Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent bid for curbing black money has received mixed response in the country. While a large section of the populace is standing staunchly in support of the new scheme, there is no dearth of people crying foul as well — citing the problems they are facing in their day to day lives. However, the move to demonetize the old currency is receiving a rousing welcome internationally and now, Microsoft Founder Bill Gates has joined the growling list of admirers of the move to demonetize old currency.
Mr. Gates expressed his thoughts on this and other issues while delivering a speech for the ‘NITI-Lectures series: Transforming India’ in the presence of PM Narendra Modi and his Cabinet.
According to Mr.Gates, the move to demonetize old currency and replace them with new notes will lead to dramatic improvements and may also serve to kill off the shadow economy. Shadow economy, in case you are unaware of it, is a term which refers to illicit economic activities that exist alongside a country’s official economy. This may include stuff like black market transactions and other, illegal sources of income.
While estimates vary widely, most sources agree that India’s shadow economy runs in the hundreds of billions.
Bill Gates also said that the move to demonetize could provide cashless systems in the country with a significant boost. We have already seen evidence of this statement in the huge surge reported by Paytm and others in the Cashless spectrum following the government’s ban on 500 and 1,000 notes. Mr. Gates believes that India could possibly become one of the most digitized economies in the world — not just by the number of consumers, but by their percentage as well.
The world is looking to India not just to solve its problems but to address global challenges through innovation.
While highly appreciative of the Government of India’s Aadhaar, Startup India, and Swachh Bharat initiatives, Bill Gates also urged the government to invest resources and efforts towards building better infrastructure, more efficient markets and streamlining tariffs and taxes. However, he went on to say that India was attempting to do what had never been done before. The Microsoft founder finally ended his speech with a bow to the Indian Prime Minister by saying,
Ye hai mere mann ki baat.
Well, the approval of a visionary like Bill Gates is certainly something to make much of. However, he is not alone. International media, including Chinese newspapers have been praising the demonetization move by the Narendra Modi government. Mr. Gates praise is further proof — though unneeded — that the Indian government is moving in the right direction.