Arthakranti Pratishthan, an NGO based out of a nondescript rental flat in a predominantly residential Rambaug Colony, some 20 km from Pune Airport, is now gaining global attention. Considered to be the brain behind Prime Minister Narendra Modi's move of scrapping old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, the think tank stands for a complete overhaul of India's taxation system. In an exclusive interview with Joe Mathew, Anil S. Bokil, an engineer-turned-economic thinker, the chief architect of Arthakranti Proposal, talks about the merits of demonetisation and how it can lead to a black money free-cashless economy, if the government adopts all of the NGO's proposals. Excerpts:

How do you see Modi government's surprise decision to demonetise high value currencies?

Modi is moving in the right direction. The previous government couldn't do it because it didn't have the absolute majority. This is a strong and stable government and, hence, the decision. Demonetisation is a revolutionary step. The cost of printing one Rs 1,000 note is about Rs 3.5. Which business is more lucrative than printing something that costs so less, but gives a value so high? That is why Pakistan has been printing and circulating counterfeit notes. That made the Indian economy so fragile. We could have managed to live with corruption for some more time, but I believe the Modi government had to act fast due to some serious security threats. Before demonetisation, Modi had talked to all service chiefs. We are linking our perception to that development. That is what perhaps made Modi take this surprise decision.

One can understand if the government had withdrawn high-denomination currency notes completely. Here it is merely replacing old notes with new ones. It is also introducing Rs 2,000 notes. On the face of it, apart from temporary demonetisation, there is nothing to suggest that it can make any difference. Do you agree?

We see the re-introduction of new currency (notes) only as a provisional measure. Demonetisation is a shock. Everyone is feeling insecure. Bringing in new notes will cushion that shock. We believe the government will get back to our original plan of demonetisation soon.

What is Arthakranti Proposal? Did you meet the Prime Minister to discuss your idea?

I met Modi when he was still chief minister (of Gujarat). He was nominated as the Prime Ministerial candidate and he was fairly confident of getting absolute majority at that time. He had given some 15 minutes time for us to make a presentation. But after listening to me for over an hour, he asked me what needs to be done (for a complete overhaul of the Indian economy). We suggested that all taxes should be withdrawn and replaced with a single banking transaction tax (BTT). The next step was to demonetise high-value currency, followed by taking away legal sanctity of high-value cash transactions. He wanted to know whether an action on currency (demonetisation) should come first or an action on tax (withdrawal). For me, currency demonetisation is like an operation, which can be carried out after giving anaesthesia (withdrawal of taxes). Modi carried out the operation without giving anaesthesia, and I believe it was warranted by some grave circumstances.

"Demonetisation was one of our proposals. And that has been considered. Other proposals will follow. Conditions and technology are also favouring Arthakranti as India is fast moving into the digital economy"


How do you prevent black money generation as people will continue the same practices by using the new currency also?

Arthakranti is the only solution.

Is the government seriously thinking on these lines? Is there any reason to believe that the current decision was based on its intention to pursue Arthakranti?

There is some momentum now. Demonetisation was one of our proposals. And that has been considered. Other proposals will follow. Conditions and technology are also favouring Arthakranti as India is fast moving into the digital economy. So, penetration of M-money or digital money and digital transactions are all very much in tune with our proposal. The biggest opposition should have come from politicians because they have been functioning on the black money platform for a long time. That has been overruled. That hurdle is over. The world is beginning to recognise the merits of our proposal. We are getting invitations from universities outside India to present our model. Indian Institutes of Management, BITS are calling us. That is because the most critical part, the move towards currency demonetisation, has already happened. The rest is very simple.

Is BJP top brass supporting this view?

At least six prominent Cabinet ministers are supporting this move. Sushma Swaraj, Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari, Suresh Prabhu, Manohar Parrikar and Prakash Javadekar are totally with us. As a society, we are pushing it. Baba Ramdev is very much interested. In just one sitting he understood the gravity of the complete proposal. Sri Sri Ravishankar ji has openly supported the idea. Subramanian Swamy, an economist, is totally convinced.

Can your proposal co-exist with GST, the countrywide single indirect tax system that is expected to get operational by April 1, 2017?

