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Demonetisation: Govt propelling wishful narrative

One would assume that an economic decision as important as demonetisation was based on, and driven by, evidence and strong data. It is, however, clear by now that this decision has been taken without any robust assessment of the proportion of black money held in cash, the quantum of notes with the public, and the number of notes actually in circulation.

Even political decisions such as this have to be taken in a scientific manner. The decision was so secret, and the decision-making group so exclusive, that we might never know the basis for the decision. Even during the very challenging and complex process of implementation, it is clear that the government is in a knee-jerk decision-making mode, consistently ignoring the use of evidence to implement its own flawed policy.

The policy of demonetisation has clearly failed to meet its initial objectives. What is unforgivably worse is the pain and inconvenience caused to the entire citizenry due to a complete failure to take data, facts and capacities into consideration. When the government knew that it is pulling out Rs 15.3 trillion from the economy, it obviously refrained from assessing the number of days it would take to pour the equivalent quantum of currency back into the system, given the finite number of printing presses in operation. 

Clearly, no calculated logic was applied in the Prime Minister declaring that the situation would resolve itself by December 30, when even the most conservative estimates show that the process would take up to four months even when all goes well.

India has historically proven to be a country geared to implementing grand, one-time initiatives with skill and efficiency. A constitutional authority tasked with the critical responsibility of conducting fair and free elections every five years invests onerous amounts of time in scheduling poll dates, demarcating voting booths and fixing responsibilities on over 15 lakh officials based on a universe of factual information and data points. This is done with utmost precision to ensure that the process of voting takes place as planned without causing any distress to citizens. 

A decision like demonetisation that affects every single citizen of the country suggests not even a fraction of such discipline in its design and implementation.

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