note demonetisation

Arvind Panagariya says it is 'probable' Modi rushed demonetisation move because of leaks

The NITI Aayog insisted that he was not "in the know" but said it seemed likely that the scheme was announced ahead of time.

Play

Whatever Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s claims about demonetisation, his move to replace old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes with new ones, it has been clear that implementation has been incredibly reactive. The Finance Ministry and the Reserve Bank of India have put out new notifications just about every day, while the economy struggles because of a massive liquidity crunch. The pain in the system has raised questions about how prepared the government was for the demonetisation move. And now there’s an official theory, from NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Arvind Panagariya no less, for why this may be.

“It is also probable and, this is where I don’t know the facts, but at least I know the news that this had begun to leak out,” Panagariya told India Today’s Rahul Kanwal in an interview on Thursday. “There was a report in Dainik Jagran, on November 6, the 2000-rupee notes as they were being transported from the Reserve Bank to various branches, the pictures actually came out, those activities of transportation.”

Panagariya was careful to insist that he didn’t know this for certain, but nevertheless said that it seemed probable – and that may have forced the government o be more reactive with its implementation.

“It’s probable that it led the prime minister to take the action before he had planned. And that of course does make the subsequent behaviour a little more reactive. You then did not get to plan because of the secrecy issue sufficiently in advance and then as the process unfolds, and in any case, even if you had actually thought through the thing, situation will never unfold precisely in the way you anticipated.... 

It’s possible. It’s not something that I know. What i know is that the leaks had begun to happen. I’m not in the know. In the first week I said I was delighted to find out.” 

Panagariya also attempted to defend the implementation, saying that the secrecy made it harder for the government to fully prepare for the scheme.

“Here, as you started off, you said this is an unprecedented step. The step did require a fair bit of secrecy. Even after the step, people are being creative in turning black and white. You can imagine what would happen if they found a month before it had been done, or if it was actually pre-announced and then done. So there had to be some bit of secrecy on this which does limit the scope for a lot of discussion, wider discussion in any case.”

The renowned economist also said that though there were clear signs of distress in the economy, he believed that activity was already picking up and the gains following the pain would more than make up for it.

“I will not indulge in any number crunching, it is a difficult thing to do in the absence of any quantitative evidence,” Pangaraiya said. “As we are going forward, certainly we’ll see some decline in the third quarter. The point I’m making to you is that the activity is very rapidly coming back and so I think we’ll see some decline in the growth rate in the third quarter, some bit, less than the third quarter will happen in the fourth quarter. I think whatever losses will happen in this particular year in aggregate we’re going to recover in a big way as we go into the next year and the following year. Because this ultimately a major efficiency enhancing impact on the entire economy.”

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Virat Kohli and Ola come together to improve Delhi's air quality

The onus of curbing air-pollution is on citizens as well

A recent study by The Lancet Journal revealed that outdoor pollution was responsible for 6% of the total disease burden in India in 2016. As a thick smog hangs low over Delhi, leaving its residents gasping for air, the pressure is on the government to implement SOS measures to curb the issue as well as introduce long-term measures to improve the air quality of the state. Other major cities like Mumbai, Pune and Kolkata should also acknowledge the gravitas of the situation.

The urgency of the air-pollution crisis in the country’s capital is being reflected on social media as well. A recent tweet by Virat Kohli, Captain of the Indian Cricket Team, urged his fans to do their bit in helping the city fight pollution. Along with the tweet, Kohli shared a video in which he emphasized that curbing pollution is everyone’s responsibility. Apart from advocating collective effort, Virat Kohli’s tweet also urged people to use buses, metros and Ola share to help reduce the number of vehicles on the road.

In the spirit of sharing the responsibility, ride sharing app Ola responded with the following tweet.

To demonstrate its commitment to fight the problem of vehicular pollution and congestion, Ola is launching #ShareWednesdays : For every ​new user who switches to #OlaShare in Delhi, their ride will be free. The offer by Ola that encourages people to share resources serves as an example of mobility solutions that can reduce the damage done by vehicular pollution. This is the fourth leg of Ola’s year-long campaign, #FarakPadtaHai, to raise awareness for congestion and pollution issues and encourage the uptake of shared mobility.

In 2016, WHO disclosed 10 Indian cities that made it on the list of worlds’ most polluted. The situation necessitates us to draw from experiences and best practices around the world to keep a check on air-pollution. For instance, a system of congestion fees which drivers have to pay when entering central urban areas was introduced in Singapore, Oslo and London and has been effective in reducing vehicular-pollution. The concept of “high occupancy vehicle” or car-pool lane, implemented extensively across the US, functions on the principle of moving more people in fewer cars, thereby reducing congestion. The use of public transport to reduce air-pollution is another widely accepted solution resulting in fewer vehicles on the road. Many communities across the world are embracing a culture of sustainable transportation by investing in bike lanes and maintenance of public transport. Even large corporations are doing their bit to reduce vehicular pollution. For instance, as a participant of the Voluntary Traffic Demand Management project in Beijing, Lenovo encourages its employees to adopt green commuting like biking, carpooling or even working from home. 18 companies in Sao Paulo executed a pilot program aimed at reducing congestion by helping people explore options such as staggering their hours, telecommuting or carpooling. After the pilot, drive-alone rates dropped from 45-51% to 27-35%.

It’s the government’s responsibility to ensure that the growth of a country doesn’t compromise the natural environment that sustains it, however, a substantial amount of responsibility also lies on each citizen to lead an environment-friendly lifestyle. Simple lifestyle changes such as being cautious about usage of electricity, using public transport, or choosing locally sourced food can help reduce your carbon footprint, the collective impact of which is great for the environment.

Ola is committed to reducing the impact of vehicular pollution on the environment by enabling and encouraging shared rides and greener mobility. They have also created flat fare zones across Delhi-NCR on Ola Share to make more environment friendly shared rides also more pocket-friendly. To ensure a larger impact, the company also took up initiatives with City Traffic Police departments, colleges, corporate parks and metro rail stations.

Join the fight against air-pollution by using the hashtag #FarakPadtaHai and download Ola to share your next ride.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Ola and not by the Scroll editorial team.