Hi I am Arjun Parthasarathy speaking and this podcast is on “Why Demonetisation is Equivalent to India Achieving Independence”
The single biggest positive event that has happened for India since it achieved independence in 1947 is Demonetisation of 86% of currency notes in circulation on the 8th of November 2016. Independence came at a huge cost to the citizens of the country. Demonetisation comes at just a miniscule fraction of the cost of independence.
It is true that demonetisation has hurt the cash economy hard and as is with all shocks, whether man-made or nature driven, the worst hit are the poor. As usual, the poor who are forgotten everyday by the political class and the media, are now held up as victims of demonetisation. This cannot be avoided whether it is for this shock or any other shock as mileage is involved here.
What demonitisation has achieved is the notion of the common man that “Black Money is Ok” even though the overwhelming majority of Indians will not be holding black money. Every Indian is exposed to corruption on a day to day level, whether it is a government employee asking for bribes for just doing what he or she is being paid for or a policeman asking for bribes in exchange for not giving a ticket. Many educational institutions ask for donations in cash for admission.
At a higher level, individuals buying or selling property are invariably made to become a part of the black money system.
Small, medium and big businesses are usually made to pay bribes for various requirements from the government. Corruption and black money has touched all Indians whether they want it or not.
Demonetisation effectively removes the notion that “Black Money is Ok” as it shows that it can be nullified at one go. Those holding unaccounted for cash have suddenly found themselves drained of their wealth. While many will find ways to launder the money, it would mean one lie leading to many more lies, leaving them fully exposed to the law.
Demonetisation will not end the seepage of corruption in the country but it has definitely made people sit up and think. In a world of digitized payments with India right up on the curve, need for cash can be eliminated by mindset change. Use of mobile payment systems, wallets and e banking can be embraced consciously. The average Indian too should not succumb to pressures for bribes and put his or her foot down and not pay bribes.
The government can enforce strict anti corruption laws but ultimately it is up to individuals to embrace a corrupt free economy even if it means some inconvenience. This is the biggest challenge India faces in its fight to bring down Black Money.
The demonetisation debate will continue but it has definitely raised the prospects for a better India.