A $500 bn pot of gold: How Boston Consulting and Google pushed Modi to end the era of cash


By Norbert Haering, a German financial journalist, blogger and PhD economist, who received the 2007 getAbstract Best Business Book award and the 2014 prize of the German Keynes Society for economic journalism. His best-selling book (in German) “The abolition of cash and the consequences” was published in 2016. Originally published on norberthaering.de (http://norberthaering.de/en/32-english/news/765-pot-of-gold). Republished with permission of the author.

Boston Consulting Group (BCG), the omnipresent US-consulting company, and Google, the global data miner, issued a joint report in July 2016 on the “$500 bn Pot of Gold”, which is the Indian digital payment market. Even though the authors deny it, the report gives much reason to suspect that the authors knew that something radical was imminent from the Indian government. The report is remarkably honest about the aims of the whole exercise.

There is no statement in the BCG-Google-report “Digital Payments 2020” to the effect that it is related to the joint initiative of USAID and the Indian ministry of finance, formally established in 2015, to push back the use of cash and promote digital payments. Rather it is presented as a freestanding initiative of BCG and Google. I reached out to one of the authors, BCG’s senior partner Alpesh Shah, to ask about this and he insisted:  “This was a joint BCG-Google report, with no connection / relation to USAID/Indian Ministry of Finance.” However, there is much to suggest that there was a connection. First of all, the subject so perfectly fits with the program of that partnership. The subtitle of the report is “The Making of a $500 bn ecosystem in India”. The steering committee for the report included a representative of Visa, member of the Better Than Cash Alliance together with USAID and affiliate of the partnership of USAID and Indian finance ministry to advance digital payments. It also included PayTM and Vodafone, which are also part of the CATALYST coalition, a project, which according to USAID, is a “next step” in said partnership of USAID and the Indian finance ministry.

The report is a call to arms for all payment service providers. They are alerted that things are going to be shaken up in India. On page three it says:

 “We expect the digital payments space to witness significant disruption in the days ahead.”

The disruption came on November 8, when Prime Minister Modi decreed that most of the cash notes by value were no longer legal means of payment. By itself, the remark about the “disruption in the days ahead” might be considered suggestive but weak evidence that BCG and Google new something of those plans. However, combine this with the fact that they forecast a tenfold increase of digital payments and of the merchant acceptance network by 2020 without giving any real compelling reason why such an unlikely development should come to pass. In fact, the report is pretty heavy on reasons  why it will be difficult to get many more merchants on board and says that the acceptance network has more or less stagnated in recent years. From stagnant, the growth rate has to jump to at least 60 percent per year (if you want to start 2015, more if the baseline is 2016) to make the forecast of a tenfold increase by 2020 come true. The only real reason given in the report for the expected stellar increase is mobile payment apps becoming available. This is not a very convincing reason for a large jump in the growth rate, as these apps have been around for a number of years already.

Asked about the apparent  improbability of the forecast – barring knowledge of the impending banning of most cash notes – Mr. Shah nonetheless insists that the authors knew nothing of Modi’s plans and adds:

“We saw no option for the country but to try and move digital, and we could see some of the trends in that already. Add to that the Indian governments stated objective of going digital, and we arrived at the conclusion that this was the most likely scenario, with the government incentivising non-cash (as has been seen in many countries).”

BCG and Google did not leave it to the government to follow up on their stated objective, but wanted to help by listing a number of  “asks of the government”.  Instructions included first and foremost that the government build awareness of the cost of cash by talking about the “cost of printing notes, countering counterfeiting (by several means, including periodically introducing new series of currency notes and withdrawing existing ones), and indirect costs (loss of tax revenue, creation /  prevalence  of black-market money etc.).”

One cannot blame the Modi-government of being disobedient.  Modi has been talking of little else with such persistence and resolve as about the cost of cash and the cost of countering counterfeiting and tax avoidance which is facilitated by cash. He made all ordinary Indians feel the “cost of periodically introducing new series of currency notes and withdrawing existing ones”.

