The ‘Invisible’ Numbers

Demonetisation–Voices from the Inside Out

Smarajit Jana

Everyone knows her as Jaggu's mother. She has jet-black complexion and not an ounce of fat in her body. Jaggu's mother has crossed 60 years of age so far she could remember some allied incidents but cannot say how and when she came down to Kolkata in her childhood days from a remote village in Bihar. Her son got married few years back and now living in a separate house in Birati, so she has to earn a living for herself even at this age. In this housing cooperative of ours in north Kolkata, everyone owns a little house with a courtyard. Jaggu's mother earns a little bit visiting house to house, sometimes cleaning somebody's drain or garden, dusting or sweeping someone else's house. She buys rice with the little money whatever she earns doing all varied kinds of work, cooks it, eats it and makes rice-beer with the leftover. Sometimes she brings fresh spinaches and herbs picked up from the side of some far-away canal or pond. She neatly cleans and cut into pieces for the households of the co-operatives. She happily accepts whatever is given to her in return. Needless to say, she doesn't get work every day. But the situation has turned worse now. Last December, she had visited our house twice, but we didn't give her any work. Whenever she came to our house, she used to get a little sum of money for her work in addition to a cup of tea and biscuits, sometimes some food too. At that time, there was hardly any small chance left in the house and our only precious possession was two 2,000-rupee note. So, even if we did not want to refuse her but for the said reason we couldn't let Jaggu's mother work in our house. Last time when we offered tea to her, she refused to take it although she is very fond of taking tea with sugar. Actually, Jaggu's mother follows a principle about drinking tea. To drink tea without doing any work hurts her dignity. A week later when she brought a bucketful of spinaches, my wife did not refuse. She scraped out 20 rupees, gave it to her and offered her a cup of tea. When she declined, I told her, "Wait, I want to have a few words with you". When I asked her, she responded without any pretension that she had almost nothing to eat for the last couple of days. She didn't have even rice-beer. How could she make rice-beer when she couldn't buy rice? We gentlemen could afford to have our garden or kitchen drains cleaned once in a month instead of once a week or do without eating spinaches, but it meant a lot to her.

On 27 December 2016, I picked up a little conversation during the break in a seminar in Delhi with a woman health worker stationed in a remote rural area of Odisha. We were talking about the incidence of tuberculosis among the rural poor, the insufficiency of treatment, lack of adequate food for the patients, etc. I learned from her that most of the villagers work as daily-wage labourers in these villages. It is difficult to bring them to the government health centre in the town for a sputum test unless their fever and cough reaches to an alarming stage. Kunu, a 33-year-old youth, is an example. After much counselling, when he was brought to the town during last November, he was diagnosed having active tuberculosis in his lungs. The health worker got him enlisted as a tuberculosis patient in Government register and arranged for his treatment and helped him to collect a month's medicine from the Govt. dispensary. The stock was to last till early December. When she went to his house to remind him to replenish the stock of the medicine, she was surprised to see Kunu, lying on a tattered rag in front of his room. He was running with high fever. His chest where you can count each and every ribs distinctly was moving up and down in a rapid pace. The health worker said, "I opened the medicine box and counted the pills and fond that he had taken medicine not more than ten days only. When I asked, his wife said that she had been going around the village from door to door in search of any kind of work leaving her ailing husband at home, but couldn't manage to find a job to earn something for more than two days within the last two weeks. How could she run her family with that? She saved a 500-rupee note which she kept in her horne for emergencies. Now no shop owner was accepting it. They said to her that it was no longer valid what she couldn't understand properly. So they had to go on fast for want of food. Though she had eaten some leaves and wild potatoes, those were not fit to be given to a patient. No one in her village obliged her even a small amount of loan which she could pay later. She commented at this juncture, "How could I give such strong medicines to a patient who is half-starved?"

The health worker added further, "Almost on my individual effort, I arranged a few kilos of rice and told him repeatedly to take the medicine regularly. Before boarding the train bound to Delhi last night, I went to his house in the morning and found his wife crying. The villagers were taking out Kunu's body for the last rites".

