The first anniversary of the (in) famous demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 currency notes is here. Since 8 November last year, the debate over demonetisation hasn’t died down for a single day and the government is still trying to project it as a massive “success” in the crackdown against black money and corruption. 

A lot of people disagree. And a series of experts and reports on the economic status of the country have pointed out the negative impact of sweeping demonetisation exercise carried out by the government. 

Full-page newspaper ads

Whatever the case may be, the ruling BJP government is leaving no stone unturned to highlight the “success” of the demonetisation. Precisely, that’s what explains a barrage of tweets, infographics, newspaper advertisements, columns and videos – all shared and tweeted by Union Ministers and other BJP leaders since November 7. 

All the four leading English dailies of the country – The Indian Express, Hindustan Times, Times of India & The Hindu – carried full page advertisements on the first anniversary of demonetisation. However, it was only TOI,  which gave the front-page space to the detailed advertisement.   

Prominent Hindi dailies like Dainik Jagran, Dainik Bhaskar & Hindustan also featured the advertisement across all of their editions.  

Opinion Pieces 

Some of the Union Ministers also wrote opinion pieces in newspapers explaining the positives of the currency ban. Railways Minister Piyush Goyal wrote a column for The Economic Times arguing that due to demonetisation, India’s economy has moved towards greater formalization. Information and Broadcasting minister Smriti Irani also penned a pro-demonetisation column for Hindi newspaper Hindustan on Wednesday.   

While the government has decided to celebrate November 8 as anti-black money day, the party leaders ensured to that hashtag #AntiBlackMoneyDay accompanied their social media posts as well. 

Short films 

Also, a short film on demonetisation was also shared by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Twitter handle. The party also seems to have put a lot of effort in scripting and designing animated videos, minutely enlisting the achievements of the note ban.

The film weaves a narrative around the shortcomings and corruption of former governments and how the Modi government faced the issues of black money and corruption with unflinching commitment. It also gives statistics about the drop in various issues like stone-pelting in Kashmir, drug abuse and Naxalism in the country following demonetisation. 

The other side of demonetisation

The enthusiasm expressed by the government and BJP’s cadre is unlike the mood on ground. By almost all accounts, there’s a considerable decline in the growth of the economy. Informal sector is the worst hit. According to various economists, the government’s decision to implement Goods and Services Tax in the immediate aftermath of demonetisation has added to the woes of a common man. 

According to a report in The Indian Express, a data analysis by Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) has estimated that about 1.5 million jobs were lost during January-April 2017. It has also highlighted that a majority of the leading listed companies have seen a net decline in their employment numbers in 2016-17 as compared to previous years.

Many also question the intention and the subsequent chaos all over country following Reserve Bank of India’s report on the number of returned currency notes deposited with the central bank According to RBI’s annual report in August, nearly 99 percent of the withdrawn currency in Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes – at the time of demonetisation — was deposited with the banks after the announcement of the crucial economic step. 

For the opposition, November 8 signifies nothing less than a ‘BlackDay’ and with the onset of crucial Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh polls, BJP doesn’t want the opposition to highlight the horrors of demonetisation in poll-bound states. 

Apart from politics over demonetisation, the after-effects of the currency ban haven’t disappeared even after a year of the “historic decision.” It will take more than rhetoric and political bickering to ensure a stable economy.