Demonetisation sickening: Steve Forbes

Calling demonetisation a “massive theft of people's property”, Forbes describes scrapping of currency as immoral as the sterilisation programme in the 1970s

GN Bureau | December 23, 2016


#Steve Forbes   #Forbes magazine   #currency crisis   #demonetisation   #black money  

Photo: Arun Kumar

Prime minister Narendra Modi, for so long a darling of business and industry, has received an editorial rap from business glossy Forbes for demonetisation. The move, which is being criticised heavily on grounds of being ineffective, anti-poor and lacking in planning, is now getting international attention. Steve Forbes, the chairman and editor-in-chief of Forbes Media, has written a hard-hitting editorial, calling the move “immoral”, “sickening” and a “massive theft of people's property”.

The column, which appears in the January 24, 2017 issue of Forbes, says that this act is damaging India’s economy and “threatening destitution to countless millions of its already poor citizens.” Describing the way India has implemented the act, he writes about the insufficient amount of new bills, changed size of notes resulting in calibration of ATMs and that the move is an attack to privacy, inflicting more government control the lives of people.

READ: The great Indian flip-flop trick

The article adds that India’s economy is mostly cash-based and operating informally because of excessive rules and taxes. It says that the government bureaucracy is “notorious for its red tape, lethargy and corruption.”

Further attacking the move, he compares demonetisation to the gruesome sterilisation programme taken up by the Indira Gandhi government in the 1970s. Forbes says “not since India's short-lived forced-sterilization program in the 1970s -- this bout of Nazi-like eugenics was instituted to deal with the country's ‘overpopulation’-- has the government engaged in something so immoral.”

He has also written about how businesses are closing as companies are “having difficulties in meeting payroll.”

He further states that “people will always find ways to engage in wrongdoing,” and that terrorists will not quit their evil acts because of currency change.

As might be expected of a business magazine, the editorial ultimately makes a case for lower taxes and ease of doing business. It says “the digitization of money will happen in its own good time if free markets are permitted. And the best cure for tax evasion is a flat tax or, at the least, a simple, low-rate tax system that renders tax evasion hardly worth the effort. Make it easy to do business legally and most people will do just that.”

Forbes suggests in the end that India must slash income and business tax rates and simplify the whole tax structure. It should hack away regulations, “so that setting up a business can be done with no cost and in only a few minutes.”

READ the column: What India Has Done To Its Money Is Sickening And Immoral


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