SARCAJC

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Demonetisation in India

The front page of Economic Times informs that 25 paise will be out of circulation from tomorrow. On 1 April 1957, the Indian Government took out a notification & took out decimal coins. The circulation of old rupee, 50 paise, 2 anna (8 paise), 1 anna (4 paise) was also declared valid for three years. New coins of one, two, five and ten naya paisa were put into circulation on 1 April 1957. Both the old coins & the new coins were considered legal tender for three years. One, two, five and ten new coins came in the market but it was said that circulation of 25 paise, 50 paise & 1 rupee will be done later.

But suddenly 25 paise disappeared from distribution. And this archival information has not been given by any newspaper today-The information in archival cutting of ‘Statesman’ newspaper reveals that government of India announced on April 22, 1957 that it was returning the "Lend- Lease" loan of 172 million fine ounces of silver obtained from USA during Second World War.

It was decided to pay in 50 million fine ounces of silver bars and rest in 122 million 25 paise coins! This 25p contained 50% silver, 40% copper, 5% zinc, 5% nickel. These 25p reached America through India based American Embassy. A press note issued by the Finance Ministry, Department of Economic Affairs, reads- "During the war, the US Government lent on lease 226 million fine ounces of silver to the government of India to be returned five years after the duration of the emergency. The liability for the return of this silver was divided between India & Pakistan, India’s share being approximately 172 million ounces. For the return of this silver, the following arrangements have been agreed in between the government of India & USA.

The government of India will make immediate arrangements for the shipment of approximately 50 million fine ounces of silver of the requisite fineness in the form of bars to the US government. The balance of the silver amounting to approximately 122 million fine ounces will be made available in the form of quaternary alloy coins through the American Embassy in New Delhi. The first instalment of the shipment of the 50 million fine ounces of silver will start on April 24, when approximately three million fine ounces of silver will be shipped bt s.s. President Taylor. The balance of the silver will be shipped to USA as & when shipping space is available".

Shortage of 25p was always there, but it aggravated as since 2002, no 25 paise coins have been minted. The finance ministry spokesman explained to Economic Times- "The Ministry and the RBI had been receiving complaints that the circulation of coins of the denomination of 25 paise and below has been stopped long ago since their metal value exceeds the face value. Thus rendering them liable to melting & sale by unscrupulous elements".

Was there really no circulation of 25p coin? Maybe for those who could afford offering in Hindu temples or gifting shagun above denominators of Rs. 11 & above but what about the poor? But does anyone bother how will that poor woman, who wants to offer best wishes/offering in minimum denomination of Rs. 1.25, manage in times of high inflation? The private vendors will make a killing & ask for hefty premium for 25p- greed game starts here- again at the cost of the poor. But none of the mainstream newspaper has bothered to even consider this, look around folks when you visit a temple!


Recommended- Humourous story with cartoons on Demonetisation. Do view on u-tube-To view click here

9 November 2016

Landmark Financial Reform 

It is not often that one views any advertisement by Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in a newspaper in Hindi. Today, an advertisement in English has appeared in a Hindi newspaper- Dainik Bhaskar on page 9 with headline- “Reserve Bank of India. Mumbai. Notice (published as advertisement)”. It states off- “Government of India have cancelled the legal tender status of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 domination of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 domination of banknotes of the existing series issued by the Reserve Bank till 8th November 2016.  This is necessitated to tackle counterfeiting Indian banknotes, to effectively nullify black money hoarded in cash & curb funding of terrorism with fake notes..”. Another advertisement on page 3 by Reserve Bank of India features photograph of new currency note of Rs. 2000,  and informs-”Now your bank notes in new design: RBI issues Rs. 2000 note in a new series”. Another advertisement on page 7 by Reserve Bank of India features photograph of new currency note of Rs. 500, informs-”Now your bank notes in new design: RBI issues Rs. 500 note in a new series”. While an advertisement by Finance Ministry, Government of India in Hindi with headlines - “ India takes a historic step to fight corruption, black money, terrorism & counterfeit currency” is accompanied with photograph of the Prime Minister of India. Hindi Newspaper Dainik Jagran feels this is a “biggest step since independence on Black money”. While Rajasthan Patrika feels this step has ‘won heart of honest people”. All newspaper have carried headlines on this step, like:



The black buck stops here, says Modi (Hindustan Times)
Rs500, Rs 100 notes defunct (Tribune)
Modi’s surgical hits on black money (Asian Age)
Black out? 500, 1000 notes no longer valid (Times of India)
Modi strikes big-bang note (Economic Times)

Yesterday, minutes before 8 pm, came the surprise in Indian television channels- “standby for first address of Prime Minister at 8 pm”. None of the anchors of television channel anchors had the remotest ‘correct’ clue regarding the topic of his address to Nation. One anchor even anticipated that PM’s address might be regarding tension with neighboring nation. As Prime Minister’s talk unfolded, surgical strike on black money was crystal clear: which will go down as  a great landmark in financial history of India. As the night unfolded, the news that higher denomination- Rs. 500, Rs. 1000 is no longer legal after midnight spread across the nation. The shocked opposition party leaders  found words out rightly congratulating the government, rather difficult. While the honest main street found this ban on currency notes as best news that came their way in their lifetime. 


SARCAJC has been speaking on the menace of black money since long in Newspaper Watch. Action against black money should proceed further. To put an end to existing end use of black money, involvement of the common man is a must to identify unaccounted expensive house, luxury cars, expensive watches, gadgets etc, designer cloths, the list is endless . Will the Indian media  undertake investigative assignments to uncover black money? 

Take a look at archival extract of Newspaper Watch of SARCAJC:

29th June 2007

Fake

The fake stamp paper kingpin- Telgi was sentenced to rigorous imprisonment of 13 years after he pleaded guilty. The Court took a lenient view since he voluntarily pleaded guilty and his health was not good (he is HIV positive). The Court also imposed a fine. But how much? Newspapers have reported different figures- Rs. 1.2 billion (Punjab Kesari), Rs. 1 billion (Dainik Bhaskar, MetroNow, Hindu), Rs. 1.02 billion (Hindustan Times, Asian Age, Hindustan, Pioneer), Rs. 2.51 billion (Indian Express), Rs. 2.02 billion (Times of India), more than Rs. 1 billion (Amar Ujala, Tribune).

How to put an end to fake stamp papers, currency, certificates? This has not come out in the judgment. Surely, when illegal money pours on such Telgis, its public display is far too obvious- expensive house, luxury cars, watches, cloths, the list is endless. And it's not difficult to identify them. What is needed is the involvement of the common man, who is observant of such displays – a special hotline number to report such Telgis, induction of honest citizens in the intelligence wings….? 

12 March 2008

Facts of Day: fake currency

According to Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), fake Indian currency has seen a sudden increase and they are been smuggled into the country from all directions. The CBI has found that Southern and Western India has emerged as big markets for fake currency (Economic Times. Page 2). The political Bureau of this leading financial paper has failed to make any comment on this grave problem. In fact, none of the leading newspapers have carried any detailed first hand investigative report (read sting operation) on this critical problem faced by the country. Why just newspapers, this is true for television channels too. Too busy covering page 3 events & celebrities! 

17 October 2008

Cartoon of the Day

Toon features fake currency telling the Indian Finance Minister- “ Liquidity crunch? We can provide all the cash you want” (Free Press Journal). Spot on. The menace of fake currency has not been tackled by the much acclaimed Reserve Bank of India. True, RBI was quick to respond to the global meltdown but serious effort is lacking here. RBI seems to be obsessed with liquidity and assisting the mutual funds. The free market has gone for a toss. The honest person is at loss due to this parrel economy.

Look deeper, fake currency being found in the chest of largest Public sector bank is not a joke. And if bank officials are to be believed most fake currency cannot be detected without UV light. So should every person carry a UV light and check every note he/she exchanges/gives? Nope, this is no solution.Why not catch people who distribute fake currency. Their identification is not difficult, if only the common man is taken into confidence. These agents (with cars for distribution) must have turned overnight rich and this cannot escape neighbour’s eye. Hello, is anyone listening? 