No, Kunu's name won't be added to the list of people who died due to the impact of demonetisation. According to newspapers, around one hundred people have died waiting in the queues at banks to withdraw money. But we will perhaps never know how many people have died and suffered because of the indirect effect of demonetisation. Some of those who are in favour of demonetisation, however, are saying that one should not be too emotional about these issues. So many people die in this country due to train accidents every year. So many others die consuming poisonous liquor or suffering from diarrhoea. Many people die in stampede in the temples. Such incidents take place in one or other places in the country almost in each and every year. The present hardship has to be accepted for the greater common good of the country. So none of the leaders, least to talk about the Prime Minister has not even once said sorry for these incidents. Our leaders knew it better that a small number of deaths of this kind need not be taken too seriously. They knew that some Opposition leaders who are part of their culture would criticise everything and anything under the sun and some would try to fish out in troubled water. We know for sure opposition parties and some NGOs in tandem raised hue and cry since last couple of years over farmers' suicides. Had it make any difference'? People's memory is too short. They will forget such news within a couple of days after wallowing daily doses of varieties of news in the media. Some time ago, a ruling party leader who bluntly commented that, ''Farmers' suicides have become a fashion now". As a result of which it remained in the news for few more days. So care has to be taken to ensure that no one from the ruling party can commit the same mistake once again in respect of demonetisation.

A veteran politician remarked that not everyone could understand the intricacies of communication. The government knows how to wash out the uncomfortable questions and criticisms on demonetisation in a flush of propaganda. Those who have high sense of dignity (of course there are not too many of them) did ask: why we have to prove our honesty by standing in the queue for hours? Are the citizens of any other country required to get their fingers inked and stand under the sky clutching a variety of documents? Why should we allow the government to whimsically dictate how much money we can withdraw from our own savings? Are we living in a foreign land or under foreign rule? Such questions have to be skirted carefully. It is not mandatory in this country to answer all questions that anyone raises. The government does not have any compulsion to do so. Don't mention about the Right to Information Act, who bothers and how many citizens of the country know about the act. You have to believe that the government is always right, its wishes have to be fulfilled—that is the final logic. How can we forget so soon the glorious tradition of our ancestors who served the foreign ruler so faithfully? The government is our 'guardian' (My Bap)—it doesn't matter whether it is run by Indians or by colonisers. We have to obey their dictat with folded hands.

Seventy years ago in January 1946, the British government did scrap 500 and 1000 rupee notes in the same manner. Apparently, they, too, had argued that it would help curbing circulation of black money. Modiji, of course, has added more reasons in order to argue in favour of demonetisation—that it will free the country from the twin menace of terrorism and fake currency. As a result, the country will gain a lot in the long run. Although he has not clarified who will be benefited and how people of this country, we are told, have understood everything. The country is going to flourish by leaps and bounds as an outcome of demonetisation! Henceforth, those who have amassed black money will be rendered toothless, there will be no fake currency in the circulation and the terrorists will starve to death, etc. On the other hand, the poor will get a bellyful of rice and dal, maybe chicken curry, too. The children of every family will get jobs. The people may not have seen any sign of these developments as yet, but they still believe that this is going to happen in some day. Because, we believe that hardship is always rewarded. What would really happen in the future, we don't know but needless to say that the government has succeeded in drawing support from a section of middle-class who could vent out their long-piled-up anger and frustration? This has opened up the floodgates of day dreaming in our mind.

When the boy next door who could not pass his secondary exam drives past with a brand new car, it leaves us in no doubt that he could not have done so unless he piled up black money. It is with the backing of black money that the rising ruffians of the neighbourhood have the audacity to keep loudspeakers blaring all the nights. The political big brother and his cronies flex their muscles and abuse us. If someone protests even faintly, the poor citizen is beaten up on the road. We had to close our eyes because of the power of the black money. When ruffians molest women openly in the street, no one dares to come forward to resist them, cause everybody understands, that they can buy police and the administration with their black money. Dreaming that at last all these goons will be chastened up, the middle-class people have borne the trouble and proved their patience standing in the queue for hours. And there had been no end to their glee if they heard that the police found out few bagfuls of banned currency notes from some drains or ponds nearby, as if—the results were showing! When the Prime Minister himself was thundering so much and at the same time shedding tears seeing the hardship of the people, many people started believing that there must be some truth in it!