No. Then that will not be our proposal. Arthakranti can be implemented in phases. To begin with, the government may take out the personal income tax in the first phase. And it may introduce a 0.1 per cent or 0.2 per cent BTT. Once the Centre convinces the states, it can proceed further. That will be in tune with Arthakranti, but not the complete proposal. We want taxes to be withdrawn in a phased manner. The transition phase that we have designed is over a period of 18 months. We are giving a philosophical, logical framework to the government. The government is now looking at it.

But GST is to become a reality by April 2017. How can you ignore that fact?

GST will only complicate our tax system. Government and media are propagating GST like a magic wand. What they don't say is that the most populated country, China, does not have GST. The most powerful country, the US, has already rejected it. It is a wrong model. No highly populated country has adopted it. It is not yet operational. There is always a possibility that it may not become operational too. When the group of chief ministers meet next, they should be told about Arthakranti system that will generate more revenue than what one gets today. They should also be told that whatever be the shortfall, it will be compensated, as is being promised under the current GST proposal. Revenue sharing can also be worked out by following the recommendation of the Finance Commission. Implementation of Arthakranti does not require any constitutional amendment as it is well within the constitutional framework. The revenue administration will be independent as tax collection is automatic and not dictated by the Centre.

Why is BJP government going ahead with GST then?

My perception is that the NDA government under Vajpayee brought in the concept of GST and successive governments have progressed so much that it is difficult to abandon it mid-way. But that does not mean that it will be the preferred model and it will be in place. I cannot say whether GST will happen or not. All I can say is that only a better alternative can stop GST, and Arthakranti is the best. GST provides a mechanism for transition. One can utilise the same transition mechanism to move to Arthakranti.

So, what do you propose?

We want to abolish all taxes, except customs duty, which is needed to control imports. Government revenue should come from BTT.

Can you explain?

Only receiver pays. The moment some money is credited in your account, a percentage of that goes to the government exchequer as BTT. It is that simple. If you go by today's bank transactions, a 2 per cent tax can generate Rs 20 lakh crore. If you add another Rs Rs 2 lakh crore as custom collection, it will be Rs 22 lakh crore. And it is a very conservative figure. It is very close to the total revenue collection of the Central government today, which is Rs 24 lakh crore. India is the only country where bank money is only a fraction of the total money transaction. Once it changes, these figures will improve.

But India has a large informal economy which is outside the traditional banking system?

Arthakranti is a capsule. It is a set of several proposals. BTT is one. It should be followed by demonetisation of all high-value currencies, preferably above Rs 50 in due course, in a right manner, in a designed structure. Going by the global poverty line of $2 per day consumption, which means around Rs 130 per day, 70 per cent of Indian population is below poverty line. Then why do we need

Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currencies? About 86 per cent of the value of our currency is locked here. Let Rs 100 be the highest denomination.

By asking everyone to pay the same percentage as BTT, are you not discriminating against the poor? Is not income-based tax progressive in nature?

We are not talking about rate. We are talking about proportional tax. It is not regressive or progressive. Proportion is different from rate. (Finance Minister) Arun Jaitley has also misinterpreted this. He has confused everybody. We are not talking about the same rate; we are talking about same per cent.

The problem is that while a high-income person may not mind to set aside 2 per cent of his total earnings, that would mean a lot for someone who is barely making both ends meet?

Even today, the poor is paying indirect taxes. But that will be gone if it gets replaced by a single BTT. Further, payment of tax adds to the credit worthiness of poor. Let everyone be worthy of credit. He will get more credit than what he pays as tax.

Former finance minister P. Chidambaram had proposed a withdrawal tax. Is it in any way similar to your plan?

No. That proposal was to tax cash withdrawals. It would have been counterproductive as people would have preferred to keep the entire money outside the banking system, thereby creating a huge parallel economy.

THANE: Founder of the Pune-based think-tank ArthaKranti, who was a part of the team that claims to suggest the demonetisation move to the government, said the exercise has been implemented "without proper preparation".
    
"We do not accept the decision but we are also not against it," Bokil said while addressing the Late Narendra Ballal Lecture here last night.
    
Bokil said there should only be a currency of Rs 50 and denominations below that.
    
"We want a less cash concept and not cash-less as conceived by the society," he said.
    
When asked if ArthaKranti was not in favour of the decision, he said, "the process has been done without due preparation...but we look at the decision and its
implementation from a positive angle".
    
"With this, a good amount of money will be put to use and circulation and will help the economy grow. It would benefit the lower strata of the society," added Bokil.
    
