Demonetisation has been a target of heavy criticism both nationally and internationally. The legitimacy of the note-ban was questioned on many aspects. Now, veteran journalist Barkha Dutt too has joined the global debate.
Writing for Washington Post, Barkha argued that in a country where 90% of the transactions were made in cash, the announcement of invalidation of Rs 1000 and Rs 500 notes was meant to shut down the parallel economy run by tax evaders but due to bad planning people ended up being harassed.
Drawing a parallel with former prime minister Indira Gandhi’s speech in early seventies, Barkha wrote, “The audacity of Modi’s demonetization decision and the centralization of power it represents has drawn many parallels with Indira’s actions in the 1970s. His notes ban has especially drawn comparisons with Gandhi’s move to nationalize India’s banks in 1969.”
“Modi’s blend of disruptive individualism, strongman politics and old-style welfare economics falls back on more government, rather than less, as the primary vehicle of change. The ’70s deja vu has confirmed one thing — “Modinomics” is not quite the right-of-center Thatcherite model that many of his supporters may have expected. Indeed, in India, we are back to the future,” Barkha added.
Quoting PM Modi speech from recent rally, where he said “They say- remove Modi, I say, remove corruption” Barkha Dutt wrote that it was a replica of Indira Gandhi’s in 1971, “They say – remove Indira, I say, remove poverty.”
She argued that while PM Modi had asked only for 50 days, but two months have passed and the question to be asked now is what exactly did the decision of demonetisation achieve.
Writing about the lack of public outrage despite their continuous sufferings, Barkha Dutt said that it was because of ‘Modi’s masterful management of the political messaging.’
She writes, “By branding his decision as a ‘fight against corruption, black money, fake notes and terrorism,’ Modi has converted demonetization into a test of courageous patriotism. Playing on Gandhi’s mantra of being a messiah for the poor, Modi astutely positioned the notes ban as a modern day morality play where ‘sacrifice’ is key to being a good citizen… In an age of strident hyper-nationalism, the BJP has craftily encouraged the narrative that those opposing demonetization are fat-cat traitors who are too indolent to be part of a great national movement.