#Demonetization : The Social Context
Source :NewsBharati   Date :04-Nov-2017
Social preview of demonetization:
Indian polity in modern India was seen celebrating the dawn of an unprecedented era, commencing efforts anew of rebuilding the Indian nation and a new Indian society in May 2014. A peaceful and a quiet bloodless revolution took place. It was not a mere transfer of power from a defeated party to the victorious one, it dawned as a harbinger signaling the restoration of the forgotten glory of a golden era calling for its resurrection. The victory was the culmination of a long drawn labour of several thousand social workers and generations across the country, everyone yearning with a common goal aiming at restoring the glory of India. Freedom struggle ended in 1947, the year which was a turning point, which committed a political promise and ended the colonial rule concluding it into a divided India. It promised a much-awaited independence and self-rule to build a new India. The then embattled and puzzled political leadership inherited the reins of political power in 1947 from the British imperial representatives. Then perhaps, Mahatma Gandhiji was right when he had suggested ‘dissolution’ of the Congress Party, which had partly represented the ‘general will’ of the unrest and agitation of the ‘natives’ during the freedom struggle in India. The events in the following decades of parliamentary democracy in India proved Mahatma Gandhi prudent.
Indian civilization: one of the earliest civilizations in the world
History of a country is the source of inspiration for its society. India is no exception to it. Moreover, Indian civilization is considered as one of the earliest in the world, the roots of its society are well entrenched and therefore the umbilical cord is impeccable to relieve it. Knowledge and wisdom of the universe have always been an inspiring message from the Indian soil for all irrespective of religion, language, creed, and communities. It has been an inclusive experience.
Of course, the military invaders from all over the world had nothing to entertain with the glory inside. The colonial rulers who reached India from the West too did the same in the conquest of the Indian soil. However, the native or the indigenous network of the society in India was so strong that the invaders themselves were assimilated like what an ‘octopus’ does. Yet the people were outclassed in India on several fronts. The East India Company proved a better charger, the substance was shaken but the roots remained intact, unshaken.
The arrival of East India Company in India in the year 1600 quietly and gradually forced the Indian society to imbibe in herself a new, different and unprecedented convulsion. The East India Company from London brought with it a new and a different outlook on a new world, a new hitherto unknown society. A people whose language was different, whose customs were different and whose faith was different. The Indian society could not effectively counter the waves of the overriding influence of the European in general and British in particular. The costume, the diet, the learning, even the behavioral pattern of the individual underwent discernible change.
Culture Prone society to Politics prone divided people
In the independent nation of India which emerged in the second half of the 20th century, Macaulay's name has become emblematic for the ills of colonialism. Thomas Babington Macaulay and the British education system have been blamed for producing a generation of Indians not proud of their distinct heritage.
Macaulay held western culture in high esteem and saw his undertaking as a "civilizing mission": "We must at present do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern; a class of persons, Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals, and in intellect. To that class we may leave it to refine the vernacular dialects of the country, to enrich those dialects with terms of science borrowed from the Western nomenclature, and to render them by degrees fit vehicles for conveying knowledge to the great mass of the population," Macaulay declared.
Speaking at a national seminar on "Decolonizing English Education" in 2001, Professor Kapil Kapoor of Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, declared that one of the by-products of mainstream English language education in India today has been its tendency to "marginalize inherited learning" and to have uprooted academics from traditional Indian modes of thought, inducing in them "a spirit of self-denigration (heenabhavna)." (Wikipedia)
The present Indian society is a characteristic of the above-mentioned observation. The socio-cultural values of the then prevalent society in India was conducive to entrenching process of the British effect. It cannot be denied that the Indian society in spite of its finer dimensions of the glorious past, suffered from several deficiencies and drawbacks (…this too being a typical Macaulay an interpretation!) which made the ‘conquerors’ path easier to redefine the equations within the society. The tradition of the family system was pushed to the brink of its shattering distortion. The social relations became individual-centric and were forwarded to the forefront at the cost of the family welfare. In a span of close to a century, the face of the Indian society underwent a drastic change. A culture-prone Indian society gradually turned into a politics-prone divided people.
Atmavismrut Samaj
The Indian National Congress since 1885 in the process of political mobilization in the colonial India, under the leadership of those personalities whose aspirations and thought process was nourished under the said ‘Macaulay impact’ cherished their upbringing. There were, of course, other political and social organizations as well who were on the forefront in denigrating the Indian past. In the words of a great national social reformist leader Shri M.S. Golwalkar Guruji, “the society has become an ‘atma-vismrut’ one.” However, there existed different schools of thoughts led by varying proponents of reforms. There were some who regarded political reforms be given priority over other considerations and there were others who felt that without social reforms, political development in the society may not yield desired fruits of development. Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Keshavchandra Sen, Dayanand Saraswati, Mahatma Jyotirao Phule, Narayana Guru, Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III, Gopal Ganesh Agarkar, Swami Vivekananad and several others who undertook measures of eradication of superstitious beliefs and practices prevalent in the society. It is a sad fact that the process of eradication even today is on-going since several of these superstitions have not yet been shown the door.