Forget about that financial inclusion talk

The refreshing thing about this report is that BCB and Google skip all the talk about financial inclusion, helping the poor and all that. The frankness must have to do with their intended audience, which is not the general public, but rather payment services providers and the government. The results of the large survey among merchants and consumers that they commissioned make it plain that those merchants and consumers who do not yet rely on digital payments are not longing for a chance to do so. The survey indicated they are completely happy with using cash and think the requirements for digital payment are too complicated for them.

The study authors leave no room for doubt, that the digitalization drive is all about business and nothing else. One chapter-header reads, “India Digital Payments – A $500 Pot of Gold” and the authors calculate that the projected $500 bn of digital payments a year translates into $5 bn in revenue. Google would not be Google, if the giant data miner did not have some ideas to make the pot even a little bigger. “Mine customer data to build additional revenue streams” is their advice to payment services providers. BCG and Google promise that mining customer data will help them to get consumers to buy more. “Payments will drive consumption – and not the other way around” is an insight they want to drive home.

The “asks from regulators and government” which BCG and Google list in their report are not part of a non-existent chapter on helping the poor or helping India develop, but part of the chapter “Grabbing the opportunity – the winning agenda”. In other words, the government is urged to help Visa and Google to grab the pot of gold.

With a little help from the government

And the government certainly was willing and ready to help.

In August, one month after BCG and Google presented their report, the government assembled a committee, the Watal-Committee, to see what it could do and have the necessary legal acts readied. The committee came up with a long list of measures, laws and rule that would help the payment industry grab the pot of gold, including exempting imported digital payment equipment from tariffs. Declaring most cash notes void and leaving the population without sufficient cash for months was of course the best thing for enlarging the pot of gold for payments services providers that anybody could have imagined.

All of this, of course, is not just intended to help Google, Visa and the payment services providers from India and Asia on the steering committee of this report. The bulk of the pot can be expected to be grabbed by the payment services industry of the US. As a recent “Framework for FinTech” issued by the US National Economic Council states (January 26 link replaced “Obama-Archives”-Link as old link no longer worked):

“The United States remains the global leader in fintech as measured by total investments. However, the U.S. leadership position in fintech should not be taken for granted.  The U.S. government should continue to develop a policy strategy that helps advance the sector (…) and maintain a robust competitive advantage in the technology and financial services sectors.”

The whitepaper refers to “Recent Trends in U.S. Services Trade: 2016 Annual Report” where we learn that exports of banking services in 2015 have been $74,2 bn and  imports $17,9 bn, for a very solid excess of exports over imports of $56,3 bn or 400 percent.

This is what the Indian digitalization effort and the friendly help of USAID, the Gates Foundation, Visa, Mastercard and other seekers of the pot of gold is all about: “a policy strategy that helps advance the sector and maintain a robust competitive advantage” for the US payments industry.  [24.1.2017]

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Trump & Modi: A Study in Contrast


An opinion piece on the performance of Trump v Modiji
An opinion piece on the performance of Trump v Modiji

Within a week of taking charge, Donald Trump has clamped down on migrants from 7 Islamic countries. He is going to add Pakistan to the list soon. He has changed tariff to protect American interests. All because he wants America First.

  1. And here our Modiji is yet to scrap the Most Favoured Nation status given to Pakistan 20 yrs ago. Pakistan has not given such a status to us. Several persons have written to Modiji in this regard…but no response. And we keep on complaining about Pakistan sponsoring terrorism in India.
  2. Dr Subramanian Swamy has urged Modiji to stop the import of cement from Pakistan which is hurting the Indian cement industry. No response.
  3. Shiv Sena M.P. Rahul Shewale has suggested to Modiji to include Veer Savarkar in the official list of freedom-fighters so that his portraits can be displayed in govt offices. Yet again No Response.
  4. I have written to Modiji to convert Dawood Ibrahim’s hotel in Bhendi Bazar into a police chowky. No response.
  5. Dr Subramanian Swamy and S. Gurumurthy have written to Modiji about NDTV’s controversial financial transactions. The channel’s former CFO himself has provided highly incriminating details. No response.
  6. Again, a mass of evidence has been given to Modiji about the dealings of P Chidambaram and his son Karti. No response.
  7. Sharad Pawar’s name was shown in the Board of Firectors of SGFX Financials whose share value mysteriously shot up in a few months from about Rs 60 Cr to Rs 7 lakh Cr only. Pawar denied any link to the company. He also said he would complain to the EOW of Mumbai Crime Branch against those who included his name in the board of directors of SGFX. This was some months ago. I put an RTI query and the cops replied that they have received no complaint from Pawar. I wrote to Modiji seeking an enquiry into the affairs of SGFX. He did respond… He conferred the Padma Vibhushan on Pawar!!! Jai Ho!!!

