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ON the night Donald Trump was elected the next US president, one of his fellow nationalist populist politicians chose to implement chaos in a land not famed for order. In a surprise TV address Narendra Modi, the Indian prime minister, announced that all 500- and 1,000-rupee notes would be withdrawn immediately from circulation. At a stroke Mr Modi rendered 86% of currency worthless outside a bank branch. Old notes would have to be exchanged for limited supplies of new currency. It was justified as a move designed to fight corruption and target people who have been dodging taxes by holding stockpiles of cash, known in India as “black money”.

Many initially saw the withdrawal of banknotes as a price worth paying to eliminate graft. The short-term impact of “demonetisation” has been dramatic: the $2 trillion Indian economy will shrink. The rich will not suffer, as corruptly acquired fortunes have almost all been converted to shares, gold and real estate. But the poor, who make up the bulk of the nation’s 1.3 billion people, will lose out. They don’t generally have bank accounts and are often paid in cash. For them, getting to a bank and queueing for hours will cost money and time they don’t have. In less than a week the policy has reportedly claimed more than a dozen lives. The government says that it will take weeks to sort out the problems.

Demonitisation is not new in India, which last tried it in a smaller way in 1978. The result then was higher bank deposits and a bump in the tax take. Yet the scale and speed of Mr Modi’s scheme has more in common with the failed experiments of dictatorships which led to runaway inflation, currency collapse and mass protests. While Mr Modi campaigned to end corruption, it would have been better if the government had updated its antiquated tax system to realise such a task.

But slower, incremental reforms do not make headlines. They do not instantly hit the war chests of political rivals in upcoming state polls. Mr Modi, a Hindu nationalist, was for a decade an international pariah over his alleged role in the mass murder of Muslims in a region he once administered. He wants to be known for something else. President-elect Trump offers an opportunity to recast himself. Two years ago Mr Trump’s svengali, Steve Bannon, described Mr Modi’s victory as part of a “global revolt”. But a looming cash crunch and an administrative crisis makes it look like the revolt might start at home. 

Editorial of The Guardian

Demonetization and the Shifting of Goal Posts

THE article ‘Not a tragedy, but remedy’ (The Hindu, December 13, 2016) by S. Gurumurthy, one among so called Modi’s inner circle that masterminded demonetization is yet another attempt at shifting goal posts since the promulgation of this fascist weapon of corporatization on November 8, 2016. Even as corporate corruption is assuming new dimensions under the Modi regime, major part of Gurumurthy’s article is devoted for exposing the corrupt deals of the Manmohan regime, which is not at all a new thing. But what is interesting is the new justification for demonetization invented by him. After all, as demonetization has been turned out to be a fiasco with respect to the three goals—black money, fake currency, and terror funding—announced by him, Modi had already shifted his goalpost to that of ‘cashless economy’.

Since this is nothing but an illusion in the Indian context and as Modi is more and more exposed and getting isolated, Gurumurthy, his media manager, in the quoted article could be seen slowly shifting to a third goalpost, namely, the greater share of high denomination notes (HDN) that was escalating under Manmohan regime as the valid reason for demonetization. Ironically, during the past two-and-a-half years of Modi rule, neither Modi, nor any of his advisers including Gurumurthy himself had never mentioned anything about this, and in fact, the printing of high denomination notes was unabatedly continuing even under the BJP regime.

Of course, there are several questions connected with the political economy of increasing share of high denomination currencies. But that is not the issue here. This could have been resolved avoiding dramatic moves and without imposing such hardships on common people. Gurumurthy should explain why the garb of patriotism was unnecessarily dragged into the whole issue then. Therefore, this new reasoning on the part of Gurumurthy is only a belated justification for an utterly fascistic onslaught on the masses. People should come forward exposing this heinous move from the part of a staunch Modi-bhakt. 
1. Do poor have 500 notes?

Yes, they do you ignorant fool. Even a salary of as little as Rs 2000 used to be paid in 500/1000 notes. Not 100 notes. It made up a whopping 87% of the currency.

2. He/She was old. Could have died at home too. How can you blame demonetization?

He/She was old. Which is why they needed to be at home, and not having to stand in bank queues for hours together. It is why jobs have a retirement age. Especially with winter setting in, it would be disastrous for senior citizens. Demonetisation has been the most brutal on senior citizens.

