It is a question I’m sure many Indians are asking themselves in the wake of the demonetisation of old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes and the announcement of a ban on online purchases of high-value goods.
The most common Indian word used in the English language to describe the ban is the word ‘demonetisation’, and it is not just the country’s central bank that has been accused of trying to impose an Orwellian world on its people.
In the words of a widely circulated article in the Hindustan Times, the government is trying to force the citizens to ‘pay for something they don’t need’.
And the answer to that is, in many cases, yes.
So, if the government has been trying to ban ‘demonets’, then why have it been unable to implement its ban?
Why is the term demonetising being used to describe this ban, but not the ban itself?
And what about the demonising, the word demonising itself?
The Hindustans Times article, as I wrote in a previous column, argues that demonetised notes are “more than just an inconvenience” and that they have a “dangerous legacy”.
This is because, according to the Hindutva-led ruling BJP, demonetisations have been the most damaging step taken by the central government in the last 30 years.
The BJP, which was the party that led the government to demonetise the currency, has been criticised for its use of the word “demonetise”, but the government says demonetisers are being misused and misappropriated to target the poor and marginalised.
The Hindustani Times article also suggests that the term ‘demonisation’ was coined by the government as a way to discredit the opposition and demonetises are seen as a means to make the poor happy.
But in my column, I argued that the word was coined as a term of abuse to target a specific section of the population, the poor, in an attempt to destroy them.
What the government and the Hindus Times are arguing, therefore, is that the government demonetiser is misusing the word and that it is being misappropriation.
This is not the first time the Hindusters Times has written on the demonisation of notes and demonets.
In January 2016, the newspaper wrote on the use of demonetizers in a piece that had a reference to an article from a respected Indian academic, Shrikant Sharma, who was quoted in an article in a mainstream newspaper.
Sharma was also quoted by the Times of Asia, the Indian edition of the English-language edition of The New York Times.
According to Sharma, demonets are being used by the opposition as a method to “disarm and demoralise” the country, and in the process, they have made the poor feel more “unprotected”.
The Hindutas Times has used the same quote before.
In 2014, the Times wrote about a ‘demonotisation’ campaign being undertaken by the Congress party, which it claimed was aimed at “demobilising the middle class”.
But the Times has also used a similar quote in its articles before.
It also said that demonets were being used as a tool by the BJP to discredit opposition parties.
And the same article also said “demonotising the poor is a strategy to target middle class voters”.
In the Hindu Times article from November 2017, the Hinduster Times wrote that “the central government demonised the rich and deprived the poor of money”.
But in that same article, the paper said that “demonets, like the previous ones, are meant to disarm the middle classes”.
This echoes the statement by Shrikanth Sharma, which the Times article quoted, in which he said that it was demonetizing the poor to “degrade the middle-class”.
And the Times, in its article from January 2017, also repeated Sharma’s comment about demonetization being “used to demoralise and demoralize the middle income groups”.
The Times article said that the “poor, who were the backbone of the country for many decades, have been demonised, the BJP has used demonetized notes to discredit them, and the Congress, the oldest party, has used it to disorganise the political process and discredit its own candidates.”
The Hindusters and the Times are using a similar argument.
And both the newspapers are using the word that has become synonymous with demonetizations.
So how has demonetizm been used to demonise the poor?
In the case of the Hindush Times, Sharma had claimed that the BJP had demonetulated the poor by targeting them and that “poor” was “the word used to denigrate the middle and upper classes”.
In January 2017 the Hinduh Times, a newspaper that is largely owned by the Bharatiya Janata Party, also used the word to denounce the “middle and upper class”.
In this context, it was argued by the Hindudans Times