What should have been the story of Modi Government on currency demonetization?

As mentioned in my earlier posts, Modi government has not got its story right because a logical and a believable story needs to be built on truth and facts. If I was asked to build the story for demonetization of currency by Modi Government, it would have been something like this. Modi government has a logical story to tell.

Modi government’s best storyline would have been, “In order to catch people with black money, it had two options. One, to maintain secrecy and catch most of the people hoarding black money and or cause tremendous loss to them so that they do not carry such activity again or to do it without maintaining any secrecy and let a substantial number of people get away. We are all aware that people with black money have all the creative means to convert black money into white. We also knew that if we adopted the first method, general public will suffer as we will not be able to replace the old currency with new immediately or fast enough or recaliberate the ATM machines fast enough which will cause tremendous hardship to you the people of this country for atleast 50 days. In this case, we expected to catch 90% of the people with black money or cause them total loss equivalent to the amount they were holding as black money. If we did not maintain secrecy, nearly 50% of the people with black money would have got away as these people would have taken steps to get rid of the black money by various means. Also, we realized that we cannot go through this process again and again.

Considering that you had elected me to get rid of black money and corruption and hoping that you will support me by undergoing pain and suffering in the short term for long term gains by eliminating black money and corruption from our system completely, I decided to take the bold decision to maintain secrecy. I also know that some of the people who suffer pain may not vote for me or my party again but I still thought that this decision will be good for the country and the aam admi of this country. There is no gain without pain. In order to ensure that minimum pain is caused to the honest people and the aam admi and keeping in mind that we want to catch most of the people with black money, we have taken certain measures which will be revealed to you shortly. In addition, people are welcome to send us ideas in brief as to what other steps we can take to minimise pain of the people and the aam admi.

I again repeat that the pain and suffering that the aam admi will face will decline slowly and steadily each day as we will be pumping new currency in the market everyday. Within 50 days, we expect there will be sufficient cash and liquidity in the system. I would like to assure you that there is no risk to your money as we are printing notes to replace the old notes. However, we request you that you do not panic and start hoarding or stocking new notes.

Lastly, I have provided for a safeguard. Since this is a complex issue and one cannot predict the future, I will be setting up an independent committee of eminent personalities to assess and monitor the situation and take feedback from you, the aam admi. If this committee feels that the people of this country want relief, I will immediately change the scheme whereby the old notes will be valid for 2 months after which the old currency will cease to be a legal tender.” This is the draft story which I think would have worked and the people may have supported the Modi government over the long haul.

However, there has been a persistent attempt by the Modi Government to hide facts by lying. For instance, ICICI Bank CEO, SBI chairman, Mr Arun jaitley, IBA chief, government officials and BJP ministers claiming on television that sufficient cash is available. One half of the television screen shows that these people are making false statements while the other half of the screen is showing banks closed, ATMs not working and huge lines of people waiting in ques to get money. There is still time to tell the truth. Panic is created when people do not know what is happening and when they catch people lying in all shades of colour, white, black, blue etc. If people know the correct situation, panic will subside and people may cooperate. For instance, in my mind doubt was created when the Modi government went from 2/3 days to 2/3 weeks to 50 days to normalize the situation which again was countered by experts stating that the situation may take more time taking the capacity of the currency printing presses, I found myself panicking even though I am a reasonably educated person. I do not think anyone can blame me for that. Consider what a layman would be thinking.

I am also wondering if these officials are putting themselves up for legal liability. Don’t they have a fiduciary responsibility to at least their customers?

Avinash Narula

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