3. Things are difficult, but it is for the greater good of the nation.

Okay, please let us know which one of your mother/father/daughter/son/sister/brother/mama/chacha are you willing to sacrifice for the greater good of the nation? We’ll make them stand in the queue instead of the old and sickly. Also, make them forgo a couple meals every day the way many people have had to.

4. Look how India is changing to digital transactions overnight.

If you demolish all Indian style toilets and have only 10% of all the toilets available previously in form of western toilets, you’ll see that everybody who used to squat till yesterday will be standing in long queues in front of western style toilets waiting for their turn to empty their bowels, some might even yellow their pants not being able to get their turn in time. You will see that suddenly people are changing their shitting behavior all over India.

5. Why are people not going to Government Hospitals? They accept old notes.

In India, Government Hospitals are not known to be the best in medical care. When your loved one falls sick, is critical, you want the best medical care possible. Which is why people turn to private hospitals. And it is criminal that people are not able to access their own hard earned money in such times. While weddings and other such events getting delayed are an issue, and it has caused a lot of hardships to people, but that can still be probably managed in most cases. But there can be no excuse when a sick person cannot get access to their own money for his own healthcare leading to a death in the family. Moreover, there have been many reports of even Government hospitals not accepting old notes.

6. Wait for a few months before you criticize the move.

Achha, did you wait for a few months before you called it a masterstroke?

7. Oh, how much black money did you have you anti-national, sickular, libtard, commie?

Firstly, try thinking beyond binaries. Secondly, those who have black money have converted most of theirs at a commission. Also, do you think Ambani’s billion dollar home Antilla was made out of white money? Majority of the black money is in properties/gold/land. According to various Government bodies, only 6% of the black money was in cash. Why didn’t Modiji target the 94% first? He didn’t because Ambani would have sent him off on the first flight to Timbuktu forever.

8. You can stand in queue for the tickets to 1st day 1st show of a movie but cannot for the bank?

Most people who are standing in queues belong to the lower economic strata of the society. By 30 days, it should be amply clear that most of those who own even a basic car such as a Tata Nano have access to facilities such as internet/net-banking/digital transactions.

They are the ones who actually queue for 1st day 1st show movies, not the ones who are standing in queues. It is the daily wagers who probably have never seen the inside of a multiplex and are having to lose wages for multiple days are the ones who are standing in maximum number in the queues. Try thinking of the terrible situation in rural areas where there are sometimes only 2-3 banks in a district unlike cities which have ATMs at every 2nd cross-road.

9. Oh, so who do you want instead? Rahul aka Pappu or Kejri the Nautanki?

I’ll take anybody, yes anybody, who doesn’t kill people via hair-brained public policies over Mr Modi. And I’m not even going into Mr Modi’s past which featured Maya Kodnani and Babu Bajrangi. 

(Pratik Sinha in Facebook)

Letter to the Editor

Letter to Editor

YES, Comrade I have gone through your booklet on demonetization imposed by Modi. It is a laudable attempt I would say. I too had written a brief comment through a post on my Facebook account.

I think the issue requires to be analysed and exposed from political angle and not only from economic alone. Both economic and political are intertwined. Here the political must have precedence over economic angle. Not only that we have to take into account other also such as inhuman and cruel aspect of this tyrannical regime.

Comrade, this demonetization is a cruel joke played upon the crores of the poor of this country. Modi is posing himself as the Messiah of the poor and crusader against poverty. The poor are likely to fall into his trap.

Our focus should be on this aspect of his sinister designs. He is trying hard to garner their sympathy by all means. Modi ‘s maneuver needs to be fully exposed. Once again I think the political aspect must be properly addressed.

Hargopal Singh, Solan, Himachal Pradesh 
THE Human Rights Day was observed all over the world on when these rights are denied everywhere with impunity under the regime of imperialists and their lackeys! Even the UN’s Human Rights Declaration is violated with impunity by its members, especially by the Security Council members. While the five star celebrations are going on, it is forgotten that during 2016 more millions became refugees, many thousands were massacred in drone and other bombings in West Asia. The reports of human right violations affecting millions of people are appearing in the press! In India if the Note Bandi which devastated the life of millions was the biggest human rights violation, fake encounters, atrocities against dalits, adivasis, women, children etc have mounted during this year. Human rights and social justice can be achieved only through system change, so let us work for it! 
SOME of the intellectuals and left groups had argued that after the setbacks in Bengal and evaluations in its Visakhapatnam Congress the CPI(M) has rectified its mistakes. But what is the reality? In Kerala the CPI(M) led LDF government is proving that it is no way different from the BJP led or other state governments in its economic policies and mainly police policies. Two Maoists against whom there were no cases in the state were recently killed in fake encounter at Nilampur. When this was criticized by even by its own MLA and leader VS Achuthanandan, its ruling partner CPI, and large number of democratic forces, the chief minister, PB member of the party, Pinarayi Vijayan admonished all of them saying nothing should be done to weaken the morale of the police force! Now, in the name of petitions from Sangh Parivar constituents, police is charging people under Sedition Law, UAPA and what not. What a shame!

