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Demonetisation and chaos: What the foreign media says

“Government leaders feel that the sudden move by the Indian Prime Minister has brought new respect for him."
note ban

As India struggles with the cash crunch on Day 9 of demonetisation, the foreign media has questioned the surprise move of the Narendra Modi government.

In one such report in The New York Times, talked about the crowds at ATMs, and also quoted an expert saying it was a wise move. “The plan, top secret until Mr. Modi’s announcement, was hailed by financial analysts as bold and potentially transformational for India. It is also a high-stakes experiment,” the article said. It also went on to quote an opinion piece by Ila Patnaik in the Indian Express saying that payments are now likely to be held up and purchases likely to be postponed, potentially damaging the economy in 2016 and 2017.

“As long as things are going fine, we tend to ignore money,” she wrote. “But when money is disrupted, this imposes a substantial disruption upon the working of the economy.”

In a report of The Guardian, it said, “So last week Modi did some more of the smoke and mirrors stuff that he is so good at: a shock announcement in a blaze of publicity designed to show that he is serious about ending corruption, even though the actual impact is quite different.” The writer expressed the dirt on ground of demonetisation, and concluded saying “Modi’s penchant for optics rather than substance was always annoying; but this time it has acquired truly damaging proportions.”

The Independent in its glowing article on the move compared Modi to Lee Kuan Yew, who was the Singaporean Prime Minister for several decades and is considered the architect of modern Singapore. “Government leaders feel that the sudden move by the Indian Prime Minister has brought new respect for him. A senior Indian government official even equated Mr Modi to Singapore’s first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. From making up his mind to rolling it out yesterday (8 Nov), a new Lee Kuan Yew is born in India. It will be reflected in the legacy of this Prime Minister,” the article said.

In a report of Al Jazeera, it focused on the toll the decision has taken on the poor of the country. The article said, “For India’s poor, however, the country’s new currency policy is more than just an inconvenience.” As the report showed poor it talked to, it said “The notes’ sudden withdrawal from circulation, a measure aimed at fighting corruption, has caused chaos, with markets, petrol stations and other retailers refusing to accept the larger notes and bank cash machines staying closed.”

However, BBC report was critical in its coverage, with the article focusing on the long queues at ATMs, and the problems small businessmen were facing with the sudden paucity of cash. It said, “Outside the chaos inflicted upon honest, tax-paying and low-income Indians, a burlesque of sorts is playing out as others try to game the system and convert hordes of scrapped illegal cash into gold and goods, which they can then hoard or sell. For a country inured to corruption and illegal money, there’s no dearth of ideas.”

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