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The Demonetisation Drive Is A Freedom Revolution, And It Needs Your Help

17/11/2016 5:20 AM IST | Updated 18/11/2016 8:26 AM IST
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I know there are many out there like me — people who think that no matter which political ideology you subscribe to, the demonetisation move is good for our country. Corruption and Indians ... their relationship can be compared to a bad marriage. In this relationship, corruption is the controlling abuser and the rest of us are bruised and battered victim. From the smallest fish to the biggest kahuna in the food chain, everyone has been struck by corruption at some point. We've complained and moaned and even tried to hit back, but as is the case in many dysfunctional relationships, we also got comfortable with it — some sick, damaged part of our brain gave us the permission to start being OK with this dirty, shameful liaison. From paying capitation fees for school or college admissions to bribing traffic policemen to avoid a challan, we've all been guilty of colluding with corruption. Today, we finally have a chance to break free and get out of this mess. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity has come our way. But now that the door has been opened for us, we must decide if we really want out.

You may cheer for India during cricket matches and give your thumbs up to patriotic messages on FB, but it's time now to push the message beyond armchair patriotism.

Putting an end to the core of black money is nothing short of a revolution, and we all know that revolutions don't come in the form of 2-minute instant noodles. For the process to work, we must give it time, a pound of patience and, most importantly, a positive spin.

Brexit and the 2016 US elections have highlighted that fear often trumps good sense. The literate and responsible amongst us can't afford to sit back and wait for the demonetisation drive to work all by itself — because there are many who are working extra hard to make sure it doesn't. You may cheer for India during cricket matches and give your thumbs up to patriotic messages on Facebook, but it's time now to push the message beyond armchair patriotism. There is a cash crunch in the market, stories about violence at banks, rumours of a salt shortage. All this could topple the movement.

This post is a call to action for the average white-collar Indian citizen — what we are seeing today is in many ways akin to a freedom struggle. Here are some things we can do to make the drive successful.

  • Avoid going to the ATM if you are not in dire need of cash. Let's give room to the people who don't have a credit card and or really need money in hand.

  • Avoid feeding panic-like situations by believing every rumour or alarmist headline you read.

  • Avoid going to the bank for unnecessary transactions; it is only going to add to the load on an overly burdened bank staff. Your pass book updating can wait, really.

  • Yes, so we Indians don't like waiting in lines, we get that, but sending a proxy on your behalf or jumping lines to get ahead makes the situation more difficult for everyone else — besides we don't let the long lines at Disneyland ruin our vacation, right?

  • Use the cheque book wherever possible.

  • Good credit is an amazing commodity and it might surprise you how many mom and pop kind of places will extend it for you — don't abandon your local shops, they need your support. Buy from them.

  • And lastly educate, educate, educate — spread far and wide the message of the merits of PM Modi's plan to crack down on tax evaders and black money hoarders. Most people will see that the long-term benefits outweigh some short-term inconveniences.

Putting an end to the core of black money is nothing short of a revolution, and revolutions don't come in the form of 2-minute instant noodles.

I am no economist so can't expound on the fiscal implications of demonetisation, but what I do know is that my government is serious about holding people responsible for evading taxes and thus short-changing the nation: get this — in the year 2013, only 1% of India's population of 1.2 billion paid any income tax at all!

The road to recovery is going to be a long one and I consider myself fortunate to be able to contribute to the transformation.

Now that we are being offered a chance to fight back, let's stop using the "victim of corruption" card, the tremulous, righteous feeling of being wronged. It's something that we have done for far too long and have nothing to show for it.

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