The major number of seizures of notes – old and new – has justified the demonetization move. Crores have been recovered from individuals at Bengaluru, Delhi, Dimapur, Guwahati and so on. The recoveries in lakhs are not even reported. Many a times, income tax personnel are mum on such recoveries, for reasons best known to them. It is actually astonishing as to why only one or two news of note seizures have been reported whereas it was suggested that money launderers are targeting the north-eastern states. The Dimapur incident where one chartered plane brought Rs 3.5 crore banned notes, ostensibly to convert into new notes. Tribals in the region have the advantage of not paying income tax, and believed to escape the IT dragnet.

However, the money seizures elsewhere suggest the rot in the system and the need for the DeMo overhaul. It’s expected that all the trails of huge deposits would be followed in due course of time and punitive action taken against the hoarders. This is a huge exercise and needs tremendous manpower. It’s a warlike situation. The results of such a mammoth exercise cannot be expected within days. Two weeks have still left till December 30, the deadline to deposit the old money. There is hardly any common man yet to deposit his own Rs 500-1000 old notes. All the deposits of old notes in the coming days are set to face scrutiny. Black money holders will try every means to get their old cash exchanged till the last day. The desperation might lead to more seizures. The recovery rate might jump after December 30, when the agencies will have lesser task at hand as banks would no longer be able to accept the banned notes.

Strong action is expected on a huge number of bank personnel, without whose ‘cooperation’ new notes in crores would not have gone to the wrong hands. The ban has exposed a lot of people across various sectors. Lakhs and crores underwent the pain – some thought the pain is worth it given the menace of black money. But, a small section of the poor is suspected to be ‘benefited’ by the black money hoarders. Amid such complex situation, it’s still a suspense how Modi will justify his action after ‘50 days’ he sought from the nation. Is there any more surprise waiting? Let’s wait.

(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on December 16, 2016)

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