If the amount of time some people have been expending in circulating jokes about our current PM was spent fruitfully, all of them would have been able to withdraw money from banks many times over! I feel sorry for the man who tried to do something different for our country, and got slammed from all sides for “poor execution”.
We live in a country that wants instant results – given a choice most parents would want to become grandparents the day after their children get married! The cumulative effect of demonetization – whether positive or negative – will only be felt over a period of time, but naysayers have already denounced the move as a complete failure. Coming to the execution of the exercise, no amount of planning would work like clockwork in a country the size of India. Add to it a colossal population, mostly illiterate and below the poverty line, which gets easily swayed by a blatantly biased media, makes the whole thing that much more difficult. The PM has been pilloried about with some insulting and downright demeaning jibes, which he has borne stoically (and they say that space for dissent is shrinking in India!!!). Misinformation has been bandied about by mainstream media, with its negative reporting and convenient half-truths. We have been fed multifarious stories of how small traders have been adversely affected by this move – something that was never deliberated over when online shopping portals arrived on the scene. We have been asked to sympathize with the poor of India who cannot afford internet data packs on their phones for digital wallets – but seem to conveniently forget that Indians are some of the biggest consumers of online porn. While this may not necessarily be over the phone, but uses internet data packs nevertheless. We have the opposition parties screaming blue murder, but not a single one of them has offered a solution to ease the discomfort caused to the common man. Our erstwhile PM laments the move saying that it will bring down the Indian economy. This coming from an erudite and learned economist, who halved the GDP of the country during his decade as our PM, would be funny were it not so inane! Most of the advanced economies of the world are cashless, but we still want to live in an age where business is not deemed as complete until cash is exchanged. Remember even simple cash transactions that we do with taxi drivers can encourage black money, since these drivers never declare their income or pay tax on it (and many of them would definitely come in the tax bracket).
I was reading the annual World Happiness Index report recently, and some of the countries in the list surprised me. As expected, most Scandinavian countries (Denmark leads the list this year) feature in the top ten, with India languishing at a lowly 118 in the total of 156 countries. I initially thought that corruption would be one of the factors that affect the results, but when I saw countries like Venezuela, Colombia and Italy (which would be on par or even rank higher than India on the corruption index) in the top fifty, I was surprised. I then thought that maybe citizens’ safety was a factor, then I saw Israel, Slovakia and Uzbekistan (which sees more violence in a week than India does in a month) in the top fifty, my eyebrows shot up a bit more. I was looking at the economic status of the countries in the list, but Japan and Hong Kong not featuring in the top fifty sent my eyebrows through the roof. Actually the ranking is based on a mixture of the country’s GDP, social support, life expectancy, freedom to make choices, generosity and trust. Even then, as evident from the above, some of the countries ranking above India in the list is startling.
So what do we as a country lack? I personally believe it is our ingrained pessimism. Since the seven decades of independence, we have honed our sense of hopelessness to perfection – thanks in large measures to corrupt politicians, and a media that thrives in splaying negativity in its headlines in order to sell newspapers or increase viewership. But are we as individual totally blameless? How can we tell our children to be positive in their outlook towards life, when we ourselves are closed to any kind of change? Why do we conveniently forget that Rome was not built in a day? We all agree that for a new India, some bold and audacious decisions have to be taken, but why do we shirk away from our duty as a responsible citizen and only find time to criticize? This cataclysmic move on demonetization is a brave one and has been causing tumult (I too have experienced it), but can we not accept it positively and move ahead with an optimistic frame of mind?
Easier said than done, you say? I know it is an extremely difficult task, but if you want a decisive change in your lives then take this as a challenge, work towards accepting it and for heaven’s sake stop cribbing!