Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Category: India

69 years of black money

BJP members speak of 70 years of black money. It is 69 years since independence. Narendra Modi became Prime Minister on 26/5/2014. It means there was black money generation under Modi government and also under Vajpayee government in 1998-2004. BJP has been in power in many states. In Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi, Uttarakhand, BJP ruled alone and in Bihar, Maharashtra, Punjab and in some other states in was in ruling alliance. In Uttar Pradesh it was once ruling party and other times in was in ruling alliance. BJP has been in power in District Councils, municipalities and panchayats.
Corruption has been all pervasive. When people pay bribes to become police officers and judges there is no hope of justice from them. Contractors pay bribes to get their work done.
Robbing rich to pay to poor is bad. Robbing poor to pay to rich is perverse. That has happened under Modi with writing off of loans of thousands of crores of rupees borrowed by corporates. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in reply to Sitaram Yechury in Rajya Sabha said one should not go by literal meaning of written-off, the loans can be pursued and recovered. The reality that once loans are written off they are not recovered.
Many corporates borrowed money from banks and bought properties abroad. No action is taken against them. Now corporates are happy that with deposits going up interest rates will come down. Deposits are up because withdrawals are limited and difficult.
Modi government had announced an amnesty scheme for black money holders with 30/9/2016 as last date. Around 65,000 crore rupees were declared. Then Modi came up with invalidation of high denomination notes.
Modi said people with black money are taking sleeping pills and poor people are sleeping soundly. I do not know how many are taking sleeping pills but many ordinary people are unable to get their white money from banks. Exchange amount changed from 4,000 rupees to 4,500 rupees to 2,000 rupees and now stopped. One can officially withdraw 24,000 rupees in a week but banks on many days have no money and people go back. When there is money it is 2,000 rupees per person. Most ATMs have no cash.
If BJP is serious about ending black money it should make its accounts public including list of donors and the amounts donated. It should be ready to come under RTI and bring a law to bring political parties under RTI. Making promises and breaking them has become a habit for Modi. He promised to bring black money from abroad and put 15 lakh rupees in every Indian’s account in 100 days of coming to power. That was broken. On 8/11/2016 he promised invalid 1,000 rupee and 500 rupee note can be exchanged till 30/12/2016. Exchange ended on 24/11/2016.

Operation Crackpot

Fools rush where angels fear to tread.
Modi government’s move to replace 500 and 1,000 rupee notes with new 500 and 2,000 rupee and later 1,000 notes has been a disaster. The inconvenience for people was supposed to last three days. People with old notes can deposit them up to 31 December 2016. Banks were shut for a day. ATMs were to be shut for two days. Petrol pumps and government hospitals could take old notes for three days. Afterwards everything was supposed to be smooth.
What followed was nightmare for people with white money. Bank customers who had done business for years had to show proof of identity to deposit money. Exchange of old notes to valid notes was limited to 4,000 rupees. ATM withdrawal was limited to 2,000 rupees. After two days most ATMs did not open. Those who opened quickly ran out of money. ATMs had to be recalibrated for 2,000 rupee notes. Out of 2,20,000 ATMs as of 17/11/2016 20,000 ATMs were ready. People had to stand in queue for hours to deposit, withdraw or exchange money. Some slept outside ATMs.
Marriages had to be postponed. Some schools did not accept cheques and students were sent back home. People took leave to stand in queues.
The amounts of withdrawal and exchange were modified. Payment of electricity, gas and water bills by old notes was permitted. For marriage a person could withdraw 2,50,000 rupees. Farmers could withdraw 25,000 rupees against loan per week and traders could withdraw 50,000 rupees per week.
TV coverage was rigged. If two people talked of inconvenience, two people said it was a good move against black money. Short term pain for long term gain, was the statement. In TV studios many journalists were on government side and questioned the patriotism of people who opposed remonetisation or the hardship it caused.
Bank employees had to work long hours. Banks were kept open on second Saturday and Sunday. Use of indelible ink made the process of exchange longer.
Many daily wage earners had no work and no income. Factories reduced work or shut down. Film production suffered. Queues outside theatres vanished.
Modi said rich people were taking sleeping pills, poor were sleeping peacefully. Reality was vastly different. People with black money, except for a few, found ways to whiten their black money. Poor people struggled day after day. Some died standing in queue. Some children died because private hospitals did not accept old notes.
Janardhana Reddy held his daughter’s wedding. Some TV channels claimed the expenditure was 500 crore rupees. Reddy family claimed the expenditure was 30 crore rupees.
Arun Shourie said cash ban was as radical as suicide. Some compared Modi to Tughlaq or Nero or Marie Antoinette.
People with black money are less than one per cent. More than 99% are put to inconvenience due to remonetisation. Taking out 86% of currency from circulation will cripple and damage economy. Some said it was surgical strike against black money. Supreme Court said it was carpet bombing. People with black money will switch to new high denomination notes. It will be black to square one.

