Monday, December 05, 2016

Right to Steal

Vasu Reddy from Chicago

The process of demonetization by Modi government in India is first commendable.  Trying to bring the society to be honest (at least try to be civil to each other and to the country) is a promise that Modi spoke of while canvassing to become the PM of the largest democracy in the world.  To force the cheater’s to stop hoarding ill gotten wealth, and also stop the terror and antinational activities from faking the currency and funding atrocities on Indians on Indian soil, all of this is effort that should have been national priority from 1947, but now it is becoming a reality.  Just demonetizing currency might not be the only way to stop tax cheaters and anti-nationals, but it certainly is one of the effective ways to curb the actions that hurt the country.

The effects of demonetization are immediate in brining all the 500 and 1000 notes back into the accounting, and weather the money is white or black, the Indian banking system can now account for how much of the money legally in circulation is exchanged, and also identifying and destroying fake currency that essentially funds terror in the country.  Both accounting all the legally issued notes and eliminating the fake notes, in one go is necessary for the national security.

If even a small portion of the existing currency is not returned into the banking system (which is being destroyed in many ways) the country benefits from the liability.  The country essentially eliminates the terror funding by demonitizing the fake currency.  Both add to the positive balance sheet of the nation.  At the time of writing this column, the terror funding has completely stopped, and at least a 10% to 30% of all 500 and 1000 notes might never be back into the system from the cheaters and hoarders, adding a big positive to the national treasury.  Also, all the declared currency, and the income tax and penalties that are derived, definitely adds to the positive national balance sheet, and also millions of accounts all of a sudden have money in them instead of zero balances.  However you look at it the demonetizing flushes out a lot of back money, completely eradicates fake currency and wind fall for income tax authorities, and new money in the banking system.  Irrespective of the political hoopla by the opposition parties, this is an economic maneuver that was long overdue by India.

The long lines in front of the banks to exchange and the difficulties faced by common man in doing daily chores are real.  The government did not plan well to tackle the demonetization and exchange of notes.  But announcing the demonetization ahead of time would have simply defeated the very purpose of eliminating black money and fake money from the economic cycle.  For politicians in opposition this is a short term political opportunity, but for general public it’s a nuisance that is temporary, and for people who don’t use banking it is of non consequence.  For middle income families the demonetization has become a daily soap opera, watching and wondering about why India is still with poor people ad shanty towns, and without toilets.  The ill gotten wealth is thrown into rivers, burnt, dumped in garbage or on roads, flush down the toilets, and every which way it can be thrown away, but not given to some cause that really needs help.  While the public watches the destruction of money with irony, the attitude towards the ill-gotten wealth.  The money could be declared with a fine, given to charity, given to armed forces, given to places of worship, and many a worthy causes, but the persons/s who obtain wealth illegally seldom think of society and others around them.  The money was and is still being destroyed, the very fabric of the people who accumulate massive and ill gotten wealth.

India for several centuries has seen looted and the looting is engrained into the fabric of life of both people in power and the common man.  No matter at what level of life, society just steal is the motto, and corruption is a way of life.  India is a country with millions of places of worship, holy men and women in every corner and religion as a way of life, but stealing without abandon is a part of routine; such irony.

Even with a few weeks into demonetization, the intelligence bureaus are still unearthing vast amounts of old notes, and also freshly minted notes.  How is it possible to already stash new notes in such short order, with restrictions imposed on individuals?  Is the banking system itself engaged in corruption, how is Modi going to watch the keeper’s who are supposed to stop the corruption?  Modi certainly needs the next level of controls to stop the banker’s from engaging in the continued looting.

While the country goes thru the drama of demonetization, the NRI folks were offered clear directions on how to exchange their INR.  First and foremost the US Banks and currency exchanges were less than welcoming to take the INR.  There are very few Indian bank locations in the USA for most Indians to drive and exchange their INR.  The idea to send the INR to India with proof of residency, and authorization letter to someone who can deposit of exchange money in India was also a good proposal, considering most NRI will have some money in INR with them.  Sending money to India with authorization for a local person to transact them was a affording the folks to not to throw their money away, rather get it back into the banking system.

A personal story here; I did follow the instructions on sending money to India.  I prepared an affidavit to the bank, attached a copy of passport and drivers license, provided the Indian bank details and also included in my communications the local persons contact details and included the INR by airmail, and sent it to India.  I double checked the process with my contact in India, and sent it off.  Did not think of the mail and money for about four weeks, and I got a message from India.  Everything I sent to India was received but the currency was missing.  I was shocked, and now have no way of tracking the money lost in sending it to India.  Here I am, followed every instructions given by Indian authorities to account for my money to India, but someone simply decided to take my money, and there is absolutely nothing I can do about it.  I just wasted a lot of time, effort and my money in the process.  I wanted to do the right thing, but with India nothing right is really the right thing.

Indian systems are built to steal.  I simply can’t imagine how many people went thru the same process as I did, and wanted to follow the guidelines but got their money stolen.  With India and Indian systems, you really can’t win by following the rules.  Modi is no messiah to make people respect other people’s space and resources.  The country is so used to stealing at every stage and every place, and no amount of government regulations will take the cheating out of their system.  I am not venting here, but in every instance in dealing with India, this experience of people stealing is a norm.  It’s sad, but it is very real.

While I wholeheartedly support the demonetization which has eliminated the fake notes, and support to terrorism, and to a good degree brought a majority of money back into circulation, Modi can’t affect the mentality of India from stealing.  Indian’s believe that it is their right to steal, and at every chance they get.

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