Monday, November 28, 2016

Why I do not feel there will be any riots following #Demonetization

All those predictions of riots taking place all over the country because of people standing in queues at ATMs & bank counters have still not come true. Yes, theoretically riots should have happened, for we riot for the stupidest of reasons like losing a cricket match. So, why has India been so peaceful till now? There are a few reasons for this:

The primary reason, I feel, is that we are so used to standing in queues. At most places, at all times, for all reasons. Like milk booths, railway ticket counters, cinema halls & temples/mosques/dargahs, to name a few. In fact, right from the day we join school we are taught to stand & move in queues. Which shapes us, as adults, into disciplined queueists.

There is also an economic rationale behind this. If the supply is abundant & the people are sure they will get their share, though delayed, they are willing to wait for it. As you know, we Indians never look upon this life in absolute terms. After all, this is just one of the various visits we make to earth in physical form. Thus, we find people standing in queues at temples from morning till evening as they know that god will never run out of his blessings. And this is also the reason behind the stampedes each time the kumbh mela is held. While blessing from god & water in the river are unlimited, the time to take a dip is finite. (But this has a positive spinoff too. had it not been for the chaos during the kumbh mela, so many of our bollywwod classics would never have been made.)

If you still doubt the above theory, you should go to the railway station & witness the passengers getting into reserved & unreserved compartments. If you yet remain a disbeliever, you should join the Aam Aadmi Party. You would then get to know a wild counter-theory. Hopefully (for you), that theory would also be able to explain the absence of queues while boarding the bus.

Lest you think I am not open to a different opinion & accuse me of intolerance, let me question myself. Why do all those who do not get to see a 1st day 1st show of a Rajinikanth release not get violent? The tickets to the show being limited & the aspirants unlimited, going by the above theory of economics, there should be bloodshed at the box office. But I can explain this too. Firstly, it is our spiritual outlook at play here. The lucky ones had better karma which rewarded them, the losers know they have no reason to crib. Secondly, this may be a case of delayed gratification but by the time they come out the 1st show attendees are still to get over their hangover. Thus, the 2nd show watchers feel the same high as their immediate predecessors & probably celebrate together too. No, I am not done yet. Lastly, immediately after the show, these people go to a Tasmac (if you are wondering what this is, you may visit outlet. So when they finally reach their neighbourhood, everyone knows about their achievement irrespective of the show they went to. They haven’t lost their bragging rights & that is what matters the most.

In this quest to understand our queueing behavour, I next move to psychology. What is the difference between those seeking to get inside a bus & the Rajini fans? It’s the length of the queue, stupid. In the case of a bus, only a few get left behind while most mange to squeeze in or hang on the bus. Thus, no one wants to be in the losing minority & they fight tooth & toenail to get in. (If you joined the AAP, does your counter-theory have a counter to this one?) Opposite is the case with  a film like Kabali. The stranded ones far outnumber the lucky few who manage to get in. So when people at ATM’s realize that they are not alone (or, part of a small group) when the machine runs out of cash, they just take it in their stride & move on to another ATM. A few days in succession & they no longer aim to avoid the disappointment of returning cashless, but achieve the elation of success. Moreover, they also get undisturbed time for Whatsapp & Facebook.

Now, if its India, there will always be a religious angle. Lakshmi is worshipped as the goddess of wealth. Thus, ATM’s are nothing but temples dedicated to her. I accept that religion is the cause of most, if not all, riots. There would definitely have been riots post demonetization, but the government played smartly here. I can imagine customers of one bank ransacking or destroying ATM’s of other banks if they didn’t get any cash. But the government waived off charges for using other banks’ ATM’s & all religious differences vanished. Irrespective of where you banked, each ATM was now a temple (or mosque) for you & you don’t set fire to your own place of worship. Thus, peace reigns at the temples of 21st century India.

After economical, emotional, spiritual, psychological & religious studies, let us now make a short visit to history before I rest my case. Unlike  the rest of Asia/Africa, it was not a few good men who won the independence for us. Gandhi derived his strength from the whole lot of Indians, of every hue, from every corner. And non violence was his weapon in that war. So is the case today, we are still as peaceful. Yes, demonetization hurts. But we will get over it & life will be back to normal soon.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

What next after Demonetization?

Let me first clarify that I am neither for nor against demonetization. Though I am not an economist, I still do not support demonetization as I believe it was not planned properly & also because a lot of common citizens have been put into needless trouble because of this. Also, while I agree that this step will address a miniscule proportion of black economy, I still feel whatever that no. is (2%, 5%, 10%), something is still better than nothing & we will end up in a better state. And for this reason, I think this should only be the 1st battle in the war against corruption.

