Banking News dated 9th November 2018

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Banking News: November 9, 2018

Tragic Demise of Ms Soma Biswas, Branch Manager
Bambooflat Branch, Andaman & Nicobar Island

State Bank of India Officers' Association (Bengal Circle)

Circular No. 155/2018                                          Date: 31.10.2018


We deeply mourn the tragic and untimely demise of Com Soma Biswas.

We reproduce hereunder the text of the letter addressed to The Chief General Manager, State Bank of India, Local Head Office, Kolkata, the contents of which are self-explicit.

With greetings,

Soumya Datta
(General Secretary)

The Chief General Manager,
State Bank of India,
Local Head Office,

Respected Sir,


On 27th October, 2018, we received traumatic news of the infelicitous death of a young and promising officer, Ms Soma Biswas, posted as Branch Manager, Bambooflat. The entire officers’ fraternity of Kolkata Circle has been numbed with agony at the news of the tragic end of this young officer. We are certain that you share the loss and the resultant grief in equal measure. In fact, all of us have been inundated with calls/messages from across the country from the officers’ fraternity.

02. Soma Biswas joined as a Customer Associate in our Bank in 2009 and by dint of her industry became a Trainee Officer in 2012. In recognition of her diligence, merit and performance, she was promoted to MMGS-III in May, 2018 and from July, 2018 was posted as the Branch Manager of our Bambooflat Branch. She was a sincere, dedicated and energetic official, possessed of a strong personality. We simply cannot fathom how a person like her could take the ultimate step of ending her life. Her demise not only leaves us bereft of an invaluable and irreplaceable colleague but also opens up a number of troubling questions. If we choose to take our eyes off these deeply disturbing issues at this point, we would certainly be failing in our duty towards our institution.

03. There may be multiple reasons for a person to choose the path of suicide. Why would someone who was merely 31 years old and on track for a promising career in a premiere national financial institution terminate her life? There is no gainsaying that Soma left this world absolutely disillusioned and betrayed. The press and people working alongside in her branch have been abuzz with disclosures, with accounts of her frustration at work, the mounting work load and the huge challenges she faced in managing work pressures and the overall imbalance in work-life balance. Our sources indicate that she had documented her reasons of frustration concerning her office and career, as also the repeated public humiliations she suffered. It is learnt that in the ‘P’ review meeting held on 8th October, she was humiliated in an open forum for having passed an erroneous BGL entry on 29.09.2018. Again, on 25th October, 2018, she was summoned to RBO late at night and was humiliated by the controller, who supposedly remarked that he was not concerned about her CDS scores; on the contrary, he reportedly remarked that it was due to her non-performance in several areas, viz. review/renewal and negative growth, that his own CDS scores could be affected. She left the premises broken and bitter. The next day she continued to work in her branch to complete the pending review/renewal cases and worked till 9-30 pm. She reached her home at around 10-30 pm. The very next day, which happened to be a holiday, she went to her branch once more in the morning and took the extreme step of ending her life. It is most unfortunate, indeed tragic, that Soma did not receive any mentoring, counselling or compassion from her superiors.

04. Whether we hesitatingly agree or fervently disagree, the fact remains that employees of the banking industry are woefully overburdened. With the relentless overdrive in the area of para-banking activities, besides the additional efforts in the domain of normal banking activities, the life of employees in general and officers of all cadres in particular has become stressful, anxiety-ridden, distressed and disturbed. Apart from the workload, many officers are subjected to the frequent humiliation meted out by ‘rogue’ controllers in various tiers who derive sadistic pleasure in inflicting public insults to those working under them. Be it in the performance review meeting, interaction through social media, telephonic conversation, the disgrace and the humiliation officers are subjected to at the hands of their superiors is inhuman and demoralizing. The atmosphere has become noxious, claustrophobic and vitiated. The basic dignity of officers is being outraged by hostile and egotistic controlling office functionaries. Can our organization truly call itself a family of interconnected human beings? An organisation, irrespective of its size, is about its human assets. Its success emanates not from the numbers but the love and sincerity that the employees put into their work. And so it is the responsibility of those who run the organisation to reciprocate this love with understanding and compassion, a compassion that Soma Biswas was completely deprived of. Indeed, humanity has become a rotten word in our industry: this callous lack of concern for fellow human beings and colleagues has led to several bank officer suicides across the country.

05. You may recall that during the Town Hall meeting held at Nazrul Manch on 6th September, 2018, the undersigned had emphasized the need to address the grievances of internal customers and urged upon one and all the need to be courteous in their dealings with peers, subordinates and superiors. It seems that despite the presence of a large number of senior officers in the gathering, this message went largely unheeded. Till sometime back, our Circle was free from the demon of officer suicide. It is of late that we have begun to see these chilling events. We witnessed the most tragic demise of Shri Ratnadeep Nayek, Service Manager of our Titagarh Branch in September, 2018, who has apparently left a note citing work pressure as the main cause.

06. The issuance of the Circular on work-life balance vide no. CDO/P&HRD-IR/54/2017-18 dated 30/10/2017 was widely appreciated across the country. However, the spirit of the circular has not percolated to all levels. There is an unfortunate culture of working late hours in all RBOs/AOs; officers who leave office even at 7-30 pm are frowned on and branded as ‘shirkers’. In certain pockets, using various pretexts, officers are called on to work on Sundays and other holidays. Officers, it appears, have lost the right to work with self-esteem and dignity. This has deeply affected the morale of officers, many of whom have been driven to despair.

07. Sir, Article 21 of the Constitution of India, lays down that no person shall be deprived of life or personal liberty except according to a procedure established by law. The constitutional right to life further stresses the right to live with human dignity. Today, as an institution, we truly need to introspect, to ask ourselves whether we are creating a culture and an environment proper to the state of excellence we dream of bringing in our Circle and in our Bank? Shall we all collectively continue to remain silent spectators and shrug off our responsibility by offering mere condolences whenever such tragic incidences occur? Is it not high time that we wake up to felt needs and initiate suitable proactive measures to make the working environment healthy and congenial?