It was expected by the poverty-stricken people in 1947, that the then new political leadership would provide the lead to the required social reforms in the society. On the one hand, the then government leadership had the necessary modern and scientific vision of technological development whereas on the other hand the modern leadership fell short of understanding and reading the glorious roots of the past of the society. Religion, faith, beliefs, customs and traditions as at present in vogue, all these have been considered as primitive and bourgeois ideas and foundations which have been detrimental to the growth of human civilization. However, the rationalists have always failed to appreciate the sense of strength and source of inspiration emanated from these abstract concepts which have rendered the society into continuity for so long with a binding and consolidating force.
The elitists have always afforded to face the struggle between the rationalists and the believers, whereas the poor and the downtrodden have had to pay a very dear cost. Moreover, one has to understand a subtle difference between the rationalists and the reformists- the former opening their cards at the cost of the poor and the latter opening the cards to their advantage.
The deliberations of the Constituent Assembly drafting a treatise to leave a far-reaching impact on the Indian civilized society in the making of a new India, i.e. the Constitution of India, was a grand theatre of the churning of several ideas in the field of social, cultural, economic and political growth of the Indian society. Dr. Rajendra Prasad and Dr. B. R. Ambedkar were the two stalwarts who led and monitored the churning process ably supported by several prominent personalities including Dr. B. N. Rau, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel K. M. Munshi, Bhogaraju Pattabhi Sitaramayya, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, C. Rajagopalachari, Dr. Shyama Prasad Mookerjee, N. Gopalaswami Ayyangar, Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, John Mathai and Narahar Vishnu Gadgil. These learned scholars brought about extensive and intensive debates in debatable aspects of social and political reforms including the consideration of the upliftment of the downtrodden and the backward for centuries together. There were frank, free and fair deliberations without denigration and abuses on several controversial issues involving not merely social dimensions but also judiciously stated public administration.
In the era of modern political mobilization under a ‘cabinet system’ of the parliamentary democracy, the same colonial tendencies continued in the post-Independence period. It became a fashion and a prestigious matter to undermine the authority of the Executive, the opposition opinion makers and holders believed that to use abusive language for the Executive stood as their democratic right, to refuse the due to the electoral victors became a substantially sensitive prerogative resulting in the denial to the winners their legitimate right to rule. The print media, the electronic media, publishing, press and printing houses, opposition political party and opinion managers - all these establishments joined the united chorus of denigration of the Executive making it almost impossible to implement their promises made during the electoral battles. No political organization made itself an exception to such a scenario.
The political content of the national debates veered around themes like political parties’ affairs and mutual equations, coalitions, election manifestos and impractical promises, dynastical rule, communal violence, women affairs, malpractices like corruption and nepotism and mutual character assassination of every other target out of vengeance and competition. The intellectual community and the social leaders have been yearning for the thought of nation-building with a sound foundation of liberal public administration. The major function of public administration is the implementation of policies drawn by the party in power. Public administration is the backbone of the statecraft. It functions latently and in the background. It is a permanent entity. Policy makers may come and may go. Public administration is supposed to be the repository of the public welfare. It shines if its governing agency (i.e. the Government) is prompt, transparent, and accountable and people oriented. Public administration is required to be of impeccable integrity. It is the sole repository of public faith, the citizenry depends on its efficiency and honesty. Personnel constituting public administration is required to earn the reputation as a ‘Karmayogi’ that is discharging duties without expectations. This is considered as the spiritual aspect of the programme.
It is important to note that the Prime Minister, Shri Narendrabhai Modi, when he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat had carried out a programme called ‘Karmayogi Abhiyan’, which aimed at galvanizing the administrative setup and making it peoples’ welfare oriented. He would then organize periodical workshops of the top brass of the bureaucracy as well as middle and lower echelon staff to orient them towards the welfare policies and programmes of the Government invoking their wholehearted participation. The aim obviously was to bridge the gap between the citizens and the administration, to increase and bring about a rapprochement between the two thereby decreasing the scope of possible areas of corruption or nepotism. The programme was a unique experiment and was successful in creating a conducive atmosphere of a systematic timeline of service.
