Mira Road: Giving vent to the common man’s unrest and confusion regarding the recent demonetization drive initiated by the Government of India, the Mira Road chapter of Jamaate Islami Hind organized a special lecture inviting renowned economist, Dr. Shariq Nisar to speak on the burning issue.
The program began with a recitation of a passage of the Qur’an wherein the atrocities inflicted by the Pharaoh upon the Israelites has been deliberated upon. This was followed by a Hindi poetry by Baqar Ali sahab expounding upon the demonetization issue.
Dr. Shariq Nisar began his speech by enumerating the ostensible benefits of this drive as claimed by the government, namely the curbing of black money, corruption, counterfeit money, halting terrorist funds and ushering in a cashless economy. The learned speaker, however, had his points of dissent. He wondered how prudent it was to demonetize 84% of currency value amounting to a whooping fourteen lakh crore rupees to tackle the mere 6-8% of black money that has been stashed in cash by hoarders. The enormous losses in trade, transport and business are not at all in proportion to the proposed advantages the drive might have in store. While it is the lower middle class that is taking the brunt of the move, the real culprits have already had their money salvaged in the form of gold assets, real estate, foreign investments and other unscrupulous ways.
He concurred with the concerns put up by Dr. Manmohan Singh in the Rajya Sabha some days back wherein he had lamented upon the erosion of people’s trust in the banking system and exorbitant losses incurred by the rural and unorganized sectors. Even the automobile, electrical appliances and retail units have been severely hit, he says.
Add to that the apathy of the ruling class. “If you don’t have bread, eat cakes.” Maria Antoinette’s infamous remark that sparked off the French Revolution is being rephrased today by the cruel suggestion to ‘use cards if you don’t have cash’. This is unacceptable because India is one of the largest cash-dependent economies in the world (12% in cash) and very few people have access to banks.
Parallel economies that run in elections and Maoist areas have been badly affected, he says. The terror network could also be checked, he conceded. However, counterfeit money cannot be checked by this move because the previous notes had not seen any breach of security, and the new notes are no better from the security point of view, he averred.
While taking questions from the audience, he threw light on the persistent rise of the financial sector against flow of money in the economic sector, Islamic finance and its limitations, the difference between Haraam and Black etc.
One piece of advice that he offered the jam packed auditorium was greatly appreciated by everyone present. He said that when we give a long term loan to someone (say Rs. 1Lakh for 3 years), we are expected to claim only the principal amount of Rs. 1Lakh back because anything over and above that would be considered as interest and hence, forbidden. However, after three years, the one lakh would have got substantially depreciated, leading to decrease in its value. So the lender has to bear a loss after three years. This can be checked by making it clear to the debtor that you are actually giving him gold worth Rs. 1Lakh (as per the rate of gold at the time of giving the cash loan). After three years, you may reclaim the same value of gold you had lent him three years back in cash. This does not come under the purview of interest and also retains the value of your money.
After a prolonged question and answer session, the curtains had to be drawn because of time constraints, concluding the program with a solemn prayer beseeching God for his help and mercy.