Free Press Journal

The Demonetization Phenomenon by Prabhat Pankaj and Sheenu Jain: Review


Book: The Demonetization Phenomenon
Author: Prabhat Pankaj, Sheenu Jain
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 272
Price: Rs 399

Demonetization has been and will probably be associated with one of the hottest topics of conversation of this decade. The surprise decision that had caught everyone unawares soon spiralled into the talk of the country. Opinions were formed, analogies were explained, projections were made, past actions were compared with, unsolicited advice was dispensed with which created an environment of confusion amongst the masses and thereby questioning the efficacy and purpose of this entire exercise.

Hence, a laudable project undertaken by authors Prabhat Pankaj and Sheenu Jain by bringing out this book “The Demonetization Phenomenon” compiles all such opinions and analysis under one roof and dispenses the viewpoints of the nation’s most erudite minds. The book is more of a compilation of essays from contributors from various fields of expertise ranging from Economics and Finance professors, bank managers, senior bureaucrats, high positioned white collared employees et al representing the think tank of the country. Consider it as a white paper submission project in an economics class conducted by the two authors.

The essays give a good insight into the several nuances of this entire exercise executed under the helm of our PM. The opinions are dispensed and supported with several statistical examples to validate the theories. The authors have tried to be impartial to the order of the essays and have smartly distilled the characteristic of the essays into subtopics to make the discussions meaningful and interesting. Hence there are essays which relate to the discussions from a macroeconomics perspective, impacts and assessments. Further discussions lead to the impacts of demonetization from a sectoral approach with individual impacts on several sectors like retail, telecom, real estate, banking, start-ups. Since the immediate outcome of this gargantuan exercise was the development of the digital economy, an entire section has been dedicated to this discussion. It paves the way for the future of money in the days to come and the teething troubles associated with it. A cashless economy forms the backbone of a quintessential monetary system and a pre-requisite of a robust economy that becomes a trendsetter for the future of currency.

As I’d mentioned earlier, the essays are actually white papers and hence comes as a delight for an economist, social or political science student and more of an interest to people who like to talk shop. For a layman, curiosity and the appealing title surely forms an incentive enough to start reading this book. But the curiosity is soon short lived as the topics start becoming repetitive in nature. Since the structure of the book is in the formation of essays penned by several writers, there is bound to have an overlap of discussions which leads to the repetition of common topics. Also, the statistics are generously used which require additional analysis to form a conclusion that a layman might not possess the necessary skills to dispense with, which in turn can make it easy to lose focus from continuing with the book. The book also comes as a disadvantage to the later essay authors, since, although they have done all justice in bringing out the best of their thoughts, the discussion is lost as the same has the potential of being repeated earlier. The book happens to provide a lot of déjà vu moments.

Overall, although a good read for a student of economics, it fails to enthuse the commoners after a pique of interest during the initial essays. The book may eventually face the fact of being catalogued as just a ‘reference’ book in future.