When the foreign rulers scrapped 500 and 1000 rupee notes in 1946, there were few deaths for which colonisers expressed sorrow. The educated knew that the foreign rulers' days were numbered. Even the then British Prime Minister Churchill realised that this country's freedom movement could not be suppressed for long. On the other hand, although the Allied force (of which Britain was a part) won the World War-II, Britain's economic condition turned out to be in a state of shambles. So, Churchill & Co were desperate to experiment with any measure that could prevent a lucrative colony like India from going out of hand at least for some more time. The demonetisation was a political gimmick to divert the attention of the people. However things turned differently. Within two months of the demonetisation, the naval revolt took place in Mumbai and within a few months of demonetisation the worst communal riot broke in many parts of the country and India gained Independence following partition of the county on religious divide.

If we look back in the history, we could see that leaders of most of the countries who implemented demonetisation are usually from a military junta or an autocratic government. These rulers wanted to fulfil their political interest under the veil of economic measure through demonetisation, though almost all of them failed miserably. In the 1970s, the puppet government in Colombia decided to demonetise, but stepped back at the end. The semi-military government of that country wanted to divert people's attention from the Left-wing guerrilla warfare. They used to believe that this would create tremendous hardship for these fighters. However, later, when they realised that, this was not going to happen they finally backtracked.

The military government of Zaire undertook demonetisation in 1993 fearing political turbulence and social upheaval in the country. However, in its propaganda, it talked about curbing inflation and black market. Though the government survived, it could not prevent a big economic slump in the country.

President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, who managed to remain in power for a long time by applying various tactics, made the people to swallow a bitter pill of demonetisation to check tremendous inflation in 2009, but it failed completely and the country's economic condition became even worse. Finally Mugabe had to discontinue their own currency and to accept US dollar as a means of transaction.

In 1991, Mikhail Gorbachev of the Soviet Union, perturbed by the political unrest and uncertainty in the political atmosphere used demonetisation as a political weapon. But it could not protect his political interest. On the other hand, prices of essential commodities increased almost threefold within three months of demonetisation. Unemployment went up by leaps and bounds and within months, the Soviet Union collapsed and broke up into several new states.

The Military rulers of Nigeria (1984), Myanmar (1987) and North Korea (2010) decided to demonetise to depress political pressure from the opponents. All these leaders of the autocratic governments living in constant fear of internal strife, factionalism and military coup declared demonetisation with a hope to divert people's attention. As a result, of which the economy of Nigeria and Myanmar suffered badly. Those who had opposed the policy had to face various repressive measures including brutal killing by these autocratic regimes.

Demonetisation pushed a large number of people in North Korea towards starvation and undernourishment and the government killed many people who had taken to the street in protest. The military junta in Myanmar had demonetised twice earlier, in 1964 and in 1985 respectively. Even they knew the plausible negative outcome of this step, they demonetised yet again in 1987 with the sole aim to divert people's sentiment. Very recently (2016), the elected President of Venezuela who had come to power making plenty of promises but could do nothing to improve the economy and to improve the quality of life of people attempted demonetisation as a 'stunt' to refurbish his image. However the situation turned worse and he had to retreat as it sparked riots in many cities in Venezuela.

Australia is an exception in respect to demonetisation. With an objective to scrap paper currency and to introduce plastic (polymer) notes they took the step of demonetisation. The government did not claim that it would curb black money and made all plans and preparations ready to ensure that not a single citizen of their country face any sort of inconvenience or any hardship in the process.

Everyone has realised by now from television channels and from newspaper articles that demonetisation may at best scratch the surface of the problem of black money, but it can never strike its roots. Most of the economists have been saying right from the beginning that demonetisation is a futile exercise, as only five to seven percent of black money circulates in the form of currency notes. The black money holders invest in gold, real estate and in various businesses. And we have been reading in the newspapers, and seeing in TV shows how fresh currencies (i.e. 2000 rupee notes) issued by the treasury after demonetisation are being turned into black money within no time. As has been unearthed by the income tax department how several individuals who attempted to hoard Rs 2000 notes totalling about Rs 100 crore within a month to turn it into 'black money'. This might be the tip of the iceberg. How much of it has turned into 'black money' is just a matter of guess. According to the Reserve Bank of India, more than 97 percent of old currency notes have already been deposited at various banks by January and some more is expected to arrive from treasuries of various states. Although the government has stopped taking back old notes, non-resident Indians will get the opportunity few more months to exchange old currency. From this account one may confidently conclude that demonetisation has failed to mop up black money. And while we are being told every other day that the printing of fake Indian currency is entirely a Pakistani conspiracy, on the other hand we could find that fake Rs 2000 notes are being printed in Gujarat. If fake notes worth several lakhs of rupees can be printed within a month, how can one justify demonetisation on the ground of removing fake currency? If we follow this logic then the Government has to decide perhaps demonetisation every quarterly.