"People are asking them about the deaths in the past few days in the aftermath of the demonetisation move, but what about the several lives of the farmers which will be saved due to this revolution," he asked.
    
"There is nothing to be worried about and there is no reason for fear, which the country is witnessing. This (decision) should have been taken in a good spirit," he said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said people have wholeheartedly accepted the demonetisation decision and understood the "path of truth" in national interest despite initial difficulties being faced by them and efforts being made to misguide them.

"Our dream is that there should be cashless society. This is correct that 100% cashless society is never possible. But we can make a start with less-cash society - then cashless society will not be a far-off destination," Modi said in his monthly 'Mann Ki Baat' address, appealing to youth to teach 10 families daily on how they could do cashless transactions through mobile apps, mobile banking and debit/credit cards.

In an apparent reference to number of deaths being reported across the country, Modi said sometimes "disturbing incidents" have come to light. "I knew that people would face new kind of difficulties in their normal lives. The decision is so big that it would take 50 days for us to emerge out of its impact and move towards normalcy. The whole world is looking at the decision minutely and economists are analysing it. There may be a question mark in the world's mind but India has faith and confidence in its citizens that we will emerge glowing like gold from the fire," the PM said in his monthly 'Mann Ki Baat' radio broadcast.

Some economists have said the demonetisation step would impact growth while former PM Manmohan Singh said it would impact the GDP by at least 2%.

Modi said that despite "stress of various kinds", 1.3 lakh bank branches, lakhs of bank employees, 1.5 lakh post offices and one lakh banking correspondents were putting in long hours on the job considering it a "Yagna of Service to the country." He said this left no doubt in his mind that India will emerge successful from the exercise. "For 70 years, the diseases we are inflicted with -- the road to get ourselves rid of those diseases cannot be easy," the PM said in his address. He warned that some rich people were trying to influence the poor or offering them gains and getting them to out their black money in the latter's accounts.

"This is very sad. I want to tell such people - to reform yourself, or not - that is your wish. The law will handle you. But please do not play with the lives of the poor - because in probes later, my poor countrymen will get into trouble. We are also bringing in a very strong benami property law," the PM said. This comment comes in light of high deposits being reported in PM Jan Dhan Yojna accounts held by the poor. Modi also referred to nearly Rs 13000 Cr being deposited with 47 municipal corporations in the last one week against only Rs 3500 Cr collected till last year by way of taxes for water and electricity. "The rich ran to deposit their old notes in municipal taxes. This money will be used for bringing water and sanitation facilities in poor colonies," the PM said.

The PM also said that as per figures with him till November 20, sowing of various crops by farmers had increased this year compared to last year as farmers had found ways around the demonetisation step. Congratulating the farmers, Modi said government had also taken steps like to help farmers and villages. He said small shopkeepers had also adopted technology, mobile apps and mobile banking to serve their customers. "I would urge small shopkeepers to enter the digital world, download mobile apps of banks, get Point of Sale (PoS) machines - they should learn how business can be done without cash. This rather than hurting your business will make it grow. This way is also safe and secure," the PM said. Modi also urged labourers to open bank accounts so that wages are credited directly to them, minimum wages rule is followed and that they do not have to get cuts to anyone, thereby ending their exploitation. "You can buy simple phones which can also work like e-wallets. You do not need a smart phone. With e-wallet, you can make payments to small shops in your locality," the PM said. He urged the youth who are well-conversent with cashless banking to teach the samd to their parents/relatives.

"Every bank has online banking - every bank has a mobile app. There has been 300% increase in usage of Rupay cards now which were given with Jan Dhan Yojana accounts. Through UPI, transferring money is as easy as sending WhatsApp. Even an illiterate person can send a WhatsApp message. A dhobi, sabzi vendor, milk vendor, newspaper vendor - all can use mobile apps and banking apps like UPI on simple feature phones for cash transfer. We have finished all online surcharges too," the PM said. He admitted that there is still one full generation which is unaware of all this. "I appeal to the youth to teach 10 families about the same daily. If you teach a poor person how to use RuPay card, he will bless you. If all youth get on the job, in one month we can make a modern India emerge. So don't give me just support - but help me make a a cashless India," the Prime Minister said.

