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Why Is There A Lack Of Constructive Criticism In The Parliament On Demonetisation?

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November 8, 2016, will go down in India’s history as a day when a tremendous change happened, that aimed at changing India from a cash-based economy to taking a step towards moving to a digitised, and much more transparent mode of transaction.

How the decision was kept a secret and the sheer will of the government to try and tackle the growing problem of corruption is something that initially had an overwhelming response, only to be met with the disappointment due to inapt implementation and the chaos of people queuing up in lines and finding no cash in banks.

This is what we all know and have discussed a fair bit with our families in our drawing rooms, criticising the government all we like and probably even agreeing that this might end up severely impacting India’s GDP. Amidst this, we’ve all forgotten to look at the bigger picture – every action has a counter-action, and every failure is a step towards success. If demonetisation fails to tackle the problem of black money, where is our economy headed next?

It is fair to criticise the government in power, after all, it is accountable for this major shake-up in our country, where a large part of the population receives their daily wages in cash – and no, not every cash transaction is in black.

The real area of concern is what we’re selling in our country, in the name of ‘democracy’. The pillars of democracy help one exercise their right to speech, freedom and liberty. We’re a country rich in our use of rights, and our Constitution helps us become a sovereign nation. These principles laid the foundation for our Parliament – the current running of which, I’m sorry to say – is undemocratic and lacks respect towards the people who elected these MPs; we did not choose MPs so that they could be absent on crucial days, we didn’t choose them so that they could throw papers at the speaker, we didn’t choose them so that they could waste crores and crores of tax payers’ money in a political blame-game. If the country has one issue at hand, it is no excuse to not work on the other issues – it’s just plain and simply child-like and doesn’t go with the ethos and principles with which our country had tasted freedom “at the stroke of the midnight hour.”

I’m not a party-aligned man, whichever party does well deserves credit. As much as the opposition has been at fault, perhaps the centre has also stepped back from maintaining cordial ties and breaking the ice to help the Parliament function. The battle of egos only hurts the nation in the long run.

The laws in the Parliament of India need to be changed, and that needs to happen now, or it’s not going to happen ever. Whether it is chanting slogans next to the chair of the speaker, or coming to this pious place drunk, disrespecting the process of functioning through chants and slogans – the MPs should be banned for such behaviour. In places of education and work such behaviour accounts for punishment – how is it that our politicians are allowed to get away with such behaviour?

That was about the functioning of the Parliament. Let us get back to the issue of demonetisation and crack a few basic points.

It is quite rare in our country that an ex-PM speaks on a current issue and that too in the Parliament. Chances are that people will listen to someone as distinguished a scholar as Dr Manmohan Singh, whose opinions have great weight in society.

It will be fair to say that he’s one of the best economists we’ve ever had. Having said that, as much as I appreciate Dr Singh’s views on demonetisation, it’ll perhaps be a better way for both Congress and the BJP to discuss the issue in the Parliament and if the impeccable genius of Dr Singh can be utilised by both parties to see how the implementation of the demonetisation announcement can be made better, it’ll only help the country.

One thing upon which there’s a clear agreement is the fact that we have the problem of black money biting into our economy and getting rid of it is the need of the hour.

Seeing the current situation, where exactly are the current regulations going wrong in tackling the issue of black money – and how can it be tackled better? The sad reality is; while the political blame game is at its peak – none of the major political parties are willing to give constructive criticism of the policy.

We all are aware of the long lines outside ATMs, the troubles of the unorganised sector, the lack of infrastructure to process digitised transactions in rural areas – and all this criticism is valid, but that doesn’t mean that the whole policy and its intention can be questioned. I believe that is unfair.

What is your take on this? Do you agree that the Parliament as an institution of political reforms in this country deserves to undergo through certain strict measures to lay down an apt example of ‘democratic functioning’? What should be done next if black money is a problem and the centre takes steps to solve it, and it doesn’t succeed?

We surely can’t become an economy which is ‘okay’ with unaccounted income running parallel to accounted income. We can’t be a country that promotes the use of black money over digitised transactions. Where is the constructive criticism that can be used to battle this problem?


Image source: Hindustan Times/Getty Images
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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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