When the SC ordered singing of national anthem in cinema halls, and when people who had gone to the recent Thiruvananthapuram Film Festival a number of times every day before every film, instead of challenging the order in the court, the CPI(M) state secretary is saying that only those who are ready for it need go to the festival! When the director of the festival committee, a famous film director, Kamal was insulted by the Sanghis by organizing a demonstration in front of his house and singing national anthem there, no action is taken against them.

In spite of any number of Singurs, Nandigrams and setbacks, the bureaucratic CPI(M) leadership who have become social democrats, apologists of the ruling system will not learn anything . What a shame! The leaders of CPI(ML) Liberation, SUCI(C) like groups and many of the intellectuals who have joined or are supporting the CPI(M) led Left Front, justifying their action claiming that CPI(M) has changed after the setbacks in Bengal are not learning any lessons from the Kerala developments!
SINCE October 9, soldiers poured into Rakhine, over 130 Rohingyas have been killed and thousands of houses in their villages were torched. The UN estimates that 30,000 Rohingya families are displaced in the ongoing violence in Rakhine. Bangladesh has provided food and shelter to around 30,000 documented Rohingyas. All promises of Suu Kyi regime for “lasting solutions” to the Rohingya crisis are proved futile.

Since the enactment of the 1982 Burma Citizenship Law, which effectively denied citizenship, the 1.33 million Rohingyas have led perilous and uncertain lives and have migrated in large numbers to safer places. The recent military intervention was initiated to track down unidentified alleged insurgents thought to be responsible for the attack on police border posts on October 9 in Maungdaw village in which nine Burmese policemen were shot dead. Maungdaw was immediately declared a counterterrorism “operation zone” and from October 10, humanitarian aid to the region was suspended. Instead of investigation through the formation of an independent judicial commission punitive measures are imposed on the whole people.

The CPI(ML) Red Star calls for an end to military occupation, and solution of the Rohingya question by recognizing their right to citizenship. We condemn the silence on this humanitarian question by the government of India and demand that it should raise its voice for the rights of the Rohingya people. 
INDIA has the “dubious honour” of being the second most ignorant nation in the world after Mexico, according to a survey which posed questions on issues like inequality, non-religious population, female employment and internet access. The survey conducted by Ipsos MORI, a London-based market research firm, polled 25,000 people from 33 countries and found that while people “over-estimate what we worry about”, a lot of major issues are underestimated.

“Mexico and India receive the dubious honour of being the most inaccurate in their perceptions on these issues, while South Koreans are the most accurate, followed by the Irish,” the survey..

The rankings of the nations were based on the “Index of Ignorance” which was determined by questions about wealth that the top one per cent own, obesity, non-religious population, immigration, living with parents, female employment, rural living and internet access.

Most Indians “underestimate” how much of their country’s wealth is concentrated in the hands of the top 1 per cent, the survey said, adding that the top 1 per cent actually own an “incredible” 70 per cent of all wealth. The survey also found that most Indians “hugely overestimate” the proportions of non-religious people in the country to be 33 per cent when the true figure is under 1 per cent. While Israel significantly underestimates the proportion of female employment (by 29 percentage points), people in countries like India, Mexico, South Africa and Chile all think of more women in work than really are, it said.

India fell in the list of nations which overestimate representation by women in politics. Countries like Columbia, India and Brazil all think there is better female representation than there really is, the survey said. However, the Indian population seriously underestimates the rural population of the country and thinks more people have internet access than in reality. In India the average guess among online respondents for internet access is 60 per cent - an overestimation of the true picture of 41% points, the survey added. 
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The Communist movement in India has a history of almost a century after the salvos of October Revolution in Russia brought Marxism-Leninism to the people of India who were engaged in the national liberation struggle against the British colonialists. It is a complex and chequered history.