Interview: Demonetisation move declares all Indians as possible crooks, unless they can establish otherwise, says Amartya Sen

On the government’s demonetisation move, Prof Amartya Sen, in an email interview to The Indian Express says: “Only an authoritarian government can calmly cause such misery to the people."

Written by Seema Chishti | New Delhi | Updated: November 26, 2016 7:16 am
Amartya sen, Demonetisation,Amartya sen demonetisation, Amartya sen on demonetisation, Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, indian government, demonetisation move, demonetisation poors, demonetisation banks, currency demonetisation, india news, indian express news Reacting to the government’s claim that pain would result in eventual gain, Prof Sen made it clear that it was wrong to think that all things that are painful, are good. (File photo)

Bharat Ratna and Nobel laureate, Professor Amartya Sen, who is currently Thomas W Lamont University Professor and Professor of Economics and Philosophy at Harvard University spoke to The Indian Express on demonetisation and said, that both, the idea and the way it was implemented, was akin to a “despotic action” and betrayed the “authoritarian nature of the government”.

He said: “Telling the public suddenly that the promissory notes you have, do not promise anything with certainty, is a more complex manifestation of authoritarianism, allegedly justified — or so the government claims — because some of these notes, held by some crooked people, involve black money. At one stroke the move declares all Indians — indeed all holders of Indian currency — as possibly crooks, unless they can establish they are not.”

Speaking about the difficulties faced by the common Indian in getting their own, white money out of banks, he said: “Only an authoritarian government can calmly cause such misery to the people — with millions of innocent people being deprived of their money and being subjected to suffering, inconvenience and indignity in trying to get their own money back.”

Asked if the move could cause any good as the Prime Minister claims, Sen said; “It is hard to see how. This will be as much of a failure as the government’s earlier promise of bringing black money stacked away abroad back to India (and giving all Indians a sudden gift — what an empty promise!). The people who are best equipped to avoid the intended trap of demonetisation are precisely the ones who are seasoned dealers in black money — not the common people and small traders who are undergoing one more misery in addition to all the deprivations and indignities from which they suffer.”

Reacting to the government’s claim that pain would result in eventual gain, Prof Sen made it clear that it was wrong to think that all things that are painful, are good. “Good policies sometimes cause pain, but whatever causes pain – no matter how intense – is not necessarily good policy.”