प्रधानमंत्री नरेंद्र मोदी द्वारा 500-1000 रुपये के नोटबंदी के ऐलान से पूरे देश में हलचल मची है. कहा गया कि सरकार ने अर्थक्रांति नाम के संगठन को चलाने वाले अनिल बोकिल की सलाह पर यह कदम उठाया है. आइए पढ़ें उनसे हुई बातचीत का ब्योरा-

प्रश्न : सरकार जो नोटबंदी लेकर आई है, लोग कहते हैं कि यह आपका प्रस्ताव था, क्या आप सरकार में किसी से मिले थे, अपना प्रस्ताव सरकार के सामने रखा था?
अनिल बोकिल : अर्थक्रांति का यह प्रस्ताव 16 सालों से पब्लिक डोमेन में है. यह 2000 में पब्लिश हुआ है और 16 सालों में बहुत प्रेजेंटेशन हुए हैं. पहले यूपीए सरकार के समय में कई प्रेजेंटेशन हुए थे और इस सरकार के समय में भी हुए हैं और कई संस्था को भी हुए हैं. अर्थक्रांति नहीं मानती है कि सरकार ने अर्थक्रांति के प्रस्ताव को माना है. यह हम नहीं मानते हैं.
प्रश्न : क्या अपने प्रस्ताव को लेकर केंद्र सरकार या प्रधानमंत्री से मिले थे?
अनिल बोकिल : देखिये सरकार में कोई एक व्यक्ति नहीं होता है. हमने तो प्रेजेंटेशन कई व्यक्तियों को दिए थे. हमने प्रेजेंटेशन प्रधानमंत्री को नहीं दिए थे. मोदी जी जब मुख्यमंत्री थे तब हम ने प्रेजेंटेशन दिया था और कुछ दूसरे व्यक्तियों को प्रेजेंटेशन दिया था जो अभी सरकार में हैं.

प्रश्न : आप यह कह रहे हैं कि मोदी जी जब गुजरात के मुख्यमंत्री थे तब आपने प्रेजेंटेशन दिए थे, यह कब की बात है?
बोकिल : यह 2013 की बात है, यह मेरा प्रेजेंटेशन नहीं है यह अर्थक्रांति का पॉवरबैंक प्रेजेंटेशन है. यह हम सबको देते हैं, जो सुनना चाहता है. उनको देते है.

प्रश्न : क्या आप समझते हैं कि नोटबंदी से काला धन पर अंकुश लगाया जा सकता है, या काला धन वापस आ सकता है?
बोकिल : नहीं, नहीं... यह हमारी मांग नहीं है? काला धन पर अंकुश लगाने के लिए टैक्स सिस्टम को भी ठीक करना पड़ेगा और अर्थक्रांति का पूरा प्रस्ताव सिर्फ नोटबंदी नहीं है, नोटबंदी के साथ-साथ टैक्स को निकाल देना है, यह भी हमारा प्रस्ताव है. टैक्स नहीं होना चाहिए. टैक्स की जगह बैंक ट्रांजेक्शन टैक्स होना चाहिए. इस पर काफी चर्चा पहले भी हुई है और आज भी हो रही है.

प्रश्न : तो आप यह मानते हैं कि नोटबंदी को तो सरकार लागू कर दिया लेकिन आपके दूसरे प्रस्ताव को नहीं माना?
बोकिल : इसीलिए तो हम समझते हैं नोटबंदी जो है वह अर्थक्रांति का प्रस्ताव शायद नहीं है, क्योंकि अर्थक्रांति का प्रस्ताव पूरा एक कैप्सूल जो नोटबंदी के साथ-साथ बैंक ट्रांजक्शन टैक्स की बात करती है. अर्थक्रांति नोट रिप्लेसमेंट की बात नहीं कर रही है, अर्थक्रांति नोटबंदी की बात कर रही है. अर्थक्रांति का सुझाव आनुक्रमिक है (क्रमवार है), आकस्मिक नहीं है.

प्रश्न : यह नोटबंदी और नोट रिप्लेसमेंट में क्या फर्क है?
बोकिल : यह तो आप समझ भी सकते हैं, नोटबंदी का मतलब जो नोटबैन हुआ है वह नोट दोबारा नहीं आएगा और नोट रिप्लेसमेंट का मतलब वह नोट फिर नई फॉर्म में आ जाएंगे. हमने सिर्फ नोटबंदी की बात की थी. हमने नोट रिप्लेसमेंट की बात नहीं की थी.

