P Chidambaram, former finance minister of India, attends the World Economic forum conference. (Photographer: Sanjit Das/Bloomberg News) 

Demonetisation Is ‘Notebadli’ Not ‘Notebandi’, Says Chidambaram

Congress Member and former Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram echoed the words of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, calling the government’s demonetisation a “monumental mismanagement”.

Speaking to the media at a conference in Mumbai, Chidambaram said that it is not possible for a country to go from being 3 percent cashless to completely cashless in a matter of months or even years.

‘Notebandi’ Or ‘Notebadli’

The former finance minister questioned the point of the move, saying that out of 15.4 lakh crore, more than 13 lakh crore had already come back into the system. This is not ‘notebandi’, it’s ‘notebadli’, he added. When questioned about the Reserve Bank of India’s autonomy on the demonetisation decision, Chidambaram said that as per his knowledge the RBI made a “pre-scripted recommendation” which was accepted by the Cabinet. A pre-drafted notification would then be sent for publication, Chidambaram added.

Pain Of The Poor

Describing the demonetisation as an attack on the poor, he said that the rich seemed unaffected while the poor of the country continue to be in “indescribable pain”. The people of the country “must be sensitised” as the pain from demonetisation might continue for another seven months, he added.

Even a national calamity might not have caused so much pain and suffering.
P Chidambaram, Former Union Finance Minister

Dented Confidence

The global financial community’s confidence in India has been severely dented, according to Chidambaram. “India is going through a very bad period of tepid growth,” he added, while speaking of the country’s weak credit growth, greenfield investments and aggregate demand.

Gross domestic product may fall by 1-2 percent after the demonetisation he said, agreeing with Singh’s economic outlook.

Congress will continue to debate Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s demonetisation move when he is present in the parliament, Chidambaram said, implying that a debate would be of no use if Modi was not present to hear their reservations.

In response to Chidambaram’s words, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that the Modi led NDA government is “ready to debate” the issue in the Parliament.

“Rise above slogans....Join us in this campaign rather than create obstructions,” Jaitley said, reaching out to the Congress party. He further went on to highlight the advantages of demonetisation and a cashless economy.