By Haider Abbas
It was the evening time at 8 pm, on November 8, 2016, when Indian PM Narendra Modi, announced one of his most maverick political decision that demonetization in India was to be in place for the next 50 days, and India took to stand in serpentine lines, while dozens and dozens died, to submit into banks the Rs 500/1000 bank notes as they were not to be valid from December 30, 2016 onwards. There wasn’t anyone who was not affected from the decision as every citizen of India just complied with it. The surprising part is that none from the political echelons took the ‘decision-to-court’ or protested against it, as after all, the BJP led government propagated that demonetization aka Note Bundi , was to stop protests in Kashmir, which it did not, and that, the step was to wean-out the black and fake currency notes in-circulation in India and stop corruption. The political parties, could not dare, seek to question, as no one wanted to be isolated at the altar of high-dose of jingoistic nationalism, stirred well, through the hundreds of media-houses as well as BJP propaganda outlets on social-media. Rs 500 notes were replaced while Rs 1000 notes were not, and instead, Rs 2000 notes were introduced.
How Modi’s government fared into curbing the counterfeit currency did not at all come as a surprise, as the whole exercise was ‘supposedly meant for that’(sic). It had become clear quite long back , that in fact Modi government facilitated the fake-currency be put into banks to make them become legal! A report in The National Herald, on February 4, 2019, 1 informed that ‘According to RBI’s annual reports, it printed only ₹14.11 lakh crore demonetized notes, but got ₹15.28 lakh crore. It indicates an excess of ₹1.16 lakh crore (₹11,66,50,00,00,000) coming back to banks. ’ It has now become exceedingly clear that the whole bogus exercise of demonetization was just as effort to legitimize the fake-currency of the country which was done in the name of love-for-nation(sic).
BJP favourite news anchors on chip inside Rs 2000 notes! (Courtesy: Internet)
In fact instead of quelling the misnomers, which is the prime objective of media-houses, a section of them became a part of the big misinformation industry, as BJP favourite news anchors cried hoarse that there was a chip installed inside Rs 2000 notes, which will be satellite connected, and which, therefore would be detected even if buried under 120-feet inside the ground, whence there was none. What all the anchors wanted was to anyhow legitimize the entire demonetization campaign i.e. that hoarders were to be nabbed etc, and accordingly, have gone mute over the way the illegal money has now been put back into our banking system.
But, now the big question is, has the fake currency, after the demonetization era, got overcome? The answer is a big NO. A report published in Dainik Bhaskar on September 18 2 has referred to the latest National Crime Record Bureau ( 2020) which says that a whopping increase of 190% has taken place in the recovery of fake-currency-notes! ‘NCRB report revealed, fake notes worth Rs 83.61 crore were recovered in Maharashtra in a year, fake currency seizures in the country increased by 190 percent. Despite the promotion and demonetization of digital transactions by the central government, the cases of fake Indian currency seizures in the country have not come down. In Maharashtra alone, in the year 2020, the police caught 6,99,495 Indian counterfeit notes from 97 people. Whose total value was Rs 83.61 crore. According to the latest NCRB report, 42 cases of fake currency seizures were registered in Maharashtra last year. According to the NCRB report, in the year 2020, 8,34,947 fake Indian currency worth a total of 92.18 crores were caught in the country. This is 190.5 percent more than the total fake Indian currency caught in 2019.’
The recovery of fake-currency has now become a national phenomenon! As NCRB has chronicled the state-wise recovery that shows the ‘maximum number of 81 cases were registered in West Bengal. After this 52 cases were registered in UP. In which 17,078 fake notes were recovered with the arrest of 55 people. Its total value was Rs 38.79 lakh. In Gujarat, 32 people were arrested in 23 cases. 20,360 fake notes were recovered here. Whose value was Rs 87.96 lakh. In Madhya Pradesh, 2,085 fake notes were found in 5 cases. Its total value was Rs 2,02 lakh. In Delhi, 3,476 fake notes were caught in 4 cases. Whose value was 4.16 lakh rupees. 14,444 fake notes were caught in Punjab. Whose value was Rs 95.80 lakh. Similarly, 6,190 fake notes were caught in
Rajasthan. Whose value was Rs 27.35 crore. Let us inform that a total of 633 people were arrested in the cases of fake notes caught in the year 2020 across the country. The NCRB report were holding a total of 834,947 counterfeit notes in the country by 2020.
The recovery of fake-currency notes on such a large scale, puts a question mark on the very exercise undertaken in the name of demonetization as counterfeit notes have refused to be curbed, so what was then otherwise the whole purpose of putting the nation into unending queues, even through the nights too? A video of Narendra Modi, is still available, on Times of India of November 14, 2016 3 , that poor were sleeping comfortably and rich were scurrying for sleeping pills as the drive was underway. How come a PM can befool the nation on such a large scale? Whereas, the fact is that more than 80 people died while standing in queues, tells Mumbai Mirror on December 27, 2016 4, in what was ostensibly the financial-genocide orchestrated on the country.
The wreckage which India has been made-to-go-through in 2016 will take decades to recover, as very soon in the aftermath of demonetization, a survey conducted by IFMR LEAD in six states , reported in The HinduBusinessLine on Jan 9 2018 5 had found that ‘ demonetization had severe adverse impact on the economic and financial lives of the poor.’ As if demonetization was not just enough then came the COVID-19 mishandling, in which millions perished as the Modi government could not even manage Oxygen to the deprived, and the worst gory scenes were all lit by the burning pyres of dead bodies on our river-beds.
The worst part in this entire milieu is that Rahul Gandhi, the leader of the principle opposition party, Congress, however, chose to go for a 10-days new-years’ holidaying January 2017, leaving the nation recuperating from the devastation of 50 days. India has been doubly hit, an irresponsible government and a further irresponsible opposition. No wonder, India will take the next 50 years to fully-recover, from the stupidity of November 8-December 30, 2016 fiasco. BJP is all likely to face to the answers as UP, the biggest Indian state, is to go for polls early next year.
The writer is a former UP State Information Commissioner, a lawyer and a political advisor.