Even Modi and his disciples know that demonetisation, cannot curb black money. And it cannot even touch the terrorists. Perhaps for this reason, the Prime Minister, finance minister and all the BJP leaders have started singing another tune: that the main objective of demonetisation is to introduce digital transactions all over the country. We are told that this would enhance the country's prestige and will attract more money into the tax net, which may be used to run the engine of development in full steam ahead. Without going into the benefits and hazards of digital transactions, especially for credit or debit card and other app users, let us have a look at the present scenario of digital service infrastructure in the country.

Whatever may be the number of literate people (who are capable of signing their names) in the country on paper, it is evident that 60 to 70 percent, i.e., the majority, of the people in this country are not capable of making digital transactions. The number of Internet users is about one-fourth of the adult population or even less. And not even one in 10 adults uses a smart phone at this point. Even after the introduction of the Prime Minister's Jan Dhan Yojana, only a third of the total population in the country has opened a bank account. Only half of these individuals having bank account use bank services or ATMs regularly. Sixty crore of people in this country do not have any workable connection with the banks. So for whom the demonetisation and digital transaction is meant for?

This is only one part of the story. On the other side, adding public and private sector bank branches in the country together are miserably inadequate for serving the entire population. Even now, we won't find a bank or post office in every village (in the rural areas, there are on an average only seven bank branches for every one lakh people). The infrastructure available for digital transactions is far smaller and weaker in nature. Survey conducted by the World Economic Forum in 2016 reveals that India comes 96th among 140 countries as per the indicator of 'network readiness index'. The condition of broadband penetration is even worse; we have only 5.5 subscribers for every 100 people. Another survey showed that the average broadband speed in the country is only 4 Mbps. On the world broadband users' map, India's position is No. 105. C'an you imagine what is going to happen and how many hours one has to spend to do shopping every day; if tomorrow with the touch of some magic wand everyone gets inducted into the digital transactions system? Moreover, if there are power cuts, one will have to wait for hours to get connected to the Internet; hundreds of people will queue up in front of shops to swipe their cards.

Secondly digital transactions cannot be considered a precondition for the country's development. Even today, 80 percent of transactions in Germany are made in cash. In USA, 45 percent of the people buy and sell things using paper currency. One reason behind this is that people of these countries are conscious about their individual liberty to choose and to protect their privacy. State authorities of these countries do not interfere with the individual’s rights. It is a personal matter whether one would switch on to the digital mode or continue to transact in cash.

It does not need to explain that these countries are miles ahead of us in terms of development indicators such as education, health, employment, per capita income, use of advanced technologies, etc. Moreover, we do not know how many people here would become paupers due to hacking. According to a Yahoo's revelation, more than, 10 crores hacking took place in the world in a single year (2013). India ranks fifth among countries who are major victims of hacking. Experts hold that Internet security in India is fairly weak, so personal information in India may be stolen easily.

It is perhaps largely true that digital trading is likely to bring more transparency and may raise tax collection. But can one guarantee that more revenue generation will benefit the people. Tax collection in this country has been increasing over the years, but how much money is being spent to improve the lot of the poor people remains a burning issue. To encourage people to make digital transactions, the government decided to spend Rs 340 crore on publicity, which includes providing gifts, giving relief in tax and even organising lottery. Critics say that the money would have been better utilised if it is spent to improve broadband services. Moreover, would it be logical to become dependent on foreign companies instead of developing infrastructure of our country? The investors of various mobile wallets like Paytm, credit or debit cards such as Visa and Master card and various apps which are owned by the foreign companies are jubilant. They are certain to take this opportunity to mint huge sum of money. According to a non-government estimate, if the entire population of the country enters into digital transactions through e-wallets, these companies would make a profit of at least 1.75 lakh crore rupees every year. Imagine the volume of their profit!

