CHENNAI: A year after Prime Minister Narendra Modi sprang demonetisation upon the country on the frantic night of November 8, 2016, the country remains divided on its goodness, while at the same time conceding that it failed to meet its objectives of curbing black money and corruption.
If that sounds contradictory, it’s the result of a conflict in the minds of citizens, as indicated by a survey conducted by The New Indian Express across five states in the South.
Asked whether demonetisation was a good decision, 1,451 survey respondents in Andhra, Karnataka, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Kerala cleaved down the middle, with 44 per cent of them saying yes, and 47.6 per cent saying no. Within an error margin of 3 per cent, the divergence may not be statistically significant. However, when it came to the two stated objectives of demonetisation — curbs on black money and tackling corruption — respondents emphatically said both those goals have been belied.
Some 59 per cent said demonetisation did not succeed in bringing down the circulation of black money and only 28.5 per cent said it has. Similarly, 66.5 per cent said demonetisation did not bring down corruption and a mere 21 per cent said it has.
To a further question on who suffered more discomfort due to demonetisation, 45 per cent said it was the middle class and 23.7 per cent said it was the poor. A mere 6.5 per cent said it was the rich.
One explanation for the divergent responses from citizens could be the Narendra Modi Factor. As the PM fronted the entire exercise from rollout to conclusion — disclosing it in a speech to the nation on Nov 8, 2016, steadfastly defending it on the stump and in Parliament, and giving the initiative a personal and emotive charge – citizens’ attitude to demonetisation is perhaps conditioned by their support to him as a changemaker.
In terms of the divergence in the popular attitude to demonetisation, this survey, conducted during the last days of October and the first week of November, mirrors the findings of a similar exercise conducted by The New Indian Express last year, on December 1, 2016.
The big change really between last year’s survey and this is that the citizens’ perception of the objectives of demonetisation has undergone a sea of change - from enthusiastic support last year to a perception of failure this year. The latest survey returns offer the conclusion that citizens think demonetisation made no impact on black money and corruption, but many of them think it must have been good because Narendra Modi said it.
59.33% say note ban didn’t curb black money
Only 28.5% said demonetisation has helped reduce the circulation of black money. Similarly, 66.5% said it did not bring down corrupt-ion and a mere 21% said it achieved this objective