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The euphoria of the last few weeks ended yesterday with Donald Trump being chosen as the president-elect of the United States of America — a result that shook most of the world, except for the radical groups (like the infamous Ku Klux Klan) that had supported him. Although a series reports exposed numerous instances of Trump's sexual misconduct with women in the run-up to the elections, over half of white women opted to vote him into power. In her concession speech, Hillary Clinton said while the loss hurt painfully, the fight was worth it. She also urged little girls watching her speak never to believe that they are less equal, or fit for a job, than any man.
While India's political class offered its congratulations to Trump, Indian Twitter was less than charitable. The silver lining for some was the election of two Indian American women, Kamala Harris and Pramila Jayapal, to the Congress. However, the last laugh was had by Chanakya the fish, who had predicted the winner correctly before the election results were announced.
The junking of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes is "a masterstroke", argues R. Jagannathan, but it has been executed at the wrong time. "What Modi needed was something that would be visible to the aam aadmi, and this is what demonetisation achieves," he writes, "At one stroke, everyone who has ever held a ₹500 note in his hands (or preserved on in her cupboard) will get to know Modi is serious about black money." But there is a big economic price to pay for this decision as well.
Officials in the security establishment believe demonetisation will hit the coffers of terrorist groups hard, apart from curbing black money, according to a report in The Hindu. By forcing currency notes of certain denominations to be deposited into banks, the move will also help detect the fake currency circulating in the economy. Any deposit of above Rs 2.5 lakhs will be scrutinised severely, leading to a penalty of 200% on the income deposited after levying the tax if the amount is not reflected in tax returns.
To ease the switch from old to new currency, the government has taken several measures, including keeping the banks open through the weekend, anticipating the huge rush to deposit existing notes or having them swapped. Additionally, no toll tax will be levied on the national highways till the midnight of 11 November.
With the axe of the taxman hanging over their heads, one question seems to be resounding in the drawing rooms of rich Calcuttans these days: "Aapka kitna gaya? (How much have you lost?)" The Telegraph spoke to a group of people most likely to be affected adversely by demonetisation. Topping the list is the business community, though it also extends to "common people, doctors, lawyers and outlets selling luxury goods, jewellery and high-end liquor." Even Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee ran out of cash and had to borrow money to buy sweets to offer to the goddess.
Off The Front Page
According to experts, the biggest threat to Indian markets from Donald Trump's presidency would be uncertainty, which all investors hate. But that is not all, as the markets continue to grapple with the aftermath of demonetisation, which could lead to massive wealth destruction, to the tune of $100 billion, as a fund manager told Mint.
A truck carrying Rs 7.65 crore worth of money, in the form of the new Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes, was detained in Tamil Nadu by the state Election Commission's flying squad and the police. The incident, which happened in Thanjavur, has exposed the "ingenuity and efficiency" of some people who were able to access notes not yet officially released in the market. But it all makes sense as the Aravakurichi assembly constituency in the district is headed to a bypoll in the next few days.
The Supreme Court has reprimanded the Centre for upholding the practice of jallikattu, which involves bull fighting and bullock cart races. Such practices, the court said, amount to cruelty to animals and it is the government's duty to show compassion to these creatures.
Donald J. Trump's victory at the White House shows the cracks in the liberal order, says an editorial in Mint. While the process was in the making since the financial crisis of 2008, not in "living memory has a more crucial election been fought more bitterly on less substantive grounds," it explains, before warning that "being the 45th president of the US is an altogether different proposition from being a presidential candidate. Come 20 January 2017, substance will matter—for the US and for the world."
In the Hindustan Times, Manu Joseph reflects on the double-edged sword of democracy, which gives power to the people, who can then end up making strange choices for themselves: "Democracies themselves are not truly democracies. The very idea of representative democracy is to ensure that the State is protected from most of the whims of the masses, and is instead run by an elected plutocracy."
The only way for the Supreme Court to set an example before the judiciary is to clear its massive backlog of cases, Bibek Debroy argues in The Indian Express. The backlog numbers for the SC show a striking rise and fall — 771 in 1950, 23,092 in 1978, more than 100,000 in 1983, 134,221 in 1991 and 19,806 in 1998. "That remarkable decline," Debroy says, "was then attributed to IT use and better case management (there was some statistical rejigging)." The backlog climbed to 34,481 in 2005, 54,562 in 2010 and 59,595 in 2016. "Since backlog reduction in the Supreme Court is probably primarily a function of demand management, should it hear so many original and appellate petitions?" he asks, pointing to a possible solution.
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