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.


  1. The "riot" word was scripted for Supreme Court statement by someone else's pen. That was unfortunate for India!
    There are other ways people have suffered, standing in line for a Tirupati visit or even a Hajj stampede that we often hear off.

    1. Can't say abt "who" wrote the script for SC... but Hajj doesn't happen in India, so let's forget it.

  2. The queues may not lead to riots. But the problems can. Eventually. Snowball effect.

    1. Definitely, no riots. Because we Indians are very resilient & learn to adapt fast enough. We will survive. Though there could be problems that the common man is unable to foresee & the authorities MAY have factored for.

      But, let's be positive. This may not have been the best planned initiative of GoI. We may also not be aware of the precise reasons for this being done. But, a centuries old civilization will cope up with this one too. Cheers!


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