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Demonetisation is a mammoth tragedy, says Dr. Manmohan Singh

Demonetisation is a mammoth tragedy, says Dr. Manmohan Singh

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has made a scathing attack on the Narendra Modi government’s demonetisation move and said the decision will cause “grievous injury” to the honest people who earn in cash.

In an article published in The Hindu newspaper today, Manmohan Singh alleged that the dishonest and the black money hoarders will get away without suffering any severe punishment.

Calling the demonetisation move as an “impetuous decision”, Singh said it had shattered the trust reposed by hundreds of millions of people in the BJP-led NDA government.

The Prime Minister in his address to the nation said, “There comes a time in the history of a country’s development when a need is felt for a strong and decisive step,” and propounded two primary reasons for this decision. One was to check “enemies from across the border… using fake currency notes”. The other was to “break the grip of corruption and black money”.

He said the notion that “all cash is black money and all black money is in cash” is false and far from reality. To buttress his point, Singh said more than 90 per cent of India’s workforce, including agriculture workers and construction workers, earn their wages in cash. More than 600 million Indians who live in a town or village do not have any bank, he said.

The former prime minister condemned tarnishing this cash as ‘black money’. Calling it a “mammoth tragedy”, he said the move had thrown the lives of these poor people in disarray. “The recent decision by the Prime Minister is a travesty of this fundamental duty,” he said.

He said black money was a genuine concern but all black money was not in cash. Only a tiny fraction was so. He faulted the government over the introduction of Rs 2,000 currency notes and said it would be easier to generate unaccounted wealth in the future. “This brazen policy measure has neither tackled the stock of black money holistically nor has it stemmed the flow of it” he said.

Singh gave his own example and said he had experienced long lines for rationed food during war time. But he never imagined that one day he would find men and women waiting endlessly for “rationed money”. “That all of this suffering is due to one hasty decision makes it even more disconcerting,” he said.

He said the scars of an overnight depletion of the honest wealth of a vast majority combined with their ordeal of rationed access to new currency will be too deep to heal quickly. This can have ripple effects on GDP growth and job creation. “It is my humble opinion that we as a nation should brace ourselves for a tough period over the coming months, needlessly so,” he said.

The former prime minister said the government should have taken into account the risks of unintended consequences. The risks and the potential benefits of such decisions should have been deftly balanced. “Waging a war on black money may sound enticing. But it cannot entail even a single loss of life of an honest Indian,” he said, obviously referring to the death of about 80 people whose death the Opposition is associating with demonetisation.

source : indiatoday

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