08. Protecting the sanctity of life has been a sine qua non within the precincts of law and justice in India. Apart from ensuring a healthy existence to all humans, this constitutional requirement is also aimed at protecting life itself. The level of respect shown towards a person’s life by the state is best explained by the fact that the state not only prohibits a person from taking another person’s life but also penalizes a person who himself tries to put an end to his/her life by means of suicide. The former is made punishable under section 302 and the latter under section 309 of the Indian Penal Code. The day may not be far off when we would perhaps witness our Controllers across various tiers getting embroiled in litigation pertaining to abetment to suicide within the ambit of Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code. The family and friends of the deceased could also insist on bringing in Section 306, which interprets abetment as a series of acts on the part of the accused that led to the creation of such circumstances where the deceased had no other option left than to commit suicide. This series of acts may include use of force, words, conduct, wilful omission or deeds, or for that matter even silence on the part of the accused in order to annoy or irritate the deceased, i.e. all such actions that result in the officer taking steps to end his or her life. We urge upon your good office to rein in our Controllers who rampantly indulge in the culture of accuse and abuse of subordinates only to hide their own deficiencies and inefficiencies. They need to be counselled that mere resorting to shouting, vilification and public humiliation of subordinates cannot fetch results. Such acts are simply counterproductive. On the contrary, the need of the hour is to have a pragmatic, focused, mature and salubrious approach to respond to the challenges that face us. A list of such Controllers will be separately given to you, individuals who are instrumental in making the lives of officers unbearable in such irresponsible, egotistic and ultimately fatal ways.

09. The Deputy Managing Director & CDO has already initiated a step in the right direction by addressing the Controllers to stop this unbridled and ignominious style of functioning. We hope that, following in the footsteps of the Corporate Centre, the Circle Management will also usher in suitable initiatives by providing valuable advice to the modular heads to bring a halt to this trend and provide much needed respite to the officers’ community from daily embarrassment, harassment and humiliation. We have seen proactive and positive initiative on the part of the HR Department of our Circle to mitigate this menace. However, due to unabated onslaughts at the operational level, the efforts of the HR department have not produced desired results except in certain pockets. The moment has come for a broader and more effective role to be envisaged for HR. This should receive the necessary support of the Circle management, and should enabling HR managers at different levels to effectively promote a congenial work culture as well as appropriately address and redress the grievances of employees and officials. Sir, you will surely appreciate that no work environment, no department, no office, no organization can survive devoid of the simple courtesies. It is therefore quite stupefying that while we are on a mission to improve the health of our institution, we do so in a thankless culture shorn of a basic sense of both ethics and decorum.

10. Sir, it is time to ponder. Where are we headed with this culture of unwarranted verbal bashing and public disgracing of our colleagues? Have we not in all our previous oaths, thoughts, debates, and discussions contemplated and held dear only the success and improvement of our beloved institution? Have we not been striving incessantly for the betterment of our Bank by rendering the required service to our customers uninterruptedly within the country and beyond, while remaining sensitive to the needs of all our other stakeholders? This hour categorically calls on us to reverse our trend of unrealistic demands and public insult of juniors; otherwise, our very growth story stands in danger of being reversed.

11. Sir, we urge upon your good office the pressing need to initiate a thorough probe to unearth the facts and to identify the reasons, motives and the person(s), if any, who, instead of counselling and reassuring Soma Biswas, were actually instrumental in her decision to end her life. We feel a retired senior executive should be assigned the task of conducting an enquiry and complete the proceedings within 7 days. We also demand that you be unsparing in your justice if it is found that flawed people, and a flawed process and system have caused the loss of a precious human life. Soma Biswas was compelled to take this dreadful step to escape the insult and ignominy meted out to her. We demand that you stand firmly in favor of exemplary punishment to anyone who is responsible for this crime. We repose faith in your wisdom and we are convinced that appropriate measures will be initiated.

12. We are certain this will convey the sternest message to all perpetrators of such misdeeds to introspect and change for the better, failing which the Bank will treat such acts as unpardonable and will not demur to take the stringent action as warranted. Simultaneously, we also urge upon you to initiate suitable measures to address the work-life balance issue from the right perspective. As stakeholders and as partners-in-progress of this esteemed organisation, we wish to offer the following suggestions to be put in place for the overall improvement of the present scenario:
a)   Curb the tendency to sit late at administrative offices, processing centres and branches
b)   Stop abuse/misuse of WhatsApp messages
c)   Stop calling officers on Sundays and holidays
d)   Sensitise administrative functionaries about the need to show compassion to operational functionaries
e)   Stop all unethical behaviour and practices.

Sir, you will recall that the present Chairman in a press briefing immediately after assuming charge of the Bank had spoken about work-life balance, something received wide coverage in the media. This was followed up by the landmark circular on work-life balance issued by the Bank. Bizarre incidents of suicides, which are attributed to work pressure, have drawn adverse reactions and much negative publicity, all of which has sullied the image of our esteemed institution. We look to you with hope; we believe that you will set the tone and direction in this regard.

With regards,

Yours sincerely,

Soumya Datta
General Secretary
Mobile: 9830044737

Financial sector woes biggest threat to   economy’s growth over next few years

‘Financial sector woes biggest threat to
 economy’s growth over next few years’

The Business Line
Published on November 9, 2018

Factors such as rising crude oil prices,
rupee’s fall will hurt growth: Moody’s

Mumbai, November 8: Higher oil prices, sharp rupee depreciation, and rising borrowing costs due to tightening monetary policy are among a host of factors that will limit the pace of the Indian economy’s growth over the next few years, with real GDP growth in 2019 and 2020 pegged at 7.3 per cent against 7.4 per cent in 2018, said Moody’s Investors Service in a report.

The global credit rating agency cautioned that the greatest downside risk to India’s growth prospects stems from concerns over its financial sector.

“The 7.9 per cent growth in India’s economic activity in the first half of 2018 in part reflects post-demonetisation’s base effects. Still, the economy remains one of the strongest performers, supported by robust domestic consumption and a pick-up in investment activity. The larger picture is, however, mixed,” said the agency.

Moody’s assessed that the impact of higher global oil prices, compounded by sharp rupee depreciation, raises the cost of households’ consumption basket, and will weigh on households’ capacity for other expenditures.

“Borrowing costs have already risen because of tightening monetary policy. We expect that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will continue to steadily raise the benchmark rate through 2019, further dampening domestic demand,” the agency said.

