Black is not always cash

According to economist Arun Kumar, the belief that “black means cash” is mistaken. Talking to The Sunday Guardian about his book Demonetization and the Black Economy, Kumar said “notebandi” was carried out on the mistaken belief that “black means cash”. Kumar said that black cash is less than 1% of the black wealth. “So, even if this cash could be squeezed out, it would hardly impact black wealth. Further, black income generation is a process which is not impacted by demonetisation.” Kumar, who earlier taught at the Jawaharlal Nehru University is now the Malcolm S. Adiseshiah Chair Professor at the Institute of Social Sciences.

Answering why discuss demonetisation now when the note shortage has disappeared, Kumar says that “clarity is still missing about why this drastic step was taken and the government continues to justify it. The reality is that while the short term economic disruption is over, the long term impact is playing itself out.” According to him, the long term impact is economic, social, political, institutional and on policy making. It damaged the credibility of the RBI, banks and currency.

The RBI is still not able to tell how much of the old notes have been returned. The unorganised sector which works largely in cash was damaged irretrievably, he says.

In Kumar’s opinion, the organised sector is developing at the expense of the unorganised. This has led to rising disparity with deep social implications.

It is an ungrateful nation: Tunnel Man

“I have been forgotten by an ungrateful nation,” Swarna Dass (76), who lives in Chauntra village near the fence of the India-Pakistan border in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district, complains. On 5 March 2001, while tilling his land, Dass had spotted a big hole. When he looked inside, he realised that it was a long tunnel originating from Pakistan. He informed the Border Security Force and was treated like a hero and nick-named “Tunnel Man”. The BSF gave him Rs 500. The then Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal announced a government job for one of Dass’ three sons. The BSF promised to renovate his ramshackle tenement and give a job to his eldest son. The district administration promised to honour him on Independence Day. All these promises remained unfulfilled.

Dass later detected more such passageways and informed the BSF authorities. But nothing was done to reward Dass. His two sons now work as labourers, and the third helps him cultivating his land.

Watch out for liver cancer

Liver cancer has become the second biggest cause of cancer deaths, warned the just concluded Asia Pacific Association for the Study of the Liver (APASL) 2018 conference in New Delhi. “It is now the fastest growing cancer and will become the biggest cause of cancer deaths in a few years. One-third of the Hepatitis C patients are in Asia. Three-fourth of Hepatitis B patients are also in Asia,” Dr Shiv K. Sarin, APASL’s honorary president told The Sunday Guardian.  “One of the major reasons for this is alcoholism and obesity,” added Dr Sarin. One in every five persons is affected by liver diseases, much more than diabetes, heart diseases. Unfortunately, most people do not feel anything till the last stages of the diseases as the liver has a large reserve.Prof Roger Williams, from King’s College Hospital, London, said that approximately 300 million people are affected by chronic liver disease, the figure much higher than that of diabetes and heart disease. Approximately 383,000 die of liver cancer each year, accounting for 51% of deaths from liver cancer worldwide. He also emphasised the alarming figures of the disease statistics in the Asia Pacific regions. Fatty liver, secondary to obesity, is estimated to affect 25% of the population.Dr Puneeta Tandon, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada stressed on the role of improving the muscle mass in patients with liver cirrhosis. She suggested dietary interventions and exercise therapy.

Morarji treated Chou as municipal head

Former Congress leader Natwar Singh has numerous tales to tell. One of them relates to Congress leader Jairam Ramesh’s yet to be published biography of diplomat P.N. Haksar. Singh attributes most of the achievements of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to Haksar, who was Principal Secretary to her between 1967 and 1973. The book will be published in June. Singh says that Haksar’s 500 files are in the Nehru Memorial Library and that Ramesh studied them in detail. Recently Ramesh came to meet Singh and brought a copy of a note dated 13 May 1970, that he had put up to the PM. The note was about a two-minute meeting of India’s Charge’ de Affairs Brajesh Mishra and Chairman Mao in Peking. Singh wrote: “I mentioned to PM yesterday that it had fallen to my lot to be present and take notes of Chou-En-Lai’s meeting with Shri Morarji Desai, who treated the Chinese Prime Minister as if he was the Chairman of the Nasik Municipal Committee.”

Right To Information That came at A Price

A strange case has come from Haryana where an officer demanded the two-day salary of a clerk and a peon from a person for providing information sought under the RTI Act. The State Public Information Officer (SPIO)-cum-Executive Engineer, Electrical Division, PWD (B&R), Hisar, Bhim Sain, asked Prof Sudama Aggarwal, an information seeker, to deposit Rs 5,000 towards the two-day salary of a clerk and a peon and Rs 200 towards fee for 100-page information.

The State Information Commission Hemant Atri has issued a show-cause notice under Section 20 (1) of the RTI Act to Bhim Sain, asking him why a penalty of Rs 250 per day, subject to maximum of Rs 25,000, for wrongly seeking the fee which is not mandated in the Act, be not imposed upon him.


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