Pre-Script: This was originally published in Medium on December 1st and I had no intention of repeating the article on my blog. But it was already day 48, and in all these days of standing to prove my nationalism both inside movie theatres and outside theatres, there were a couple of new jokes that I came across.
So here’s the post with a few updates.
It was November 8th, 8 pm, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his address to the nation took a bold initiative to eradicate the black money from the country.
It was not one of those announcements where a politician (false) promises to unite the rivers together and make India a developed nation overnight. But a change, that shook the entire nation, where the country’s most highly valued notes Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 were to be devalued the same night.
Completely unaware about the happenings, I was sitting in my room minding my own work (anticipating White House results) and my phone was buzzing with notifications, every social media you see, be it Facebook or Twitter or even Whatsapp for instance, people started expressing their views on the same. While some supported the measure, others mostly trolling the move within 2 minutes (not exactly sure about timing, but if you can relate Modi’s move at 20:02 and in 2002, it’s purely co-incidental).
The supporters for the announcement (count me in) were comparing the quotidian lives of common men with those of the brave soldiers in the border who were battling external terrorists. It was all inspirational to fight for justice and #fightagainstcorruption but the night was still young.
Now going a little off-topic, why was I happy and why did I support? Did I know anyone with black money got screwed? Absolutely not, the announcement made me nostalgic to an old joke (read: motivational), which was going to be irrelevant the same night.
Man: Money is just a piece of paper.
Money: (smiles).. Of course. I am a piece of paper, but I have never seen a dustbin in my life.
This is well known to many and it is one of those jokes that was actually intended to boost us to reach a position where we are valued more but we ended up valuing the one with the note more.
Demon it is at ion = Demonitisation (Read: demonetization)
All things were definitely smooth as the night progressed, but what people did not realise was that it was actually the calm before the storm. What the supporters did not anticipate was that there’s ample difference between preaching an ideology and practising the same when it becomes a part of us. People realised that Wednesday was not the Acche Din for them and 9/11 did not give them the change they expected (metaphorically in the U.S. and literally in India).
To borrow words from The Joker,
“Nobody panics when things go according to the plan, hundreds and thousands of crores hidden as black money, nobody bats an eye, because it’s all part of the plan. But if 500 and 1000 notes lose its value, then everybody loses their mind”
(Note: A friend of mine asked after checking out the post in Medium, why demon-it-is-at-ion? Or specifically why ion in the end. The explanation would be that ions are atoms of same atomic number but different mass number, that is, the number of neutrons (which has been devalued of any charge) would affect the mass of the atom and the analogy here is that the 500 and 1000 notes which have been demonetized has affected the masses)
Balking To Banking
It was the time for dormant digital wallet companies in India to monetize on the demonetization and pivot from discount providers for digital wallet transaction to digital transformers during crisis. Consumers who were previously balking on the idea of digital transactions started to give in to the comforts of mobile wallets over traditional banking.
Every transaction seemed possible at lightning speeds, cabs and pizzas were not fueled by ‘cash on delivery’ anymore. But if only life was that simple, all of these was only a small portion for the larger pie.
The move we deserve, but not the one we need right now?
In a nation of 1.3 billion people and average connectivity speed of 4 mbps, the internet penetration is only around 35%; while for the rest of the population, it is the state of 1 Like =1 Share (vanity metrics). There were countless jobs that went out of the market since they were primarily not the tech-savvy industries (an effect which I experienced personally). Even the queues outside banks are still seen by many and most of the ATMs are only running with a limited stock of 2,000 notes.
Although the ATM lines are quite pissing when someone cuts the line, it was also a good place to meet interesting people. I remember one such incident where a random stranger in the ATM queue was lamenting the fact that his income was high. It was not one of those reasons that he might have to launder his black money without drawing too much attention, but the very fact that he has to stand in the queue almost every day so that he can barely manage to draw his salary from the ATM machine.
We understand the bomb that was dropped on the entire nation was for a better India or to silently coin the original term for an #AccheDin. But, the aftermaths are impinging on the lives of common men. Let’s keep our fingers crossed and do our duties in the hopes that we turn out to be the East post Little Boy and not the West post its election results of the (orange) Fat Man !
Disclaimer: The above opinion is the rants of an optimistic pessimist which was originally intended to focus on ‘the commutation and communication problem coupled with the effects of demonetization issues’ faced during one of the Bangalore trips, but the flow got pivoted to something else !