It could be considered the biggest 'open scam' in the country. So, it is clear; who will be the major beneficiaries in this game of demonetisation? The second allied question is, when our Prime Minister is very keen to increase the flow of funds into the state exchequer, then why the corporate houses are given tax relief regularly? Since last five years, the total tax relief offered to corporate sector amounts to around Rs 3 lakh crore. Like the previous governments, Modiji, too, has provided this Tax relief to big business houses. In 2016, the government has written off defaulted bank loans amounting to Rs 1.14 lakh crore. It has mainly benefited 250 big companies. In the last two years after Modiji came to power, loans totalling about Rs 3 lakh crore have been sanctioned to the Mukesh Ambani and Adani groups. No business house has received so much money as loan before. So, it was not surprising that Mukeshji would appear on TV and praise the Prime Minister's move to demonetise. Adani will lift coal from Australia and will send it to India, so he must be showered with blessings! The project is yet to take off though, environmentalists at home and abroad have already begun raising their voices in protest. As a result of which, it has become doubtful whether the project will see the light of the day at all. And one can guess that this loan, too, will be waived at the end. So, many people suspect that through demonetisation, it is more likely that the government has taken an easy route to replenish the money (lost in the bank due to non-payment of loan by the big corporate houses), so that they can take loan once again. The third question is, if the government wants to increase tax collection, why they are not bringing share market transactions under the tax net? All these issues raise suspicion about the intention of demonetisation. For the time being, we have to wait to know who has played the major initiative behind in taking the decision for demonetisation.

The readers will note that in this long discussion, Jaggu's mother, Kunu or Haradhan find no place (whom we have been talking in the beginning of our story)—in the following discussion. Oh yes, Haradhan is not a VIP, he is a daily-wage labourer who lives in a village ten kilometres away from Canning town. In all previous years, he never sat idle for days particularly in the harvesting season. But this year he could not find any jobs so far. So, when he got a call from Idris it appeared to him as if he had won a prize in the lottery! Idris assembled twelve labours, like Haradhan and others to provide services to the Usha Co-operative Society. Sooner all twelve workers got engaged in harvesting work in Usha's farm at Baruipur. Idris had a bank account and could receive money through RTGS, so he took the opportunity to play the role of a labour contractor. Usha Co-operative had sent the contracted amount to his bank account as agreed. However standing in the queue few hours in four successive days Idris could draw a total sum of Rs 8,000 in cash for distribution. Then the bank manager told him not to come back to his branch within the next fortnight. Bank Manager told him that, the currency notes are in short supply; his branch has received not even half the amount it is supposed to get. Three days after this dialogue with the bank Manager Idris still stood in the queue, but to no effect. Meanwhile, Haradhan and his co-workers were in a soup hearing that they won't be getting paid. Haradhan's younger son was suffering from fever. He and his wife planned to take him to the doctor in the evening when Haradhan planned to arrive home with the money.

Momin's wife had stopped cooking. She had no money with her. Working at a stretch for nine days, they had harvested the crop over 30 bighas of land. They all planned to visit home after receiving payment and would come back to field two days later. The bad news from Idris made them mad with rage. A heated exchange began between labours, Idris finding no way out ran away from the site. Both angry and sad, Haradhan, Momin and others went home. The rest of the paddy remained in the field. Usha's office-bearers were at a loss, how to mend this issue as the harvested paddy will rot in the ground and be wasted, for no fault of theirs. When this article is going to the press, we didn't receive any further development in this regard. We do not know whether Haradhan's five-year-old son has recovered from illness. We do not know what Momin's wife is doing now. We do not need to know all these things. Perhaps we are told... tuned to ignore all these sorts of things. All these small incidents are not very important in the broader canvas of demonetisation.

Momin Ali did not depend on any well wisher and not on the state authorities for running his family. Nor did he beg for money in the street. He had only one question, perhaps to himself: "Why the government is not allowing me to receive what I have earned with my hard labour—what kind of justice is this?"

Since demonetisation, the government has issued more than 100 circulars and altered them at will, drawing ridicule from home and abroad. Momin is not amused though. The whole exercise has brought him to tears. Jaggu's mother doesn't know all these intricacies and perhaps she is not supposed to know. It is an issue what intellectuals and economists are there to debate with. Even if she can't manage a square meal a day she must get out of home to find some work. It is true that having to stand in the queue for hours together has made a section of the middle-class people angry. If one had run out of cash and could not manage to buy chicken or mutton for lunch on a Sunday, it would make all his family members gloomy and unhappy. If one could not buy his kid's favourite snack, it might have ticked them off. But all their anger and sadness would be melted away while sitting in front of the TV in the evening and watching a favourite soap opera or at the most by the next day while watching Virat Kohli hitting a double ton. It is better to acknowledge that barring a few instances, demonetisation has not created too much problem for most of the middle-class people. In this country, it is possible for many of us to get those problems solved using our acquaintances and 'worthy connections'—bypassing the government circulars. Although demonetisation has irked us, it has also raised the hope of getting income tax concessions in the coming year. One may also have to pay lower EMI on housing loan. But people like Momin and Haradhan have nothing to gain out of it. We have one advantage over them: they are not so vocal like us and are not called to express their opinions in newspaper columns or in TV shows. They live in a 'twilight zone' in our society and who are not attracted by any media houses. Moreover, their tolerance is infinite. If they do not get two square meals a day, they can still survive managing with half bowl of rice or a chapati for the entire family members.

