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The last three weeks the Indian Diaspora has been witness to an entire gamut of human responsiveness encompassing shock, disbelief, fear, anger, chaos and even helplessness at times. Nevertheless, one feeling that has still survives the onslaught of all these is none other but the basis of our existence - HOPE. Since this is an unparalleled event in Indian history, it would be short-sightedness to predict its impact. So what’s left for us to do is merely hope the virtues far outreach the vices emerging from this.

The proponents and the opponents both possess their fair share of arguments based on their theoretical knowledge and series of assumptions. While, its heart-warming to see that almost everyone across the spectrum is convinced about the need for stringent measures to curb the growing menace in our society its implementation has come under severe criticism. In the backdrop of such deep rooted divisions, it’s worth to analyse a few major highlights of this game changing event.

At one point of time or other we all have been a victim of corruption and honestly speaking even the reason for its genesis. From the corridors of power to the pillars of holy shrines, money has been for long adopted as the unequivocal answer to all hardships and the easiest way out of all troubles. So its harsh to blame only a few for it. Corruption is a disease which has entrenched all strata's of our society and perhaps the only tradition that has broken our walls of caste, creed and religion and there may be only be a handful who can claim to be complete white and I salute them.  Hence, it would be an understatement to say we needed a cure. We needed a surgery. The fact that it came in this manner is a rude shock, but, undoubtedly the necessity of time. The menace of corruption and resultant black money had to be curbed and mere formulation of laws was not the solution to it. We needed something more pervasive, something which leaves no one out of its purview, and in this light, this is a welcome step. It affects each one of 1.21 billion individuals in the same way. Its impact on each one of them differs on their possession but no one can claim to be untouched. As such, it passes the test of discrimination. And this very pervasive nature is a thorn in its crown. Many have been subject to undue hardship for putting in place all that is legitimately theirs. But then, when you paint a house, you paint it in entirety, not merely the discoloured portion.

Its necessity being justified, we come down to its implementation which has been a subject of harsh criticism and to some extent rightly so. While commenting on the suddenness, it does not require to be a scholar to understand that such drives need to be out of the blue. It is widely commented that it could have been done about in a better manner. But then “better” is itself a relative concept, a comparison with a point of reference, And there is no precedence of such kind of massive exercise anywhere in the world let alone in our country. Moreover, with the kind of diversity we boast of, it was always going to be challenge to implement an action of this scale. What could have been better done was probably a gradual strengthening of the institutions that are carrying out this exercise; Nearly 70% of our population reside in rural areas which have nearly just 20-30% of the total no of ATMs of our country. The advent of digital banking in these areas is still a far cry and speaking of the role of financial technologies like e-wallets is like adding insult to injury. It is tough to imagine that even 70 years after Independence, the administration is still in the process financial inclusion. Hence, living in denial of such flaws that exist can hardly be justified. The situation in urban areas has largely normalised. The rural areas still require deep and immediate attention. The consistent changes in methods might be construed as lack of clarity by some, but personally I feel they need to be appreciated for the degree of responsiveness and dynamism displayed, something rarely associated with our bureaucracy. However, a much more coordinated methodology and prior logistic planning would have made the journey a lot smoother.

Finally we come to the most crucial aspect of this entire demonetisation move: that of its effects. While those supporting the move have long hailed the transformational nature of the decision, critics have by and large been sceptical. The idea that it can overnight free our nation from the iron chains of corruption and black money does seem to be a bit of an illusion. Nevertheless, what cannot be denied is that it sure will bring a metamorphic change in our approach and attitude. Fear at times is the best teacher. And it is making many shiver. For the first time in our history, black money has become a topic of common parlance. The honest have definitely found something to be proud of and the dishonest are doing all they can to come out clean. From tea vendors to taxi drivers, PAYTM has become the new mantra, and it has for sure crossed the divide of being the progeny of the educated and elite. Our preferences are seldom determined by our necessities and we should be proud that we are adapting the change in a stride for a more comfortable and smooth future. I would not prefer to delve into the figurative world of GDP and corporate earning, but rather these nuances of daily life where we are actually seeing the change around the place where we live. The impetus on tax collection and black money at times seem over emphasised. What should be more important is the money it brings into the circulation of the economy from the iron chests within the brick and mortar structures to the seamless world of digitisation . Estimates of this are highly varied but a glance around us is enough to make us realize what it can amount to. And more important than this, is the mammoth task of delivering on the financial inclusion front, which it seeks to achieve at one singular strike. And if not for anything else, this I find is the most compelling reason why we need to support the move.

And herein lies the responsibility for us, the members of the financial fraternity. Moving beyond the controversies of changing of colour, we need to play a more proactive and educational role in transforming the society we live in. As members of the financial community we need to clear doubts and misgivings and encourage people to be a part of this financial system. The fear needs to be replaced with confidence and we are best positioned to play this role and I hope that we stand up to this challenge and deliver on it.

As for the change it promises to bring, only time will tell what we achieved out of it. Till then we need to play our role in making the ride smoother for all of us.


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Category Income Tax, Other Articles by - Akash Gupta 



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