Citizens of India learned, with only a few hours’ notice, that their 500 and 1,000-rupee notes were no longer legal tender. Those were the country’s largest denomination bills and the foundation of a huge underground economy. Fear, panic and chaos ensued, and for good reason; PM Modi singlehandedly curbed one of the world’s fastest growing economy by removing 86 percent of the circulating currency and called it an anti-corruption measure.

The economy has taken a hit and and lines at banks stretch for as long as the eye can see. Goldman Sachs is out with a note saying GDP will grind lower to 4 percent from the median estimate of 6.5 per cent spearheaded by consumer indifference as a by-product of the fact that people, literally, don’t have the money to spend anymore. The whole idea of a “cashless society” is too utopian for a developing country like India, considering that half of the Indian population does not have access to a bank account, much less a credit or debit card. India still has an inadequate telecom network, which fails to reach the most remote parts and the total number of smartphone users falls within the region of 250 million for a population of billions. Perhaps the biggest factor that will lead to the failure of this demonetisation movement is that nearly 40 percent of Indians can’t read or write.

Logic dictates that people with criminal intent will always find other ways to keep their businesses hidden. Gold sales have spiked in India after the cash announcement. Will the government restrict gold ownership too in the name of anti-corruption?

The fact is that many moderates in India supported Mr Modi’s bid to become PM due to his track record for economic development, even when they did not agree with his fundamentalist Hindu politics. The demonetisation policy is a grand disaster, and the BJP seems as ill-equipped to manage the economy, as it has been in managing foreign policy.