Ever since the government of India announced demonetization of high value currency notes on November 8, there have been noisy protests from a section of politicians, economists and so-called free thinkers.
However, the common man in India seem to be showing enormous understanding of the strategy of the Modi government to eradicate corruption, for which demonetization is seen as one of the many steps needed.
The critics have deplored the demonetization exercise as wasteful and counter productive and vouch that the objectives of demonetization to remove black money and corruption in the country would not be realized.
Further, they have repeatedly highlighted the pain and hardships that have happened to cross section of country men due to cash crunch and have accused Modi government of carrying out hasty exercise without forward planning.
While none of the critics have openly spoken against the objective of curbing corruption, black money and fake currency, they have questioned the demonetization measure taken by Modi government. However, none have suggested any appropriate alternate strategy to achieve the objectives or given any useful advice to the government as to how it could have gone through the demonetization exercise without causing hardships to the people.
While Prime Minister Modi has said that it would take around fifty days to restore full level of normalcy after announcing demonetization and people have been requested to put up with the problems with understanding of the objectives, the critics are not buying such appeal and are becoming more critical day by day.
While during the last three weeks after demonetization, there have been considerable cash crunch in the country, print and television media have been prominently discussing about the hardships to the people instead of highlighting adequately the positive reaction to the government’s demonetization decision.
Understanding shown by the common man
Of course, the government of India has been explaining the objectives of the demonetization exercise in various forums, repeatedly modified the announcements in response to the ground scenario and have clearly declared that this would be the first step in rooting out black money and corruption and further stringent measures would follow. The government has also explained the need to keep secrecy before making announcement about demonetization, explained the reason for the time taken for recalibrating the 0.23 million ATMs and the fact that the new high value currency notes cannot be printed in advance by several weeks to maintain the required secrecy.
The doomsayers and section of politicians have predicted that there would be huge public unrest and violence on December 1, which is the pay day, for the salaried class due to the continuing crash crunch and the restrictions imposed on cash withdrawal amount from the banks.
However, nothing of this sort has happened. What is particularly noteworthy is the fact that, by and large ,people who are not involved in corrupt dealings or hold black money or belong to any political class have put up with the problems patiently and with understanding.
Common man want demonetization to succeed
Ever since India attained independence from British rule, for seventy years now, the level of corruption among government machinery, business houses and even in other sector such as hospitals and educational institutions have been climbing steadily. Common man have been forced to pay bribe and become part of corrupt society helplessly, as nothing could be got done without greasing the palm.
Millions of Indians belonging to middle and lower income group have been longing for several years that government would take the most stringent steps to eradicate corruption in the country and stop the generation of black money.
When Mr. Narendra Modi declared that he would fight corruption at any cost and followed it by demonetization measures and further assured that he would take further stringent measures, he has really caught the imagination of the people and raised their expectations and hope.
Is Mr Modi now riding a tiger?
Some Chief Ministers like Mr. Nitish Kumar of Bihar belonging to the opposition parties have appreciated Modi government’s decision to demonetize the high value currency as a strategy to root out black money, fake currency and corruption. This indicates that support for Mr. Modi’s efforts have even come from section of opposition parties, apart from most of the country men.
Now, there is huge expectations that Mr. Modi would take the fight against corruption to the logical end. However, with a government machinery that is not very efficient and part of which is corrupt itself and with section of media highlighting the negatives more than the positives and section of politicians determined to paint Mr. Modi as hasty and arrogant, Mr. Modi certainly has a very hard task ahead.
Mr. Modi is now riding a tiger. He can’t get down without taming it, as otherwise, the tiger would maul him. Obviously, Mr. Modi knows this and has shown extraordinary courage of conviction.
The nation is watching anxiously.