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India stops printing Rs 2,000 note, two years after its shock launch

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New Delhi: India has stopped printing Rs 2,000 notes in a bid to slowly stop their circulation, a highly placed government source told ThePrint.

The decision comes on the back of suspicion in the Modi government that the high-denomination banknote was being used for hoarding, tax evasion and money laundering.

The RBI, India’s central bank and currency-issuing agency, did not respond to an email from ThePrint seeking comment. This report will be updated when it responds.

 

The Rs 2,000 note was introduced in November 2016, after the government demonetised Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 denominations as part of an exercise pitched as a crackdown on black money. At that time, to counter the massive cash shortage, the government flooded the country with new Rs 2,000 notes.

As of March 2018, the total value of the currency in circulation was Rs 18.03 lakh crore, of which Rs 6.73 lakh crore, or 37 per cent, was in Rs 2,000 notes, and Rs 7.73 lakh crore, approximately 43 per cent, in Rs 500 notes. The remaining was in the lower denominations.

Also read: This is what global experts have found studying demonetisation, while Modi looks away

When the Rs 2,000 note was introduced, the Narendra Modi government was criticised for bringing out a note of such a high denomination considering it had cancelled the Rs 1,000 note.

Opposition parties had argued that the Rs 2,000 note would further help money launderers and tax evaders, and backfire on one of the government’s stated aims for demonetisation — checking tax evasion and money laundering.

These fears seemed to have come true last April when many Indian cities reported a massive cash shortage. The government suspected cash hoarding ahead of state elections, as well as stocking of money by people in the aftermath of the PNB-Nirav Modi bank fraud.

The income tax department also reported massive seizures of Rs 2,000 notes during this period.

The critics included bankers, with Uday Kotak, the managing director of Kotak Mahindra Bank, questioning the government’s move to bring in Rs 2,000 notes while phasing out Rs 1,000 notes.

Also read: Demonetisation hit growth by 2% points, says paper by Gita Gopinath & 3 other experts

The squeeze in the circulation of the Rs 2,000 notes started some time back.

The RBI’s annual report, released in August 2018, showed that only 7.8 crore notes of the Rs 2,000 denomination were added in 2017-18, taking the total number of bills in circulation to 336.3 crore as of March 2018.

In 2016-17, 328.5 crore Rs 2,000 notes were in circulation.

The share of the Rs 2,000 notes in the total currency in circulation has come down as well: In March 2018, it was recorded at 37.3 per cent, a fall of nearly 13 percentage points from 50.2 per cent as of March 2017.

In contrast, the printing and circulation of the new Rs 500 note has been stepped up. India added 958.7 crore Rs 500 notes in 2017-18, with 588.2 crore notes in circulation the previous year.

The share of the Rs 500 notes in the total currency in circulation has increased too, from 22.5 per cent in March 2017 to 42.9 per cent in March 2018.


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RBI needs to ensure stability: Shaktikanta Das

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New Delhi: The head of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said he would take the steps necessary to maintain financial stability in the country and help create favourable conditions for growth.

India’s economy has grown because of measures such as the nationwide goods and services tax and the insolvency and bankruptcy code that prevents wilful defaulters from bidding for stressed assets, Shaktikanta Das said in his address to an investor roundtable.

The country’s growth story is backed by its strong domestic fundamentals, he said, citing lower inflation.

 

Annual retail inflation rate dropped to an 18-month low of 2.19 per cent in December, strengthening the views of some economists that the central bank could ease monetary policy next month.

India’s top business groups on Thursday urged the central bank to cut its benchmark interest rate by at least half a percentage point and lower the cash reserve ratio it imposes on banks.

The country also needs to watch out for any sudden turbulence in the gloal financial market, Das said.

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Centre removes two PNB executive directors for lapses in Rs 13,500-cr fraud

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Chennai:The Central government has removed two Punjab National Bank (PNB) Executive Directors — Sanjiv Sharan and K.Veera Brahmaji Rao — for the lapses in the Rs 13,500 crore fraud allegedly perpetrated by absconding diamantaire Nirav Modi.

The PNB has intimated the action to the stock exchanges.

“We welcome the Central government’s action to dismiss the two Executive Directors. The scam of such proportions could not have happened without the knowledge of the top management,” C.H. Venkatachalam, General Secretary, All India Bank Employees’ Association (AIBEA), told IANS.

 

“Perhaps for the first time, the Centra has removed the Executive Directors of a nationalised bank under the Nationalised Banks (Management and Miscellaneous Provision) Scheme, 1970. All these days it was said the top management of government-owned banks — Chairman, Managing Director, Executive Directors — are governed only by the contract of appointment.

“It is also good that the central government has followed the due process of giving the two PNB Executive Directors opportunity to put forth their views before dismissing them,” Venkatachalam added.

According to the Central government’s notification, on July 3, 2018, Sharan and Rao were issued a show cause notice as to why they could not be removed from office for having failed to exercise proper control over the functioning of PNB, thus enabling the fraud through the misuse of SWIFT at the bank’s Brady House branch in Mumbai.

After considering Sharan and Rao’s replies and the comments of the bank’s Board, the Centre removed them from office as it found it was expedient in the interests of PNB.

According to the notification, the dismissal of Rao is subject to the outcome of a plea in the Delhi High Court.

“We are happy to see some action being taken. Whether it is only the two Executive Directors and other officials are also involved in the scam has to be probed in full,” Venkatachalam said.

According to him, in the past, low-level officers would have been the scapegoats for such massive scams.

“With the action taken on the top management, people will be satisfied that public sector bank officials are answerable for their lapses,” Venkatachalam added.

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In this new world, data is the new wealth: Ambani

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Mumbai: Reliance Industries chairman and managing director Mukesh Ambani urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take steps against ‘data colonisation’, specially by global corporations, stating that Indian data must be owned by Indians.

Invoking Mahatma Gandhi’s movement against political colonisation, Ambani said India now needs a new movement against data colonisation.

“Gandhiji led India’s movement against political colonisation. Today, we have to collectively launch a new movement against data colonisation,” he said Gandhinagar at the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit.

 

Stressing that, in this new world, data is the new wealth, Ambani said, “India’s data must be controlled and owned by Indian people and not by corporate, especially global corporations.”

He further said, “For India to succeed in this data driven revolution, we will have to migrate the control and ownership of Indian data back to India. In other words, give Indian wealth back to every Indian.”

Stating that the “entire world has come to recognise” Modi “as a man of action”, Ambani said, “Honorable Prime Minister, am sure you will make this one of the principal goals of your digital India mission.”

Later in the day, countering Ambani’s call, Governor – Commonwealth of Kentucky, Matthew Griswold, asked Modi “to think in the opposite” in order to realise the tremendous opportunity that lies in Indo-US partnership.

“Honorable prime minister you have been asked from this stage to think about limiting the amount of competition, limiting the exchange of ideas, information and goods. I would encourage you to think in the opposite,” he said.

While stating that it is important to put the people of India first, Griswold said, “It is also important to put their opportunity and our opportunity as citizens of the world to trade with one another and exchange ideas because iron sharpens iron.”

The greatest possibility comes from the exchange of these idea, he added.

“If we can cut the regulations, cut the bureaucracy, cut the red tape, the opportunity is enormous between our nations,” he added that India is now the 10th largest trading partner for the US and “climbing quickly”.

“The opportunity before us between India and the United States is incredible, but responsibility falls on each of one us, those of us in elected positions, those of you in the industry, those of you who represent various constituencies, we have much work to do…we must do this, ” Griswold said.

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