November 8th, 2016, a day etched in infamy. It was on this day, that the sitting Indian Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, in a moment of hubris & short sightedness decided without any degree of consultations, to demonetise 86% of the currency. This plunged the entire nation into turmoil. Confusion reigned supreme, as the Government kept on changing the norms around Demonetisation.
In his speech on the 8th of November, PM Modi said that one of the primary reasons to demonetise the Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes was to combat counterfeit currency. But within three months of Demonetisation, old networks of counterfeit currency printing and circulation have again restarted.
It has taken Pakistan based agencies just 2 months to restart their process. Recently a man was arrested in West Bengal with Rs 40 lakh in counterfeit currency in new Rs 2000 notes. Investigations further revealed that 11 out of the 17 security features of the Rs 2000 note were replicated. The new notes even had the watermark and crackling sound similar to the new currency.
A senior officer linked to the investigations told the media that the quality had improved from last time and that it was difficult to detect the fake notes with the naked eyes. There have already been reports of small bundles of fake currency being introduced into India to test its viability. Now, security forces are fearing a much wider circulation.
In a clear indication of the lack of preparedness, there was no time to introduce additional security features in the remonetised Rs 2,000 and Rs 500 note. The last time security features were added was under the UPA Government in 2005.
This is after the Union Finance Ministry had told a Standing Committee that smuggling of fake currency had totally stopped. In January, the Government cited intelligence reports to say that the two main printing presses engaged in printing counterfeit Indian currency in Pakistan had been forced to shut. But, these recent revelations shows that these old networks are up and running.
PM Modi is incapable of making any meaningful or structural improvements within the country. To counter fake currencies India required better intelligence and enforcement. But, that was not to be. Instead he decided to send the entire economy into turmoil.
Much like his failure in tacking Black Money or Terrorism, Shri Modi has completely failed in ringing the death knell of counterfeit currency network, which in turn can potentially hurt the Indian Economy. India deserves better from its Government.