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18 January 2009

Sunday Report

The front page of the supplement of Pioneer contains shouting headlines- “ Fake notes, real problem”. Saswat Panigrahi investigates to what degree is counterfeit Indian currency becoming an instrument for terror networks and returns alarmed. According to recent government estimates, counterfeit currency in the Indian market amounts to Rs. 1690 billion. “ So far the government of India has not been able to put in place a comprehensive mechanism to check the entry and spread of fake currency…Security agencies are clamoring for intense scrutiny of India’s banking system…”. Why not target the agents who carry fake currency in the country as carriers? And how can this be done more effectively? Saswat Panigrahi has not explored this crucial issue. Take a clue from the common man. It is the common man who witnesses well dressed people, driving big cars, buying indiscriminately in malls, going out in cars at odd time at night with heavy bags. Take on board the ‘eys and ears’ of common man and nothing is difficult.

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1 March 2009

Child’s Play

The front page of Times of India reports that Reserve Bank has launched a unique initiative- school kids will help to fight the menace of fake currency in the country. How? School campaign and posters to familiarize students with various currency denominations. Moreover children will be taught to distinguish between real and fake currency. Hang on, how will kids be able to distinguish fake currency from real, when even experts are finding it extremely difficult? Take a clue from senior police officer of special cell- “ We received many complaints from leading banks last year. When notes were screened, it was very hard to distinguish the from original ones. Even paper quality and necessary imprints on the original notes are inscribed on the counterfeit ones” (Asian Age.28/2/2009). Not so long ago, fake currency was found in currency chest of State Bank of India. The scam came to light when the Special Task Force (STF) of the state police arrested four people with fake currency notes in the town. However, officials of the RBI team refused to talk to the media in Domariyaganj and said their report will be submitted to the RBI headquarters in Mumbai (Economic Times. 25/8/2008). Further, according to House Panel Committee on counterfeit currency notes in circulation in the country, what has been detected so far is only the tip of the iceberg as organised criminal activity of Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICNs) had spread its tentacles in several parts of the country “with damaging consequences for the Indian economy and polity”. (Hindu BusinessLine. 23/12/2008). No white paper has appeared by RBI on this serious problem, nor any concrete steps taken by the Central Bank to flush out & stop the menace fake currency. Point to ponder- Does RBI considers fake currency as a serious problem anyway? 

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14 May 2009

Election Watch

Most exit polls have given an edge to the Congress led UPA over BJP led NDA, and this news has been carried on the front page of most newspapers. The cartoon on front page of Asian Age features a political leader reading exit poll result in newspapers & calculating strength of his political party- “Look. This paper predicts 80 seats, this channel gives us 100, the survey forecasts 92. We will get absolute majority if we add them up!”. Self Advertisement in Indian Express starts off by asking a number of questions - “Will political agenda succeed? Will they make ambitions concrete? Where will every party go, after vote? Who’ll get more numbers? …Who’ll side with whom?…Get ready to get in the know. Only with the Indian Express….”. While self advertisement of Amar Ujala features small machine printing Indian currency notes. Its Punch line reads- “Some people print note, we print truth”. Hang on, printing fake currency was illegal, right? The Editorial of Dainik Bhakhar feels after counting of votes, new age of political activities may begin, where play of manipulation will reach its peak. The editorial of Dainik Jagran has not minced words-“..Agreed this is an age of alliance politics, but does it mean that this has given special facility to political parties to disown all democratic values, standards an even public opinion?…political parties through their actions are giving message to public that they should forget everything after vote..”. The cartoon in Nai Duniya shows two political leaders hugging each other- “We are parties with same thinking. Both believe features small machine printing Indian currency notes. Its Punch line reads- “Some people print note, we print truth”. Hang on, printing fake currency was illegal, right? The Editorial of feels after counting of votes, new age of political activities may begin, where play of manipulation will reach its peak. The editorial of has not minced words-“..Agreed this is an age of alliance politics, but does it mean that this has given special facility to political parties to disown all democratic values, standards an even public opinion?…political parties through their actions are giving message to public that they should forget everything after vote..”. The cartoon in shows two political leaders hugging each other- “We are parties with same thinking. Both believe ‘form government’…Let ideology go to hell”. Indeed, conducting elections on such a large scale is no joke. The editorial of Asian Age, Tribune feels Election Commission did a great job. What does the Election Commission feel, any area of worry? Take a clue from S.Y Quaraishi, Election Commissioner of India- “… Now there are over 300 TV channels vying for advertisements, and elections time is surely their harvest season. The present law does not prescribe a ceiling on expenditure by political parties. The worry is that the role of cash in elections seems to be growing is, however, valid. Black money, always played a role in elections and with booming economy, his rile has grown bigger. We are aware of our limitation in eliminating the role of black money in elections….suggestion about State funding in my opinion is not workable in view of the ground realities. It will be very naïve to think that after State funding is provided, the use of black money may go down the drain…” (Hindustan Times). 
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August 27, 2009

