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Now, we again have an opportunity where every citizen can join this mahayajna against the ills of corruption, black money and fake notes. The more help you give in this campaign, the more successful it will be.  – PM Narendra Modi, 8 Nov 2016

That was the call for public support for one of the most radical political actions in recent times. About 85% of cash in circulation was made illegal in one stroke.

Outcome is uncertain. Will it really help the cause to root out black & counterfeit money? Its a bold political, social & economic gamble.

Many questions linger.

  1. If one of the aims was to go after black money, why didn’t the govt go after the big perpetrators? The govt must certainly know the individuals & entities who dabble in black money. We got many agencies – revenue intelligence, CBI, enforcement etc. – who must have been monitoring such activities for decades. Why aren’t the top suspects being publicly named and investigated? That would have certainly sent shivers down the spines of other offenders, besides conveying government’s seriousness to clean up the system.
  2. The move seems have been well planned, preceded by moves like Jan Dhan Yojana and Income Declaration Scheme. Why is the government ill equipped to handle the public outcry & inconvenience?
  3. How responsible would the public sector banks be in lending out the money flowing into their coffers? Loans worth about INR 2.5 lakh crores have been written off in the last 11 years by public sector banks. Will bulging low-cost deposits encourage irresponsible lending & borrowing behaviors? Will well-connected individuals, entities & corporates exploit the situation?

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Modi is known to be a shrewd politician. He is playing his cards close to his chest. He possibly has other strikes up his sleeve.

The course of history is often severely influenced by unreasonable men, in good & bad ways – think Lee Kuan Yew & Adolf Hitler.

Modi seems to be unreasonable, but is he benign?

 

 

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