While cautioning that the greatest downside risk to India’s growth prospects stems from concerns over its financial sector, Moody’s observed that the RBI has taken steps towards recognising the extent of non-performing loans through extensive asset-quality review, and pushed banks to take large non-performing accounts to the bankruptcy court under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code.

“It (RBI) has placed the 11 weakest banks under the prompt corrective action framework, aimed at improving the financial health of banks.

“Stabilising the banking sector will likely be a long-drawn-out process. But the economy is now at risk of a credit squeeze from non-bank financial entities, following the Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services default crisis.

“For now, wider systemic risk has been contained with assurances of liquidity support from the RBI, securities regulator and the Finance Ministry. In the short term, however, while measures to stabilise the financial sector are put in place, credit growth is likely to slow,” the agency said.

Downside risks from a prolonged liquidity squeeze for non-bank financial institutions, which could lead to a sharper slowdown in their credit provision, remain, it added.

Global growth

Global economic growth will slow down in 2019 and 2020 to a little under 2.9 per cent from an estimated 3.3 per cent in 2018 and 2017, said Moody’s in the report. In addition, a slowdown in global trade amid rising trade tensions will have an adverse impact not only on growth in the US and China, but also on open economies such as Japan, Korea and Germany.

“Growth in advanced economies will slow down but remain solid in 2019, while G-20 emerging markets’ growth will remain weak,” says Moody’s Vice-President Madhavi Bokil, the lead author of the report.

“In the US, waning fiscal stimulus, the ongoing removal of monetary accommodation, and more restrictive trade measures will lower growth. The euro area will also see cyclical moderation to trend growth. Among G-20 emerging market countries, Turkey and Argentina will experience contractions, while China will experience a slowing economy.”

Indian norms on capital requirements, ‘prompt
corrective action’ are conservative: SBI report

The Press Trust of India
Published on November 8, 2018

Mumbai, November 8 (PTI): Indian regulations on capital requirements, provisioning for sour assets and prompt corrective action (PCA) restricting regular activities by lenders are conservative and rule-based, SBI's research wing has said in a report.

It did not call for any re-look in the report which comes amid a heated debate between the government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) over such aspects.

"Whether a rule-based or a discretion-based approach works better remains a matter of empirical debate till date," it said, while commenting on the PCA and provisioning norms.

It compared the Indian PCA framework—which was set in last year and has impacted 11 state-run lenders so far which have a high net non-performing-assets ratio, negative return on assets or lower capital buffers—with the US' Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).

The report, released on Monday, said being traditionally more conservative helps in withstanding crisis and early recognition of the problem leads to timely corrective measure.

"While it may be difficult to vouch for either a rule- based approach or a discretion-based approach to policy making, empirical research does suggest (Greg Mankiw) that discretion-based approach could also serve the desired purpose if the regulator has credibility," it said.

Many countries, including India have also asked banks to maintain capital at levels higher than the Basel-III floor, it said, pointing out US has set the capital buffer level at 5 percent and 6 percent for systemically important entities.

RBI has asked banks to keep capital at 9 percent.

It can be noted that the government is pitching for a relaxation on this front, so that it becomes on par with global experience. The RBI has rejected the demand citing the higher incidence of NPAs in India.

On provisioning, the SBI report said Indian banks are required to set aside money in a rule-based fashion and end up holding more provisions, while in the US, the norms are purely discretion-based with banks having to provide as per estimated/ judgmental/modelling credit losses associated with the loan portfolio.

Two years after demonetisation: Okaying note ban,
RBI rejected govt claim on black money, fake notes

Ritu Sarin
The Indian Express
Published on November 9, 2018

In its counter, the RBI Board noted that "while any incidence of counterfeiting is a concern, Rs 400 crore as a percentage of the total quantum of currency in circulation in the country is not very significant".

New Delhi, November 9: Less than four hours before Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced demonetisation on November 8, 2016, the Central Board of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) gave its approval to the scheme but also rejected, in writing, two of the key justifications — black money and counterfeit notes — that he would make in his televised address to the nation.

The minutes of the 561st meeting of the RBI’s Central Board, which was convened hurriedly in New Delhi at 5.30 pm that day, reveal that the central bank’s directors described the move as “commendable” but also warned that demonetisation “will have a short-term negative effect on the GDP for the current year”.

The minutes were signed by RBI Governor Urjit Patel on December 15, 2016, five weeks after the meeting was held. In all, six objections, described as “significant observations”, were recorded in the minutes by the RBI Board.

The RBI directors, after receiving a proposal draft of the scheme from the Ministry of Finance on November 7, 2016, argued that the government’s reasoning, that the withdrawal of HD (high denomination) currency notes of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 would help in curbing black money and restrict circulation of counterfeit cash, did not really hold good.

The minutes list out the justifications given by the Ministry of Finance.

On demonetisation curbing the flow of black money — the minutes recorded the facts and figures given in the government’s White Paper on Black Money — the Board noted: “Most of the black money is held not in the form of cash but in the form of real sector assets such as gold or real-estate and… this move would not have a material impact on those assets.”

On fake currency, the Ministry informed the Board that counterfeiting is on the rise in denominations of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500, and the total quantity of such currency is estimated to be around Rs 400 crore.

In its counter, the RBI Board noted that “while any incidence of counterfeiting is a concern, Rs 400 crore as a percentage of the total quantum of currency in circulation in the country is not very significant”.

Among the other counter-points, the Board recorded that the growth of the Indian economy and its linkage to the high amount of HD currency in circulation, as pointed out in the government’s proposal, was flawed since the rate of inflation had not been taken into consideration.

The minutes of the meeting noted: “The growth rate of economy mentioned is the real rate while the growth in currency in circulation is nominal. Adjusted for inflation, the difference may not be so stark. Hence, this argument does not adequately support the recommendation…”

The Board also put in writing that it envisaged that the withdrawal of HD currency notes would have a negative impact on two sectors in particular: medical and tourism.

Thus, it pointed out, private medical stores should also be included in the exemption list.

Recording the problems that incoming tourists may encounter, the RBI directors noted: “Arriving domestic long distance travelers who may be only carrying high denomination notes will be taken by surprise at railway stations/airports for payment to taxi drivers and porter charges and hence put to hardship. It would also have adverse effect on tourists.”

The minutes include an “assurance” that the issue of demonetisation was under discussion between the central government and the RBI for six months during which “most of these issues had been discussed”.

