What a hectic week it was, for all the WhatsApp groups.. Creativity flooded after one announcement made every one of us paupers (At-least notionally). No other news managed to trump the social and print media. Among-st their busy schedule of forwarding WhatsApp messages across groups and queuing up at branches, I do hope people get time to read the post where I try to solve the enigma of the current situation.
First and foremost, a declaration from my side: I am an advocate of digital payments and a firm believer that tremendous benefits can be derived from the shift to a less-cash economy. I did rejoice on reading news of skyrocketing transaction volumes on platforms of digital payment firms. However, we have a long way to go..I often do try to speak with and convince (with limited success I must say) the adamant small and medium establishments to accept digital instruments, but they have always refused to budge. With the recent turn of events, my optimism again took me to these establishments and I asked them with a high degree of hope whether they have had any change in hearts now. But alas, they were okay to let go of some income over the next 1-2 weeks, but not ready to accept any form of digital payments!! Guess, some things don’t change, do they..? Moreover, this was just 1 small geography I covered in a Metro city. So one can imagine the overall impact and resistance across 125 billion plus population, and hence the subsequent vocal frustration we are hearing about these days post the announcement.
As we all know, our country is perennially in election mode, so there is no single good, bad or ugly time to take any major decision. However, basic common sense tells us that if a person is ready to undergo pain only if there is an assured return at the end of it. Here, the tricky situation is even if a person spends close to a total of 3-4 man days queuing up at branches, there is absolutely no guarantee that there will be even an iota of change in his life, over the “Medium-to long term”, a terminology which our Finance Minister has applied to defend the Government’s move. Let’s agree for a moment, that this move substantially reduces the stack and flow of black money.. Good, congratulations to the government, do go and add it in your list of achievements in your election propaganda.. But the real question is what did the trader, rag picker, daily wage worker get in return of standing in the scorching sun ( God has not been very kind.. could have made it cloudy for next 2-3 weeks), and while continuously breathing polluted air ( Neither has the human being any kinder, with all the pollution created).. Post this “suffering” (As some opposition parties have quoted), will the potholes on the streets of Mumbai go into hibernation? Can the weather in Delhi give a competition to the air purifier manufacturers? Will the Bangalore streets turn into expressways? Will the infiltrators on the borders go “On strike” and not “To strike”? Perhaps no… (Not being pessimistic here)
If a common man (No reference to any political party) doesn’t foresee any significant benefits to the pain of not being able to use its favourite mode of payment, then things will not be rosy for the ruling party. The question to them would be “1.25 billion people displayed their “patriotism” by queuing up at branches. All that they got in return was news that unlike the previous Governments which did nothing, this government did something” People may not buy this.. And mind you, 2019 is not far, not to forget the countless elections before that..
I believe the Government’s intentions are quite good in the overall decision. However, the way forward for the Government, in my opinion is to talk about the real benefits which the common man derived as a result of this temporary “inconvenience”, how did a person’s life change for the better as a result of this..If not communicated in this manner, they you know what may happen…Only time will tell whether Government ends up hitting a home run or an own goal..As of now, it is at the stage of Decision Review, with the on-field umpire (People queuing up at branches) declaring it out..