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EditorialNation watching the rigidity, gentlemen!

Nation watching the rigidity, gentlemen!


Nation watching the rigidity, gentlemen!

Logjam goes on in both houses of parliament without relenting by opposition on the issue of demonetizing. With much time already wasted over the row that Prime Minister should come and reply the issue in the Parliament and Government's stance that the Prime Minister is not necessarily required to respond to opposition's questions seems to end in an ego clash which is very harmful for a sound democracy. It now seems the situation has gone too far. For weeks now the opposition and treasury benches have shown much rigidity and PM has been ignoring Parliament.

Ideally, as Prime Minister, the first task that Narendra Modi should have done when the winter session of Parliament began is to lay a suo motu statement in both Houses on the issue of demonetisation detailing all the aspects. This statement could then have been the basis of discussion in both Houses, and then the Prime Minister could have responded to the debate. This is not something out of the ordinary, and the BJP's floor managers with years of experience in Parliament on both sides of the aisle could have easily suggested this route.

It would have taken care of much of the bickering between the Opposition and treasury benches. Besides, there would have been a proper discussion on the entire demonetisation scenario, and perhaps some useful suggestions for easing the people's pain could have come from the participating members.

There is nothing that suggests that the Prime Minister is unwilling to take on the Opposition in the demonetisation debate. He has been making speeches at public rallies, and has articulated his thinking on various aspects of fighting the black money menace. Indeed, from his articulation of these themes, there is no evidence to suggest that he would be at a loss for words in Parliament. But still, he has chosen to ignore it.

The costs of this approach are too heavy. It is not just parliamentary democracy that suffers in the process, but there is a cascading impact due to the delay in getting crucial legislation past Parliament. It would be safe to assert that the pain suffered by the people due to demonetisation is not the only collateral damage of this carpet bombing, but the GST bill that has been touted as the most important tax reform since Independence is also a part of the same damage.

There is no way now in which the reform that seeks to introduce a uniform indirect tax structure in the country will meet the April 2017 deadline for its roll-out. Apart from the delay in getting the bills through Parliament, there are questions about the capacity of the to carry the burden of both the GST and demonetisation. Another theme that has been introduced by the Prime Minister after the demonetisation trauma is for the Indian society to move into a less-cash era, and ultimately become cash-less. This clearly is an after-thought as his 8 November address did not make any reference to this aspect. Moreover, if the intent is to make society cash less, then why inflict the pain of demonetisation on the people? The objective of going cash less can be achieved without demonetisation.

The ‘cashless ' dream has to cross many hurdles before it becomes meaningful in any substantial way. The first hurdle is the people's mindset that has to move from the warm comfort of hard cash to the dull sentiment of the plastic money. For most people, demonetisation is an interim phase which shall soon end, and they would be back into their familiar surroundings where cash is the king.

The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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