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Ironic: digital money brings opacity to Indian elections

Categories : Cash generates security, Cash is trust
April 10, 2018
Tags : Cash, Demonitisation, India
After Indian president Narendra Modi scraped 90% of the country's currency overnight to fight corruption, it's what he promoted most - digital money - that is making it particularly challenging to monitor expenditures prior to the election period.
Communication Team / Equipo de Comunicación

This post is also available in: Spanish

It’s no secret that ordinary Indians have experienced a blow following the November 2016 demonetisation, particularly the poor and the unbanked. Yet the situation has far from improved. After over 500 days since the scrapping of the Rs 500 and 1,000 numerous challenges still remain unaddressed.

Indeed, there continues to be an extreme shortage of cash, particularly in rural areas. Protests have been organised where activists of the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) and Students Federation of India (SFI) hit the streets in Telangana’s Khammam region. A priest was hired to perform a funeral of a number of ATMs in the area to raise awareness about the daily struggles people face such as empty ATMs and hours spent running around to find cash.

The nationwide demonetisation scheme crippled the economy, decimated people’s savings and caused a wave of suicides, particularly in rural areas – and the benefits are yet to be seen. Ironically, although the main purpose of scraping cash was to fight corruption, there are now growing fears of foul play in the upcoming elections due to the payment system demonetisation actively promoted: digital payments.

In a recent discussion with state election commission officials, Chief Election Commissioner Om Prakash Rawat admitted that it has become very difficult to track digital money transfers to politicians and political parties via smartphone apps. “The commission is committed to maintaining purity of elections and to deliver free, fair and transparent elections […] It is difficult to track the digital payment mode and certain app-based monetary transactions”, stated Rawat.

One hundred and thirty six expenditure observers will be deployed during the election to monitor financial transactions to and for political parties. 

This post is also available in: Spanish