The RBI Governor also recorded that apart from the stated objectives, “the proposed step also presents a big opportunity to take the process of financial inclusion and incentivising use of electronic modes of payment forward as people can see the benefits of bank accounts and electronic means of payment over use of cash…”

The minutes were signed off with the RBI’s resolution for the withdrawal of banknotes of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500. But with the following lines on record: “The Board was assured that the Government will take mitigating measures to contain the use of cash… the Board considered the memorandum and after detailed deliberations concluded that in larger public interest, the balance of advantage would lie in withdrawal of legal tender status of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes currently in circulation…”

A Cruel Attack on the People: BEFI

Press Release by C P Krishnan, General Secretary,
Bank Employees Federation of India, Tamilnadu

Chennai, November 8: Two years ago, this day demonetisation was implemented. The people were told that the goal of this exercise was to eradicate black money, corruption, fake currency and money to terrorists.

The Prime Minister of our Nation said on 13th Nov 2016 “I have asked the country for just 50 days. If after December 30, there are shortcomings in my work or there are mistakes or a bad intention found in my work, I will be prepared for the punishment that the country decides for me” (Hindustan Times).

He further added "I am doing this for the poor, honest people for those who are working hard to survive. So that they can get their own home, their children get good education and so that their parents get care” (India TV News).

It was argued by the Government spokespersons that about Rs. 5 lakh crores of rupees out of the demonetised currency of Rs.15.44 lakh crores would not come back to circulation and to that extent the black money would be curbed.

But in reality, Reserve Bank of India itself had to openly admit that 99.3% of the demonetized currency i.e. Rs.15.33 lakh crores had come back. The remaining Rs.11,000 crores that did not come back was mainly due to the money stuck up in Nepal, Bhutan, money lying in the form of demonetised currency in Courts and with the ordinary people who had no opportunity to bring it to the Banks within the stipulated time etc.  Then where is the black money? What happened to the prediction of the Government that about Rs. 5 lakh crores would be held back?

Black money was not curbed. Rather there is no tangible action against 1.48 lakh account holders who deposited more than Rs.80 lakhs demonetised currency each to the extent of Rs. 4.89 lakh crores into the banks. Even today there are fake currencies in the newly introduced Rs. 2,000 notes. The corruption is rampant and there are corruption charges against even high-level CBI officers.  The Government has not submitted any evidence that the money supply to the terrorists has been curbed due to demonetization. 

But the people had to pay a heavy price for that. 
     Crores of people were made to stand in the queue for hours together for 50 days
     People had to suffer due to shortage of currency for more than five months
     More than 100 people and 12 bank employees died
     Lakhs of jobs have been lost
     Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises have been badly hit
     The Economic growth was affected and the GDP was reduced by about 2.5%
     The revenue of RBI was reduced by about Rs. 31,000 crores
     The cost of printing new notes exceeded Rs. 8,000 crores
     The Banks had to incur about Rs. 5,000 crores for extra work, recalibration of ATMs
     The Banks had to face loss of business, recovery of loans etc.
     People were pushed towards digitisation which only helped Inland and Foreign corporates
     The Bank employees and officers who burnt midnight oil in this exercise were not honourably treated

It is evident that demonetisation is a thorough failure.  It has led only to erosion of the income of the poor and the middle class to the benefit of the corporates. Till today, education, health or housing remains beyond the reach of the poor. The promise of the Prime Minister is kept unfulfilled. Ultimately the exercise of demonetisation has turned out to be a cruel attack on the people.

We demand that

     The Government should openly accept that demonetisation is
a failure
     The Government should compensate the families for loss of lives due to demonetisation
     The Government should compensate the Banks and RBI for
the expenses additionally incurred
     The Government should additionally create job opportunities to compensate the loss
     The Government should come out with a white paper on the
ill effects of demonetisation and measures to rectify them

Demonetisation was an ‘ill-fated and ill-thought’ decision, says Former PM Manmohan Singh

The Scroll News Online
Published on November 8, 2018

New Delhi, November 8: Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday said that November 8 – the day India demonetised high-value currency notes in 2016 – is a day to remember how “economic misadventures can roil the nation for a long time”. He urged the government not to resort to any more “unorthodox, short-term” economic measures that could lead to uncertainty in the economy and financial markets.

On November 8, 2016, the Centre demonetised notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000, claiming that it would end the flow of black money, among other things. The government gave citizens time to exchange these notes with new ones, and it was believed that a significant amount held as unaccounted-for money would not return to the system. However, in August 2018, the Reserve Bank of India said over 99.3% of the banned banknotes had been returned to banks.

Calling the decision “ill-fated and ill-thought”, Manmohan Singh said November 8 was when Indians need to remember that “economic policymaking should be handled with thought and care”. He pointed out that there was a steep drop in economic growth after demonetisation. As such, small businesses are yet to recover, employment has suffered, and financial markets have been volatile.

Last year, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party had decided to mark the first anniversary of demonetisation as “Anti-Black Money Day”, but there is no such celebration this time. On its Twitter handle, the party has claimed that demonetisation led to an increase in tax compliance and prompted action against corruption and black money. The Congress, like last year, has marked the anniversary as a “Black Day”, reported ANI. The Congress said the exercise curbed neither black money nor terrorism funding or fake currency, and sought an apology from the prime minister for the “Modi-made disaster”. Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala called for an investigation into the move.

Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram called demonetisation an “ingeniously designed official money laundering scheme”, Firstpost reported. Reacting to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s defence that confiscating currency was not an objective of demonetisation, Chidambaram said, “Will someone please remind him of what he told the media and what the AG [Attorney General] told the Supreme Court?”   “The dream was to gain Rs 3 lakh to Rs 4 lakh crore,” Chidambaram said. “Thanks to rampant money laundering at bank counters, that dream turned into a pipe dream.”

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said demonetisation was a “disaster” for the country, and described it as a “dark day”. “Renowned economists, common people and all experts now agree,” she said.  Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal described the move as “a self-inflicted deep wound on the economy”. “Though the list of financial scams of Modi government is endless, demonetisation was a self-inflicted deep wound on Indian economy which even two years later remains a mystery... why the country was pushed into such a disaster?” he questioned on Twitter.

