Demonetisation is a highly “immoral” decision that “threatens” the poor people of an already impoverished India, a leading international magazine has noted in a scathing editorial about the Narendra Modi government’s move to abolish overnight 86 per cent of Indian currency in circulation.
Forbes Magazine’s editor and critically acclaimed author Steven Forbes wrote that such ‘destructive’ policies could have been expected from the government of a country like Venezuela, but not from an elected government of India.
“What India has done is commit a massive theft of people’s property without even the pretense of due process–a shocking move for a democratically elected government,” Forbes remarked in his piece, that has been widely reported in Indian media.
Forbes compared the ongoing demonetisation drive to Indian government’s infamous sterilisation program in the 1970s, which was aimed at bringing under control India’s burgeoning population numbers.
“Not since India’s short-lived forced-sterilization program in the 1970s–this bout of Nazi-like eugenics was instituted to deal with the country’s “overpopulation”–has the government engaged in something so immoral.”
Cogent criticism of India’s demonetisation drive in the international press is not new, with even backers of Modi’s economic policies when he came to power now questioning if they had bet on the right horse.
London-based The Economist, which had hailed Modi’s “grand ambitions” and “self confidence” in May 2015, has dubbed the decision to abolish old notes as “clumsy use” of government power. While the magazine has been critical of Modi’s social cohesion policies, it has taken a similar line as that of the PM on economic issues.
“Though Indians have until the end of the year to swap their defunct bills, the roll-out of new ones has been bungled,” The Economist remarked on reports of long bank queues and inadequate new notes being pumped into circulation.
India’s former economic advisor Kaushik Basu, writing for the New York Times, seriously doubted if the note ban would meet its original purposes of stamping out black money, or money hidden from the taxman.
The bulk of black money in India isn’t money at all: It’s held in gold and silver, real estate and overseas bank accounts. And even if demonetization can flush out the black money that is held in cash, with no improvement in catching and punishing tax evaders, people with ill-gotten gains will simply start saving in the new bills currently being issued, Basu argued.
Presently, cleaning the system from black money and corruption is very high on my agenda: PM @narendramodi
— PMO India (@PMOIndia) December 14, 2016
Double standards of the BJP
Predictably, there hasn’t been a word from the government about all the negative coverage that the move to scrap 500 and 1000-notes is generating as it sticks to its guns.
Positive news reports, however, have found their way into the Indian Parliament.
Several government MPs gushed about Narenda Modi in the Parliament after the Indian Prime Minister won a reader’s poll for ‘Person of the Year’, conducted by the reputed Time Magazine.
“I feel Modi ji is not only Person of the Year, but Person of the Century. With the agenda of peace, prosperity, growth and employment he is setting, the coming 84 years will have India and the world revolve around him,” India’s water minister Uma Bharati reportedly reacted after Time magazine announced the winner.
However, the conversation within the government seems to be missing when it comes to criticizing policies, even the ones framed behind closed doors by just the the Prime Minister and a handful of his trusted men, like the demonetisation.
— The Indian Express (@IndianExpress) December 22, 2016