Mumbai: Terming demonetisation a "monumental tragedy" and an "anti-poor" measure, former finance minister P. Chidambaram on Tuesday said whoever planted the idea should enrol in an undergraduate course in economics.
"I don't think demonetisation is a reform. It is a monumental tragedy which is anti-poor and has put millions in misery and hardships," he said at an event at the Mumbai University. By demonetisation, the Modi government created a myth that all cash is black money and all black money is cash, he said.
Stating that the government did not know, either before November 8 or afterwards, the estimate of the black money in the system, Chidambaram said it is akin to a surgeon carrying out an operation without doing homework.
"It is like a surgeon operating upon a patient without knowing whether the patient has any disease at all, which part of the patient is affected and what kind of surgery is required," the former minister said.
Asserting that all cash is not black money, the senior Congress leader said black money is the income that has evaded tax, and there are large sections of the people who have cash but who do not evade income tax.
Agricultural income is not subject to taxation, income of charities is exempted, as is the income of religious trusts. Also, the people of Northeastern states do not have to pay income tax and they have cash in hand, he said. "Is that all black money? Is the money in the hands of farmer black money?" he asked.
"I think whoever planted the idea of demonetisation did not know elementary economics. He should be asked to enrol in an undergraduate school of economics," Chidambaram quipped.