Congress MP Anand Sharma called the move “an unforgivable and autocratic decision” and alleged that it wiped out almost 2% of the country’s GDP. “On this day two years ago, the Prime Minister had taken a wrong and insensitive decision,” he said. “Whatever happened in the country after that, the onus of all of that falls directly on the Prime Minister.”

Senior Congress leader Ashok Chavan said demonetisation was the “biggest mistake of the Modi government” and claimed it resulted in the slowdown of the economy and an increase in unemployment, PTI reported. “Not all cash is black and not all black [money] is cash,” he said. “Ours is a cash economy and receipts are not available for all transactions.”  The Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee chief also asked if the Union cabinet, the chief economic adviser and the cabinet sub-committee were even aware that such a move was in the pipeline.

On Notes Ban Anniversary, Arun Jaitley
Says Confiscating Cash Wasn't Aim

The ND-TV News
Published on November 8, 2018

New Delhi, November 8: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley posted a strong defence of demonetisation today as opposition parties seized the second anniversary of the move to rip into the government and even demand an apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In a Facebook post, the minister described PM Modi's overnight ban on higher currency notes on November 8, 2016, as a "key step in a chain of important decisions taken by the government to formalize the economy".

The number of income tax assesses have increased from 3.8 crore in May 2014 to 6.86 crore in four years of the BJP-led government, he said. "By the time the first five years of this government are over, we will be close to doubling the assesses base," the senior minister wrote in the post titled "Impact of Demonetisation". Arun Jaitley said the notes ban had helped tackle tax evasion and the extra resources from increased tax collection had been used in infrastructure, social sector and villages. "More formalisation, more revenue, more resources for the poor, better Infrastructure, and a better quality of life for our citizens," he said.

The finance minister also parried massive criticism of the government after Reserve Bank of India's annual report showed that 99.3 per cent of the banned cash had returned. "An ill-informed criticism of the demonetisation is that almost the entire cash money got deposited in the banks. Confiscation of currency was not an objective of demonetisation. Getting it into the formal economy and making the holders pay tax was the broader objective," he wrote. "The system required to be shaken in order to make India move from cash to digital transactions. This would obviously have an impact on higher tax revenue and a higher tax base."

Demonetisation compelled people to deposit cash - which involves anonymity in transactions and enables tax evasion - in banks, Mr Jaitley argued. "The enormity of cash deposited and identified with the owner resulted in suspected 17.42 lakh account holders from whom the response has been received online through non-invasive method," he shared. The violators faced action, larger deposits helped the lending capacity of banks and a lot of money was diverted to mutual funds.

What Arun Jaitley's Defence of Demonetisation Conveniently Ignores

Noor Mohammad, The Wire
Published on November 8, 2018

The Wire breaks down the finance minister's statement and examines the changes in goalposts, the obfuscations and what the 2016 note-ban actually achieved.

New Delhi, November 8:  Finance minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday mounted a defence of the Narendra Modi government’s decision to ban Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes two years ago, quoting bullish digital transactions and tax-related data.

A closer look at Jaitley’s arguments shows that the truth is more nuanced and, in some cases, quite ambiguous due to a lack of data. The Wire breaks it down and examines the changes in goalposts, the obfuscations and what the 2016 note-ban actually achieved.

The finance minister starts his blogpost by explaining that demonetisation was merely one step in a “chain of important decisions taken by the government to formalise the economy”.

He writes:

The Government first targeted the black money outside India. Asset holders were asked to bring this money back on payment of penal tax. Those who failed to do so are being prosecuted under the Black Money Act. Details of all accounts and assets abroad which have reached the Government, resulted in action against the violators.

The first thing to note is that Jaitley cites no numbers or data: how many asset holders were asked to bring back black money from abroad through the payment of a penal tax? How many people who failed to do so were prosecuted under the Black Money Act? Every now and then, a media report comes out on the subject but offers no evidence. Put simply, we don’t know and Jaitley offers nothing new on this front.

The only publicly available data so far, we have on prosecution in tax evasion and black money is that there were 2,226 prosecution complaints filed in FY 2017-18 (up to the end of November 2017) when compared to 784 for the corresponding period in the preceding year. With no data on the quantum of evaded tax, this doesn’t appear impressive.

Secondly, during the first two years of the Modi government, tax treaties with a number of countries (most importantly Mauritius and Singapore) were furiously worked out and signed. These tax agreements were offered up as proof of the Centre’s commitment to fight black money.

While both treaties were useful, it did not stop the practice of round-tripping, and just plugged one leaky hole. As The Wire has reported, the Netherlands is quickly becoming the new “Mauritius route”, with over 80% of the investment flows that came from Netherlands in 2017 being ‘routed’ and not ‘direct’.

The Modi government’s attempt at cracking down on Switzerland also is only delayed action: while India will get access to Swiss account data from 2019, as whistle-blower Rudolf Elmer told The Wire, by that time, the biggest fish would have moved onwards to other tax-evasion havens like Hong Kong.

Cash, cash and cash

At another point, Jaitley offers up one statistic while talking about the cash that came back after demonetisation:

Demonetisation compelled holders of cash to deposit the same in the banks.  The enormity of cash deposited and identified with the owner resulted in suspected 17.42 lakh account holders from whom the response has been received online through non-invasive method. The violators faced punitive actions.

Again here, the wording is confusing. Apparently 17.42 lakh account holders were “suspected” as a result of the cash they deposited and asked to give a response. The violators then faced “punitive action” – but how many out of 17.42 lakh account holders weren’t able to explain the cash they deposited? And what was the quantum of black money detected? Jaitley offers no specific data. What he leaves out is the poor performance of Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY) programme, which was launched to unearth black money.

Under the PMGKY scheme, those people whose deposits did not match their income were given a chance to come clean by March 31, 2017 and convert the black money into white by paying penal taxes. The scheme, however, wasn’t a success as just Rs 2,300 crore was collected by the income-tax department as penal tax under the amnesty scheme.

Formalisation of savings

Jaitley also touches on the benefits of higher bank deposits and formalisation of financial savings:

Larger deposits in banks improved lending capacity for the banks. A lot of this money was diverted to the Mutual Funds for further investments. It became a part of the formal system.

While this is true, the finance minister leaves out other contributing factors as well as a few other important developments that were a consequence of demonetisation-induced formalisation. Firstly, while the mutual fund industry received a handsome bump in the months after demonetisation, in recent times it has benefited greatly from people being put off small savings schemes. 

