I was repeatedly asked whether I am against demonetisation? Like many of you, I supported demonetisation on Day 1. It was a bold step by a PM whose financial integrity is not in question. It is also true that the country continues to be invested in our PM. Businesses have invested financially and the common man has invested hope in Modi. This is possibly the first time that the capitalists and the socialists are backing the same leader. This is also the reason that the cost of any failure would be disastrous for the psyche of the nation.
When I am told that I must wholeheartedly support demonetisation, my reasoning fails me. What am I expected to do? Join the chorus? Be a cheerleader? Write supporting the move? Share articles favouring the move? Stop questioning the execution? Stop talking of flaws that need course correction? Stop talking of pain and suffering? Even the RBI governor, a bureaucrat, wants me to be patriotic?
For me, Patriotism is – About doing the right thing; About talking the right thing; About paying taxes; About following law; About not littering streets; About not using influence; About not abusing power; About not bribing officials; About protecting fellow citizens; About respecting women; About feeding the unfed. If we are a patriotic nation, we will not be where we are today. We bribe, avoid taxes, peddle influence, abuse power, litter streets, break law, disrespect women, and scorn at the poor. True measure of patriotism is not crying hoarse against Pakistan or cry the loudest ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ or even supporting the government on everything it does? The government is not the nation. No one said the same thing when I was questioning the UPA!
One FB friend even asked me how I am inconvenienced by demonetisation that I am so upset? He is right. With all my plastic money, I am least affected. In fact, nothing has changed in my life. But I also see pain, suffering and even tears around. I saw labor migrating back at the New Delhi station. I see the queues at the bank adjoining my office and the suffering and desperate need for cash of these people. Yesterday, I saw an old man cry because he wasn’t given a token for the day. My driver who was taking money by cheque wants a part of it in cash this 1st December. Then I see the arrogant response of the government and the lackadaisical circulars by the RBI. I see the absence of planning and foresight, the lack of vision and direction, the ignorance of economic realities and mathematical calibrations. And that upsets me. A move that could be taken once in a generation has been screwed beyond repair. What was supposed to be planned to the T and executed to perfection has been lost to the ‘Shock and Awe’ strategy post the optics of the surgical strikes. And that upsets me no end.
I speak not because I suffer. I speak because I see others suffer. What I write may hurt me, will antagonise people and businesses against me, will pitch people against me. I do get threats, insults and profanities hurled at me. I would bear my suffering silently and deal with them in my loneliness, as I do in many such times. This is less about me and more about people around me. This is less about my inconvenience and more about my country. This is about talking for the voiceless, powerless people who stand in queues, suffer in silence, wash their sorrows and still are more patriotic than all of us. What I write is my definition of patriotism to my nation.
And so I speak, I write, I stand up, I speak up, I speak out.