The Indian budget presented by India’s finance minister Mr. Arun Jaitley on the 1st of February 2018 raised investors’ eyebrows due to a lot of policy decisions. But the most important subject that stirred up a big controversy was the subject of cryptocurrencies.
In the midst of presenting the Union Budget, which gives an overview of the Indian government’s plans of taxes and expenditures, Mr. Jaitley talked about cryptocurrencies. While he did not give any positive news much to the disappointment of Indian investors, he did not give any negative news too. He just repeated the same line we have heard before, that is, that the Indian government does not consider cryptocurrency to be legal tender and the government would take all measures necessary to ensure that cryptocurrencies are not used for funding illegal and anti-social activities in the country. The minister never quoted that cryptocurrency is illegal.
He also asserted,
“Will take all measure to eliminate use of crypto in financing illegitimate operations”.
The media, on the other hand, made a mountain of a molehill by taking the statement out of country by reporting and declaring that the Indian government has decided to make cryptocurrencies illegal. In order to gain more clicks and views, nearly all media houses, both Indian and international, parroted the same line which send investors in a tizzy. This in turn led to Indian investors selling their digital currency assets in a panic which led to cryptocurrencies falling down and hitting new lows.
The country’s exchanges witnessed massive selling activity during the period, which led to a sharp fall in the price of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in the world, which then spiralled over to world markets. Intelligent people on twitter then took on media houses and called them out for reporting misinformation.
Ultimately the finance government later gave a statement to state-owned broadcaster Doordarshan, saying that while cryptocurrencies are not banned in the country, the government would take all steps to discourage its use among the Indian public in order to safeguard them against frauds and scams. He also said that a final decision on cryptocurrencies would only be taken after a government appointed panel of experts submit a report to the Cabinet.
The incident shows that the modern media is always ready to push an agenda to suit their objectives and making the public fall into their trap. It is imperative that one should not believe a single source of information and should look at multiple sources of information before taking a final decision.