But now that the elections in critical states are round the corner the PM is already busy with his electoral duties. So what happens when the banks are tanked up with new currency & the queues at ATM’s & bank counters diminish? To help him hit the ground running when he returns to office, here are my suggestions to our PM for the next anti-corruption measures:

Ask anyone in an ATM queue & he will inform you that the largest hoarders of cash/black money are the builders. Usually, they take around 30% to 40% of payment in cash form which may or may not be reported. I suggest, you exempt 40% of income of builders from income tax. As it is, you are not collecting any tax on this income. Same for sale of house/property too. You would then eliminate black money from the real estate sector in one shot. Which will return to the legitimate monetary system as these guys would be able to spend their hard earned money any way they like. Or they would deposit this money in banks which have more funds to lend (as home loans too!), thus fuelling the economy.

On the same lines, I would like you to exempt government officials from paying income tax. And not just because they are public servants doing public service for public welfare. Because firstly, their salaries would increase proportionately & they would have a lesser need to make ends meet by accepting dole (or, what the common man calls Bribe) from the paying public. Also because what the citizen pays these gentlemen is already taxed & as these payments have no tax liability, it no longer will be considered “black money”. Not only does this measure ensure life goes on as before, it also makes the public servants a happier lot which may make improve the service they provide (would they worry about where to dispose the cash?). Thus, a win-win solution for all.

There is another sphere of economic activity which works under the radar, known to all though no one talks about it openly. Coming from Gujarat, I am sure you would already have guessed it. Yes, I am speaking about bootlegging. These are the good Samaritans who receive no appreciation but only harassment from the official machinery. Even they should be exempt from paying income tax, because their work is almost as important to the nation as those of the farmers. I know this appears to go against the Gandhian principles which are so dear to us, but this is not the case. When these spiritual service providers feel they have nothing to fear about their wealth, they would hit the markets in a very conspicuous manner. This would inspire the unemployed youth to take up this profession, which would make it very competitive & unprofitable. There could be more desertions than addition, probably leading the industry to look at other avenues for business. Which is what Gandhi wanted.

Organised religion dabbles mostly in cash, of all denominations. All temple trusts, waqf boards, churches & the like should be forbidden from holding any bank accounts or owning land. Because if they trust god why do they need banks for safe custody of their wealth? And because god is omnipresent & all-powerful, the land owners are just tenants of god (or his representatives) & the entire land ultimately belongs to him/them. But babas & godmen are not to be considered here, because they perform other important tasks too such as producing movies, meeting parents of slain terrorists & throwing MNC’s out of business.

I would love to add another measure to the list above – No cash donations to political parties. But I know this would not be acceptable to any political party or politician. Also, if this is implemented any ordinary person can aspire to be a politician, become MLA/MP & govern the states/country. This is a scary thought & you know what I mean. You have quite a few of these types in your vicinity who are also a pain in you know what. As individuals & as citizens we cannot even self-govern. Just look at the chaos on the road when there is no traffic police around (to give an example), and you will understand what I mean. We need the politicians to rule (pls read this as: formulate & administer laws) us, whether they mend their ways or not.

You have highly competent people in your team who will come up with even better suggestions. But whatever step you take next, pls see that it has a simple name. Terms such as “demonetization” are too difficult to pronounce to have any meaningful discussion at the tea stalls & we only end up saying “Bharat Mata ki Jai”!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

How to Make Enemies & Annoy People

Modi spent the 1st half of his tenure traveling all over the world & making friends with the global leaders. And he was quite successful too, except in the neighbourhood. But by withdrawing the Rs. 500 & Rs. 1000 currency notes, he has, in one stroke, frittered away the goodwill that he had earned within. Not that he cares, but here’s what the mighty & the influential are feeling today:

Bollywood: One would have thought the film industry would have been happy
to see these long queues. So what if these were at Banks & ATMs & not for some 1st day 1st show of a Bollywood blockbuster. But the Bollywood moguls are really worried & it is about the donation to Army Welfare Fund. Yes, the fund can be transferred electronically, but they are actually bothered with the processing fees (you know the type!) that needs to be paid for getting the film released. I think they will now move to the Sooraj Barjatiya formula – a song-studded, shot-in-studio, wedding video. Or maybe turn into theme wedding organisers for the likes of Reddy brothers of Bellary.

