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Demonetisation: PM Modi Pushed Me Off The 'Rich List'

21/11/2016 4:00 PM IST | Updated 23/11/2016 9:19 AM IST
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I live in Philadelphia and visit India once every few months. I do have a few investments in India, but nothing very significant. Few people pay taxes in India, so as per the amount of tax I paid in India, I was one of the richest people in the country. I paid more tax than 99.999% of Indians. By this measure, though I live in Philadelphia, where I am not on the "rich list", I am one of the "richest" people in India.

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A man poses with replica prints of the demonetised 500 and 1000 rupee notes as part of a street art exhibition in Mumbai on November 20, 2016. (INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty Images)

Last week when Prime Minister Modi declared that all high value notes (₹500 and ₹1,000) were not legal tender any more and that they had to be deposited in a bank and declared to get credit for that money, it was interesting to watch the consequences. There are reports of all manner of people — not just jewellers and real-estate barons — depositing hundreds of crores (tens of millions of dollars) into banks. Apparently, during the short amnesty period before this blanket ban was put in place, a defence employee declared ₹10,000 crores ($1.5 billion) in holdings — money obtained, no doubt, by taking bribes in procurement contracts. All the rats were finally being ferreted out. All of their ill-gotten wealth was finally being exposed.

Suddenly, there are a lot of "rich" people in India. People who for decades have never bothered to pay tax.

Thanks to PM Modi, finally the tables were being turned to support honest taxpayers like me and thousands of others. Suddenly, there are a lot of "rich" people in India. People who for decades have never bothered to pay tax. People who have benefited from corruption and illegal activity are finally being punished.

While the poor people are silently suffering through the hardship caused to them by this blanket ban on high value currency, immoral politicians of various opposition parties have expressed distress (on their behalf!). Even someone like Arvind Kejriwal, who people like me hoped brought a new moral character to Indian politics, have shamed themselves by not supporting these bold moves by PM Modi.

Once the dust settles, and the "black money" (even if only 60-70% of it is addressed by this move) is taken out of the system, India will be that much closer to realising its destiny as one of the great powers of the 21st century. While there will be turmoil in the stock markets for a few months, in the long run, hundreds of billions in foreign investment will flow into an economy that will be seen as less corrupt and less bureaucratic.

In the meantime, I am happily adjusting to my new reality of being just another dude paying taxes in India — not that rich and nobody special. I quite like my new status.

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