Out with the old…
I don’t usually give my views about politics, the economy, or religion here, but the events that took place after the recent demonetization make me want to express my observations over the last 53 days or so.
What a remarkably extraordinary end of the year 2016 it was for India! In a surprise move, on the evening of the 8th of November at about 8pm, Prime Minister Narendra Modi went on air to announce the demonetization of the 500 and 1000 denomination notes. These notes were no longer a legal tender. He gave the people 53 days to deposit the old currency into banks and/or exchange the old currency for new. Simultaneously, sufficient quantities of the new 2000 rupee and 500 rupee denomination notes were to enter the system from the next day onwards. Whether they did, is another story!
This action was supposedly taken to bring back unaccounted money, destroy black money from within the country, while curbing terrorist financing, as well as removing fake currency from circulation. The move wiped out 86 percent of the money in circulation. First reactions of many were those of shock and awe! From the wealthy and middle class, to the daily wage earner and farmer, everyone was taken aback. However, most people intrinsically welcomed the objective of the move, not as much the methodology of it. Yet, nobody knew how it was going to act out in the following days.
Hectic activity began right away. Serpentine lines were seen at banks around the country the next morning to exchange old currency for new. The amount for exchange was, however, limited per person. The ATMs and banks went dry soon. There was no money there. People gave up their regular activities. Hordes were seen in queues for this single purpose, rather than being at their workplace or at their jobs. Every few days, new rules were announced by the government/RBI regarding the exchange of the old for new. Confusion loomed large. Businesses were beginning to suffer. Sales were going down in most sectors. Jobs were being lost. Millions of man hours were going to waste. Would this exercise work, would it be worth it, would it cure what it was intended to? I am still skeptical, but hopeful, and open to changing my view, if time proves otherwise. In the meantime, and for this quarter at least, most businesses are witnessing a downward trend.
When questioned, many people thought it was worthwhile waiting in queues, since the monetary system would be finally cleaned up, and corruption would become a thing of the past (would it, really?). Nevertheless, so many others thought it to be a reckless exercise, misplaced and badly implemented (was it, really?). While some expressed that chemotherapy was necessary to eradicate a cancer, others objected by asking whether carpet-bombing was necessary and collateral damage acceptable? As weeks went by, the situation improved, but came nowhere close to that of normalcy.
What was definitely visible all through this time was chaos, confusion, business instability, and a sense of directionless movement. Like it or not, every person and every business was learning to adjust, but most markets seemed rudderless, swinging one way and then another, depending on the daily announcement of rules and regulations. At the close of this action-packed year, I hope that we can move into a stage of economic stability and overall growth after all.
Whether it was good, bad, or ugly, only time will tell. And how did our community react? We talked to some professionals, businessmen, and lawyers, to find out how this played out in their lives, and what their views were.
We also spoke with two young go-getters from New York (and also our cover stars this quarter) - Manhattan based businesswoman and recently crowned Mrs. India Earth International 2016, Paris Keswani, and highly acclaimed Indian TV actor, model, and dancer Sweta Keswani.
Inside, you will also find the stories of Dr. Ram Jawhrani – Chairman of the Global Sindhi Council, Sumeet Nagdev – founder of his own dance academy amongst many other achievers! This first issue of the New Year, I’d like to say thank you to our readers for picking us up every quarter and also to our advertisers, whose support allows us to keep going.
Wish you all a Happy New Year!
The very first of its kind, this plush quarterly is dedicated to chronicling the ethos, enterprise, and aplomb of the Sindhi community. A Magazine that brings you Insights into Sindhi History, its Culture and its People. A Magazine that takes you places and showcases Sindhis from all over the world. A Magazine that informs and connects Sindhis globally. Published 4 times a year.