Thursday, 17 November 2016

Who are the demons of India's demonitisation?

I rarely comment on social or political issues as I prefer not to speak about things I am not fully aware of.

The current demonisation issue has led to lot of strident comments on social media from both of sides of the fence and stands are usually extreme
rather than nuanced.

So I decided to write a post on this on Facebook.
Sitting at a place which doesn't accept cards and where I had to depend on my wife to buy my breakfast.

Here's what I wrote:

I'd been out of the country when this demonitisation thing happened. Didn't have cash on me but was not affected much personally at the beginning.


I couldn't buy fish for my granny from local markets when I reached Calcutta as I didn't have cash and had no time to go to a super market. It was not critical. 


I had to intervene on her behalf to make a payment to the worker clearing the garbage at her place. Neither of us had non 500 Rs notes to give him and being a daily labourer, he couldn't take a day off work to exchange the 500 Re notes he got.  


I used Uber in Kolkata very peacefully

using Paytm. Local cabbies take cash which is unaccounted for by the way and, in Kolkata, they refuse to go anywhere in any case. 


Using Uber and debit cards I could get gran's much needed medical check ups done. Left to herself, or to my aunt in Kolkata, it wouldn't have happened because they don't lead a

digital life


The pre-paid cab counter at Mumbai airport don't take cards so I needed my wife to come down with cash for the Meru cab when I reached home last night. I had 100 Rs to pay for the convenient fee thankfully


Lot of folks - cabbies, Grocers, big city market vendors, fish sellers, paan wallahs - who take only cash are not BPL and they don't pay taxes.


Thanks to them many small operators, who are genuinely poor, are losing business with customers like us going to people who accept digital cash. But that's not everyone 


I also saw huge queues of people trying to withdraw their own money in Kolkata and Mumbai for daily needs. Money which is accounted for and in their bank accounts and

not 'black'. It's not easy to get cash. People like us can still  manage to some extent but we are a minority. People who don't live in India, and who are pontificating on the issue, are not affected by this 


The reasons for cash economy are grey and not everyone standing in a queue trying to withdraw money is an unpatriotic, black marketeer 


So let's think twice before posting a funny meme. I am a bit tired of sanctimonious and vapid social media posts on the issue and let's not glorify pain. 'Vision' has to be thought through too


Few things in life are as easy as tweeting or facebooking or instagramming and yes, none of this is comparable with being a soldier on the borders


Empathy will help. Understanding will help. 


And, from the government, communication and transparency and measures to make

It easier for its citizens. We are all in one team after all

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