Dr Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar was among the first political leaders and unsung economists of the country who had recommended that the Indian currency should be changed every 10 years to tackle the problems of hoarding to black money to inflation. But, he had underlined the need for adopting a flawless methodology to ensure the currency change serves the real objective to nab those dodging the system and help the common man.
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In an interview to The Indian Express, Prakash Ambedkar, grandson of B R Ambedkar, shared the economic vision of his grandfather whose research at the London School of Economics that evolved in the form of a thesis and, later, into a book 93 years ago explored the problems confronting the nation today.
“It was way back in 1923, Babasaheb (B R Ambedkar) in his book titled ‘Problems of Indian Rupee’ had recommended that the Indian currency should be replaced every 10 years to end the menace of hoarding of rupees and checking inflation,” Prakash said.
While acknowledging that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to demonetise Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes were in accordance with what B R Ambedkar had propounded, he said, “At the outset, the objective for which the action was taken appears to be in consonance with my grandfather’s theory.”
Lamenting that B R Ambedkar remained imprisoned as a Dalit leader, Prakash said, “The great economic insight remained under wraps as a thesis or volumes of books on the shelf. In the last six decades, very little has been talked or studied about Ambedkar’s economic works.”
“B R Ambedkar strongly recommended that the purchasing power of the rupee should be stabilised and that it should be the foremost motto of any nation. The fluctuation in the purchasing power of the rupee leads to devaluation along with increase in inflation, which ultimately affects the common man in the country,” he said.
While the architect of the Indian Constitution had not prescribed a uniform formula to be adopted for the currency replacement, he had underlined the need for circular flow of money in an open economy that would serve the welfare of the poorest sections of the society.
“I am not sure whether the Prime Minister has taken the cue from B R Ambedkar’s economic vision. But what cannot be undermined is that Ambedkar’s economic vision is still relevant not only in the Indian context but also globally,” said Prakash, who also heads the Bharip Bahujan Mahasangh party.
But he added, “The manner in which the currency replacement has been carried out needs to be re-looked. If it has brought the markets to a standstill and impacted a large section of ordinary people, questions are bound to be asked. The government should have replaced the old currency immediately to ensure continuation of monetary transactions without any interruptions.”
Another aspect he pointed out was, there are still large number of people in the unorganised sectors without bank accounts and governments at the Centre and in the state will have to reach out to them to bring them into the mainstream to avail the benefits of economic reforms.