The cash in hand held by Prime Minister Narendra Modi went up during the year in which he implemented demonetisation. Ironically, one of the aims of the entire move, as Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said, was to have less cash in the economy. The cash held by Jaitley declined but was still a whopping Rs 17.2 lakh.
All ministers are required to disclose theirs and their spouse's assets and liabilities by the end of the financial year. Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj's disclosure documents were uploaded to the Prime Minister's website earlier this week, while Jaitley's disclosure was made public in June. Only six other cabinet ministers have submitted this information yet, of which five have not given separate information about the cash with them. "Cash in hand", three chartered accountants confirmed separately after reviewing the documents, in this case refers literally to cash on hand with the person, as details of other liquid assets like bank deposits, jewellery, cars, shares etc. are included separately.
At the end of the last financial year (2015-16), several Union cabinet ministers had a staggering amount of cash in hand, led by Jaitley himself with over Rs 72 lakh. Presumably, most of this money was held in high denomination notes and ministers would have had to deposit this money with their banks.
For Jaitley and Swaraj, demonetisation has had the impact of drastically reducing the amount of cash in hand. The cash held by Modi, on the other hand, has risen substantially.
Modi's and Swaraj's total assets have increased in value only slightly over two years, while Jaitley's have declined slightly. For all three, the bulk of their assets are in the form of real estate, followed by savings bank accounts.
The average urban Indian's household assets are worth Rs 23 lakh, with 92% in the form of land and buildings, according to National Sample Survey Office data for 2012-13.