Concern of Day

The main street encounters corruption everyday. Lone fight against corruption is never easy, especially when public grievance redressal system fails. Yes, here, Right to Information Act comes to rescue to some extent. After a long time, prime Minister has expressed this concern, in detail, over corruption. Take a clue- “..Corruption distorts the rule of law and weakens institutions of governance. It hurts our economic growth in a variety of ways, apart from hindering our efforts to build a just, fair and equitable society…The poor are disproportionately hurt because of corruption. We have some of the most ambitious and wide ranging programmes in place today to help the poor and the marginalised sections of our society. But, there is a constant refrain in public discourse that much of what the government provides never reaches the intended beneficiaries – whether it is subsidized foodgrains for the poor, loans, fertilizers or seeds on concessional terms for small and marginal farmers or the benefit of employment programmes for the under employed and unemployed. This should be a matter of serious concern for all of us collectively… pervasive corruption in our country tarnishes our image to an important extent…There is a pervasive feeling today in our country that while petty cases get tackled quickly, the big fish often escape punishment. This has to change. Rapid, fair and accurate investigation of allegations of corruption in high places should remain your (CBI’s) utmost priority. (PM's address at the XVII biennial conference of CBI and State Anti-Corruption Bureaux. 26 August 2009)

Many newspapers have carried extracts from the Prime Minister’s address with stress on ‘Big Fish’- Catch Big fish (Aaj Samaj), PM tells CBI to catch the ‘big fish’(Asian Age), Also catch corrupt big fish: Manmohan (Nai Duniya). Aaj Samaj has carried a large photograph of fishes on its front page, along with a write-up, which begins- “What time has come! Appeal to do their work. That too from Prime Minister…Rajiv too appealed. For freedom from middlemen. Many years have passed…Everything is like before…Strict implementation should be seen on appeal”. Surprisingly, a very few editorial have focused on this all pervasive problem in light of Prime Minister’s concern. The editorial of Dainik Bhaskar points out that corruption will end by political will & not by scolding CBI. Further- “…PM has set aside thousands of crores of rupees for the development of villages, but if corruption is not controlled, a very small amount will reach the poor”. The cartoon on the front page of Financial Chronicle shows a man in black oversized overcoat, black hat carrying a newspaper with news- “Fight aggressively against corruption: PM to CBI”. That’s no ordinary man- it represents CBI, and guess what he says- “If only politicians get off our back”. Yes, the good news is that government is ready with a draft of a much awaited law to protect whistleblowers. However, the Union Ministers, are proposed to be kept out of the purview of the proposed law! (Indian Express). But what about take of Indian newspapers on corruption. Take a clue from a pick from Newspaper Watch Archives:

28 November 2007

Tale of Two Cs:

‘One of the most important functions of good journalism is to keep watch on the abuse of public office and public money. And this is one of things that journalists most enjoy doing’. (Larry Kilman. World Association of Newspapers.8/6/05). Indian newspapers are also taking part in the fight against corruption. For a sample, let's view extracts of two Editorial of Tribune on corruption:

