Demonetisation was a decision that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took on December 16, 2016, shook the entire nation to its very core and since very few people have been able to make heads or tails of that decision.

To help decipher the decision, Mr. Rammanohar Reddy, editor at The India Forum, a senior journalist, an economist and the author of “Demonetisation and Black Money” ( 2017), was invited to the Hyderabad Literary Fest on the 24th of January 2019.

Reddy’s session began by Samuel Christy introducing him (Reddy) and session moderator, Charles Assisi, senior journalist.

Assisi started the session by sharing a few anecdotes about his learnings about politicians: “They are master storytellers. I learnt from a source that every political career has a half life.”

Assisi wasted little to no time before diving into the hard questions. His first question to Reddy was: “Was demonetisation part if the political narrative?”

To which Reddy answered: “I’m still struggling to understand what that was all about. I tried analysing it from different levels but my official verdict is that the ever changing narrative has nothing to do with economics and only to do with politics.”

Demonetisation seemed to be a ploy for the incumbent majority and the prime minister to reclaim the political narrative. He said, “Demonetisation was a decision against every sane advice”.

He claims that Modi was able to mould the narrative and pitch the initiative as a mode to kill corruption and black money. “But despite the rhetoric, the move caused immense harm to the people of the nation.”

Charles next question was about the multiple theories on Demonetisation and the logic behind it. To this Reddy replied that there is possibility of it seeming like a rational decision within closed quarters but the rationality of implementing it on a large scale was yet undecided.

“This move was taken by the incumbent Modi-led NDA government even though it was not sanctioned by the Reserve Bank of India. This move (Demonetisation) did not have the desired impact of cleansing the economy.” He said.

When asked his take on the entire situation, Reddy said that the incumbent government at the Centre tried to recapture the imagination of the people by a move that promised to root out corruption and deal with black money. And it definitely brought people on the streets, but for all the wrong reasons.

“Now, the question arises: Why did the public accept it? Was it solely because needless of economic background, everyone experiences corruption daily.

“The truth is – people are desperate for a solution. People got tired and cynical and now, two years later, not a single person has been identified and punished for corruption or black money.”

Author: Aishwarya Johnson

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