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Shocking Picture of Corruption and Betrayal by Congress and the Gandhi Family!


This past week has been a treasure trove of Wikileaks information for Indian politics.  And interestingly, it leaves the “First Family” of Indian politics – the Gandhis – in a dump.  Wheeling-dealing Rajiv Gandhi, Authoritarian Sanjay Gandhi, a corrupt household, and unpredictable Indira Gandhi.  The Congress in general has come out to be a cesspool of betrayal and corruption.

First, Rajiv Gandhi was said to be the middleman for the Saab-Scandia deal as early as the 1970s (Rajiv Gandhi played a middleman for Saab-Scania aircraft deal in 1970s).  His clean image notwithstanding, he was a corrupt man, which came out in the Bofors scandal.  Interestingly, the Congress media campaign to discredit Wikileaks has started and Congress cronies are writing Opeds already (read Brijesh Kalappa’s Rajiv Gandhi and WikiLeaks: More noise than substance). His bio gives an insight into this backside sucking: He is gifted with the prowess for distinctive sharp-edged analysis and has the advantage of surmounting well accepted beliefs by his inquiring nature. He continues to work closely with several leaders of the Indian National Congress.

Second, about Sanjay Gandhi, the other son.  The US cables, seem to have predicted and also discussed Sanjay Gandhi pretty accurately.  His influence, his manner, way of governing etc.

“Under his aegis, the Youth Congress is organizing itself for a more activist role as the Congress’s cadre arm,” one cable said. It pointed out that Sanjay has a significant and growing number of “allies” within the council of ministers and the top levels of the bureaucracy who also exert influence on major policy decisions. “Sanjay has so far proceeded slowly, methodically and successfully. But the chances for him to make mistakes or to build up an anti-Sanjay — and indirectly an anti-Mrs Gandhi-lobby may increase as he attempts to widen his personal influence and activities and operates more publicly,” it accurately predicted.

By February, 1976, the cables predicted that Mrs Gandhi’s future decisions would probably be influenced by a swelling cynicism and resentment among the urban educated including the bureaucracy about the increasingly personalised nature of the regime she has been building. “Many who supported the emergency gains in discipline and efficiency are now bitterly criticizing, or at the very least, increasingly uneasy, over the rate at which Sanjay Gandhi is expanding her personal influence with his mother’s assistance in apparent preparation for the succession. Influential opinion makers, including some Congressmen, are becoming progressively less guarded in their private criticism of Mrs Gandhi, the suppression of political and press freedom and the expanding activities of the domestic intelligence apparatus,” the cable said.

Wikileaks also discuss Indira Gandhi and how she was constantly placing anti-American envoys as heads of Indian Consulate in US.

Then American envoy Daniel Patrick Moynihan described Kaul, who was handpicked by Indira as India’s ambassador to the US in 1973, as an extremely “arrogant man whose career was marked by a pro-Soviet bias and concomitant Anti-American words and deeds.”

But the Wikileaks also puts a rather negative spotlight on Indira Gandhi from the stand-point of her evaluation of Pakistan and Bhutto, who went out to humiliate India and Indians in the run up to get the Nukes.

According to WikiLeaks, as reported in TOI, Gandhi had written to the then Pakistan Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in 1974, in the wake of India’s first nuclear test in Poharan, offering to share information if proper conditions for trust were created. But he rejected the offer, said the cable.

