Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday termed the demonetisation decision of the Narendra Modi government a “self-inflicted wound” and said lynchings and attacks on liberals were badly damaging India.
Gandhi targeted Modi government while speaking on “India at 70: Reflections on the Path Forward” at the University of California here on Monday night and said “hatred anger and violence and the politics of polarisation which has raised its ugly head in India today”.
He said violence and hatred distract people from the task at hand and it has adverse impact on the country’s growth momentum.
“Liberal journalists being shot, people being lynched because they are Dalits, Muslims killed on suspicion of eating beef, this is new in India and damages India very badly.
“The politics of hate divides and polarises India, making millions of people feel that they have no future in their own country. In today’s connected world, this is extremely dangerous. It isolates people and makes them vulnerable to radical ideas,” he said.
Referring to demonetisation carried out in November last, he said it had dented the economy by about two per cent.
“Millions of small businesses were simply wiped out as a result of demonetisation. Farmers and manual labourers who use cash were hit extremely hard. Agriculture is in deep distress and farmer suicides have sky rocketed across the country. Demonetisation, a completely self-inflicted wound caused approximately two per cent loss in India’s GDP.”
Gandhi said that ignoring India’s tremendous institutional knowledge and taking ad hoc decisions is reckless and dangerous.
“Listening to India is very important. She will give you all the answers that you seek. India’s institutions have over 70 years have built a profound understanding of our country. We have experts in every single field.”
“Decisions like demonetisation which removed 86 per cent of cash from circulation overnight and was carried out unilaterally without asking the Chief Economic Advisor, the cabinet or even Parliament imposes a devastating cost in India,” he added.
Gandhi said the government was not creating enough jobs. “30,000 new youngsters are joining the job market every single day and yet the government is only creating 500 jobs a day. This doesn’t include the massive pool of already unemployed youngsters.
“The decline in economic growth today is worrying and it’s leading to an upsurge of anger in the country. The government’s economic policies, demonetisation and hastily applied GST have caused tremendous damage,” he said.
Cautioning the government, Gandhi said if enough employment opportunities were not created, it can lead to anger among youth and have catastrophic consequences.
“If we continue at the current rate, if India cannot give the millions of people entering the job market employment, anger will increase and it has the potential to derail what is being built so far. That will be catastrophic for India and the world beyond it,” he said.