Trump Triumphs

The strong man is the strongest when he fights alone.
It is not over till it is over.
Don’t count your chickens before they are hatched.
The best laid plans of men and mice go awry.
When the going gets tough, the tough get going.
Donald John Trump won the Presidential contest against many unfavourable circumstances over a long period of time. His rival Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton had the support of many Republicans, film stars, newspapers and businessmen. Trump waged a lone battle.
When Trump began his campaign in June 2015 not many gave him a chance. In 2011 also he had thought of contesting Presidential election. This time among the candidates for Republican nomination, when his name appeared first in opinion polls, he was second. That was a surprise. When Trump was asked about it he said “Why am I not first?”
When Trump made his first speech as a candidate he attacked Mexicans. From then he dominated news. He said many things which many found outrageous. Many times journalists said Trump has gone too far. It is the end of his candidacy. Nothing of that sort happened.
Trump’s slogan was “Make America Great Again.” Hillary said America is great. We don’t have to make it great again.
Trump repeatedly said “The system is crooked and rigged.” That found resonance with many people.
After the Conventions the electoral fight was bitter and nasty. Trump fought the system, the establishment. People of Republican establishment were not happy with Trump and 50 of them supported Hillary.
Trump had India connection. Once in an interview he said “By the way, India is doing great.” It is said that he has construction projects in Bombay and Poona. Hindu Republicans supported Trump. The slogan was Ab ki baar, Trump Sarkar, copy of a slogan used by Modi in 2014. It was also copied by David Cameron in 2015. On 6 November 2016 he said American companies were moving jobs to India, China, Mexico and Singapore. Trump is said to have sued Kotak Mahindra Bank for their use of Kotak Trump Card and settled the case outside court.
Most polls for six months preceding election put Hillary ahead of Trump. Trump said the polls were rigged. Polls were wrong about Brexit.
Trump said media was against him. That was true to a great extent as 51 newspapers had endorsed Hillary and many TV journalists were against Trump. Trump at his speeches pointed at journalists against him.
Hillary had planned celebration at Javid Centre made of glass and steel, to show she has broken a glass ceiling. On 8 November 2016 after voting was over in New York her supporters gathered there. In initial stages of counting Hillary supporters were jubilant. As counting progressed Trump led in Electoral College votes. Many channels stopped counting Trump votes at 244. Fox News reported other victories of Trump. Around 2 a.m. Eastern time (12.30 p.m. IST) on 9 November 2016 John Podesta, Hillary’s campaign manager, took the stage at Javid Centre. He said Hillary has not done yet. He praised the supporters and wished them good night. At 1.03 p.m. Fox News reported Electoral College 276 votes for Trump. Trump had won the election and had become President-elect.
Pollsters have lost credibility. They were wrong about Brexit. They are wrong about Trump. Nathaniel (Nate) Read Silver in May had predicted Chicago Cubs victory and 8 days later Trump victory. He was right on both counts. If he changed his prediction about Trump later it was a big blow to his reputation. Sanjiv Rai of MogIA had predicted Trump victory. Recently LA Times had predicted Trump victory.

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