Archive for June 5th, 2019

Kenya’s own demonetisation experiment..

June 5, 2019

Well, Kenya is undergoing its own demonetisation experiment. However, there is more breathing space as the old 1000 shilling notes will be invalid as legal tender from October 1, 2019.

The central bank Governor in a speech on 1-Jun-2019 announced two decisions. One it announced a new series of notes in following denominations: 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000.  ,

Two, the old 1000 shilling note would not be legal tender:

Your Excellency, the new banknotes will circulate alongside those previously issued but not withdrawn. However, we have assessed the grave concern that our
large banknotes—particularly the older one thousand shillings series—are being used for illicit financial flows in Kenya and also other countries in the region.
More recently we have seen the emergence of some counterfeits. These are grave concerns that would jeopardize proper transactions and the conduct of commerce in our currency.

To deal conclusively with these concerns, all the older one thousand shillings series shall be withdrawn. By a Gazette Notice dated May 31, 2019, all persons
have until October 1, 2019, to exchange those notes, after which the older one thousand shillings banknotes will cease to be legal tender. More details about this will be provided.

Why introduce a new 1000 note at all if there are concerns that is used for money laundering and counterfeiting?  Just to add, 1000 shilling is equivalent to about Rs 700. Not very different from India which demonetised both Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes and reintroduced Rs 500 and Rs 2000! Thankfully, Kenya has not introduced a higher denomination note.

BBC report points to additional concerns. The notes feature the former President and his son is currently the President:

Some Kenyans have expressed anger over the new banknote design, which features an image of a statue of Kenya’s first President, Jomo Kenyatta – the current president’s father.

The decision on the design, as well as the clampdown on the 1,000 shilling notes, has been challenged in court.

President Kenyatta promised to stamp out corruption when he was elected in 2013. But his critics say there have been few convictions since then, especially of high-profile people.

BBC Africa business reporter Georgie Ndirangu says the demonetisation – the withdrawal of a coin, note, or precious metal from use as legal tender – is seen as a direct response to this criticism. Officials and well connected businessmen in corrupt cartels are believed to hold hundreds of millions of illegally obtained shillings in cash, and withdrawing the 1,000 shilling note is expected to close many money-laundering avenues, as they have to be exchanged for the new currency, he said.

Phew.

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The impact of the Transcontinental Railroad on Native Americans

June 5, 2019

Nice interview of Dr. Manu Karuka, American Studies scholar and author of Empire’s Tracks: Indigenous Nations, Chinese Workers, and the Transcontinental Railroad, about the impact of the railroad on Indigenous peoples and nations.

The author calls railways as an imperialism project across colonies:

(more…)

Tiananmen@30: How Denx Xiaoping laid the base of illiberal capitalism

June 5, 2019

Quite a few interesting pieces are being written on the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen tragedy.

Ian Buruma in Project Syndicate writes how the tragedy led to rise of illiberal/authoritarian capitalism:

What happened in China after the protests were crushed points to another truth. China was not an outlier in 1989 at all. Illiberal capitalism has since emerged as an attractive model to autocrats all over the world, including in countries that succeeded in throwing off communist rule 30 years ago. The Chinese just got there first.

Hmm..

Even educated young Chinese now have little or no knowledge of what happened 30 years ago. And when they do, they often react to foreigners who broach the subject with prickly nationalism, as though talking about it were a sign of anti-Chinese animus. One suspects that this defensiveness might be the result of a slightly guilty conscience: many people have benefited from a shabby deal.

In 2001, a year after Vladimir Putin came to power in Russia, I traveled from Beijing to Moscow and wrote an article comparing Russia favorably to China. I assumed that Russia was well on its way to becoming an open democracy. I was wrong. In fact, Russia became more like Deng Xiaoping’s China, albeit a less successful version. Some people became immensely wealthy. Parts of Moscow give the impression of a new gilded age.

Something similar has happened in Central European countries. Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orbán, has been most the most vociferous ideologue of “illiberal democracy,” a system of oppressive one-party rule in which capitalism can still thrive. It looks as if the right-wing populist demagogues of Western Europe, and even the US, would like to follow this example. Like Donald Trump, they are all more or less unreserved admirers of Putin.

Of course, this was not the way it was supposed to happen. The assumption was too strong, especially in America, but also in most other Western countries, that liberal democracy and capitalism were inseparable. We now know that this is not true. It is perfectly possible to be a rich entrepreneur, or even just a well-off middle-class consumer, in a one-party state where basic political freedoms are stifled.

We should actually have known this all along. Singapore offered a perfect example of authoritarian capitalism. It was dismissed, because Singapore was too small, or because “Asians” were not interested in democracy, as Singapore’s rulers never ceased to point out.

The Chinese protest movement in 1989 proved that this was not the case, either. Democratic reforms that would guarantee freedom of speech and assembly were of great interest to the students in Tiananmen Square.

Deccan Queen, one of the most iconic trains of India, enters 90th years of service

June 5, 2019

The iconic train line started on 1 June 1930 and enters its 90 years.

ET has pictures and description of the journey of the train which led to so many journeys..


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