General ravings, Potshots

A discordant demonetized note

“You have your bank; I have mine!”


I admire Rahul Gandhi for standing up for his principled stand against demonetization.

Even if Rahul’s standing up lasted only 40 minutes.

I give Rahul G a salaam because on November 11th, the man actually made the effort to visit his bank and stand in queue to withdraw money.

It is true that the queue was ‘abolished’ as soon as Rahul turned up, as reported widely and vociferously in media [click here to read full story]. Indeed, it remains an enduring mystery as to what exactly ‘abolish’ meant. Equally, it remains a mystery as to why, if the queue was abolished, Rahul had to wait for 40 minutes to draw his money. In the absence of clarifications, we can only conclude that in the strong and persuasive hands of Rahul’s SPG security detail, the existing queue of suffering citizens underwent rapid, non-spontaneous disintegration and vanished, to be replaced by a queue comprising Rahul + 24 to 28 SPG personnel + a few select journalists. It probably took 40 minutes to complete this eviction-cum-sanitization-cum-queuing operation, including a few minutes for the bank officials to click their selfies with Rahul, and journalists to set up their cameras and mikes and things.

Cynical? A political stunt? Maybe.

But at least Rahul had the sensitivity to criticize the bank officers severely for abolishing the queue on his behalf and thereby adding to the sufferings of the poor whom he declared he represented, and had come to stand in solidarity with, by standing in queue. [I know that reasoning sounds a tad confused…but then, so does Rahul.]

Rahul may not know his Ps and Qs. But Rahul at least made his own queue…and stood in it.

To my diminutive and diminishing mind, that simple act alone qualifies Rahul to continue railing against demonetization for all he’s worth.

That’s much more than can be said of most other political leaders – be they from Left, Right or the non-existent Centre – who rant and rail for and/or against demonetization. With a few honourable exceptions, there is no knowledge in public domain to evidence that these Hon. leaders and affiliated riff-raff have stood in a bank queue once since November 8th. I wonder whether they have ever stood in a queue for anything at all, any time during their lives.

I would have expected all political parties to mobilize their multi-million strong cadres in organizing voluntary support services for the queuing masses during this trying period. Little things could have made such a huge difference: chairs and rugs for the elderly and frail to rest on; water to drink; chai and samosas and idlis to keep energy and spirits up. Instead, the netas and their slippery adherents have only advanced highly creative arguments, on TV and in print media, to explain that they have not gone anywhere near ATMs or banks since November 8thbecause they do not want to add to the burden of the poor, whom they represent!

By way of example, read the responses from two political leaders on their ‘bank/ATM experience’ during the cash crunch, as reported in Indian Express: [emphases mine]

  1. Sitaram Yechury, CPM:

“Just look at the line, even at the bank in Parliament. Though you are legally entitled to withdraw Rs 24,000, we don’t have the heart to go and draw currency from there…People say let us move out as an MP has come but we don’t feel like making them do that…”

[click here to read full story]

  1. Birender Singh, BJP (Union Steel Minister)

“I went to withdraw from the Parliament branch but on seeing the long queue I came back after entering…I could not tell them to give me cash out of turn…”

[click here to read full story]

So…Yechury and Singh sacrificed their ‘right’ to jump the queue! How noble of them. Did it strike them that they could have bravely joined the queue instead and waited their turn?

As to what I think of demonetization: well, the other day someone sent me a message – yet another one of those WhatsApp-driven campaigns ad nauseum – urging me to nominate Prime Minister Narendra Modi as ‘Person of the Year’ for launching his demonetizing initiative.

I responded by refusing, and suggested an alternate nominee for Person of the Year: a freelance carpenter—a daily-wager like me—with whom I’d stood in queue at a bank for close to two hours to draw money.  When I asked the carpenter what he thought of demonetization, he replied after deep thought:

Taqleef to hai. Lekin, hamare jaise aam log, gareeb log ke liye toh taqleef, is prakaar lamba line me khada hona, har roz ki baat hai. Yeh pehle baar hum dekh rahe hain  jab ameer log aur saale haraam zaade @@#%$&&* do number paise waalon ko bhi taqleef ho raha hai! Isse main khush hoon!”

[“Of course it’s hard. But then, for people like me, for poor people, hardships like standing in long queues are routine; they are part of our daily lives. This is the first time we see that the wealthy too, especially those bastards, the @@#%$&&* black money hoarders,  are facing hardships. This makes me happy.”]

I would not dare claim that I understand, or have experienced, even a tiny fraction of the agonies and indignities, the hardships that fill the daily lives of the several hundred million Indians less fortunate than me; hardships that are a bleak reality for them from birth to death.

But I can proudly declare this much: I am very used to standing in queues.

And so, I stand in solidarity with that carpenter…and echo his views on demonetization, down to the ionizing expletives.

Jai hind.

13 thoughts on “A discordant demonetized note

  1. As always Mani’s take on news and issues has a distinctly different insight that only he can invoke and as I read this comment it is difficult to categorize it into any of the political and social commentaries that we read daily in the newspapers it is surreal at some level always different.

  2. Well said Mani!
    ATMs continue to be DRY and the Qs are getting longer. Until now it was the standing Q, we now have folding chairs and charpoys and also people sprawled out on the ground all set for the long wait to pick up the peanuts that ATMs now dish out.The conditions in rural India are worse as I noticed during our recent drive through three of the worst states in this country( I hate to even name them).
    The Qs at Big Bazar for collecting the Rs 2000/- that they dole out are much much longer than those picking up stuff from there.The only saving grace is that the y are AIR CONDITIONED Qs
    Mera Bharat Mahan

  3. At least someone has deemed Rahul G important enough to be put on centre stage…..Mani only you could have thought of this

  4. Not only have the queues remained interminably long, and at times, volatile due to stress of the common man’s need to feed his family, there is no assurance that you will come back richer with peanuts. By the time you reach the hallowed portals of the ATM machine, the cash runs out and you have to queue again somewhere else to fulfill your needs. The story continues, the Government makes you believe that things are getting better. What is worse is that a Bank where you have your account and visit them every month to deposit cheques and withdraw cash tell you, when you reach the counter after painstaking efforts, that they were sorry that your KYC norms were not complete and therefore you can make no transactions. The Banks forget to you every month when you visit them that your KYC norms were incomplete. Whose responsibility is it to inform the customers that their KYC norms were not complete? So, customers suffer the double whammy of interminable queues and no transactions. The RBI needs to ask reasons from the Banks for such utter deficiency of service, or at least, become more stringent after the crunch period is over.

  5. Mani, among all this melee, the irony is, of 14.5 Lac Cr, approx. 12.5 Lac Cr is already deposited in the bank…the positive effect of demonetization in our economy now seems to be just a whisper.

    1. Aye yes, Azfar! Though it’s quite likely (considering the criminalized society we are) that a very large chunk of that 12.5 lakh crores remains ‘detectably’ black, even if it’s been scattered in thousands of Jan Dhan accounts. And if so, it remains to be seen whether our intrepid taxmen will have the courage and wherewithal to go after the culprits.

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