OPINION

Letters to the editor: Nov. 13, 2016



Show me the money



The government’s sudden decision to demonetise Rs.500 and Rs.1,000 notes has led to an unprecedented rush to banks, causing panic in many places (“Stocking of ATMs with new notes to take longer: Jaitley”, Nov. 13). But a word must be said about the bank employees because of whom exchanges are going on smoothly in a lot of places. The policemen who are posted at these branches are also doing an excellent job of managing the crowds. In some branches, shamianas have been put up to guard people against the sun. Some people are even offering drinking water, buttermilk, biscuits and toffees! Last year, in Chennai, we had the generosity to commend the services of volunteers during the floods. Similarly, this year, we should commend the bank staffers for doing a great job in a difficult time like this.

V. Hemavathy,

Chennai



Some politicians have discredited themselves by their repeated fulminations against the demonetisation of Rs.500 and Rs.1,000 notes. Their anger should be directed at generators of black money, black marketers and those funding terrorist activities with unaccounted money. Political dignitaries such as the Chief Minister of Delhi and the former Union Finance Minister are revealing their prejudices through their comments. There is no doubt that this government did not do its homework thoroughly before springing this surprise, but the public, though inconvenienced to a large extent, is not unhappy.

It would be more appropriate to focus on how to make smooth and rapid the exchange of old notes. The credibility of the government can be ensured only if these long queues gradually disappear.

S. Vasudevan,

Secunderabad



There has been absolute chaos all over the country since the announcement. As many people are still in possession of cash that is no longer legal tender, their daily lives are getting affected and they are unable to procure necessities. The poor are the hardest hit since many of them are illiterate and are confused by the whole procedure. Trade and commerce have been hit. Perishable food items like fruits, vegetables, meat and fish are rotting in some parts of the country. There is no end in sight to the chaos for at least another week.

In all this uncertainty, the Finance Minister has been trying to calm the public by saying there is no need to rush; that people have time to exchange their notes. He has also been trying to reassure people that their money is safe in the banks. Arun Jaitley fails to understand that people are not worried about losing their money; they are rushing to get legal tender so that they can buy their daily necessities.

Furthermore, many people are being given Rs.2,000 notes when they go to a bank. This does not solve their problem since the new Rs. 500 notes are not available. If these had been made available, the chaos would have largely been contained. People have Rs.2,000 notes now, but others don’t have change to give them!

The way this whole process has been mismanaged will have an impact on India’s reputation as an economic power.

S. Kamat,

Santa Cruz



Introduction of Rs.2,000 notes was unwarranted. Instead, the government could have introduced new Rs.1,000 and Rs.500 notes with changes in design, and without changing the size of the new notes. This would not have necessitated reconfiguring the ATMs.

C. Amarasekaran,

Thiruvananthapuram



The Finance Minister has asked the public to use online transactions to reduce overcrowding at ATMs and banks. Despite India being the third largest Internet user in the world and the reported growth in the use of smartphones in rural areas, it is estimated that penetration of smartphones in the market is less than 30 per cent. There has been an increase in the number of bank accounts, but further increase has been plagued by issues like dormancy and duplication. Not everyone knows e-banking either. Given this scenario, one can only say that the Minister’s recommendation finds a parallel in history: Marie Antoinette saying, “Let them eat cake!”

Ilavenil. K,

Tiruchirapalli



While some things are entirely under the control of the RBI, the banks can take steps on their own to mitigate the sufferings of customers to some extent (“Different banks, different rules”, Nov. 13). For instance, I had gone to a bank to exchange my old notes. The exchange was over in ten minutes thanks to a separate queue for senior citizens. In contrast, at another bank, there was only one queue which I was asked to join.

P.G. Menon,

Chennai



It is a known fact that a large chunk of illegal money is not hoarded in the form of cash. It is generally converted to real estate, gold, jewellery, etc. Further, a large amount of such amassed wealth is stashed abroad, which comes back into the economy through tax havens. Only a portion of black money held in the form of cash re-enters the economy through banks. To unearth that minuscule amount by putting the entire population through all this hassle is not a wise step.

How do we know that all the black money stocked in the Indian economy will be recovered in this manner? Even if we assume that a person has unaccounted wealth to the tune of Rs. 10 crore, and that too in the form of Rs. 500 and Rs.1,000 notes, how do we know that he or she will deposit all this money in the bank himself/ herself? The person may take his/ her family’s help and deposit small amounts in different banks.

It is also said that demonetisation will help avert the circulation of fake currency notes printed across the border to finance terrorist activities in India. This argument seems only partially correct. No doubt, in the short run, it may help prevent circulation of counterfeit currency. But in the long run, the new notes may also turn black.

S.K. Khosla,

Chandigarh



The move has been hailed by most financial experts and by the common man. Experts have said that it will help the fight against terrorism and eradicate black money. However, many political leaders who are against the move are using unparliamentary and abusive language to criticise the Prime Minister. These statements do not suit the stature of any civilised Indian citizen.

K.A. Solaman,

Alappuzha, Kerala



The rise of nativism



The writer has provided a very intelligent analysis of the American electoral system and has rightly conveyed his frustration at not being welcome in the U.S. now because of the colour of his skin (“The short arc that led to Donald Trump,” Nov. 12). Looking at the world right now, it seems like nativism is dominating. Whether it is Nigel Farage in Britain or Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, a new era has risen. The fall of a liberal economist like Dr. Manmohan Singh and the rise of a right-wing government in India was an early sign of the times to come.

Ritesh Raj,

Bihar

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