प्रश्न : लोगों को दिक्कतें हो रही हैं, क्या आप को लगता है कि सरकार ने सही प्लानिंग के साथ कदम नहीं उठाया है? सरकार और क्या कर सकती थी?
बोकिल : सरकार ने यह जो कदम उठाया है इसके पीछे कुछ तो कारण होगा. हो सकता है सरकार के पास इसके इलावा और कोई रास्ता नहीं रहा होगा. इसीलिए हम उसे स्वीकार कर रहे हैं. यह निर्णय तो होना ही था. अर्थक्रांति यह चाहती भी थी.

प्रश्न : लेकिन, आप तो कह रहे हैं कि अर्थक्रांति के पूरा कैप्सूल को सरकार ने लागू नहीं किया है? आप यह भी कह रहे हैं आप तो नोटबंदी की बात कर रहे थे, लेकिन सरकार तो नोट रिप्लेसमेंट कर रही है, यह तो आप का सुझाव नहीं था?
बोकिल : देखिए सरकार की मानने या न मानने की बात नहीं है, हमारा प्रस्ताव पब्लिक डोमेन है और 16 सालों से अर्थक्रांति इस पर काम कर रही है. सरकार को क्या स्वीकार करना क्या नहीं करना यह सरकार को तय करना है. अर्थक्रांति इस तरह की बात करता है कि यह एक पूरा प्रस्ताव है. पूरे टैक्स को हटाया जाए. काला पैसा बनने की जो ज़मीन है, वह हमारा टैक्सेशन सिस्टम है. इसी के वजह से टैक्स इवेश़न होता है और बड़ी नोट उसे मदद करता है. हमारे देश में जिनकी आय दो डॉलर से कम है वे 70 प्रतिशत के करीब है तो 500 और 1000 नोट किसके लिए चाहिए.

प्रश्न : तो आप यह कह रहे हैं कि बड़ी नोट पूरी तरह बंद हो जाना चाहिए? सरकार उसकी रिप्लेसमेंट कर रही है, आप उससे खुश नहीं हैं?
बोकिल : देखिए खुशी की बात नहीं है, सरकार की सोच अलग हो सकती है. हमारी कैश इकॉनमी है, हमारा पूरा व्यवहार है बड़ी मात्रा में कैश पर निर्भर करता है तो यह तो सबको सोचना पड़ेगा कि एक साथ में यह सब कर सकते हैं या आहिस्ता आहिस्ता कम करना चाहिए? शायद सरकार ने कुछ सोचकर किया होगा.

प्रश्न : नोटबंदी के बाद लोगों को समस्याएं हो रही है, आपका क्या कहना है?
बोकिल : यह समस्या होगी, इतनी बड़ा कैश क्रंच अगर आ जाएगा तो यह होगा. सरकार को बड़ी मात्रा में नोट लाना चाहिए और सरकार लाएगी.

प्रश्न : आप को लगता नहीं सरकार को पूरी प्लानिंग के साथ आगे आने चाहिए था?
बोकिल : देखो हम स्टडी करने वाले लोग हैx, उनको पता है यह जो छोटी नोट बनानी है तो कितनी बड़ी मात्रा में बनानी पड़ती है. उस के कई सिक्योरिटी फीचर भी होते हैं. ऐसा हो सकता है कि इतनी बड़ी मात्रा में आप नोट को प्रिंट नहीं कर पाए. उसका कोई प्लान-बी ज़रूर होगा. ज़िम्मेदारी तो सरकार की है, उनकी सोच भी होगी. हम इसीलिए इसकी आलोचना नहीं कर रहे हैं क्यों कि जिस तरीके से इसकी जरूरत थी, सरकार वही कर रही है और देश का भविष्य है डिजिटल इकॉनमी ही होगा, किसी भी मोड़ पर वह कैश इकॉनमी की तरफ नहीं जाने वाला है. क्योंकि पूरी दुनिया के साथ हम भी जुड़ रहे हैं. ऑनलाइन ट्रांजेक्शन बढ़ता जा रहा है. हर चीज ऑनलाइन आ रही है तो डिजिटल मनी देश का भविष्य है.

प्रश्न : यह डिजिटल मनी जो है क्या एक मज़दूर के लिए फायदेमंद  है, जिस के पास क्रेडिट या डेबिट कार्ड नहीं है. जो ऑनलाइन ट्रांसक्शन नहीं जानता है..

