On News


Disclaimer: My point of view, could very well be half-baked. Read it at your own risk! Should you lose your temper, please go take a smoke.

I had decided not to write about the current 500-1000 fuss going on because the complexities of money and finance are a little too much for non-commerce graduates like me. But the hypocrisy of people made me give up my retreat and tear a tiny hole in the firmament of public opinion.

A family tries to collect whatever coins it has, to sum up for an amount of forty thousand to pay at a hospital. This happened because the hospital refused to accept anything but the government-approved 2000 or 500 rupee notes that the hapless family couldn’t provide; despite government orders to accept old notes. The story is shared by a popular web news/views portal and people pour in their comments, most of them in sympathy with the family.

I don’t know if the story was a subtle jibe against or simply a mirror reflecting the consequences of the overnight decision made by the Modi government to nullify the worth of 500 and 1000 rupee notes in order to catch black marketers and cash hoarders. But I am astounded by how fickle (or should I say emotionally confused) the common Indian is when it comes to reacting to a situation.

On the night of November 8, 2016, Facebook exploded with congratulatory messages for NaMo, throwing in hashtags with words like genius, masterstroke and surgical attack against corruption. His silent strike against black money was (and still is) not only considered ‘bold’ but also befitting the clean-slate image he portrays. Everyone is telling me that this move was the best way to stop Pakistan’s fake money from coming into our financial bloodstream, to maim terrorist groups from functioning, to exterminate hoarders from keeping undeclared cash inside their pillows and in their backyard. It makes sense, alright! 500 and 1000 being the most commonly used denominations, lately putting 100 rupee notes to backstage, did need a massive shake before they could be drained completely into illegal and terrorist activities.

So yes, good move, NaMo! Another one-up from Manmohan Singh! But…

Wait, no buts! Remember, you are only allowed to congratulate, not to have an alternative opinion.

Note that, theories analysing Reliance Jio as a move to whiten black Ambani money, or brooding over the PMO having stashed their cash away before exploding the bomb are being met with a lot of criticism. Doubters and naysayers are being claimed to be black money hoarders themselves. Commenters also like to point out that these theories are only half-baked and hold no water. Because, of course, their understanding of this phenomenon is so fully baked, you’d like to slice open the crust and put some frosting on it.

At the same time, every other news page is throwing up images of how people are paying in lives and hours for the same, brilliant governmental decision.

  • A 70-plus man died after 45 minutes of waiting in the queue at the ATM. Two more elderly people have been reported to have passed away in a similar way in two other states.
  • A young girl succumbed to death because her father had neither the exchanged cash as per the new rule nor a credit/debit card to pay his money.
  • A father sloganeered against Modi and his decision, unable to draw money in the face of his daughter’s upcoming marriage.
  • A man is shown crying helplessly because his mother needs treatment, and all the ATMs he went to, have been out of cash.

As of today, I hear that around 47 people have died due to various causes emanating out of the demonetization drive.

By the way, you might imagine that fully baked people above are so convinced of the 500-1000 move, they would consider human casualties at this time, collateral damage. But no, they have a conscience. They feel for their fellow beings. They virtually grieve at such mishaps with a tear-signed icon. Now, since this endears them to the situation, you would imagine they would probably reconsider Modi’s decision as a move whose magnificence would unravel only later. That they would stop and think whether this move is actually going to work or fizzle out like its father in 1978. But no, they are still very strongly positive about the workability of the Modi-move. Some conviction, isn’t it? I like such ‘nationalism’. It reflects unity in spirit, of you with your government. It shows how unquestionable you believe your government is. It is commendable. *slow clap*

The only thing that stopped me from this train of thought is the irking realisation that people want both – a smooth transition of their money into their banks and then into their hands; and a smooth flow of the black waters of hoarded money out of the coffers of all corrupt people, including the big ones. Yeah, right!