Only an authoritarian govt can cause such misery to people: Prof Amartya Sen on demonetisation

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| Wednesday, November 30, 2016 - 12:40
First Published |
Amartya Sen, Demonetisation, NDA government, Narendra Modi, Black money, Rs 500, Rs 1000, Rs 2000, Currency ban,

The Bharat Ratna recipient expressed doubt about whether pain would result in gain

New Delhi: Nobel laureate and India's most renowned economist Professor Amartya Sen critically censured the NDA government for the abrupt introduction of demonetisation where at least 85% of the total currency in India was declared as not legal tender post November 8.

The Thomas W Lamont University Professor, in an interview to The Indian Express, said that the move reeked of the authoritarian nature of the government. “Telling the public suddenly that the promissory notes you have, do not promise anything with certainty, is a more complex manifestation of authoritarianism, allegedly justified — or so the government claims — because some of these notes, held by some crooked people, involve black money. At one stroke the move declares all Indians — indeed all holders of Indian currency — as possibly crooks, unless they can establish they are not,” he said.

Asked about people lining up outside banks to withdraw their own money and whether this inconvenience would, in any way, affect the outcome of their businesses in the long run, Sen said, "Only an authoritarian government can calmly cause such misery to the people — with millions of innocent people being deprived of their money and being subjected to suffering, inconvenience and indignity in trying to get their own money back."

“It is hard to see how. This will be as much of a failure as the government’s earlier promise of bringing black money stacked away abroad back to India (and giving all Indians a sudden gift — what an empty promise!). The people who are best equipped to avoid the intended trap of demonetisation are precisely the ones who are seasoned dealers in black money — not the common people and small traders who are undergoing one more misery in addition to all the deprivations and indignities from which they suffer."

The Bharat Ratna recipient expressed doubt about whether pain would result in gain as promised by the government. “Good policies sometimes cause pain, but whatever causes pain — no matter how intense — is not necessarily good policy," he said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a recent speech, announced that India would be moving to less-cash economy after holding the narrative of black money wipeout.  

 

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