Secondly, it’s clear that Indians are now keeping more cash reserves at home than they did before the note-ban decision. And despite this, the household savings rate has fallen. An India Ratings report noted that the savings rate of the household sector plummeted 153 basis points on a year-on-year basis in FY’17 as a result of demonetisation and GST.

Digital future

On how demonetisation pushed India forward on the online payments front, Jaitley writes:

The Unified Payment Interface (UPI) was launched in 2016 involving real time payments between two sets of mobile holders. Its transactions have grown from Rs. 0.5 billion in October, 2016 to Rs. 598 billion in September, 2018. The Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM) is an App developed by NPCI for quick payment transactions using UPI. It is currently used by 1.25 Crore people. The value of BHIM transactions has gone up from Rs. 0.02 billion in September, 2016 to Rs. 70.6 billion in September, 2018. The share of BHIM transactions in overall UPI transactions is at about 48% in June, 2017.

The finance minister is largely correct on this: UPI, launched as late as it was, is a demonetisation bright-spot, although its rapid growth slowed a few months after the note-ban and has looked a little shaky after various cash-back schemes were withdrawn by the Centre.

It’s also unclear how well India’s retailers and merchants are taking to this payment option: the great majority of UPI transactions are still person-to-person, indicating that they may have replaced more onerous and formal net banking channels.

What Jaitley leaves out is that demonetisation didn’t erase the love that Indians have for cash. Before demonetisation, India’s currency-to-GDP ratio was a little over 12%. After November 2016, it fell to a little over 6% and has since then risen back to 11.3% of GDP, with no signs of stopping.

While government-affiliated economists point to the fact that currency-in-circulation (CIC) must be viewed differently – namely what would it be if demonetisation hadn’t happened – it’s also clear that a new permanently lower equilibrium has not been found and that the rate of CIC growth has not been stunted as a result of the note-ban.

Higher revenue argument

Finally, Jaitley re-traces a defence that India’s income-tax department has consistently tried to make over the last two years; that the formalisation that came about as a result of demonetisation has led to more people paying taxes.

The finance minister writes:

The impact of Demonetisation has been felt on collection of personal income tax. Its collections were higher in Financial Year 2018-19 (till 31-10-2018) compared to the previous year by 20.2%. Even in the corporate tax the collections are 19.5% higher. From two years prior to Demonetisation, direct tax collections have increased 6.6% and 9% respectively. In the next two years, post-demonetisation, the increase by 14.6% (part of the year before impact of Demonetisation in 2016-17) and an increase of 18% in the year 2017-18.

Similarly, in the year 2017-18, the tax returns filed reached 6.86 crore, an increase of 25% over the previous year. This year, as on 31-10-2018, already 5.99 crore returns have been filed which is an increase of 54.33% compared to the previous year till this date. The new filers added this year are 86.35 lakh.

In May, 2014, when the present Government was elected the total number of the filers of income tax returns was 3.8 crore. In the first four years of this Government, it has increased to 6.86 crore. By the time the first five years of this Government are over, we will be close to doubling the assesses base.

While true, the numbers need to be viewed in the appropriate context. While India’s direct tax collections are up, the country’s direct tax-GDP ratio has not seen a significant rise, as The Wire has pointed out, with the highest ratio in recent times being seen in 2006-07 (6.3%).

Since demonetisation, the Centre has also regularly reported the increase in number of new tax filers. What it leaves out, as many have noted, is that a good bunch of these new I-T return filers are people with very little taxable income, leading to very little increases in revenue for the government.

Lastly, as Mahesh Vyas, head of the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) has noted, there’s no glory to be obtained in a quest for a generally higher tax-to-GDP ratio.

Economic Survey 2016-17 had argued that after controlling for the level of economic development, India neither under-taxes nor under-spends. So, there is no argument in favour of raising the tax-to-GDP ratio… Since the GST accounts for most of the indirect taxes and almost a third of all taxes in 2018-19, its eventual decline should see the tax-GDP ratio fall in due course,” Vyas wrote earlier this year.

Two Years after Demonetisation, the Nightmare Continues for India's Informal Economy

Arun Kumar, The Wire
Published on November 8, 2018

The note-ban was a foolish attempt to tackle the black economy and a policy-induced self-goal by the Narendra Modi government. The response to its fall-out is more authoritarianism.

Demonetisation is like a bad dream etched in our memories. Weddings were postponed and medical treatment was curtailed for lack of money. Long queues formed outside banks. Small businesses closed due to lack of working capital and their workers returned to their villages. Indians who never generated black money were the worst affected. Yet, the narrative that demonetisation would destroy the wealth of the corrupt was widely accepted.

This was because of the misperception that ‘black means cash’. If cash was squeezed out, the black economy would disappear at one stroke – justice being meted out to the corrupt. The Prime Minister said that for long-term gain one had to bear short-term pain. He likened it to ‘ahuti’ in a ‘yagya’. If the pain does not end in 50 days, Modi said, the public could give him any punishment and he would accept it.

Two years later, the pain persists but the government only continues to justify its error. It has refused to admit to the long-term damage to the economy, especially to marginalised Indians in the unorganised sectors. Instead, data from the organised sector is used to claim that the economy has recovered to a 7-8% rate of growth. This is treated as evidence that the pain was temporary.

The government did not survey the unorganised sectors to find out what was happening there. The underlying assumption is that the shock to the economy did not require a change in the old methodology for calculating growth. In that methodology, the organised sector is more or less the proxy for the unorganised sector. But the shock to the economy changed the ratio between the organised and the unorganised sectors. So, the ratio used prior to November 7, 2016, was no more valid after November 8, 2016.

Data from private surveys showed that the unorganised sector was hit hard. Surveys were conducted by Punjab Haryana Delhi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PHDCCI), All India Manufacturers Organization (AIMO), State Bank of India (SBI) and many others including NGOs. The RBI survey released in March 2017 showed a sharp decline in demand for consumer durables and so on.

Agriculture faced a crisis due to notes shortage. Produce could not be sold, the sowing of crops was delayed and the demand for the perishables like vegetables collapsed. Prices fell sharply, thereby impacting incomes of farmers. Banking also went into a crisis since normal banking operations stopped for months. With industry, trade and agriculture facing a crisis, the problem of NPAs only increased.