As per US cables, revealed by WikiLeaks, former Prime Minister Gandhi was quoted as saying, “I have explained in my letter to Prime Minister Bhutto the peaceful nature and the economic purposes of this experiment and have also stated that India is willing to share her nuclear technology with Pakistan in the same way she is willing to share it with other countries, provided proper conditions for understanding and trust are created. I once again repeat this assurance.”

Given the history with Pakistan, and the debacle with China, it seems that Indira was also beset with the same disease of naivette’ as her father, Nehru!

Another damning leak from the Wikileaks is that of the Mole in Indira Gandhi’s household – or her cabinet.

Even though the US establishment struggled during the Emergency to read Indira Gandhi’s political moves, it seemed to have had a source in the Gandhi household between 1975 and 1977.  According to the latest cables released by Wikileaks, on a few instances the dispatches from the US Embassy in New Delhi repeatedly refers to a “household” source and “sources close to the PM’s household.”  By the middle of 1976 the cables had began to accurately predict that Gandhi would be calling national elections in 1977. It is not clear how much of help they had received from this Gandhi household source.

A day after Indira Gandhi announced the emergency on June 26, 1975; a US Embassy cable said the key figures behind her move were son Sanjay Gandhi and her secretary R K Dhawan. “This is confirmed by a source close to the PM’s household. Both are non-ideological, extremely authoritarian in their general approach, and focused only on keeping Mrs. Gandhi in power,” the dispatch said.

The Wikileaks also goes on to say that YB Chavan was being courted by the Americans.

Yashwantrao Chavan, finance minister under Indira Gandhi was a key politician courted by the Americans as a possible counter to the Prime Minister, who US President Richard Nixon famously abused.

So, was YB Chavan the mole in Indira’s cabinet?   In his controversial book, “India’s Biggest Cover up“, Anuj Dhar had suggested that India was cowed down during the 1971 war, due to the leaks made by a mole in Indira’s cabinet to the Americans.

The 1971 case relates to an alleged mole in Indira Gandhi’s Cabinet who was reported to have leaked information on Cabinet meetings to the CIA. The leaks, it has been alleged, could have adversely impacted the India-Pakistan war.

His attempts to get the name through RTI have been thwarted.

The 1971 case relates to an alleged mole in Indira Gandhi’s Cabinet who was reported to have leaked information on Cabinet meetings to the CIA. The leaks, it has been alleged, could have adversely impacted the India-Pakistan war.

When you look at what this mole “achieved” for US and for Pakistan, it is no less than shocking!

THE Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is one of those organisations that are commonly and freely talked about in India but about which informed studies are scarce. The role of the mole in Indira Gandhi’s Cabinet in December 1971 is very evident in Jack Anderson’s Papers and those released by the United States State Department much later.

Indira Gandhi, true to form, tried to make political capital out of the affair during the election campaign in 1979, immediately after the publication of Thomas Powers’ authoritative work The Man Who Kept the Secrets. Neither critics nor fawning admirers called her to account.

What steps did she take against the mole? His identity was no great secret. It is surely a matter of deep concern that at the height of the Bangladesh war a record of the Prime Minister’s talks with the Soviet Ambassador should land on the table of Henry Kissinger within 48 hours or less. Three things are incontrovertible. A mole did exist; he was not officially identified; and Indira Gandhi did not punish him ever.

Anuj Dhar moved the Central Information Commission on this matter. After its direction to provide the information, the Ministry of External Affairs accepted that records of discussions of meetings between the then External Affairs Minister, Swaran Singh, and U.S. Secretary William Rogers on October 5, 1972, were available; but, PTI reported, “it refused to disclose them claiming confidentiality”.

