note demonetisation

Three key letters missing in Arun Jaitley’s latest defence of demonetisation: GDP

From expectations of a ‘V-shaped recovery’ the government is now only speaking of a ‘cleaner’ economy.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley put out a note on Tuesday in defence of demonetisation, ahead of the first anniversary of the decision. In his piece, Jaitley insists that the note ban, which resulted in 86% of currency being withdrawn and replaced with new notes, has been a major success and was “a watershed moment in the history of Indian economy”. But while Jaitley covered a number of topics in connection with the currency withdrawal scheme, he failed to touch one subject that supporters of the decision had been vocal about: India’s Gross Domestic Product .

“In an overall analysis, it would not be wrong to say that country has moved on to a much cleaner, transparent and honest financial system,” Jaitley wrote. “The next generation will view post November, 2016 national economic development with a great sense of pride as it has provided them a fair and honest system to live in.”

His post touches on a number of subjects, insisting that demonetisation was successful at reducing the amount of currency in circulation, that the Income Tax department now has much more data with which to investigate illicit activity and that the note ban led to further financialisation of savings. He even returned to the argument that demonetisation somehow reduced instances of stone-pelting, protests in Jammu & Kashmir and Maoist activities.

Whither GDP?

But Jaitley did not mention the GDP or economic growth. The only reference to growth in the piece, in fact, is to say that life insurance companies are collecting more premiums. This might have something to do with the fact that India’s numbers on that account are not looking particularly positive at the moment.

In the aftermath of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement of demonetisation it was apparent that the move had caused tremendous economic distress across the country. The effect was particularly acute in rural markets and the informal economy, but since India’s growth metrics cannot directly measure that, it took some time to begin reflecting in official statistics. The government initially refused to acknowledge any sort of distress and later, after admitting that there had been some short-term pain, insisted that it would disappear soon enough.

Jaitley, in a similar Facebook post in January, insisted that, following demonetisation “the size of the banking transactions and consequently the size of the economy is bound to increase. In the medium and long run, the GDP would be bigger and cleaner.”

V-shaped recovery

Others went even further. Reserve Bank of India Governor Urjit Patel, criticised for simply toeing the government’s line on the note ban, said there would be a “sharp V-shaped recovery”. Jaitley said in March that the worst effects of the move had played out with a 7% GDP growth in the quarter from October-December 2016, and that he expected “in the future quarters this figure itself will grow further”.

By August, that tune had changed entirely. Data that month showed that GDP growth had slipped to 5.7% in the April-June 2017 quarter, which also meant India had registered six consecutive quarters of slowing growth. Far from bringing up a “V-shaped recovery”, Jaitley and others were now trying to insist that this had nothing to do with demonetisation or the other badly implemented policy that came after it, the hurried rollout of the Goods and Services Tax.

In October, the Finance Ministry made another admission that it expects GDP growth to continue to fall, accepting the International Monetary Fund’s projection that India will only get back to 8% GDP growth (under the new series) by financial year 2021-’22. All of this might explain why Jaitley’s latest post speaks only of an “honest” and “clean” economy, and not one that can expect tremendous GDP growth anytime soon.

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Swara Bhasker: Sharp objects has to be on the radar of every woman who is tired of being “nice”

The actress weighs in on what she loves about the show.

This article has been written by award-winning actor Swara Bhasker.

All women growing up in India, South Asia, or anywhere in the world frankly; will remember in some form or the other that gentle girlhood admonishing, “Nice girls don’t do that.” I kept recalling that gently reasoned reproach as I watched Sharp Objects (you can catch it on Hotstar Premium). Adapted from the author of Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s debut novel Sharp Objects has been directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who has my heart since he gave us Big Little Lies. It stars the multiple-Oscar nominee Amy Adams, who delivers a searing performance as Camille Preaker; and Patricia Clarkson, who is magnetic as the dominating and dark Adora Crellin. As an actress myself, it felt great to watch a show driven by its female performers.

The series is woven around a troubled, alcohol-dependent, self-harming, female journalist Camille (single and in her thirties incidentally) who returns to the small town of her birth and childhood, Wind Gap, Missouri, to report on two similarly gruesome murders of teenage girls. While the series is a murder mystery, it equally delves into the psychology, not just of the principal characters, but also of the town, and thus a culture as a whole.