Rahul Gandhi: For the last many months he has been traversing the hinterland, on bikes, jeeps & choppers. He ate with the villagers & slept in their huts. This was one opportunity to mix with people he could not miss, without getting out in the heat & dust of the countryside. He stood in the queue with them, but they were busy enquiring about the open ATMs in their area. He addressed them, but the queue kept moving forward as the notes were exchanged. He was even willing to bring in cots for them, but they were in a hurry to move to the next Bank. All he got was Rs. 4000 worth of 100 rupee notes.

Mamata Bannerjee: Street battle by street battle, she fought & won against the red army till she conquered West Bengal. And having consolidated her position, she was looking at a larger role for herself at a national level. And then Modi comes up with this one. How is she going to pay her foot soldiers now? But you don’t mess with Didi without incurring her wrath. This royal Bengal tigress is now marching to Delhi. This will be more interesting than Delhi Safari!

Uddhav Thackeray: With Dawood holed up in Pakistan & friendly governments in Delhi & Maharashtra, he was now the undisputed king of Mumbai. But things are getting from bad to worse. First, the Supreme Court started meddling in the heights of human pyramids during janmashtami. Next, the state government handed over Bollywood to kid brother Raj. And now, Modi has hit where it hurts most. All that a law abiding politician can do now is smuggling & drug peddling. Well, he has now decided to join Mamata’s march to Delhi; Durga Pooja pandals can be big business too.

Raj Thackeray: Good friend Fadnavis had brokered a deal & opened up another foolproof revenue stream. Considering the size of Bollywood & the common man’s appetite for the masala it churns out, Raj Thackeray was just beginning to build up a war chest for the next BMC elections. It is now back to extorting toll booths, but even these are closed for the time being. But it’s not so bad as Uddhav is in the same mess too. Or may be a bigger one; isn’t he marching along with Mamata?

Shivraj Singh Chouhan: First he was upstaged as a high performing CM. Next, his squeaky clean image was tarnished with Vyapam. And now this demonetization. He is annoyed with this step motherly treatment to Madhya Pradesh when even those no hopers of West Bengal were allowed enough time to deposit their cash with the bank. Having already given up his aspirations to be the PM, he is now left hoping he stays along as the CM next time round too.

Mayawati: With the uncle squabbling with the nephew, daughters in law engaged in not letting the other get a foothold in state politics & Netaji content playing the Bhishma Pitamah of left-of-centre politics, she was again relishing the opportunity to be CM of the largest state again. She had geared up to complete the unfinished tasks from her previous tenure, what with all those towns still without any of her statues. But trust her to fight the upper caste as it tries to trample the Dalit’s rise in social hierarchy.

Vijay Mallaya: This one’s not annoyed. He got away in time. And with banks mopping away cash from the system, the Kingfisher Villa appears to be safe for now. And yes, he remains the King of good times & bad. Cheers!!

Pics courtesy:

Friday, November 11, 2016

Its time to move on, Arnab

Till early last week, there were strong rumours of Arnab Goswamy leaving Times Now, possibly to start his own venture. But he is still going strong with News Hour & the cardiologists have rediscovered their smiles again!

I do not know if there was any truth to these rumours, maybe they were spread by his detractors to pull down his TRP. True or not, this is high time Arnab made a move away from his current position. It gets monotonous at the top & a person of his caliber needs new challenges to keep going & growing. I know Arnab has no time to even glance at my suggestions, so I appeal to the PM to consider these as possible positions where he can utilise the talent of Arnab for the benefit of the nation:

Home Minister: 
No one has been more concerned about the internal issues than Arnab, be it Rohit Vemula suicide, Nirbhaya gang rape, Kanhaiya episode or the police encounters. In his new position, Arnab simply has to visit the various prisons with foreign journalists & human rights activists to meet under-trial terrorists. There, Arnab will verbally torture the terrorists that they will commit suicide in the presence of terror sympathisers, & no one will be in a position to blame Arnab. Similarly, all those candle light marchers will flee to the safety of their homes if they see Arnab on the street ready to confront them. With Arnab as HM, peace will finally prevail all over, including the news channels.

(With the impending elections in UP, Rajnath Singh can be easily accommodated as the CM. With a friendly government at the centre, he could actually turn around the fortunes of this Bimaru state.)

Defence Minister:
We have all watched it on News Hour, how Arnab has taken on the Paki establishment, terrorist sympathisers in Kashmir & the anti national voices from within. He is the soldier without the gun who fires without the bullet & kills without blood being shed. While the incumbent has admitted to having "personal opinion" too, Arnab has only one opinion - the "national" opinion. If he can turn the veteran paki generals into jelly from the confines of his news room, imagine what he can do if he goes to Wagah border! The mere sight of him will make the paki jawans desert in droves. Ditto for the north east too. Think Assam (and he happens to be an Assamese too) has a long boder with China & you know why he is just the man for this job.