बोकिल : देखिए मोबाइल जब आए थे तब लोगों ने यह सवाल किया था. क्या एक अनपढ़ आदमी मोबाइल का इस्तेमाल कर पाएगा. लेकिन, आज अनपढ़ मोबाइल का इस्तेमाल कर रहा है, समझ भी रहा है. हमको लगता है इसका लाभ भी गरीब आदमी को होगा.

प्रश्न : मेरा आपसे यह भी सवाल है जिस गरीब के पास बैंक अकाउंट नहीं है, न ही अकॉउंट खोलने के लिए प्रमाण-पत्र है तो वह क्या करेगा. वह तो 2000 तक बदल सकता है उसकी बाकी की बचत है उसका क्या होगा?
बोकिल : वह बैंक में जायेगा.

प्रश्न : लेकिन, बैंक में कैसे जायेगा?
बोकिल : इसके लिए सरकार कुछ न कुछ करेगी, सरकार हर बार बोल रही है कि वह फ्लेक्सिबल है, रोज कुछ कुछ नया निर्णय ले रही है. जब तक 31 दिसंबर नहीं आता है तब तक हम कोई स्पेक्यूलेट नहीं करेंगे. तो आप मानते हैं यह एक समस्या है?

देखिए प्रमाण पत्र बनाना कोई बड़ी बात नहीं है. अब 31 तक का समय है. इतना जरूरी होगी तो वह कर भी लेंगे और सरकार भी फ्लेक्सिबिलिटी दिखाएगी. हम जनतन्त्र में है अगर असुविधा हो रही है तो बात सरकार के पास पहुंची भी होगी. लोगों की सुविधा के लिए तो सरकार होती है. सरकार कुछ न कुछ करेगी.

प्रश्न : कई ऐसे देश हैं जहां प्लास्टिक मनी का ज्यादा इस्तेमाल होता है, ऑनलाइन ट्रांजेक्शन होता है, लेकिन फिर भी वहां ब्लैक मनी ख़त्म नहीं हुआ है.

बोकिल : पूरी दुनिया में जो टैक्स पैटर्न है जन मानस उस के खिलाफ है, क्योंकि टैक्स देना अनिवार्य है. देखिए पूरी दुनिया में ऐसे बहुत कम आदमी होंगे जो टैक्स देना चाहते होंगे. हर विकसित राष्ट्र में ब्लैक मनी तो बनती रहेगी क्योंकि टैक्स मैंडेट्री कॉन्ट्रिब्यूशन है. इसीलिए अर्थक्रांति का पूरा सुझाव जो है वह बैंक ट्रांजक्शन टैक्स है जिस में काला पैसा बनेगा ही नहीं. इस पर बहस होनी चाहिए.

प्रश्न : अगर आप का प्रस्ताव नहीं है तो फिर आप इस प्रस्ताव से खुश क्यों है?
बोकिल : खुश होने की कहां बात है यह हमारा देश है, यह हमारा देश है, हमें मालूम है इतना बड़ा भ्रष्टाचार है, आतंकवाद है अगर यह सब को कंट्रोल करना है तो कैश इकॉनमी को कंट्रोल करना पड़ेगा. 16 सालों से हम यह कह रहे हैं. खुशी की या दुःख की बात नहीं यह देश की बात है. एक ज़िम्मेदार नागरिक इसके सेवा क्या कर सकता है.

प्रश्न : आप को लगता है नोट बंदी से यह सब कंट्रोल होगा?
बोकिल : होना ही चाहिए, वह तो होगा न, कैश ट्रांजैक्शन में पीछे पर के निशान नहीं रहते हैं, अपारदर्शी हो जाते हैं और कैश छापना बहुत आसान होता है. तीन या चार रुपया में आप हज़ार रुपया का वैल्यू क्रिएट कर सकते हो. कोई भी दुश्मन देश के लिए यह बहुत आसान है.

प्रश्न : तो फिर आप कैश लेस्स ट्राजैंक्शन पर ज्यादा जोर दे रहे हैं?
बोकिल : मैं नहीं जा रहा हूं, पूरी दुनिया जा रही है जिसे डिजिटल इकॉनमी बोलते हैं. हमारे युवा भी जा रहा है. यह तो पूरी दुनिया का ट्रेंड है, चलता हुआ ट्रेंड है.