There is a lot that impresses in Sharp Objects — the manner in which the storytelling gently unwraps a plot that is dark, disturbing and shocking, the stellar and crafty control that Jean-Marc Vallée exercises on his narrative, the cinematography that is fluid and still manages to suggest that something sinister lurks within Wind Gap, the editing which keeps this narrative languid yet sharp and consistently evokes a haunting sensation.

Sharp Objects is also liberating (apart from its positive performance on Bechdel parameters) as content — for female actors and for audiences in giving us female centric and female driven shows that do not bear the burden of providing either role-models or even uplifting messages. 

Instead, it presents a world where women are dangerous and dysfunctional but very real — a world where women are neither pure victims, nor pure aggressors. A world where they occupy the grey areas, complex and contradictory as agents in a power play, in which they control some reigns too.

But to me personally, and perhaps to many young women viewers across the world, what makes Sharp Objects particularly impactful, perhaps almost poignant, is the manner in which it unravels the whole idea, the culture, the entire psychology of that childhood admonishment “Nice girls don’t do that.” Sharp Objects explores the sinister and dark possibilities of what the corollary of that thinking could be.

“Nice girls don’t do that.”

“Who does?”

“Bad girls.”

“So I’m a bad girl.”

“You shouldn’t be a bad girl.”

“Why not?”

“Bad girls get in trouble.”

“What trouble? What happens to bad girls?”

“Bad things.”

“What bad things?”

“Very bad things.”

“How bad?”

“Terrible!!!”

“Like what?”

“Like….”

A point the show makes early on is that both the victims of the introductory brutal murders were not your typically nice girly-girls. Camille, the traumatised protagonist carrying a burden from her past was herself not a nice girl. Amma, her deceptive half-sister manipulates the nice girl act to defy her controlling mother. But perhaps the most incisive critique on the whole ‘Be a nice girl’ culture, in fact the whole ‘nice’ culture — nice folks, nice manners, nice homes, nice towns — comes in the form of Adora’s character and the manner in which beneath the whole veneer of nice, a whole town is complicit in damning secrets and not-so-nice acts. At one point early on in the show, Adora tells her firstborn Camille, with whom she has a strained relationship (to put it mildly), “I just want things to be nice with us but maybe I don’t know how..” Interestingly it is this very notion of ‘nice’ that becomes the most oppressive and deceptive experience of young Camille, and later Amma’s growing years.

This ‘Culture of Nice’ is in fact the pervasive ‘Culture of Silence’ that women all over the world, particularly in India, are all too familiar with. 

It takes different forms, but always towards the same goal — to silence the not-so-nice details of what the experiences; sometimes intimate experiences of women might be. This Culture of Silence is propagated from the child’s earliest experience of being parented by society in general. Amongst the values that girls receive in our early years — apart from those of being obedient, dutiful, respectful, homely — we also receive the twin headed Chimera in the form of shame and guilt.

“Have some shame!”

“Oh for shame!”

“Shameless!”

“Shameful!”

“Ashamed.”

“Do not bring shame upon…”

Different phrases in different languages, but always with the same implication. Shameful things happen to girls who are not nice and that brings ‘shame’ on the family or everyone associated with the girl. And nice folks do not talk about these things. Nice folks go on as if nothing has happened.

It is this culture of silence that women across the world today, are calling out in many different ways. Whether it is the #MeToo movement or a show like Sharp Objects; or on a lighter and happier note, even a film like Veere Di Wedding punctures this culture of silence, quite simply by refusing to be silenced and saying the not-nice things, or depicting the so called ‘unspeakable’ things that could happen to girls. By talking about the unspeakable, you rob it of the power to shame you; you disallow the ‘Culture of Nice’ to erase your experience. You stand up for yourself and you build your own identity.

And this to me is the most liberating aspect of being an actor, and even just a girl at a time when shows like Sharp Objects and Big Little Lies (another great show on Hotstar Premium), and films like Veere Di Wedding and Anaarkali Of Aarah are being made.

The next time I hear someone say, “Nice girls don’t do that!”, I know what I’m going to say — I don’t give a shit about nice. I’m just a girl! And that’s okay!

Swara is a an award winning actor of the Hindi film industry. Her last few films, including Veere Di Wedding, Anaarkali of Aaraah and Nil Battey Sannata have earned her both critical and commercial success. Swara is an occasional writer of articles and opinion pieces. The occasions are frequent :).

Watch the trailer of Sharp Objects here:

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This article was published by the Scroll marketing team with Swara Bhasker on behalf of Hotstar Premium and not by the Scroll editorial team.