11/18/2016, 19.12
INDIA
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Demonetisation hits India hard, could cause unrest

India’s opposition parties have given the government three days to resolve the situation. About 50 people have died in connection with demonetisation across the country. For most, there is no money for weddings, while a BJP tycoon spent US$ 74 million to marry off his daughter. Meanwhile, India’s central bank wrote off the debts of 63 big businesses, owned by friends of the prime minister, for US$ 740 billion.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) – India "is on its knees and there is a real risk of unrest, the Supreme Court and the opposition parties warn. The latter gave the government three days before facing possible grassroots unrest,” an anonymous source told AsiaNews.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to withdraw from circulation Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes has "undermined the lives of ordinary people. Meanwhile and more seriously, banks cancelled the debts of 63 big Indian businessmen, all friends and supporters of the prime minister, whilst poor farmers are starving. So far, there have been 50 deaths, including some who died queuing and other in riots."

More than a week after deciding to withdraw the most counterfeited denominations in favour of a new RS 2,000 banknote, "the situation has not improved. Some incidents are really unpleasant, like that of a man who was brutally beaten by police just for asking why the officers were railing against the people in line for several hours."

For days, "the prime minister has not appeared in public, whilst his MPs are trying to curb opposition criticism” at the start of parliament’s winter session.

The Supreme Court questioned the government’s move to reduce the exchange limit of old notes from Rs 4,500 to Rs 2,000, saying the situation was serious and there could be riots.

As conditions for the poor get worse, outrage is sweeping across the country over the "wedding of the daughter of a millionaire and a member of the ruling party BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party), which cost Rs 5 billion (about US$ 74 million). Ordinary folks have no money to eat and weddings have been put off, whilst this politician spent a fortune."

Opposition parties have joined forces against Modi "complaining that not enough lower denominations banknotes have been printed to meet demand."

But the greatest outrage, besides the fact that BJP members knew in advance of the reform and had time to change their own money "is the fact that the Reserve Bank of India decided to write off bad loans for 63 big businesses worth more than Rs 50 trillion (more than US$ 740 billion)."

"How is this possible? Poor farmers can lose everything if they do not pay debts of 2,500 rupees? This makes no sense. Unlike ordinary people, large defaulters continue to live in luxury and travel abroad."

"Farmers are the most disadvantaged because the cooperative banks – highly present in rural areas –  have not been allowed to change banknotes. The government fears that most of the money will be laundered in these banks as the rich use the poor to exchange large sums for them."

Modi once "was a tea seller. Now everyone says that he is making everyone drink 'tea without sugar', that is a bitter tea. He forgot ordinary Indians."

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