India's minister of state for information and broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore speaks to WION's Kartikeya Sharma about demonetisation, says the government had done its prep but "sometimes you need to change things".
Question: Opposition has charged that demonetisation has caused substantial public inconvenience and not delivered on the economic front as argued by the government. How to do you see this?
See the amount of corruption which existed in the country. See the position we were ranked. Everything was being affected by the parallel economy which was running, including getting into educational institutions. The taxation circle was small and a large number of people weren’t paying taxes. The question is whether we want short-term effort which already existed. This measure is for a larger majority and that’s why it’s getting support from people.
My constituency is Jaipur rural and I meet people every day and I’m telling you that people are very happy
Q: When do you expect public inconvenience to end because the economic measure has acquired a political life?
Our Prime Minister has sought 50 days. Things are easing down. ATM machines have been tweaked. Liquidity has increased. I understand that there is anxiety among people but a strong decision has been taken. The issue is that people are also hoarding currency but I’m sure that this anxiety will and should ease and there is no restriction in spending cash. Of course, we are supporting transactions online but cash use is not prohibited. Those who cannot handle mobile phones can use cash. So overall there is a balance between cash and digital transactions. We were spending 80 per cent in cash in India and we would like to change it.
Q: Lot of tweaking has taken place. Is it because the government wasn’t prepared or new issues and realities came in and the Centre had to respond to it?
The preparation was done but it has been a mix of both. Be it business or military you prepare but sometimes you need to change things. I admit that it was a mix of both. You need to be flexible. Eventually, you have to see how the situation is so that people aren’t burdened and if you find that people are trying to cut corners then the system has to respond to it. The objective isn’t politics but providing strength to the country.
Question: Demonetisation as an economic exercise has political repercussions. Do you expect it to impact forthcoming assembly elections?
My constituency is Jaipur rural and I meet people every day and I’m telling you that people are very happy. Look at the results which came from Chandigarh. Out of overall 26 seats, we won more than 20. Look at the results. We have done well. Such decisions aren’t done for political goals. A decision like this impacts the country in many ways and is meant for changing the direction of the country so that things change. Like the Prime Minister said the other day that a time should come that it shouldn’t take more than six minutes for people to get loans from banks. Once things are accounted for everything will be sorted. It will ensure that benefits pass down to the last man standing.
Q: Opposition says that methods have become very intrusive like now Rs 5,000 and above can only be deposited once without scrutiny?
A very small fraction is trying to subvert the mechanism whereas the larger majority isn’t doing so. The only thing people are being asked to do is to deposit cash in a go and not in batches and it has to be communicated to people fairly.
Q: Are you saying that the step will help eventually?
It is all being done so that we have an India which is digital and accounted for.