(Looking at the strides AAP is making in Goa (as reported in the print media), its best to dispatch Manohar Parrikar, a man of clean credentials, back to protect the home turf.)

National Security Advisor:
He knows what the national wants to know, he knows all there is to know, especially about security issues & he knows how to advise, be it errant opposition politicians or the retired paki soldiers. He also carries the aura of authority over himself that brooks no nonsense. When he is around, he is the one in control & he makes sure everyone around knows this. With facts & figures on his fingertips, he is the guy who can bring the holistic approach to security issues.

(This being his post-retirement posting, Ajit Doval can be re-retired, this time for ever.)

Lt. Governor of Delhi:
Not exactly the position that befits Arnab. But has Arnab ever bothered about stature & the like? Else, why would a person of his unmatched talents sit in front of a camera night after night after night asking what the nation wants to know? But he is the one who can fling 100 pages of documentary evidence for each printed page carried by Arvind Kejriwal. Unlike the incumbent, Arnab will not quitely listen to vague accusations that Kejriwal makes every other week. Rather, he will make the Nation want to know what AK has been doing all this while. And he is the person AK will be unable to run away from after challenging for a debate. I think, AK will even forget to cough when confronted by Arnab.

(While Najeeb Jung has been quite up to the task, he can never equal Arnab's skills & can be easily sacrificed.)

Finance Minister:
One needn't be an economist to be a successful FM. Remember, we had one as the previous PM? With Arnab at the helm, the black money owners will themselves return the cash to bank & pay due taxes (with penalty) on their own. And the traders who have been hoarding the essentials in their godowns will release them to the market, bringing the inflation down. I am sure, Arnab only has to raise the pen in his hand & the Rupee, on its own, will strengthen itself against the dollars & the euros. And the budget? Not only will there be no pilferage, even funds siphoned off over the years will be returned to achieve a zero deficit budget.

(With DDCA affairs being in such shambles, Arun Jaitley should return to manage its finances.)

This is not a comprehensive list of possibilities open to Arnab. I can add so many more, India's Permanent Representative to UN being one. Or, Ambassador to China. But, then we will not see & hear him so often. I just hope Modi picks Arnab for one of these positions during the next reshuffle. Will He? The nation wants to know.

The (Modi) Surgical Strikes are here to stay!

I was chatting with this “Contact” of mine who is usually in the midst of happenings in the capital. This way, I avoid not only the polluted Delhi air but also the channels that air everything but the news. He was so elated today by what is being labelled on SM as “Modi Surgical Strike” or MSS (you know what the news channels are calling demonetisation), that he let me on the next few ones in the offing. I decided to immediately put these on this blog so that you are not caught unawares next time round.

Sooryavansham: In the next surgical strike, Sooryavansham will be banned permanently from Sony Max (or any other channel). The idiot box will never appear the same without this marquee film not being on air, but the good times haven’t ended for Bollywood junkies. Max (and every other channel) still has the freedom to air other Big-B hits such as Ajooba & Jadugar. And they had the temerity to call us intolerant?

Karan Johar movies: If the economy doesn’t show any signs of turning around, movies shot overseas despite the “Make in India” push (read KJo films) will be next in line. Sanskaari Alok Nath has already started directing the talented Gajendra Chauhan in what is expected to be the next Diwali blockbuster.  

Footpaths: The government has practically decided to remove that urban inconvenience called footpath, the drive to begin with Mumbai soon. The Mumbai roads will now be broader & the potholes deeper. Considering that Salman Khan loves driving in the night, the ever-considerate government has also decided to widen the road medians (dividers) so that the pavement dwellers can sleep there peacefully.

Valentine’s Day: This one gets the boot for not being in sync with our ancient culture. However, to protect the livelihoods of those selling balloons, flowers, chocolates & selfie sticks, the 1st Sunday of February will be celebrated as Patanjali Day of Young at Heart. On the 2nd & 3rd Sundays of February, Shiv Sena & MNS respectively will be allowed to impose a bandh, take out rallies & indulge in minor arson.

TV Panel Discussions: These are innocent victims of India’s commitment to curb global warming. As the nation never really gets to know what it wants to know, these discussions will be replaced with a briefing by the government spokespersons. Followed by two minutes response each by major political parties in the spirit of a healthy democracy.

I will update you when I next meet my “Contact”.

Pics courtesy:

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