प्रश्न : गांव में कैश लेस्स इकॉनमी का क्या भविष्य है?
बोकिल : देखो यह तो वर्तमान है, भविष्य में तो यह होने वाला है. दुनिया टेक्नोलॉजी पर खड़ी है, हमे टेक्नोलॉजी को अपनाना है.  सरकार की अगर प्रायोरिटी बन जाएगी तो हो ही जायेगा न. हम इसे पूरी तरह पॉजिटिव रूप से देख रहे हैं क्योंकि आने वाला भविष्य डिजिटल इकॉनमी है. आज नहीं तो कल कभी तो इस को करना पड़ता. आज बोरियों में जो पैसा बाहर आने लगा है, हम देख रहे हैं आम आदमी खड़ा है लाइन में, उसे बहुत तकलीफ़ भी हो रही है, लेकिन अंदर से वह समझ रहा है कि बहुत अच्छा हो रहा है क्योंकि काला पैसा बहार आ जायेगा.

प्रश्न : लेकिन काला धन कैश के रूप में लोगों के पास कम हैं, ज्यादा काला पैसा तो लोग इन्वेस्ट कर दिए हैं?
बोकिल : देखिये काला पैसा और काला धन अलग है, काल पैसा वह है जो सर्कुलेशन में चलता रहता है, वह समाज को डैमेज करता रहता है और काल धन जो है वह घूमते नहीं रहता है, यह ज्यादा डैमेज नहीं कर सकता है. हमने काले पैसे की बात की है. हो सकता है काला धन को लेकर सरकार और कोई दूसरा कदम उठाए. काला पैसा सर्कुलेशन में रहता है. अर्थक्रांति चाहता है कॉन्ट्यूनिटी में जो भ्रष्टाचार चल रहा है, उसे रोकने के लिए उसका सर्कुलेशन रोको. इस के साथ जहां से यह जेनेरेट हो रहा है उसको भी रोको.

प्रश्न : क्या आप को लगता है कि अर्थक्रांति का जो पूरा कैप्सूल है अगर वह लागु होता तो ज्यादा फ़ायदा होता?
बोकिल : ज़रूर होता, अर्थक्रांति यह भी मानती है, हमारे प्रस्ताव से अगर एक भी आदमी का नुकसान हो जाता है हम अपना प्रस्ताव वापस लेने के लिए तैयार हैं.

प्रश्न : तो आपका कहना है कि आप का प्रस्ताव लागू नहीं हुआ है इसीलिए लोगों को दिक्कतें हो रही हैं?
बोकिल : यह तो दिख रहा है

प्रश्न : तो आप का कहना है सरकार आपका प्रस्ताव को लागू नहीं किया है?
बोकिल : हमको लग रहा है सरकार अर्थक्रांति के प्रस्ताव को अलग तरीके से लागू करेगी. देखिये हम तो बहुत आशावादी लोग हैं. हम तो 16 सालों से लगे हुए हैं और आगे भी करते रहेंगे. हमें कंप्लेन करने से कुछ नहीं मिलने वाला है क्योंकि यह मेरा देश है. कंप्लेन से थोड़ा ही कुछ बदलने वाला है.

प्रश्न : तो आप यह उम्मीद कर रहे हैं कि सरकार आपके प्रस्ताव को आगे लागू करेगी?
बोकिल : यह तो होने वाला है लेकिन पता नहीं कब होगा...

प्रश्न : क्या आगे आप सरकार से मिलने के लिए कोई प्लान बना रहे हैं या सरकार की तरफ से कोई बुलावा आया है?
बोकिल : सरकार एक व्यक्ति है, हम नहीं समझते हैं. सरकार एक संस्था है. हम भी एक संस्था है. जब भी बुलाएगी सरकार जाना पड़ेगा. हम तो सबके पास जाने के लिए तैयार हैं.

Anil Bokil, associated with Pune’s economic thinktank ArthaKranti Pratishthan, was among the first to recommend demonetisation to Narendra Modi when he was Gujarat’s chief minister. Bokil’s NGO has also readied a template, which he says will stop generation of black money in the system. Bokil spoke to BW Businessworld’s Suman K. Jha.

Excerpts:

When did you realise that the government would accept your recommendations on banning Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes? Did you have a meeting with PM Narendra Modi on this?
Since the ArthaKranti Proposal came into being in 1999, based on our study, we were confident that the government will have to accept it. It was only a matter of time. We presented the entire ArthaKranti proposal to Narendra Modi, then Gujarat CM, in July 2013. We last met the PM in July 2016.

