Demonetization in India: Long Overdue Action Against Ill-Gotten Wealth

If you have been in India in the recent past it is well-nigh impossible to miss the keyword “demonetization.” Demonetization in India has incurred tremendous cost and manpower not to mention the endless queues of people wanting to withdraw their own money albeit in small installments as permissible by the powers that be. But at the end of the day, people have largely favored this bold move and Captain Modi is riding high on popularity as the country heads towards assembling election in major states this year.

What is Demonetization?
A product of the digital age, demonetization in its present form is more viable than any time in the past. Though there have past attempts to opt for different variants of the conventional monetary system, they have been failures. So, Modi was fighting against the odds, but does that make demonetization in India a success? Success was made possible in this fight against corruption and black money through a longtime proponent of truth, Science. Moving to a cashless economy is hard to imagine without smartphones and the internet. Even BHIM the flagship financial transaction platform of the government needs the SIM card to function in the absence of the internet.

Was Such a Move Necessary?

Demonetization holds its ground, under the close scrutiny of both practical and ethical aspects. The ethics are simple. One does not do anything illegal to acquire or spend wealth. The practical reasons for demonetization in India are solid as well. India is a young country. The data available to the government on employment rates of these youth were alarming. Quoting the Financial Express “This is now a matter of great concern for the government, with the economic growth in the country not getting transferred to the employment scenario. Labour Bureau falls under the Ministry of Labour and Employment and according to its survey only 47.8 % of the population who was the part of the survey, was employed.” In the absence of proper livelihood, they were turning to devious means. The number of taxpayers in the higher slabs are dismally small, an assault on common sense in the era of malls and premium branded products. Quoting the Prime Minister in his New Year’s Eve speech there are only “24 lakh people in India who accept that their annual income is more than 10 lakh rupees.” Crime and all illegal acts are also discouraged by a cashless economy as the economic motive is negated. What use is money that cannot be spent without law enforcement knowing about it? The political gains from the move are yet to be tested but people are supporting the destruction of evil surrounding them. Further, the supporters of the government were becoming disillusioned in the absence of any significant move to fight black money, one of the key planks on which the government registered a runaway victory in the Lok Sabha elections.
Mistakes in the Process of Demonetization in India
Though a welcome step some pro demonetization thinkers have criticized for the lack of proper planning. Daily modifications to regulations in the initial period were clear pointers that the government had not thoroughly though out the process. Also, the policy of providing all Indian citizens with bank accounts, Aadhar cards, cheap smartphones are a necessary moral burden which should have been taken care off first.

The Way Forward
The government needs to provide subsidized smartphones with biometric verification features and encourage the development of mobile and tablet repairing skills amongst the masses. Such people should be available at every nook and corner of India, as commonplace as the neighborhood paan-wallah and demonetization in India will take care of itself. Technology, popular will, the needs are all already in place for demonetization. All the government has to do is to successfully oversee the process.

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