An ‘unavoidable’ haste days before the historic DeMo decision is slowly exposed. The haste was reportedly caused by the leak about printing of Rs 2000 notes around a week before November 8, the D Day. The small group led by Modi in the mega operation feared the whole plot could be leaked now. So was the haste – the DeMo date preponed by over a week. On November 8, the banks still had the rush of salaried people withdrawing their money. Many working in the unorganised sector get their salaries as late as third or fourth week of the month. The plan was not for Nov 8, but later.

It was immediately appreciated by the national media as a ‘surgical strike’ on black money, almost repeating what exactly Modi has said in his televised address to the nation at 8 pm on November 8. But the language (of government) has changed now. The opposition is now questioning the changing ‘reasons’ given for the DeMo drive. Why the change from black money to cashless economy? Was Digital India campaign not enough? Why there are sops now to transact money through electronic modes? Arun Jaitley could have announced the 0.75% discount on petrol purchase through credit/debit cards earlier too. Such a decision would have takers then also.

It appears the serious shortage of new cash in the economy has made the government nervous. The initial but unavoidable haste compounded the crisis. The government is in search of every means to try to move the people towards digital transactions. The purpose of giving such sudden subsidies is not only to promote cashless economy, which is a very long exercise involving people’s habit and depends on digital awareness. Long queues before banks and ATMs and people’s increasing frustration have threatened to turn the ‘surgical strike’ into a historic blunder of the Modi government. By announcing the sops for electronic transactions, the government has just fallen short of begging people to rescue it by going digital.

(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on December 10, 2016)

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