Accept it, demonetisation has turned out to be an exercise of monumental proportions delivering results of minuscule proportions .
The figures are out, and there is no point repeating the statistics because they are dismal considering the high expectations . Further, the statistics of hardships, job loss, setback to economic growth and the costs of demonetisation far outweigh the benefits if any .
The lower classes , the middle class and the honest tax payers bore the brunt of demonetisation and were forced to endure the clumsily implemented exercise, while obviously, the wealthy hoarders found a way to circumvent the dragnet to convert their ill-gotten wealth into legal tender.
Jury that was out on whether it was a well-meaning bold initiative to unearth tainted money wasn’t conclusive this far, but the verdict is now out, and it clearly indicts the Modi Government for burdening the Nation with an ill-conceived scheme that was handled badly .
The undue procrastination of the outcome might have soothed the flayed nerves of the affected masses, but today, when its crystal clear that demonetisation is a big failure, the memories of hardships is bound to rush back bringing with it a host of questions that need honest answers.
Rhetoric about data-mining zeroing in on evaders, claims about shell companies unearthed, allegations of suspicious transactions being investigated are all hot air as long as they are not backed by verifiable numbers. Unfortunately numbers remain elusive for reasons known only to the Government.
Swelling tax base, tight leash on high value cash transactions and quantum jump in the size of cashless economy are now claimed as beneficial takeaways of demonetisation, but here again the Government’s claims remain unsubstantiated.
Does Modi deserve the benefit of doubt ?
In my opinion he has to be commended for staking his popularity at the alter of an initiative that had unforeseeable consequences . Despite the risks Modi went ahead with demonetisation exhibiting characteristics of a Leader willing to take bold decisions to tackle issue that are hurdles in India’s quest to grow and flourish. But, a true Leader’s leadership quality hinges on his ability to swallow his pride to come out and say , “I am Sorry – I tried but I failed” .
Will he do it?