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I Supported Demonetisation At First. My Patriotism Made Me Change My Mind

30/11/2016 11:00 AM IST | Updated 30/11/2016 11:56 AM IST
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I have been repeatedly asked if I am against demonetisation. Like many of you, I supported demonetisation on Day 1. It was a bold step by a Prime Minister 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 citizen 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.

This is less about me and more about people around me. This is less about my inconvenience and more about my country.

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 about my support of 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 about the right thing; about paying taxes; about following the 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 were a patriotic nation, we would not be where we are today. We bribe, avoid taxes, peddle influence, abuse power, litter streets, break the law, disrespect women, and scorn at the poor. The true measure of patriotism is not crying hoarse against Pakistan or shouting "Bharat Mata ki Jai" the loudest or even supporting the government in everything it does. The government is not the nation. No one said the same thing when I was questioning the UPA!

One Facebook friend even asked me how I am inconvenienced by demonetisation to justify being 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 me. I see labourers 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 once-in-a-generation move 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.

A once-in-a-generation move has been screwed beyond repair. What was supposed to be executed to perfection has been lost to the "shock and awe" strategy... 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 will 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 are still more patriotic than the rest of us. What I write is my definition of patriotism to my nation.

And so I write, I stand up, I speak up, I speak out.

Memento Mori by Pablo Bartholomew

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