Both the ruling and Opposition politicians have used these poor people more as 'shields' while putting forth their arguments for and against demonetisation. On the other hand, these poor people are almost 'invisible' in our eyes—they seem not to exist in the entire discourse of demonetisation, because they do not have a voice of their own; they are just nameless numbers, though they comprise more than half of India's population. Those who get space in the newspaper columns and frequent the talk shows on TV represent us, not Haradhan or Jaggu's mother. Sorrows and anger of a section of middle class displayed on TV and social media along with the government propaganda, often ignore all of them, who live in our shadows. Although we do have a faint idea about the world outside our own, we are not very sure about them and their perception including their anxiety and agony during and post demonetisation. Knowingly or unknowingly, we are trapped in a preconceived notion of what economy of the country is all about and what is 'development' and 'prosperity' of the people.

Modiji has taken the route of polarising across class and caste and the very process of polarisation will push the process to a higher level. Demonetisation is an integral part of this game plan. Now the dividing line between corporate India and 'rustic India' is much clear. A handful of people will tailor all the policies starting from law to finance what would to suit to the interest of the corporate India in such a way that the 'rustic India' will have no alternative choice but to follow it without raising any question. In this scenario, the people of rustic India will be slowly blurred and be gradually withdrawn from the social canvas to oblivion. There will be no other option open to them. They will learn sooner that they have to do this sacrifice for the 'development of the country'. Today's karmayogis will stand on the podium imitating the bold pose of Swami Vivekananda and call upon the people tweaking his words a little bit, "Oh my poor Indian, uneducated Indian, untouchable Indian, you are not an individual of your own rights, you have been created to serve the corporate, you have no other identity', you are just a number. In the grand narrative of development of the country, your life or death makes no difference. You are for the country (means corporate) and all of us are here to sacrifice for the interest of..."

In fact, the problem cannot be solved merely by criticising the government or the Opposition; it is comparatively an easy option to blame them. The environment that has been created over years and what we have been strengthening through our 'modus operendi', e.g. discussions, debates and criticisms rebuilding culture will not allow any space for the 'rustic India'. Our mental make-up follows a set of 'format'. We are all following the same framework, what suits to a section of privileged people we are doing it may be without understanding it fully. So, our discussions about demonetisation are full of numerous facts and figures, complex arguments and the ringing of money. There is no space to listen to voices of the common people; no space to capture their expression of pains and sufferings. Strange though it may seem, our sympathy for technology has become much greater than that for human beings and it has been becoming increasingly difficult to reverse this trend. So long as human faces cannot be placed at the centre of the development discourse in the use and evolution of technology (in the name of progress and prosperity of the country), it matters little to larger section of our society. Even if we succeeded in stopping black money or fake currency it would be meaningless to most of them. Whatever tale of development is woven around all these hypotheses the common people's lives are not going to improve as the core of this framework is based on false notion which is full of fraud and deception. The issue of demonetisation hardly focuses on issues of individual's capability, security as well as being of majority of our citizen who remained in the dark and voiceless in the entire discourse on demonetisation. The greatest challenge in today's world is how to protect the basic rights, dignity and freedom of expression of people who may be central to so-called 'GDP and other economic indicators'. The urgent need is to explore how to apply the yardstick of well-being of majorities in determining the justification of demonetisation and for that matter for any economic or political decision. The intensity of divisive culture between the corporate India and rustic India is, in a way has enhanced to a large extent by the demonetisation and is going to play a tool to strengthen it further. The path we are beginning to tread reminds us of the pre-independent demonetisation of 1946.

[The article was originally published in the Bengali magazine Durbar Bhabna in its January 2017 issue. Translation by Nilanjan Dutta.]

Vol. 49, No.41, April 16 - 22, 2017