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  1. J
    Jai Kumar
    Nov 26, 2016 at 9:51 pm
    Does the esteemed economist not know that every major transaction a house /land purchase has Black component and not all of it is in the hand of big wigs.
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      Onkar Singh
      Nov 26, 2016 at 11:04 am
      Modi's actions border on irrationality trying to unearth black money from 3%persons he's put 97%to inconvenience.Dr.Sen tightly says like his jumla of bringing back BLACK MONEY,this is going to come a proper,but will cause huge pain to the poor.Those backing the move are those who have enough for themselves,and are least concerned about the poor.
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        prakash gotimukul
        Nov 26, 2016 at 5:59 am
        When you are security checked at airport, it is umed that every penger is a terrorist and checked......................one thing is sure, you are a 100% crook. proved beyond doubt. You are not required here. You r a disgrace to the nation.
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        1. H
          harish
          Nov 27, 2016 at 11:46 am
          No surprise.One can not expect from dr sen more than this
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          1. A
            anonymous
            Nov 26, 2016 at 6:35 am
            :-)
            Reply
            1. A
              Aditya
              Nov 28, 2016 at 4:24 am
              Instead of writing such articles and taking such interviews papers should educate people how to use Paytm or other online transfers...
              Reply
              1. A
                Aditya
                Nov 28, 2016 at 4:28 am
                Since we don't have enough money with us. Govt officials are not daring to ask bribe. Everything I observed is going smooth and fine.
                Reply
                1. A
                  Amiya Sinha
                  Nov 28, 2016 at 11:27 am
                  Your reply seems that you have little economic sense.
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                  1. A
                    Amrit
                    Nov 26, 2016 at 9:17 pm
                    As long as BJP and Politicians don't have to declare Black Money involved in Election Funding which is number one source of corruption everything is fine. As Long as 2000000 Crore Black Money is sitting safe in Swiss bank and Foreign countries it is even better. As long as people hinding tons of gold and foreign currency and funding politicians it is excellent. Mountations of black money of politicians and corporates in real-estate and stock market is even legal to have since Modi is in no mood to go after all this biggest sources of corruption and Black Money in th ecountry.
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                    1. A
                      Archana Das
                      Nov 26, 2016 at 4:21 am
                      Including you. Filled up Balance university with friends and family
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                      1. A
                        Anoop
                        Nov 26, 2016 at 12:59 pm
                        All Indians , including YOU Mr Amartya. Being a ried tax payer I have done my part. Let others do as well. Proud of the fact that our PM has guts to take decision like this amidst people like you.
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                        1. I
                          indian
                          Nov 26, 2016 at 3:13 am
                          Where were u when the previous government (your benefactors) were looting the country? At 10% inflation, poor people's money lost value.
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                            Arvind
                            Nov 25, 2016 at 11:05 pm
                            That is what every body said when Indian liberalized its economy in the 90's.lt;br/gt;Now look how we benefited with liberalization things available freely not paying money in Black to get them. All the leftist are always spreading doom and gloom to suit their own agendas.
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                              Ashok
                              Nov 26, 2016 at 5:17 pm
                              Don't waste your time on Modiji's surgical attack on black money better take care of yourself Mr.Sen
                              Reply
                              1. B
                                Babu
                                Nov 26, 2016 at 8:01 am
                                Another crook with skewed left mind. Does not this lawless crook understand that as per the law one has to declare earnings and wealth if it is above free tax limits? This law exists even before demonitisation came into force. For so long these crooks were habitual law breakers that any reminder of the law makes them suddenly feel they are in different world.
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                                  Chander Pal
                                  Nov 26, 2016 at 7:20 am
                                  Nice, now we know he stands in the good company of RaGa, Mamta, A K. Not sure whether Yachuri is to included or not. Oh, what happened to the revival of old glory of Nalanda.
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                                    Chandrakant pendse
                                    Nov 26, 2016 at 3:06 am
                                    Not all Indians are crooks but certainly Mr.Martya sen is a crook.
                                    Reply
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                                      Albert Colaco
                                      Nov 26, 2016 at 5:02 pm
                                      Renowned economist and Nobel laureate. Dr. Amartya Sen has told the bitter truth! The demonetisation move is foolish and will not help rake in black money. It's a gimmick intended to deflect attention from Modi govt failure in making the economy take off and creating millions of jobsstead, the decision is hurting the mes and poor people including farmers. daily wage workers. factory workers, housewives and working cl. The very rich including crony capitalists are having a roaring time. Heard any of them complaining? Or seen any of them in queues?
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                                      1. R
                                        Rajeev
                                        Nov 26, 2016 at 12:06 pm
                                        Everybody want to enjoy excessive freedom given by India, Everyone want Reservation and yet don't want to pay your taxes, then you need a bamboo like this only and don't think this is his last bamboo, this is just a starter , main course is yet to be served Mr Sane , by 2019 looks like you will be Mr Insane .
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                                          Rajeev
                                          Nov 26, 2016 at 12:01 pm
                                          This guy Mr Amartya Sen is a agent of ford foundation and all the magasaysay award winners and other awards or prizes distributed by western develop world are to keep the under develop countries in abad state using this loudspeakers , what till the muck of this professor comes out. If out of 100 % on 1 % is paying taxes, does this not ring a bell , calling himself economic professor. Height of dumbness.
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                                            D k
                                            Nov 27, 2016 at 2:39 am
                                            Legend is always a legend,communication Is definitely legendary. However it is funny to see comments of many...very intelligent and capable people we have......
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