The Supreme Court and the National Green Tribunal have passed a bunch of directives to the Government of India and the state governments of Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan over the last few years to ensure that people living in here get to breathe not so polluted air. However, no one seems to be bothered apart from producing some knee-jerk reactions when the whole area turns into a gas chamber.
Odd-even plying of cars is the only thing ‘Lokpal for all ills’ Arvind Kejriwal can think of even as his colleagues in Punjab defy the State Government to burn agriculture waste that mainly is the cause of the killer smog that has descended on the national capital and surrounding areas. Doubletalk comes easily for AAP. Haryana’s Manohar Lal is busy asking teachers to do puja in temples, Punjab’s Amarinder Singh passes the buck to the Centre while Rajasthan is busy burying cases against those who killed Junaid. No one is bothered about the alarming level of pollution that has blanketed Delhi and surrounding areas.
And what is the PM doing? In the last three days when the people of the national capital were ‘sent to the gas chambers’ Narendra Modi is busy sending messages of assurance on extra fuel for Sri Lanka, meeting the Prince of Wales and flagging of a train to Bangladesh. He was also busy spinning a narrative on the demonetisation anniversary. I wonder whether all these people don’t need to breathe. At least Kejriwal may soon go for vipasana to Bengaluru. But what stuff are the rest made of that they can ignore a national emergency they experience first-hand?
In the run up to the first anniversary of the national disaster triggered by Government of India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told an election rally in Himachal Pradesh that if “Indira Gandhi had done what was needed to be done, then the NDA government would not have needed to carry out demonetisation.”
Politicians get away by fibbing quite often because the media and the opponents lack an institutional memory or/and guts to question such questionable claims.
It is true that there was a recommendation for withdrawing high denomination notes submitted to Indira Gandhi in the late 1960s. However, given the burden of the Bangladesh liberation war, there was no way Indira Gandhi could have even thought of implementing it.
It can be safely said, however, that she could have easily withdrawn high denomination notes to ‘fight black money’ during the Emergency era. There was no Constitution or anyone to question her or the extra constitutional authority of her son Sanjay Gandhi. For arguments sake let’s say Indira Gandhi did not want to hurt black money hoarders because they were her supporters.
That was the political reason given when the Morarji Desai government withdrew Rs 10,000, Rs 5,000 and Rs 1,000 in 1978. There was no indication that the move hit the Congress or Indira Gandhi even if the allegation that black money hoarders were linked to the party was true. The Janata Party soon fell after irreconcilable internal differences. Despite a split in her party and cases foisted against her, Indira Gandhi stormed back to power in 1980 and there was no dearth of funds for her party to fight the crucial elections despite demonetisation. So the theory that black money was hoarded in big denomination notes by those who were close to the Congress was busted even before the Bharatiya Janata Party was born.
From then to the time she was assassinated, the highest denomination of Indian currency was Rs 100. Denomination of Rs 500 was introduced for the first time in 1987 after major cash transactions using Rs 100 became cumbersome. The Vajpayee Government introduced Rs 1000 in the new millennium for the same reason. So what does Modi mean ‘he would not have had to do it if Indira Gandhi had done it?’
Incidentally, a Government committee report on the 1978 demonetisation had said that it was ineffective in curbing black money. This was almost 40 years ago. Yet, some ‘swadeshi economists’ suggested the same remedy when Modi assumed power in 2014 when avenues to park ill-gotten cash for tax evaders had increased several folds.
The ignoramus advisers of Modi never realised that several people did businesses benefitting poor lower middle-class and labourers using this tax evaded money and they had contributed to the economy. A year after the demonetisation, Modi’s Government is still trying to weave a yarn on the glories of the disaster despite key economic indicators pointing to a slowdown in growth. Since Indians write the date before the month, the apt name for demonetisation is 8/11. There is no doubt that it has been an economic disaster greater than America’s 9/11.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was recently in Chennai for the platinum jubilee celebrations of the Tamil newspaper ‘Dina Thanthi’. Modi’s interest in Tamil Nadu and its politics makes sense for the 2019 elections although all the calculations of his party of making a dent in the Tamil Nadu politics have not borne any fruit so far. (The only thing the BJP has managed is to control the different leaders of the faction-ridden ruling AIADMK with the help of the Enforcement Directorate and Central Bureau of Investigation).
One of the tweets from @PMOIndia on November 6, quoting the PM’s speech delivered at the function said: “I have often heard people wonder as to how the amount of news that happens in the world every day always just exactly fits the newspaper: PM @narendramodi on a lighter note.”
One had to admit that it was quite a witty quote on the media even if it came from someone who has not held a press conference as PM. That was until it was revealed that Jerry Seinfeld of the Seinfeld TV show fame had tweeted on May 29, 2013: “It's amazing that the amount of news that happens in the world every day always just exactly fits the newspaper.” The deep research that Modi’s media managers do are indeed amazing.
Mukul Roy of the Trinamool Congress faces several cases related to the Sharda Chit Fund scam but the BJP had no hesitation in admitting him into the party. The son of Sukh Ram of the original telecom scam too recently joined the BJP. Modi during his Chennai trip also met DMK patriarch Karunanidhi whom he had attacked for the 2G scam. I am waiting for the PM to declare that the BJP is like the Ganga, which traditional Hindus believe can cleanse one of one’s sins.
( firstname.lastname@example.org)(Published on 13th November 2017, Volume XXIX, Issue 46)