According to the Centre for Monitoring of Indian Economy (CMIE), investment fell sharply during that quarter. In effect, output, employment and investment declined, sending the economy into a tailspin from which it has not yet recovered. The impact of the goods and services tax (GST) from June-July 2017 again impacted the unorganised sectors and deepened the crisis. So, now the twin impact of demonetisation and GST is being felt in the economy. If the method of measuring quarterly growth of the economy is modified to take into account the decline in the unorganised sector (about 45% of GDP), the rate of growth would turn out to be less than 1% – what a crisis in an economy that was running well till October 2016.

Institutions like the RBI were damaged. Farmers, traders, workers and the young have been agitating. The government, sensing failure, has turned more authoritarian. The roots of the current problems with RBI are also contained in the impact of demonetisation. It was believed that Rs 3 to 4 lakh crore would not return and would become available to the government to give to the poor. Since this did not happen, now a dividend is sought from RBI out of its reserves.

Many identified the impact of demonetisation with a note shortage only. By the end of April 2017, 80% of the currency had come back into circulation and now it exceeds the amount on November 8, 2016.

Is the impact of demonetisation over? No. The impact was not just the shortage of currency in circulation, but via difficulties in transactions on the economy as a whole. It hit output, employment and investment, which will all have a long-lasting impact.

All the demonetised notes were returned so little black money was squeezed out of the system. Black wealth held in the form of currency has got converted to new notes. People were being caught with lots of new currency. No one saw any rich people standing in the queues. They used various devices like Jan Dhan accounts, money mules and cash in hand to convert money.

Many saw demonetisation as a political move to eliminate the black money hoard held by the opposition before the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections. But the main reason was the constant attack by the opposition that the promised Rs 15 lakh per family had not materialised and it was just a ‘chunavi jumla’. The government’s steps to tackle the black economy such as the setting up of a SIT, the foreign money bill, Benami bill, etc., had yielded little results. The party in power needed a big bang and demonetisation was that step.

There are many misconceptions about the black economy. For instance, the promise to give every family Rs 15 lakh was based on the idea that all the black money is outside and can be easily brought back (within a month). If this was correct, demonetisation could not have worked because it has no impact on the black money held abroad. Further, only 10% of the black incomes generated annually go abroad and are partly round-tripped back. So, the bulk of it is here.

Another mistaken belief is that black incomes are generated in the informal sector. In a change of goal posts, it was argued that demonetisation will lead to the digitisation of the economy and to formalisation which would check the black economy.

But most incomes of this sector are way below the taxable limit. Black incomes are generated by only a few in this sector, like a well-off dhabawallah or a trader. Most black incomes are generated in the organised and formalised sectors, using under- and over-invoicing. If some from the informal sectors get formalised they would also resort to the same devices to generate black incomes.

Since all the money has come back into the banks, in another spin, the government has argued that a paper trail is now available to track those generating black incomes. To support this argument, data is cited on the increase in direct tax collection and the number of taxpayers. Given the expansion of the organised sectors at the expense of the unorganised and the rising disparities, this is to be expected. Further, the number of direct tax payers has increased due to the implementation of the Seventh Pay Commission award.

However, the rise in tax collection is not commensurate with the increase in numbers. But this is nothing new. In the past also, a large number of those filing returns have either declared nil income or declared very low incomes. It is reported that tax officers have been given targets and they are forcing businesses to declare incomes. This will not last and there are complaints of selective tax terrorism. Possibly this is the reason that the number of millionaires leaving the country is rising rapidly.

In brief, the shortage of notes was painful and faded away slowly but its long term implications are playing out. Inadequate demand from the unorganised sectors which were hit hard, deterioration of the investment climate and the inadequate employment generation have meant that the crisis continues even today.

Demonetisation is a policy-induced self-goal which damaged several institutions. The response to its political fallout is more authoritarianism.

Arun Kumar is Malcolm Adisesiah Chair Professor, Institute of Social Sciences and the author of Demonetisation and the Black Economy, Penguin (India), 2017.

NPA in India: RBI needs Basel norms
as its defaults are higher

Editorial: The Financial Express
Published on November 8, 2018

Unless the govt has very good data to show RBI’s estimates on default risk are incorrect, it should just let the regulator do its job.

Given how non-performing assets at state-owned lenders have ballooned to more than 10% of their total advances, and the precarious financial positions of at least 11 lenders, it is surprising the government wants capital adequacy norms prescribed by RBI to be diluted. Specifically, the government believes RBI’s prescribed CRAR of 9%, as compared to the 8% as required by the Basel norms, is too high. It might seem an unnecessary cost at this point but it is actually an investment to keep a crisis at bay. While it is true that banks are now following stricter provisioning norms for stressed assets as compared to what they were doing earlier, it is nonetheless necessary for them to set aside more capital than their counterparts in other countries. That is because, as RBI deputy governor NS Vishwanathan, has explained, the losses tend to be higher in India.

To be sure, there is some improvement post the IBC (Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code) and the rollout of RBI’s revised framework for stressed assets. Nonetheless, Vishwanathan has argued that, given the kind of default behaviour observed in India, applying the Basel-specified risk weights would understate the risk levels of the assets on banks’ books. Studies show the probability of a non-default rating—assigned by the credit rating agencies—turning into a default rating within a certain period of time is higher in India. Also, the track record of ratings agencies leaves much to be desired, as can be seen from the recent case of IL&FS where the company was rated default almost overnight. So, relying on credit rating agencies would probably not be wise. As Vishwanathan points out, a smaller capital base only makes banks more vulnerable to defaulting on their obligations in the event of unexpected losses. Adequate levels of capital need to be maintained and the higher the capital, the more the skin in the game for shareholders.