Dhar rightly complained, “While the Ministry is claiming confidentiality clause, the U.S. government has declassified the memorandum of conversation between Singh and Rogers titled ‘Indian Allegations Regarding CIA Activities’.”

freedom of information act

The author’s researches have sadly received little notice. This book testifies to his labours and his grasp of the material on the subject. He explains how the Freedom of Information Act can be invoked to unravel secrets about India. The memo of the October 5, 1972, talk is reproduced:

“Secretary [Rogers] initiated discussion this subject saying he was perplexed at Prime Minister Gandhi’s public remarks regarding CIA activities in India. Initially [Swaran] Singh tried to side step issue in light hearted manner saying Mrs. Gandhi paid compliment to CIA for its activities.” But shedding flippancies, he added: “It has not been difficult for GOI to come to know of CIA activities. … For example, GOI had information that proceedings of Congress Working Committee were known to U.S. officials within two hours of meetings. Said when this happens it offends people.” Were the delinquent members of that body identified and punished?

CIA infiltration

Anuj Dhar writes, “The final twist in the tale came in 1988 in Bombay. … Now defunct newspaper Independent carried a story reportedly based on a (R&AW) communication to Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi exonerating Morarji Desai and implicating deceased stalwart Yashwant Rao Chavan, Finance Minister during the 1971 war. This led to an ugly uproar and the paper’s editor Vinod Mehta, in his words, ‘had to flee Bombay’.

“Now, the story from the horse’s mouth. Documents 27 to 30 in this book confirm the CIA’s infiltration of Indian establishment at the top level in December 1971. Rendered unidentifiable due to redactions, a ‘reliable source’ (see back cover for the first page of document 29) leaked out the details of confidential Soviet-Indo deliberations and, more horrendously, ‘India’s war objectives’ as elucidated by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi….

What we are seeing is the unravelling of one of most corrupt and betraying political organization in India.  It is important to look at Congress for what it entails and what it has given to Indian in terms of legacy.

In short, the history .. .and the future needs to be rewritten!

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President Trump Hannity Interview In The White House 1/26/17

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Shiv Sena calls off Mumbai pact with BJP: You stabbed us, I set you free


Thackeray did not, however, comment on Sena’s continuance in the BJP-led government in the state.BMC, BMC poll, Shiv Sena, BJP, BMC polls, BJP Shiv Sena alliance, sena bjp, devendra fadnavis, Uddhav Thackeray, BMC Poll dates, Sena BJP, BJP Sena, India news, indian express news

The Sena and BJP have been governing the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) together since 1997 with the Sena playing the lead role. But the Sena grip has loosened — its seat count fell from 103 in 1997 to 75 in 2012.

Accusing the BJP of “backstabbing” his party and declaring that he was “not going to go with a begging bowl to anyone”, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray announced Thursday that he was calling off the Sena alliance with the BJP. He said his party would contest elections to urban bodies in Mumbai and elsewhere in Maharashtra on its own.

Thackeray did not, however, comment on Sena’s continuance in the BJP-led government in the state. The Sena has been targeting the BJP in the state and at the Centre, its attacks more pronounced after the demonetisation announcement.

In first remarks, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said the BJP would usher in change in the state on its own. On Twitter, he wrote: “Power aint our ultimate goal but a medium of devpt. We’ll take along those who come with us & leave aside who dont. Transformatn is inevitable!”

BJP Ally Shiv Sena Targets PM Narendra Modi Over Demonetisation
Addressing party workers in Mumbai, Thackeray said: “We lost 25 years. I am announcing a new path for the Sena. Henceforth, I am not going to go with a begging bowl to anyone. From now on, everything that is there will belong only to my Sainik, the saffron flag and Bal Thackeray. Today, I announce that the Sena will not have an alliance with anyone for the upcoming elections.”

The Sena and BJP have been governing the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) together since 1997 with the Sena playing the lead role. But the Sena grip has loosened — its seat count fell from 103 in 1997 to 75 in 2012.

The BJP, which believes it has gained ground in Maharashtra, especially after the 2014 assembly elections, wanted to field 114 party candidates for the 227 BMC seats. But the Sena wanted the BJP to contest only 60 seats.

There was speculation earlier that talks between Thackeray and Fadnavis would resolve the crisis. But Thackeray said the BJP did not seem interested in the alliance and he never received a call from any senior leader. He said the Sena put up with the alliance “for the sake of Hindutva and the belief that Hindu votes should not get divided”.

