India’s Demonetization, Pros and Cons
November 8, 2016 declaration by Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi that all 500-and 1000-rupee bank notes of the Mahatma Gandhi Series would ease being legal tender from midnight of 9th November 2016 was greeted with shock and dismay. India is, not the first country to demonetize its currency. Several countries have used the practice due to various reasons. The U.S., Ghana, Nigeria, European Union, Soviet Union, North Korea, and Zimbabwe are some of the countries that have demonetized their currencies. The reasons are almost similar to the reasons as to why India demonetized its currency. The Indian government claimed that the objectives of demonetization were to remove fake currency from circulation, tackle terrorism funding, left-wing extremism, remove black money, create a cashless economy, and to convert the informal economy into a formal economy. This was expected to help in expanding the tax-base and employment. However, demonetization had several disadvantages too. It reduced the level of cash in circulation. The cash-crunch was caused by the introduction of the Rs. 2,000 notes into circulation. This high value currency made it difficult to carryout financial transactions due to unavailability of other denominations to match the need for equivalent change. People could not make use of Rs. 2000 notes for to make small purchases. Demonetization also inconvenienced members of the public as the government only abolished certain currency from circulation and kept others. It necessitated people to spend a longtime queuing outside banks and cash machines to get new currency. People lost valuable time that they could have spent undertaking other economically productive activities. It also led to the slowdown of the economic growth while some people even engaged in fraud and corruption. Demonetization, for instance, also provided money changers an opportunity to convert black money to white at no cost. In reality, demonetization affected only a small proportion of the assets accumulated through illegal activities. Another disadvantage of demonetization is that it does not control the source of the illegal funds. This book provides background of demonetization details, pros and cons.