This refers to the report “Notes withdrawal, a despotic action: Amartya Sen” (The Hindu Business Line, December 1). Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen has not added to his glory by describing demonetization of high value notes by India as a “despotic action”. Stretching the argument, any government action, anywhere in the world can be alleged to be ‘despotic’.
Demonetization has been used as a tool in currency management in India and elsewhere in the world also in the past. This time around (demonetization announcement by Prime Minister Modi on November 8, 2016), India really did not ‘demonetize’ the Rs500 and Rs1000 notes in the strict sense of the word demonetization. Leaving the sanctity of the promise and the government guarantee on the currency notes in tact, it was announced that these notes will not be ‘legal tender’ from the midnight of November 8, 2016. There is substance in the criticism that backward and forward linkages were not perfectly tied up by GOI and RBI before making the crucial announcement and going ahead with the implementation. These related to sucking out high denomination notes from semi-urban and rural areas in advance, increasing supply of lower denomination currency across the country, readying ATMs for handling new notes and having a monitoring mechanism overseeing currency distribution across geographies. But, such lapses have been, by and large, condoned by the people of India who have taken the measure in right spirit, recognizing the triple objectives of fighting black money, fake currency and influence of high denomination currency stock on terrorism.
The other subjects, namely capitalism and ‘trust’ mentioned by Sen have wider connotations and perhaps he is more aware than us that capitalists are very selective while handling issues like trust and human rights.
M G Warrier, Mumbai