The Pradhan Sevak’ 
As at present the Prime Minister continues with the same ideal and addresses similar periodical conferences and get-togethers of the higher echelons of the administrative set-ups at the Union Government levels. He, while addressing the nation on the Independence Day of 2014, described himself as the ‘Pradhan Sevak’, signalling a meaningful deviation from the existing conditions expecting a historic and heroic behavioural change in the behavioural pattern on the part of the policy formulators and the administrators, heralding a new era of ‘rulers’ and the ‘ruled’. It was a masterstroke to the colonial psyche of assuming to be the ‘Maay-Bap Sarkar’ lingering somewhere in the corner of the mind. The first tenet of the democratic spirit was scripted on the Independence Day of 2014. While referring to the foundation of the ancient cultural heritage of India he reminded the citizenry of the Vedic chanting ‘Sam Gachchadhwam Samwadadhwam Sam Wo Manaamsi Jaanataam’ and appealed to the citizens to memorize the Mantra and accordingly unite. The Prime Minister most eloquently defined the ‘Government’ as not merely an assembled entity but an organic unity, an organic entity, one harmonious whole – with one aim, one mind, one direction and one energy.
Sankalp Yatra:
Here was a Prime Minister who used the Independence Day address to the nation as an occasion to share with the people the issues of socio-cultural relevance, avoiding to speak on politics as usual. Here was a Prime Minister who delivered a national address, perhaps for the first time since independence, replete with social and cultural content adopting an unprecedented technic, that of ‘direct approach’, linking himself directly with the people. No Prime Minister before 2014 had adopted the technic. Another technic he adopted was employing an instrument , considered to be a poor man’s pleasing cheapest resort, i.e. broadcasting over the ‘radio’ which in India has since reached the remotest area where television has not reached or where only ‘radio’ is afforded by the poorest of the poor for listening to the informative and entertainment programmes. Prime Minister Modi chose to broadcast his 30 minutes speeches in his novel programme, another ‘first’, ‘Mann ki Baat’, every month. The content once again, replete with social and cultural relevance, has been there on the air uninterrupted for around 36 Sundays. Every month the Prime Minister picks up some social issue and shares his views with the people individually. The response is beyond expectations and since has become a super-hit programme, the villagers eagerly waiting at a stipulated time, for the Prime Minister’s voice, views, vision, and profusely showered applause over a certainly commendable achievement by naming some individual student or a common farmer and advice on the issues which the villagers find it very close to their individual lives. The direct dialogue between the people and the ‘pradhan sevak’ over radio broadcasting has produced a very healthy apolitical environment in the remote rural areas hitherto unknown to anybody not only in India but perhaps in the world too. The Prime Minister has succeeded in creating a sense of mutual belonging to one another and a community sense among the masses.
PM’s initiative to bridge the gap with common mass:
The Prime Minister has employed another technology-based instrument in reaching the citizens directly with a view to minimising the gap between the citizens and the ‘administration’, viz., digitization. ‘BHIM App’ is an excellent example on this behalf. He has liberally made available his contacts i.e. email id, landline numbers, usage of SMS service etc. to the common man, creating in him a sense of confidence of his entitlements as a citizen. The endeavor of the Prime Minister is to dispel the fear in the citizens about the administration and the authority in the structure of the governance.
It is important to note that the Prime Minister has used every platform to his advantage to establish a direct link with the masses, communicating with them the information about various government welfare schemes for their benefits. Following illustrative list of public welfare schemes which he mentioned during the four consecutive Independence Day addresses (2014 to 2017), would reveal the intentions of the Prime Minister in this behalf- (i) Pradhan Mantri Jan- Dhan Yojana, (ii) Make in India, (iii) Digital India, (iv) Clean India Mission, (v) Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana, (vi) Prime Minister’s Suraksha Bima Yojana, (vii) Atal Pension Yojana, (viii) Prime Minister’s Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana, (ix) PAHAL Scheme, (x) Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchaai Yojana, (xi) Start-up and Stand-up India, (xii) One Rank One Pension, (xiii) Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, (xiv) Ujjawala Scheme, (xv) Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, (xvi) Sukanya Samridhi Yojana, (xvii) Indradhanush vaccination program, (xviii) Mudra Yojana, (xix) Mandi e-NAM, (xx) One Nation-One Grid-One Price System, (xxi) UDAY Yojana and (xxii) Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana. All these schemes deal with the policies and the programs for the welfare of the toiling masses as well as every section of the society. One can judge the way in which the Prime Minister has informed the people about the various schemes, but over and above, he has steered the administrative machinery to fall in line with these schemes and to deliver accordingly. Moreover, the Prime Minister aptly referred to the concept and practice of federalism and esp. the principles of cooperative federalism. The Prime Minister maintained that India`s federal structure is more important today than ever before in the last 60 years. In order to strengthen our federal structure, to make our federal structure vibrant, to take our federal structure as a heritage of development, a team of the Chief Ministers and the Prime Minister is required to be in place as a joint team called the ‘Team India’ which will move the federation forward towards the national glory. Similarly, in the address on the Independence Day of 2016, the Prime Minister made the following important observations:
