On the eve of the first anniversary of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s contentious move to demonetise high-value denomination notes, Organiser puts up a robust defence of the decision. One article links the country’s jump by 30 places in the global ease of doing business rankings to demonetisation. The writer argues: “The year 2016 is seen as a landmark year for independent India in view of the government’s decision to withdraw rupee notes of 500 and 1,000 denominations. The world looked at us with shock and awe. Doomsday economists and analysts went ballistic… Credit for this unprecedented performance should certainly go to the masterstroke: Demonetisation.” The writer further states that India’s nation-building efforts are “on the right track”, and Modi’s “fiercest” supporters can now sit back and “heave a sigh of relief”. He concludes by stating that when GST is also factored in in the next year’s rankings, we shouldn’t be surprised if we’re in the top 50, from 100th rank this year.
Another article claims that demonetisation was a decision to change the “tax-averse behaviour” of Indians. The money, says the article, “itself doesn’t bear any colour except the ones in which it is printed, but the way of its acquisition renders it black or white”. But with most of the demonetised cash back with banks, the RBI and other banks can generate “a huge database on which it can work out to find out those who rendered black colour to the money”.
Yet another article says that judging the PM’s move simply in terms of its effect on GDP and how much of that cash returned to the system will give us “misleading” results. It counts expansion of the tax base, falling interest rates, “operation clean money” and increased digital transactions as the actual gains of demonetisation.
Panchjanya’s cover story looks at the looming elections in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat. One article discusses various election surveys, almost all of which project the BJP to comfortably win in both states. “The whiff of saffron can be felt in the Vidhan Sabha elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh,” it declares.
Another article says that “terrorism” and “separatism” being linked to Congress leaders, Ahmed Patel and P. Chidambaram respectively, has again pushed the Congress into a corner. It says the Congress is trying to establish itself in Gujarat through casteism, but UP, like many other states has proven that people are voting for development and not on caste lines, teaching the communal parties that use issues like terrorism and separatism a lesson. By taking an aggressive stance on terrorism, it argues, the BJP has strengthened its nationalist political credentials.
A third article focuses mostly on Himachal Pradesh elections scheduled on November 9. The crux of the article is the Congress, which is trying to save its “shrinking” political base, is again betting on Virbhadra Singh. Singh, according to the article, is “ageing” and “surrounded by allegations of corruption”. The Congress, which is divided, is totally dependent on Singh in these elections. The article says pre-poll surveys predict a BJP victory.
Good media, bad media
Panchjanya has a diptych of sorts on media in its latest issue.
The first article accuses the Indian media of being controlled by the Congress. It says the coverage of the arrest of an alleged ISIS terrorist who worked in a hospital with which Ahmed Patel has been associated as underwhelming. The Delhi-based media, it says, will know this happened because there isn’t any other leader who has as much influence on editors as Patel. It says, “one editor of the most revolutionary news group was seen running around the newsroom telling everybody, ‘Arrey, that is not Ahmed Patel’s hospital’.” The article claims that “it is the miracle of journalists and editors sponsored by fundamentalists like Ahmed Patel that the national song and the national anthem have also become ‘controversial’”. The article, however, concludes that “it is satisfactory that the media is, even if slowly, freeing itself from the communist-Congressi net”.
The other article says investigative journalists today work risking their lives. It starts with the recent murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, the Maltese journalist who reported on the country’s highest powers being named in the Panama Papers last year. The article then lists several Indian journalists, mostly from the vernacular press, who have been murdered in the course of their work. Such journalists not only risked their lives, it says, but also did not bow down to powerful forces. The article then says it has deliberately omitted Bangalore-based journalist, Gauri Lankesh, who was killed in September, from the list. The article says “she was a fierce proponent of communal violence and anti-Hinduism and ran many NGOs… She never did any investigative journalism”. It claims it is not certain whether she was killed because of a property dispute or some other reason and alleges that she was convicted in another case and was out on bail when she was murdered.