Influence of money on politics in India – demonetization or note bandi
Come May 8, 2017, a little after the close of financial year 206-17, six months will have been completed for the buzzword ‘note bandi’; most classes, including industry and labour, will have been done and dusted with assessment of pros and cons of demonetization. By the time an Indian Premier League fan opens lunch carrier tucked inside backpack to refuel for the evening work where he will attend chit fund gatherings to save for expenses of kith and kin, it must occur to him that the time spent on euphoria generated from Prime Minister’s rather inebriated short pitched ball of announcement, which has so far not gone any significant distance with uneven bounce of planning and insufficient carry of reality check, both from points of view of audience beside sight screen (voters) waiting for any blitzkrieg (instant money, solutions for perennial problems) and commentators (intelligentsia who may not necessarily have played the game), thanks to lifeless wicket (social and print media which combinedly propagated the idea of demonetization as an incredible option to curb black money and to stop counterfeit currency on its tracks), is indeed yet another Achilles heel on his brave face.
What will have the fan do after returning home? Watch the Indian Premier League drawing parallelism of TV cricket and political cricket. Of course, when Prime Minister himself had to shift gears in redefining the very objectives of ‘note bandi’ amid reports that central bank was in constant know of the impending decision, the case of making the nation cashless or less cashed remains elusive leave alone making the nation corruption-free. The curious case that many fans of demonetization missed is that the government, with finance and revenue officials at its service and intelligence radars at its remote couldn’t locate black money holders in order to have official raids at the very same time the government had announced on November 8, 2016. Who stopped the government from collecting data and striking the corrupt without disturbing the system in place is still unanswered. And why the higher denomination of 2000 when all you needed a cashless or less-cash economy is not answered for it to stand firm against scientific scrutiny of rationale of whole exercise.
The recent success of ruling party in Uttar Pradesh has little to do with discussion of black money although it appeared to have minor blow for the party’s prospects in western parts. So, has the demonetization failed? If it has, to what extent can the damage caused be resuscitated? If it has not, to what extent was the restructure successful? Okay, let’s assume the success of demonetization. From the words of announcement made by none other than Prime Minister, shocking withdrawal of legal tender was necessary for the government to keep in check fake currency printed for non-state functionaries like separatist groups and militants across Line of Actual Control. The second objective envisaged was to check growing menace of unaccounted money. Some rules put in place backfired after which the RBI and the finance ministry had to retreat or in the words of BJP’s sympathisers application of butter was necessary even for a diabetes patient on aching heel for temporary relief so long as he should not eat it. Hefty claims of remonetisation and subsequent suspicious activity in many Jan Dhan accounts surfaced but the tax authorities are still on the way to make any claims whatsoever that appease ordinary citizens.
Imagine there’s a life healing club (government) and there’re its customers (voters; if citizens are not voters, what are they indeed for a political party?) waiting outside to get their services attended, and while they remain in mammoth queues with friendly ignorance duly assisted by irrational phenomena of problem identifying leave alone solving, the healing club which covers with impeccable art of spoofing their needs comes up with a master plan. Cancel their subscriptions and ask them to get medical and financial certificates afresh. They know they can’t heal every ailment, or by percentage of one desperate need of a man. So, what does an intelligent merchant do to save his face when customers approach him?
Fiction assumes great significance for most of the time in India. We don’t need to ask if it’s pastime or productive time. And it works in a family feud, a game of cricket, inside a family kitchen, in a corporate fairy tale of board room, and last but not the least, in a political map to drive citizens toward delusion. Fabrication of myths as realities and money thrust are part of game rule characteristics in Indian political scenario.
The harsh reality is that citizens have become voters based on caste, religion, besides being reduced to be classified as rural and urban classes based on ephemeral patterns of lifestyle. While in the above example, a customer is entitled to have luxury of staging a protest if not return of money and time, in the latter case, a citizen is reduced to become a class of voter duly affixed by state who cannot cough because ‘good day’ syrup may knock at any instant, a sane moment.
Money as medium of exchange to buy and sell goods and to avail services has taken shape of what it is today from barter system, wherein a person in possession of something used it to acquire something that he needed the most from other person who had it as second priority.
Trivia: In the period from 1948 to 1950, our legal exponents of welfare state and nation-state (an upgraded version coined after Greeks disposed of their famous city-state model of administration in which Socrates supported slavery as a facilitator for better means of dialogue amongst elite and middle class societal sections) had envisaged that whatever struggle – physical and psychological – the masses had undergone actually translates into hard work for better industrial growth and reduce lacunae of resources. So, they had adopted elections once after every five years as the fairest possible method and option for electing own representatives for they would engage themselves on research on anthropological and advanced forms of technology and form necessary legislations. The media in those days, largely of government, had little role to expose variety of hidden political agendas – of leftists and rightists. It was only after 1991 under PV Narasimha Rao’s stewardship, did the media assume larger role for growth-seeking Indian elite classes.
Trends changed in the way India elects its government and leadership. BJP started its infamous “India Shining” and “India on the Move” in 2004 and middle class rejected it outright. The major player Congress too started its bandwagon of adverts claiming itself to be the growth engine, and now, it appears in 2017 that with the kind and quantum of support Mr. Modi is seeking from corporate media houses by and large who show little introspection for whatever growth that has taken place in Gujarat and little respect for how 25 plus Indian member states do not share commonality with the largely rich inundated Gujarat populace, the reality has made way for hype and lesser factualism. Had this been envisaged long ago by our eminent theorists of socialism and science, the model of electioneering guaranteed under Articles 324 and 325 would have been different.
It’s not that people who vote for them aren’t aware of this phenomenon – invest first and plunder later on – but sheer reality of their backwardness and ineligibility as pictured by self-claimed stewards of democracy in the name of fourth estate is what hovers hapless voters.