Photo Courtesy: University of Pennsylvania.
Have you seen an economic terrorism in your life? You haven’t?
Okay, look at India right now. One billion people — yes, one thousand million people, which is one-sixth of world population — are on the brink of an historic catastrophe: they might lose all the money they have.
Yes, they might lose all their money and savings. They can’t buy food. Can’t buy milk for their babies. Medicines for the sick. Small businesses have stopped functioning. No money in banks or ATM’s. People are dying.
This is perhaps the biggest financial scam in modern history. Yet, it’s not even news in Western media: I call it “Journalism of Exclusion.” What horror!!
Why is this happening?
On November 8, on the day of the U.S. elections when Americans elected Donald Trump as their president, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Indian version of Trump when it comes to his far-right, ultranationalist politics, announced that his government was scrapping the country’s 500- and 1000-rupee notes (i.e., bills), to combat the influx of illegal or “black” money problem. He announced that people would have to turn in their mid-level currency immediately into their banks or post offices, in lieu of a newly-released 2000-rupee note.
And what a nationwide panic it created!
Millions of ordinary men and women gave up all the work they had, put their lives on hold, and lined up in front of their banks and post offices to return their money. People started lining up in front of their ATM machines to get the newly-floated money, only to realize that the government had shut down all the machines indefinitely. Even after lining up for hours, people realized the bank or post office ran out of cash.
So far, about forty people died — directly because of anxiety and stress stemming from this chaos.
This is a massive economic catastrophe of historic proportions. In India, half of its 1.2 billion people have no bank account; they live and eat and work and go about their lives on cash currency only, and the middle class and near-poor are practically exclusively dependent on the mid-level currency. Countless places in India do not even have a bank or post office. Many places have no roads to reach money to the people quickly.
Women who are stay-home moms, sisters, aunts and homemakers — a very big number — have no other means than using cash for their needs. In cities and towns, countless old people are now without help of next-of-kins or a support who can exchange their money. Money lenders are having a field day: Indian “hawalas” are charging 25 to 50 percent for exchanging currency.
Small businesses, fish and vegetable vendors, day laborers, nannies, caregivers, potters, masons, mine workers, tree loggers, plumbers, cooks…countless professions…even sex workers — all depend on cash for their lives. Once their money is forfeited, they are destroyed. Many do not even understand what really is going on!
India’s electronic technology and credit card-debit card system is rudimentary; only two percent of Indians have access to plastic cards. Most people have not heard about online shopping either. The so-called demonetization program, touted to dismantle the paper currency and by default, transaction of counterfeit, black money, is bound to doom the vast majority of its population.
Estimate shows that through confiscating these currency notes, only about 0.025% of black money will be recovered. The extreme rich — India’s one percent — mostly ship their money overseas (Swiss Bank, etc.), or turn money into gold or real estate. They are rejoicing with this government decision: nobody really can touch them. Forbes and Bill Gates and India’s super-rich cricketers have eulogized Modi’s decision.
The Indian government is run by a political party acronym’d BJP, a parallel to the Republican Party here in USA. BJP, on the other hand, is mentored by a Hindu supremacist organization called RSS, which once eulogized Hitler, and was implicated in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. Prime Minister Modi and finance minister Arun Jaitley have been lifelong, hardcore members of RSS.
RSS and BJP do not believe in race, religion or economic equality, and just like the far right Republicans, have clamped down violently on “low castes,” “untouchables,” and left-leaning labor unions. Muslims have been major targets of their violence.
In recent years, BJP, which once touted a “Swadeshi” or isolationist economy detached from globalization, has embraced global capital, particularly U.S. corporations. Microsoft, GE, Monsanto, MacDonald’s, Wal-Mart, as well as Rupert Murdoch, etc, have made deep inroads, destroying the once-semi-socialistic Indian economy. IMF and World Bank have imposed their atrocious economic sanctions, to force Indian economy go completely deregulated, free of “labor trouble.”
This unbelievable, sweeping economic terror is, in all likelihood, not intended to solve India’s black money problem. It is, as many observed, to distract people’s attention from dismal failures of the government to address real-life problems of the country. It is also perhaps to comply with IMF and World Bank and U.S. corporations’ dictates to deregulate India’s economy, and replace the traditional, small-business-based Indian marketplace with a multinational, global, corporate market system.
Most Indians, in this melee, are likely to be crushed, forever.