch crocodiles. However, the crocodiles have already fled to safer places. It is only the hapless fish that are bearing the brunt. Only the crocodiles have benefited from the decisions taken after 8 November.

The people that elected the government are silent spectators. The youth have closed their eyes. The three pillars of democracy are wreaking havoc with the complicity of the fourth pillar. The current scenario is vitiated like that of the empire of Kamsa. There is no hope of any Vishnu taking birth to salvage the truth. The awakening of the youth will be the 10th reincarnation of Lord Vishnu.

This will be the moment when the common man will rise and give a new direction to the system that is headed towards a catastrophe. May God grant us that day soon!

Edited by Aleesha Matharu

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First published: 20 December 2016, 6:59 IST
 
Gulab Kothari @CatchNews

The writer is Editor-in-Chief of Rajasthan Patrika.

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