Revisiting the demonetization survey: Juhi Tyagi

Guest Post by JUHI TYAGI

In light of the recent book, I Am A Troll: Inside the Secret World of the BJP’s Digital Diary authored by journalist Swati Chaturvedi which describes the working of the BJP’s media’s cell to systematically undermine dissenting opinions, we need to revisit other, seemingly innocuous, government media campaigns such as the demonetization survey and its use as a tool in bending into shape public opinion.

The demonetization survey was officially launched on 22nd November 2016 on the NM app by the government. Its purpose was to receive feedback from the people themselves on the validity of withdrawing 86 percent of the currency in circulation to address two problems: that of black money and counterfeit currency. The survey consisted of nine questions, with the tenth providing space for sharing suggestions. The questions dealt with people’s beliefs about the existence of black money in India and on its need to be eliminated. On their opinions of the government’s efforts against corruption, and more particularly, on the effectiveness of demonetization in ridding society of black money, all corruption and terrorism while creating opportunities for higher education, health care and affordable housing for all.

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Demonetization not a “war on black money” unless finances of political parties made accountable: Nishank Varshney

Guest Post by NISHANK VARSHNEY

While the common man is being subjected to infinite scrutiny and daily changing rules, the political parties enjoy to have a free-run at not disclosing a large part of their income, running into thousands of Crores. As long as the political parties continue to enjoy this exemption, the menace of black money cannot be said to have been tackled.

In one of the most unprecedented decisions in the Indian history that was taken on 8th November, 2016, the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, suddenly announced the cancellation of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes with a view of “eliminating black money”. Over the last seven weeks, the PM has regularly reiterated this stand, and called Demonetization a “war on black money” through his speeches at various election rallies, the survey on his mobile app, and most recently in his “Mann ki Baat” program on Sunday. However, Mr. Nasim Zaidi, the Chief Election Commissioner of India, recently expressed that “many political parties are being used as conduits for siphoning off black money”.

As per the Representation of the People Act, 1951 (RP Act), political parties are not required to report the names of the individuals or organizations from whom they have received donations of amounts less than Rs. 20,000. A study by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) has shown that these ‘unaccounted donations’ form a large part of political parties’ income. In the year 2014-15 alone, BJP declared an income of 505.26 Crore from unknown sources, while Congress received a sum of 445.22 Crore from unknown sources during the same time-period. At present, there are over 1700 registered political parties in India, and many political parties may have been misusing this exemption to convert their black money, as voiced by the Chief Election Commissioner. Continue reading “Demonetization not a “war on black money” unless finances of political parties made accountable: Nishank Varshney”

Corrupt Notes – the Black Comedy of Tragic Error: R Srivatsan

Guest post by R. SRIVATSAN

Reflections on the many paradoxes of the demonetization process: the schizophrenia of the BJP, the desire of the well to do, the baffling sacrifice of the have nots, the faults and fault lines that propagate through our society in crisis.

Narendra Modi and Arun Jaitley, in their brilliant strategy to kill black money through the withdrawal of currency, show no basic understanding of what the term ‘black money’ signifies.  Prabhat Patnaik has recently argued there is no such thing as black money – there is only a black economy.  However, one aspect of the black economy is the refusal to pay taxes and instead hoard wealth in the form of currency that is not recorded in bank deposits.  Another is the payment of bribes with untraceable currency to authorities and politicians who use their position of leverage as personal property on which they charge a rent for use. Both these uses of black money as corruption have a common lineage. In both cases, corruption is the failure of categories that were supposed to have been water-tight.  A) “All income is taxable” B) “Public servants are true servants of the people”

But first, here is an attempt to shake our convictions that the refusal to pay taxes is a moral evil.  To do so, let me take the example of a Hollywood film, Stranger than Fiction (2006).  The plot of this film, which has a quite complex fantasy storyline, baits the viewer’s desire through the emerging love interest between an IRS auditor Harold Crick and his investigative target Ana Pascal, who runs a bakery.  Ana is a conscientious objector against taxation. She argues that she openly defies taxation since she doesn’t support the hegemonic objectives of the USA which spends most of its revenue income on weapons of war and destruction.  Ana is thus the beautiful and charming face of morally upright conscientious objection which masks the libertarian hatred for a state that taxes more than minimally.  As Robert Nozick asserted long ago such taxation is seen as thievery, against the sacred right to private property.  Ana’s position thus also masks the refusal to redistribute wealth through welfare. As a viewer, I found it extremely difficult to think of Ana as an evil person.  She was the most charming free-spirit I had encountered on celluloid (well, on a TV screen) for a long time. The objective of this sub-plot of film criticism is to help the reader shed the ready moral judgement that not paying taxes is a universal crime and a sin against society, so that it becomes possible to examine exactly what the complex nature of the act that constitutes tax evasion is. Continue reading “Corrupt Notes – the Black Comedy of Tragic Error: R Srivatsan”

The Laziest Blog Post Ever Written – Educational reform and Demonetization

Remember the FYUP debacle? Remember (as repeatedly written about on Kafila as elsewhere) that it was the latest in a long series of badly-conceived, mindlessly-borrowed and forcibly-implemented ‘educational reforms’ that practically crippled universities around the country? And remember a certain Rev. Valson Thampu, authoritarian, controversy-soaked Principal of St. Stephens College and eager soldier for the reforms? Well Thampu, now-retired, has thrown his weight against demonetisation these days in a set of articles on The Daily O. Now the thing is, almost everything Thampu finds objectionable about monetary reform, can be said about educational reform.

No, literally, every single thing.

So I simply took his post and replaced some key words, to produce a post about education. I know, I know, it’s not nice to do this, especially when you know, he speaketh the truth on demonetisation and all. But it is too wonderful an opportunity to pass up, to not use Thampu’s own eloquent words to say, yet again, what he has steadfastly refused to listen to in the past. Besides, as I say above, this is the laziest blog post I have ever had to write – that’s always an incentive.

His article in the original can be read here.

POLITICS HIGHER EDUCATION | 5-minute 7-minute read | 22-12-2016 23-12-2006 VALSON THAMPU SUNALINI KUMAR

Continue reading “The Laziest Blog Post Ever Written – Educational reform and Demonetization”

Inedible India on the NaMo App “Survey” on Demonetization

The PMO claimed that more than 93 per cent of the five lakh people who participated in a survey on Narendra Modi App have supported demonetization.

The loaded structure of the survey, the questions to which you can only “agree” or “partially agree”, with no option to “disagree”; all of it is typical of this utterly corrupt and dishonest government which holds the people of India in contempt.

The most powerful response to this government is to mock it.

Take this, Namo!

From Inedible India

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Neocaligulaism: Thoughts from Kerala

 

In these insane times in our country and the world, one searches in the past desperately to make sense of the unfolding madness of the present. No wonder people have recalled Muhammad bin Tughlaq in the face of what has been described (rather misleadingly) by the neutral word ‘demonetisation’ – but as many have already pointed out in considerable detail, what we face is much more than a foolishly, irresponsibly-conceived act of monetary governance gone horribly wrong. Caligula is back, and neocaligulaism is the flavor of the season, across the world, one might say. Continue reading “Neocaligulaism: Thoughts from Kerala”