“…we need to emphasize on good governance, keep on exploring the responsibility of everyone, responsibility and accountability should be at the root of good governance and it should get sustenance from there. Therefore, the administration should be sensitive……the government should be accountable as to how a responsible Government should take steps on the basis of the needs and aspirations of the common man……efficiency is the hallmark of good governance……pessimism had started to become our nature. It was important to break this tendency, give energy to administration……reform, perform, transform is the mantra which has been applied in all fields of work and range…”
Overthrowing the burden of multiplicity of laws 
The Prime Minister went on to refer to another important dimension of the legal web encircling the Indian judicial system. He stated, “…We have started the cleaning the web of laws. The burden of the multiplicity of laws is creating trouble for the government, judiciary, and the citizens. We have identified 1700 such laws. The Parliament has already abolished about 1175 laws and we want to abolish the remaining such laws…”
In the 2015 I-Day address he picked up the issue of unorganized labor in which he stated, “…we have prepared a plan for the laborers of our country, and it has been named as "SHRAMEVA JAYATE". Our attitude towards the poor laborers is not good…we started a campaign of issuing a special identity card to the unorganized labor falling under certain schemes. They are to get the benefits of many schemes of security through that identity card. These unorganized laborers were never taken care of. Similarly, laborers of our country had deposited their share of hard earned money in Government coffers…where will a poor laborer look for his thing of interest in the pile-up of different types of 44 legislations meant for our laborers? We have brought about a change therein. By incorporating these 44 legislations into four codes of conduct, the poorest of the poor and even an illiterate laborer can know about his or her interest, we have emphasized this scheme.” In the same year, the Prime Minister made a reference to the beneficiaries of the Direct Benefit Transfer of LPG subsidy and informed them that the subsidy would be credited directly into their respective Jan-Dhan accounts, eliminating the brokers, the middlemen, and the black-marketers. Similarly, the Prime Minister has mentioned in all I-Day addresses about various schemes and appeals with a view to strengthening the democratic spirit and administrative ethos.
Awakening the ‘AtmaVismrut’ society:
He observed in I-Day Address of 2017… “In the New India, the biggest strength is the democracy. But we have reduced our democracy to mere ballot boxes. However, democracy cannot be confined only to ballot boxes. Hence our resolve is to see to it that we have a democracy in New India, where people are not driven by the system, rather the system is driven by the people. Such a democracy should become the identity of New India and we want to move towards that direction.” Moreover, he maintained, “…when demonetization was announced, the world was surprised. People thought that this was the end of Modi. But the way our 125 crore countrymen had shown patience and faith, we were able to take one after another step in our drive against corruption. With this new practice of people’s participation, our effort to take the country forward with people’s involvement will help us to reach our goal…Making India corruption-free is an important task and we are trying to provide impetus to it. After forming the government, our first task was to constitute an SIT.
Today, after three years, I want to tell the countrymen proudly that we have confiscated black money worth Rs.1.25 lakh crores, the culprits would be brought to book and forced to surrender…Demonetization followed this move. We have achieved several milestones through demonetization. The hidden black money has been brought into the formal economy. You must have seen that we used to extend the days from 7 days to 10 days to 15 days; sometimes we allowed the old notes at the petrol pump, at the chemist shops, and sometimes at the railway stations, because our intention was to bring all money into the formal banking system and we achieved success in completing the task. According to the research conducted by outside experts, about Rs.3 lakh crores that had never come into the banking system before has been brought into the system after the demonetization…Today due to demonetization, banks have enough liquidity. Banks are reducing their interest rates. Even a common man is able to access inflow of funds through Mudra. He is getting opportunities to stand on his feet. The middle class and the underprivileged who aspire to have their own homes someday are getting loans from the banks at low-interest rates. Such moves are giving a fillip to the economic growth of the country.”
Prime Minister Narendrabhai Modi assumed power and authority, first in a federating unit– Gujarat state in 2001 and later on, the country in May 2014 in the Indian federal structure. Since then he has been carrying the burden of the history. The burden has been that of cleansing the deliberate distortion and confusion sown by the native and the Western scholars in the history of both the culture and the society in India. The researchers and the students of the medieval and the modern Indian history find it difficult to analyze the events in the history for want of affection and a sense of belonging to the nation. Shri. Modi inherited the present with this burden and therefore he was required to face a Herculean task of cleansing the distortions and confusion of the sort. The Herculean task was to awaken the AtmaVismrut’ India, i.e. Bharat.
[1] Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800-1859) served as a member of the Supreme Council of the East India Company from 1834 to 1838, where he oversaw major educational and legal reforms.
[2] Minute by T. B. Macaulay, dated 3rd February 1835, submitted to the Committee of Public Instruction, to the British Parliament.
[3] Keynote address delivered on February 18, 2001, at the National Seminar on Decolonizing English Education, Department of English, North Gujarat University, Patan (Gujarat, India)
[4] Article 1 of the Constitution of India states, ‘India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of states’.