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The Tree & The Puppy

The Tree & The Puppy

Almost 34 years ago, many members of the Congress party led mobs to commit ghastly murders against innocent Sikhs just because two community members assassinated Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and some more had started a secessionist movement against India.

However, Congressmen were not alone. Anti-socials and people driven by a mob mentality, participated in the carnage, looting and vandalism. According to the testimony of several prominent people, including former PM Manmohan Singh, members of an organisation that propagates a distorted sense of nationalism too were involved in the riots mainly concentrated in Delhi.

The police was ineffective, even as several citizens sheltered Sikhs at the risk of their lives. Congress as a party governing the Centre did not act forcefully to curb the riots faster and save thousands. It never allowed proper investigations and put all the accused on trial. Hence, Congress primarily has to be held responsible for the riots, for not bringing most rioters to book and not serving justice for the families of the victims.

The 1984 riots stand out because of the large-scale violence and deaths. However, many who keep raking up the anti-Sikh riots don’t have any intention of providing justice for the victims. Theirs is a political cause against Congress.

Since it will be impossible to find evidence to prosecute anyone afresh decades later, the effort now should be to fully rehabilitate all victims of the carnage and make sure that they are not led astray by Khalistan movement revivalists. Also all cases pending in courts should be put on fast track so that those who have to give evidence are not made to live a life of misery trying to recollect the horror.

Several governments hostile to the Congress have been in power for several years since 1984, including the current one. None have tried to bring the issue to a closure by completing rehabilitation and fast-tracking cases against the likes of Sajan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler as no one is interested in ensuring justice. The anti-Sikh riots of 1984 is a political weapon for the BJP, Shiromani Akali Dal and Khalistan sympathisers.

Despite this, the issue has stopped fetching electoral dividends during elections. The Congress has won power in Punjab several times, apologised for the riots and made a Sikh the PM, the only non-Hindu to hold the post till date. The media that by reflex keeps asking for each generation of Gandhi to apologise have never asked why non-Congress governments have never ensured justice to the victims. It also conveniently forgets to ask why Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not apologised for the Gujarat riots.

A dead Rajiv Gandhi’s remark is quoted by half to make him a monster, but no one has the gumption to ask why Modi as Chief Minister of Gujarat made umpteen number of provocative remarks immediately after the Godhra train burning and why the riots in Gujarat went on for months after February 2002.

‘To know the car in which one is travelling has crushed a puppy will be painful to a passenger as one is a human being’ is Modi’s remorseful best about the 2002 riots. When the media is fine with such a remark of a sitting PM but remains obsessed with ‘the giant tree’s fall shaking the earth’ remark of an erstwhile PM, dead for more than 25 years, one must infer democracy in India is in danger.

Demo Loss Figures

The Reserve Bank of India has finally finished counting currency notes withdrawn from circulation. Its report says that more than 99% of the notes were returned. The Modi Government had expected a third of the withdrawn currency to be black money and would not be returned.

However, the RBI report shows that none who had black money was willing to suffer the loss. The difference between the total value of currency that was in circulation and what has returned is roughly Rs 1,300 crore. Banks have spent almost a similar amount just for recalibrating ATM trays to fit new notes of different sizes. That means, there was zero gain from demonetisation. Also, there is roughly Rs 1,000 crore of old Indian currency Nepal wants to exchange with India. That makes demo a Rs 1,000 crore loss. 

Now take into account the money spent on printing and transporting new notes. That figure stands at Rs 12,000 crore. If we minus the amount that would have been spent for printing and transporting notes in normal times, the nation still spent Rs 8,000 crore extra. That’s a total Rs 9,000 crore loss from Modi’s demonetisation.

Aims of demonetisation for Prime Minister Narendra Modi were to check black money, terrorism, Maoism and fake currency. RBI’s report and reports of violence from the borders and Maoist regions suggest demonetisation failed to meet any of the goals.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley added digitisation and remonetisation as goals in the weeks following demonetisation. Use of currency notes at the moment is much more than it was before demonetisation, says the report. Digitisation is progressing only at the pace prior to demonetisation.

As far as Jaitley’s remonetisation claims, the Indian economy actually witnessed a slump for several straight quarters. More than a million jobs were lost during the period. Hindsight goals were not met either. Jaitley, however, has come up with a new goal now: He says in his latest blog that demonetisation was meant to make citizens tax compliant.

While some of the smart Alecs who deposited several crores in their banks may have tapped the services of chartered accountants to pay tax on them, Jaitley does not give the total extra money that has accrued to the exchequer by the extra tax compliance recorded. An honest Finance Minister would show the income and expenditure of demonetisation on a simple balance sheet and tell fellow citizens how much the country has lost and admit that it was a gamble that did not pay off.

Tailpiece

More pieces of the Rafale deal are tumbling out of the closet. The Indian Express says that just two days before French President Hollande came to India to sign a MoU with Prime Minister Narendra Modi for delivering 36 Rafale aircraft, Anil Ambani’s Reliance Entertainment signed a deal to produce a film with Hollande’s partner-actor Julie Gayet.

So, Hollande gets a movie for his partner, Anil Ambani gets Dassault offset and life service contracts, HAL loses them and the Modi government decides to pay Rs 36,000 crore more for 36 jets of the same weapon configuration negotiated by UPA Government, minus technology transfer. What’s left is to find Rs 36,000 crore’s real beneficiary.

( abey.kay@gmail.com)

(Published on 03rd September 2018, Volume XXX, Issue 36)