"....Where can the common man, particularly the poor who suffers the most because of corruption, should go when the administration is distant and indifferent. The remedy for corruption has to come from honest citizens who have to shut the door against the corrupt and the criminal and the political parties who harbour them. This will require considerable courage and may be some sacrifice in personal terms. The effort will be worth it - for the survival of democracy in the country and good".(Editor-in-chief of Tribune-H.K. Dua. 16/10/04. Tribune)

"...These days one cannot get any work done without greasing the palms of the officials concerned. However, will it be fair to punish a person on the ground that he had given some money to the staff to get his PF, pension or traveling allowance arrears cleared without which he would have gone from pillar to post? What about those giving tips to the postman for having delivered a money order, to the railway ticket collector for a sleeper berth at the last minute or even for securing the expeditious release of a friend’s body from a hospital mortuary? The law should be such that punishment should be given only to those who are really guilty of the crime of offering bribes for seeking undue favours and not otherwise "(Today’s editorial in Tribune).

Notice the change? A Newspaper legitimising a type of corruption? Has corruption become an accepted part of life by the common man in India? Nope! The common man is still fighting against corruption and is not taking the ‘easy’ route. Point to ponder- How far are newspapers playing a proactive role in supporting the common man in his fight against this menace and discouraging those who feed any kind of corruption? How many news reports do they carry on efforts by whistle blowers vis-à-vis news reports on ‘page three’ celebrities?

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1 September 2009 

Financial Watch

33% per cent of the people in India are yet to be benefited by the formal banking system, said Ananda, Regional Director of Reserve Bank of India, Chennai (New Indian Express). But how many people are benefiting from fake currency at the cost of the economy & honest citizens? There are no single firm estimates of fake currency. The extent of fake currency in the country can be guessed by the fact that the Reserve bank of India too is suffering from this menace. Last week, apex bank had complained to the police that fake currency amounting to Rs. 84,000 were found in its currency chest (Hindustan Times). Is this the reason why the finance ministry is examining a Reserve Bank of India recommendation to stop harassment of any person possessing fake currency notes. He will now face music only if he has more than five such fake notes. (Free Press Journal). Point to ponder- why no special drive to catch human carriers who spread the fake currency net in the country?

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13 February 2010

By Invitation only

The front page of Free Press Journal reports that according to the Governor of apex bank of India growing fiscal deficit as a result of governments' efforts to prop up their respective economies has the potential to undermine the autonomy of central banks, whose credibility has already been dented due to the financial meltdown. The Reserve Bank had organised the first international research conference on Challenges to Central Banking in the Context of Financial Crisis in a posh five star hotel in Mumbai, which concluded today. For reasons best known, participation to this conference was highly restricted (Attendance/ Participation is by invitation only). We requested for an invite, but there was no response! The Press Release by RBI ended- “Governor, Reserve Bank of India was categorical in his remarks that the International Monetary System was inadequate to prevent a major structural problem, that is, global imbalances, which had to manifest in the form of some crisis or the other at some stage. He noted that even though India did not contribute to global imbalances, it has to face the consequences”. Most newspapers report latest health check of economy- Industrial output posted its best growth in 15 years this December, jumping 16.8 per cent over December 2008 & the ever rising food inflation has gone over the roof. Take a clue from Gaurav Chaudhary- “In the strange world of market economics, good news, can sometimes lead to bad news, because traders and policy makers follow their own logic…” (Hindustan Times). Point to ponder- what is the logic for the main street? Take a clue from Cartoon that appeared yesterday in Deshbandhu (National Edition). It features a notice in front of a provision store- “To view food items ticket only Rs. 20. Discount for family 50%. Hurry this exhibition will travel to other city on 20th”. Not surprising, the common man reading the notice is not amused! 

19 November 2016

Silver story of Demonetisation

When Indians are struggling with demonetisation of currency of higher denomination, its pertinent to remember silver story of demonetisatioon. Take a look from SARCAJC’s archival newspaper watch, 29 June 2011: 

Archival WATCH: 122 million Chavanis (25 paise Indian coins) went to America