Demonetisation Was A Bad Decision And Here’s Why I Think It Failed Miserably

Nirav Modi once again is at the centre of public discourses. One of the articles the I read recently, mentioned how he helped few Bollywood celebrities and politicians to buy jewellery after Centre banned Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes on November 8, 2016. At the time of demonetisation, media was flooded with reports of how cash is being thrown in banks, burnt in homes, and thrown on roads. However, with 98.96% of demonetised money back in the banking system, all these stories seem baseless now. Moreover, the demonetised currency notes from Nepal and Bhutan haven’t made their way back into the system.

Recently, around 100 crores of demonetised notes were seized from Kanpur. Additionally, many people are still fighting in courts to deposit their hard earned money in banks. Also, the possibility of a few demonetised currency notes still somewhere hidden in old bags or jeans. Does that mean that in reality the banking system received more than 100% of the demonetised currency and maybe that’s why the government is not revealing the exact facts about demonetisation?

Furthermore, the periodic changes in rules have seriously damaged RBI’s reputation. So how did demonetisation failed? Yes, it did! It’s high time we accept it. But let’s discuss how??

Taking up the case of Nirav Modi, we can deduce that businesspeople had several channels to park the black money they had in cash. They kept transacting in demonetised money even after the government banned all the old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes. Just like Nirav Modi, they also took money from their high profile friends. They billed it in back dates, adjusted their money, and made profits. Apart from that, they even made pretty good use of Jan Dhan accounts. Most of the Jan Dhan account holders are daily wage earners who work for these businessmen and have hand-to-mouth earning that’s not always sufficient to fetch them proper meals throughout the year. Lakhs of such workers were given their old dues, enough for most of the people to adjust their black money. They were even paid in advance for the next few months. Jan Dhan accounts helped in money laundering, and we kept blaming our bank colleagues who toiled day and night to meet our daily needs. They suffered the most.

This was one side of the story, the business class, who had every resource to adjust their few percents of black income. Now let’s talk about black money the politicians and bureaucrats had. They receive their salary via the system. Depositing money in bank accounts was not a plausible option for them. They could have adjusted a few percents of the money they had with their business friends but adjusting entire money via that chain would have been impossible. But, the government policies came to their rescue. All the government counters were accepting demonetised notes; Toll plazas, Petrol pumps, Milk booths, Rail tickets, LPG cylinders, power and water bill counters, consumer cooperative stores, public counters, government hospitals, seed counters, etc. Most of them operate under the supervision of these politicians and bureaucrats. All of these counters, flouted government instructions and accepted banned currency notes, but only when your bill amounts to the exact figure of Rs 500 or Rs 1000. Rest, you had to pay in other valid dominations. They were receiving more legal currency, which easily helped their supervisors in adjusting cash. On the other hand, bank officials got access to a lot of Aadhaar card numbers and used them to convert black money of these esteemed people without going through all the formalities.

There is a great possibility that money that is back in the system, consists of a lot of fake currency since it never underwent any regulatory. The only people who suffered were lakhs and crores of people who stood in lines, and those who didn’t have money to buy even their daily essentials. Indian economy was the worst victim of demonetisation. It’s still suffering from its aftermath. Our economy thrives on cash. According to the Labor Bureau’s Fifth Annual Employment Unemployment Survey 2015–16, 72.8% of India earns below Rs 7500/month. We need a systematic reform of the economy, not such ill-conceived moves.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

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.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

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.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

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.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

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.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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