Potentially, this results in better appraisal of credit and screening. Indeed, until the Asset Quality Review (AQR) was initiated in Q4FY16 by RBI, stressed assets were not classified properly and consequently hugely under-provided for. The upshot was an increase in loans by banks which did not have the required levels of capital and 11 of these needed to be brought under the prompt corrective action (PCA) framework. The government must understand how precious capital is—and this is entirely the taxpayers’ money—and that it cannot simply be frittered away. Since 2005, the government has needed to infuse more than `2.3 lakh crore in PSBs, more than half of which has gone into banks under the PCA framework. Had the capital adequacy norms been tighter all these years, things might not have come to such a pass. It is understandable that the government should want more credit growth in the system, and to that extent, the PCA norms look like they are hindering credit growth; and, after the IL&FS debacle which has hit lending by NBFCs, this growth will be further constrained. But, as the credit growth data shows, the larger banks—including the privately-owned ones—have raised their lending and, as a result of this, India’s overall bank credit growth is quite robust. Unless the government has very good data on the probability of default behaviour in India being much lower than what RBI says, it simply has to let the regulator do its job. And since this results in banks remaining solvent, the Central government should want this even more than RBI.

Gandhi’s Hinduism vs Savarkar’s Hindutva

Avijit Pathak
The Tribune, Chandigarh
Published on November 8, 2018

Secularism should not mean the death of true religiosity; instead, a truly religious mind strengthens positive and enabling secularism - the spirit of plurality and inclusiveness, the principle of non-discrimination, and the dignity to every soul, irrespective of birth and location.

With the loud assertion of Hindutva— a totalitarian doctrine that negates the inherent plurality in the broad landscape of Hinduism, and transforms it into an instrument of emotive mobilisation for strengthening militant nationalism— many of us experience the death of life-affirming religiosity: love and connectedness, and sublime prayers and a quest for the ocean of compassion. Instead, we begin to breathe violence. An epic like the Ramayana with subtle meanings relating to love and sacrifice, sattvic calmness and demonic aggression, and masculine pride and feminine resistance is reduced into narrow/egotistic politics; and a temple is no longer a site of meditative communion with the divine; instead, it ought to satisfy the narcissistic will of a brigade of politicians and 'sadhus' engaged in an act of historic revenge: giving the appropriate lesson to the 'alien invaders'.

No wonder, the language they use becomes terribly violent. The Supreme Court is seen to be 'anti-temple'; and as the Prime Minister has already been regarded as the 'incarnation of Lord Rama', Hindus, we are told, are losing their patience, and the temple at the disputed site has to be constructed at any cost. This crowd mentality (think of Amit Shah's fiery speech in Kerala) is the brute assertion of power that does not mind to defy even the sanctity of the Supreme Court. This is really frightening.

There are three reasons why we ought to resist the politics of Hindutva.

1.   It is inherently anti-democratic because it is based on the principle of exclusion. Enough has already been said about ideologues like Golwalkar and Savarkar— the way they saw the Muslims and Christians as 'alien intruders', and in this act of othering, there was no possibility of what Tagore with his poetic wisdom imagined — India as an ocean, a confluence of multiple traditions, faiths and religions. Not solely that. Like any other fundamentalist doctrine, it excludes even those 'Hindus' who think differently and believe in pluralism and constant cross-religious conversation. In fact, we cannot make sense of the assassination of Gandhi without understanding the practice of violence and exclusion implicit in Hindutva.

2.   Its social conservatism, despite its close affinity with the neoliberal market economy, goes against the voices of the marginalised: lower castes and women. As a matter of fact, its patriarchal/hyper-masculine/hierarchical character cannot be evaded even when it speaks of the integration of the marginalised into its own fold.

3.   It transforms religion into despiritualised crowd behaviour. A meditative/reflexive mind striving for a meaning of existence with its rhythm of life and death is not what it wants. Instead, to be a 'Hindu', for them, means to wear a uniform, hate others and equate nationalism with a singular belief. Even when it speaks of 'sadhus' and 'gurus' (or mahants, priests and television-induced celebrity babas), its primary intention is not to elevate man, as Sri Aurobindo imagined, to a higher level of psychic/spiritual evolution; it demands conformity and gross emotions.

Well, this does not mean that there be a soulless secularism, or some sort of scientism with its inherent disenchantment. Instead, Nachiketa's quest for understanding the meaning of death (as the Katha Upanishad depicts so beautifully), Buddha's reflections on dukkha or suffering emanating from our attachment to all that is temporal, and the ecstasy of love that the likes of Nanak and Kabir radiated, enable us to live differently, meaningfully and peacefully. Secularism should not mean the death of true religiosity; instead, a truly religious mind strengthens positive and enabling secularism — the spirit of plurality and inclusiveness, the principle of non-discrimination, and the dignity to every soul, irrespective of birth and location.

Gandhi and Tagore were striving for this possibility: something qualitatively different from the doctrine of assertive Hindutva, or, for that matter, any other form of fundamentalism, be it Islamic or Christian. Gandhi didn't escape from religion. As a matter of fact, as he chose to transform the political realm into the field of his sadhana, he added yet another meaning to secularism. Cross-religious dialogue, constant experiments with truth, resisting all sorts of communalism, and seeking to spiritualise politics through satyagraha and nishkam karma: these principles made him strive for an inclusive idea of India — so different from the 'two-nation theory' propagated by the likes of Savarkar and Jinnah.

Likewise, Tagore's religiosity was a quest for the 'surplus' of man — an aesthetic connectedness with nature as a manifestation of the divine, and seeing the light of the infinite in the finite. No wonder, his politically and spiritually mediated essays on nationalism continually reminded us of the devastating consequences of a totalitarian ideology, a doctrine that sanctifies the machinery called the 'nation', promotes group narcissism and violence, and diminishes the spirit of human creativity.  

It is sad that we have lost our priorities. See the degeneration of the public debate. The nation, a loud television anchor announces, wants to know the gotra of Rahul Gandhi to examine whether he is truly a Hindu. Or think of the politics of appropriation: from the record-breaking 'Statue of Unity' to the rhetoric that 'Vivekananda, Subhas Bose, Bhagat Singh and Ambedkar — they belong to us'.

Yet, we continue to see street children in the national capital begging; we see women being violated every day; we see schools without teachers;  we see the erosion of the legitimacy of all major institutions — from the RBI to the CBI; and we see the proximity of the ruling regime with the not-so pious corporate bourgeoisie. And under these circumstances, the proponents of Hindutva tell us that the construction of the Ram temple at Ayodhya ought to be the first priority of the nation.

What do we do? Do we laugh at this absurdity? Or do we cry for this degeneration: the death of emancipatory religiosity from the dominant political discourse?

Avijit Pathak is Professor of Sociology, JNU

`Source: In ternet News papers and Anupsen articles


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