To the utter surprise of all people, from the man in the street to even the Union Ministers, the decision was taken by the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, to scrap the high-denomination notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 and it was announced by him late in the night of November 8, 2016. Only about an hour before the announcement the cabinet was informed to get its formal nod. It was common knowledge that the Prime Minister was taking important decisions himself and ministers were supposed to give their consent, and the way the decision on demonetization was taken proved that the media speculation was right. The matter of prime importance concerning people of the country was taken by the Prime Minister with the consultation of his kitchen cabinet. Earlier when asked about measures to curb black money, the Reserve Bank of India had clearly told the government that invalidating the notes of high denominations would not be an effective mode. Having obtained the expert technical opinion, the Prime Minister insisted on implementing suggestion given by the few persons around him. This was perhaps the most undemocratic way of dealing with the most crucial decision. The Prime Minister declared in his speech that night that the measure was against the black money with the people who were evading income tax. The demonetization was also meant to curb fake currency and funding to the militants. It was the irony of the circumstances that within a fortnight of the measure taken, a militant killed in Kashmir was found with bundles of new notes and within a span of short time, the fake currency in the form of new notes was seized. Thus two of the claims proved fallacious.
Nine months after the note ban, the RBI came out with its report that out of a total Rs 15.4 lakh crore of banned notes that were in circulation on November 8, 2016, 15.3 lakh crore were deposited back into the banks. It means 99 per cent of notes were back in Reserve Bank of India and the Prime Minister was fighting the ghost of black money. On the basis of this report, the government, specifically Prime Minister, was cornered and lambasted. Then the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister came with a new excuse that the step of doing away with the high-denomination was taken to encourage digitalization. When the people were going through unprecedented hardship and agony being unable to get their own money from banks, the Prime Minister asked to give him only ten months and he would see that all troubles were over. Now the economy is suffering from the consequences of this whimsical decision. National and international economic experts found fault with the government, but the Prime Minister and Finance Minister are busy finding virtues in the Black Day decision.
The opposition parties conducted a country-wide protest on the anniversary of the economic blunder committed by the Modi government. Meetings and rallies were organized against the unfortunate step that destroyed the economy of our country. In Parliament, the former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh declared that note ban was ‘an organized loot and legalized plunder’ and the government’s defence was hollow and baseless. Instead of being apologetic, the government is insisting on hidden benefits of note ban. This is yet another salient feature of the NDA government headed by Narendra Modi.