Two days after the demonetization drive began, one of my colleagues expressed how aghast she was to learn that her friend had some unaccounted few lakh rupees in cash stowed at home. The amount had been kept ready for purchase of a new house. This drives home an important fact we often overlook in our self-righteous condemnation of black money:
It’s not only the high flying business folks who deal in black money – several of our aam aadmis and aurats do it too.
Every single time someone pays a bribe to get things done the easy way, or agrees to purchasing something without a bill to save on the tax, or buys a property below the stamp duty value, he is contributing to the black money conundrum. Of course we justify it by saying that when everyone around us is corrupt, why should we be Raja Harishchandra? This, then, is what is bleeding our economy at a deep level and if we wish to see real change, it is precisely this attitude that has to change.
The common man must decide to stand by what is good not just for him at a personal level but also that which is good for the well-being of the nation as a whole. We all speak of how people in other countries like the US or Singapore are law-abiding citizens. When are we going to realize that a law-abiding nation cannot be created unless and until the citizens decide to follow the laws the government makes? It is vital that highfalutin defaulters like Mallya be brought to book; but equally important is the task of preventing the rise of several more Mallyas by creating fraud-deterrent conditions within the country.
People stay righteous for two reasons – either because they are self-motivated by their principles, or because they are afraid of the punishment that will ensue when they don’t toe the line. When the former begins losing its hold, it is indeed time to crack the whip to restore probity in public life.
There are people who seek to draw attention to the inconvenience and damage caused by this demonetization drive. In particular, there is a sad event of an infant who died because the ambulance drivers refused to accept old currency. http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/jaipur-infant-dies-father-says-no-cash-for-ambulance-4372521/
In this and some other cases, the fault is sought to be laid at the feet of the PM who – in the eyes of these naysayers – launched on this “hare-brained” drive.
Why couldn’t the ambulance drivers have accepted the old currency notes? Why didn’t they value a tiny life more than their money? Why didn’t anyone else at the hospital step up to help the hapless father? Why didn’t the hospital authorities throw their weight behind the patient? Fact is, this lack of a humane approach has spread its cancerous arms throughout our society. There must be several such incidents that happen in different parts of our nation on a regular basis – no one ever pays attention because they’re not glamorous enough for TRPs. But now, when the aim is to throw muck at someone trying to usher in a change in the system, the breast beaters have all woken up.
Since the past 30 months, our media has been leveraging its expertise in rumor-mongering. It consistently seeks to make you miss the forest for the trees, and revels in pointing out the rare defective or stunted tree, laying the blame at the new gardener’s feet. Never mind the fact that in reality, those trees developed problems because of factors intrinsic to them. When you’re working to an unholy agenda, truth becomes collateral damage.
These are trying times. A change is being sought. The way the majority of the Indian populace has reacted is a clear indicator that many of the people of this land are ready to do their part. The refrain amongst people in the longest of queues outside the banks and ATMs is predominantly upbeat. ‘If this can help do away with corruption, we are willing to chip in and do our bit,’ they say.
There are people helping others in filling out forms at banks; others are sending alerts of banks and ATM locations where the crowd is less; some are using their personal goodwill with bank authorities to generate small change to help the ill, the elderly and the illiterate.
Let us not crib about the inconvenience and collateral damage. Pain is an inevitable companion to revolutionary, life-giving change. When faced with difficult situations, we can be part of the problem or we can be part of the solution. The choice we make today is going to make all the difference to where our nation heads in the years to come.