Apart from banning these currency notes, what other measures need to be taken to unearth black money across the country?
We propose the implementation of the ArthaKranti proposal in totality, along with a well- designed amnesty scheme.

What is the ArthaKranti proposal?

i. Withdrawal of existing taxation system completely* (except customs/import duties)
• All central, state and local government taxes — direct as well as indirect
ii. Every transaction routed through a bank will attract a certain deduction in appropriate percentage (say two per cent) as a bank transaction tax (BTT) (a single point tax deducted at source)
• This deduction is to be effected on receiving/credit account only
• This deducted amount will be credited to different government levels like Central, state and local (as say, 0.7 per cent, 0.6 per cent and 0.35 per cent respectively)
• Transacting bank will also have a share (say 0.35 per cent) in the deducted amount as the bank has a key role to perform

iii. Cash transactions will not attract any tax

iv. Withdrawal of high denomination currency (say above Rs 50)

v. Government should make legal provisions to restrict cash transactions up to a certain limit (say Rs 2,000)

This means, cash transactions above this limit will not enjoy any legal protection.

Did you also meet other BJP leaders, other than Narendra Modi?

Yes, we have been meeting L.K. Advani, Yashwant Sinha, Nitin Gadkari and others. We also met Suresh Prabhu when he was in the Shiv Sena. He was quite impressed with our proposal. Gadkari and Prabhu have encouraged us.

Did you also meet Opposition leaders?

We also met Rahul Gandhi and Manmohan Singh of the Congress.

In the last two and a half years, the Modi government has initiated a number of measures to unearth black money. How do you evaluate them?
We observe that this government’s initiatives (like Jan Dhan Yojana, direct cash transfer, linking of post-offices with retail banking, payment gateways etc.) are in tune with the effort of making financial transactions more transparent which certainly result into effective checks on circulation of black money in the economy. However, we also believe, that generation of black money can be stopped by implementing the ArthaKranti proposal in totality.

Do you think the introduction of Rs 2000 currency notes is part of the measures to curb black money or could it also result in a problem?

In our opinion, it is a stop-gap arrangement put in place to address the likely severe liquidity crunch due to sudden withdrawal of about 85 per cent of monetary value in the form of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes. To absorb this shock, Rs 2000 notes have been introduced, which will replace Rs 1000 currency value in half the number and in the shortest possible time.

Was the hardship the common people are facing due to the present situation avoidable?
We presume this decision has been taken in view of the compelling reasons (acknowledging signals of threat to internal security due to counterfeit currency supply to terrorist outfits in India). This decision could have been executed in a more smooth way as proposed in the ArthaKranti Proposal Transition Plan.

What did you propose?
• As a part of transition, a clean amnesty scheme to be announced in which all demonetised currency money to be deposited in individuals’ accounts
• These deposits beyond a certain limit, to be converted into government security bonds of designed maturity periods
• These deposits will attract a one-time tax at progressive rate

Phase 1: First six months:
• Withdrawal of central government taxes like personal income tax, central excise, service tax, etc.
• Withdrawal of Rs 1000 notes
• Rs 500 notes to be supplied in calculated additional numbers
• In lieu of the withdrawn taxes, a fractional bank transaction tax, say 0.55 per cent to come into effect. (Breakup: 0.5 per cent to Central government account and 0.05 per cent to the banking system for setting up the required tax collection mechanism).

Phase 2: Next six months:
• Monitoring revenue generated through bank transaction tax
• Negotiating with / counselling state governments to withdraw all state and local government taxes assuring say around 25 per cent rise in their current tax revenues via their share in the bank transaction tax, based on actual bank transaction tax figures
• Fixing the bank transaction tax percentage to generate required revenues for central, state and local governments in lieu of withdrawn taxes
• Withdrawal of 500 rupee notes
• 100 rupee notes to be supplied in calculated additional numbers

Phase 3: Next six months:
• Complete transition is put in place and monitored meticulously
• Withdrawal of 100 rupee notes
• 50 rupee and lower value notes to be supplied in calculated additional numbers.

What other measures would you prescribe for strengthening the national economy?
Apart from systemic correction on the revenue side, ArthaKranti has put forth two proposals on expenditure side: empowering democracy and blanket social security. These proposals are available on our website.