He accused the BJP of backstabbing its ally. “The posts of the PM and CM are with you. We have never hankered for power. Did we ever ask for the post of the Deputy CM or lucrative ministries? But you (BJP) have taken it further, deciding to attack us in our own home. I am not the one to take this lying down. Today, I set you free,” he said.

Thackeray also claimed that the BJP was “staring at defeat” in Uttar Pradesh. “The one who removed the picture of Gandhi is now being forced to say Hey Ram in UP. They know they are losing in that state, so they have started taking the name of Ram and Ram Janmabhoomi,” he said.

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IMMIGRATION REFORM: President Trump Details Why A Border Will Help The US AND Mexico

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Must Read !! How leftist historians and intellectuals have systematically distorted Hindu history


Must Read !! How leftist historians and intellectuals have systematically distorted Hindu history

January 24, 2017

The greatest damage done to the Hindus in modern day has been by the leftist historians who distorted the entire history. They glorified the brutal invaders whose sole aim was to destroy Hindus, and sidelined the brave Hindu rulers who fought to protect the Hindus. Next time any Marxist “intellectual” tells you that Hindus and Hinduism have survived due to the strong foundation of secularism, just ask them if that was the case, why did Hinduism come to an end in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh, or even in Kashmir valley ? Why is Hinduism under constant decline in parts of Bengal and Kerala ? Once upon a time, all the above countries or regions had a huge Hindu population, and they do not exist anymore.

Marxist historians have been fooling the mass by saying Hinduism has survived attacks of thousand years due to its tolerance. Let us debunk the MYTHS :

  1. Hinduism has NOT remained strong over the periods. It has not survived strongly. Rather, it has been steadily moving towards an end. A religion which was spread all over the subcontinent and as far as Burma, Thailand and Cambodia is today restricted to India ( that too only 70%). Hindus have been slaughtered in every country one by one. Today, they remain (majorly) only in India, and that too under threat in Bengal, Kashmir, Kerala, parts of UP and Bihar.
  2. Whatever Hinduism has survived in India is NOT because of our tolerance. It is because there were Hindu rulers who fought fiercely for us and gave up their lives protecting Hindus from reign of terror unleashed by invaders since 1000 AD. Their reign ensured that Hinduism was not completely wiped out from India, unlike other countries.

– Prithviraj Chauhan protected us from Mohammad Ghori.

– Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj united us against the Mughal terrorists and Adil shah.

– Maharana Pratap bravely fought the Mughal and ensured Hinduism survived.

– Lachit Borphukan, the brave commander of Raja Ram Singh defeated the Mughals in battle of Saraighat and ensured that Northeast was never under the influence of Mughals.

– Guru Govind Singh ji, Baba Banda Singh Bahadur put a check to Aurangzeb’s brutality on Hindus to ensure that Sikhism and Hinduism continue to survive in North India.

– The are hundreds of other local rulers who fought bravely and put a check on atrocities on Hindus. However, they were sidelined by the Marxist historians and never given the due place they deserve.

  1. This whole Marxist History that Hinduism has survived because of tolerance and secularism is a sugar pill to make Hindus believe the lie, and remain weak… Secularism and Tolerance have been propagated since long only to make Hindus timid and weak. There is a huge difference between genuine tolerance and staying mum when you are being attacked from all sides.
  2. If the virtues of Tolerance and secularism were the reason of the survival of Hindus, Bangladesh would still be having 35% Hindus, Pakistan would stil be having 15% Hindus. Afghanistan, Indonesia, Kashmir would still be having a huge chunk of Hindu population.They were all killed and driven out.

If you open any school level textbook of history, most of the portion is dedicated to Mughals, Ghoris, Ghaznis and other invaders who killed Hindus, destroyed Hindu temples, raped Hindu women and forcefully converted Hindus. However, only a few paragraphs (and at times, not even that) is for our true heroes like Shivaji, Maharana Pratap, Prithviraj Chauhan, Guru Govind Singh and others who fought for us !

Kshitij Mohan

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