Though I am no economist to comment or criticize on an economic policy with technical rigor, I do have a common understanding of common people being one among them. This is a perception of that common view and understanding.
No doubt that corruption and black money are one of the issues faced by India and its people as a country. It is required to device plans to unearth those. But are unearthing process just easy like a tense climax of a cinema? My little conscience says it otherwise.
The strategy of replacing the old money with new one is a good move to control bogus notes. Doing it with immediate effect does provide a way to negate all possible circulating bogus currencies. And, replacing currencies with newer ones has been in practice every few years for various reasons including eradicating bogus currencies making it not the first of its kind (Overnight change being the difference!).
The next suggested expectation out of this particular move is to unearth or invalidate the black money hidden in darkness. This quite looks good an intention and bold move at the onset, but it very much has its own adverse effects. First and foremost, what does this target as black money? Does it refer to the high end money laundering deposited in foreign accounts or the savings of average to low income people without receipts? Does it refer to all the assets and holdings named after Benamis or the common people having earned money through selling milk, or other household activities without bill? Does it look into people who are sophisticated enough to swipe of cards for expense or the people who find it hard to maintain a bank account and manage their own savings? The list goes on.
To exactly quote the finance minister
“”If the money is legitimate which had been previously withdrawn from bank or earned legally and saved and had been disclosed, there is nothing to worry about,”
“The small amounts that people will deposit like INR 25,000, 30,000 or 50,000 lying in house for expenses, whatever money could be there for meeting normal family expenses they need not worry. They can go to banks,”
Which very much is a contradiction of each other statement.
It is also noted that, any amount greater than INR 4000 will be only deposited into respective bank accounts. According to statistics as of 2015 April, there are around 40 % people in India without bank accounts. Even if there is a 10 % hike in this numbers by now, still there is a lag of 30% population without bank accounts. 43 % of such open bank accounts are dormant accounts (with nil activity), highest of its kind in the world. And out of all the account holders, only 39 % possess the knowledge to use or use an ATM card. There are n number of reasons for the 39% which is not just money laundering.
With all these data, I believe that the common people with an average to low earning and who are ignorant to technology still account to a great share in our society. So, it is even more important to educate people with the banking requirements before pulling of a drastic decision. The most possible response for the above statement from supporters would be the fact that “People were advised for the past year to open a bank account and use using various governmental measures”. Yes, that is true. But is it satisfying for to have a campaign just to ask people to create accounts? Or is it necessary for the government to educate people and address all complexes they possess over banking and move them smoothly towards it?
Finally, the immediate effect on the common people is of a greater concern. 4 hour time is never enough for a near 130 crore population to stock up with required change to tackle the situation. It is easy to argue on the element of surprise cultivated by the sudden decision, but that would least challenge big shots who hold money as various assets more than liquid cash. Yes, it may target middle level launderers but along with it challenges the very routine of small scale businesses like a retail shop of their hard earned money. And situations of people in travel, people with celebrations around, people staying away from home is a question of its own. Though routed as 2 days sacrifice for the betterment of greater good by the government. The sacrifice is really asked from the people at grass roots, not from the sophisticated bunch in comparison.
Overall, a bold move but taken with an autocratic decision making and a bottom up approach, challenging big corporate laundering the least and an average man the most is what makes the decision disappointing. Yes, we need a transparent banking system and this eyes an example, but the example should be set from the elite society rather than affecting and challenging the common people first.