Well-intentioned move to check black money far removed from reality


Jagtar Singh

Chandigarh, November 13: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said he left his home (wife?) to serve the country and there is nothing to doubt his statement. It has been part of Hindu philosophy for hundreds of years. At that level, he should be the best person to understand day-to-day sufferings of the common people. Strangely, he has only added to the miseries of the common people (Aam Aadmi is copy right of Arvind Kejriwal)  with his move to suddenly declare the Rs 500 and Rs 1000 noted as invalid currency. He today appealed to the people to cooperate with him for some more time. Do they have any option?  They must stand in queue as there is no money to buy milk or vegetables or hire an ambulance. None with black money has stood in the long queues outside the banks. It is the people with the money that is white that have been made to suffer by Modi. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley stated yesterday that it would take a minimum of about two weeks before the situation starts returning to normal.

The grass root reality is that the black money that Modi targeted has rather turned pitch black. Some odd politician or bureaucrat might be keeping cash at home and even that has been converted and there are people who are making money out of this business to turn black money into pitch black. It is the cash with the middle classes  accumulated, say by selling an odd plot, that might turn into ashes and that too only in some cases. Nothing stops a commission agent in Punjab from handing over his cash to the big farmer who is his client to show it as farm income and turn it into white.

For a moment, let us concede to Modi that he has succeeded in his campaign against black money after his utter failure to bring back the black money stashed abroad and transfer the same to the accounts of the common people. That is like Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal promising to the people in Punjab that truckloads of money would start arriving in Punjab from Delhi once the BJP led by Narendra Modi came into power at the centre. It is now Punjab that is worst hit as it has become a problem to get released  even the cash credit limit from the banks to procure foodgrains and that too for the central pool.

The basic issue is that of changing the system itself that generates black money rather than  recalibrating the ATMs to make them compliant with the new currency.

A bureaucrat who has lost some money would like to make up for the loss within six months or a year. That hardly makes any difference to him or her. It is only that the commission would go up. The political bosses too would gain in the process. Even the honest bureaucrats make hell of  money without asking. It is the system that has been perfected over the years to generate money that is black. Every person who is in authority has certain entitlements by way of commission. What constitutes corruption is asking for more.

Nothing would be achieved without changing the system to make the life of the common man easier. Modi likes to travel a lot and he should also study the systems that provide efficient governance. He should direct his people to change the system itself that generates black money rather than causing such harassment to the common people.

There was a report today about a new born having died as the father could not arrange ambulance as he did not have new currency.  This is too big a price. Frustration  of standing in long queues is turning into anger.  What to talk of the bureaucrats or police officials, even a government employee of the level of superintendent is not  seen standing in a queue. That is the tragedy of this campaign.

Modi is not the man who does not believe in strategic retreat going by his style of functioning ever since he has taken over as the Prime Minister. It is the Opposition parties that are coming together  in solidarity with the common person and put pressure to save him from unnecessary harassment that this move has caused without introducing  much needed changes in the system of governance and taxation.

Going by the present narrative, questioning any move of Narendra Modi is perceived to be anti-national. That is the biggest threat to democracy. This ill-conceived move must be questioned at every level. Let the system be changed first.


Jagtar Singh


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