Dear Pradhan Mantri ji
I am as much a son of the soil as you are (or claim to be). If not more.
But, For the fear of being trolled by a patriot missile:
All names, characters, situations, country, leaders and currencies in this blog are fictional and bear no resemblance to any person, living, dead or likely to be born. Nor have they been FCRA funded or Pakistan supported.
I belong to the vast minority of Indians who have not stashed away tonnes of cash under mattresses, in backyards, in lockers or through benami property. And as I now read, in secret vaults behind fancy bathrooms.
I believe you when you told the nation (after your demonetization surgical strike in early November) that this was done to flush out black money hoarders and attack the corrupt. Somehow, as the reasons keep fluctuating, the end date continues to get stretched and other reasons starting travelling the corridors of whisper, I have begun believing the rumours as intently too. The real reason the nation really wants to know. (Oh How I miss Arnab now).
At the outset, allow me to compliment you for this stated intention. (But obviously, I dare not oppose it for the fear of inviting the wrath or troll of the thousands of patriot missiles who are roaming the streets of social media in the name of being Namo bhakts.
Two years ago, from the ramparts of the Lal Killa, you said India wanted a Change. You would deliver it and we the people would be agents of change.
The last One month has been baptism by fire. Mr. Prime Minister, change is what we are still desperately looking for. Of course, this only applies to those who manage to get ahead in the queue to reach the teller counter at the bank, that is.
I come from a city called Mumbai, once popular as the Finance capital of India. In the nineties, everyone had a bomb blast story to share. In the 2000s, there was hardly any person who did not have a story relating to the deluge (July 26 when portions of Mumbai were submerged in rains).
You have succeeded in giving every Mumbaikar an experience to narrate to the next generation and Karan Johar the script for the next sad-com. How I met the Teller.
Mumbai is also a city which never sleeps. You have on one strike ensured that people remain awake. During the day commuting and at work and post work, till late night and as the clock strikes 12, at the ATM line hoping for a rat’s share of their legitimate money.
In the last two weeks, three things have kept me busy.
One is to try different ways of withdrawing money what legitimately belongs to me. Which I have failed and given up, leaving me with two other options.
Aimless time-pass with fellow ‘patients’.
There are three categories of such patients. One, who are the sarkari bhakts. Official chamchas.
Who think and have always thought no end of you and that this surgical strike on currency is the next best thing to the world. The best being the birth of Namo. With such passionate vehemence they talk of you, dishing out non existing non substantiated numbers, statistic and data, that as a listener, you feel privileged that you voted for the Prime Minister of the World.
The second category is of the minority few who meet and greet you. Engage in some mundane chai pe charcha and speak of how robust the Indian economy is. Chappan inch (56 inch ) robust economy they proudly boast. Half claiming credit for this all. Before quickly slipping in a worried question on the REAL motive of this strike. These are the service class bhakts. Mostly salaried. Income tax paying. Legitimately earning. Genuinely spending bhakts. Who are too scared to criticise. For the fear of a backlash. Then there are the traders and business community. One of them who had printed Namo tee shirts when you had been elected. Thrown a come one come all lunch party after the results were announced. Today, he would rather vote for Sunny Leone.
Mr. Modi, this category is increasing by the day. But we shall never know. Because this remains a hitherto scared tribe.
Apart from conversations, the last few days I have also been busy on my whatsapp.
Forcibly engaged with the millions unofficially employed by the Namo app. I applaud them for their ingenious forwards on social media.
“In a few minutes from now, UNESCO will be voting for the best Prime Minister in the World. Please vote for him. He is anyways going to win”, reads one. Guys, start voting for the TIME person of the year. Not many people know about this poll so ‘press hard’. Vote and forward. Reads another.
Before you press delete, your inbox is flooded with equally patronizing ‘patriotic’ messages. (Donald Trump resigns and requests Namo to take over America’ reads another. Sorry, I made this one up. But, I will not be surprised if a message pops up like this too. “Modi ji bolna shuru nahin kartey ki 500 message inbox mein aa jaatey hain”. (Even before Mr. Modi starts speaking, 500 messages praising him flood into your inbox.) Remarked a stock broker from the building where I live.
Mr. Modi, while there are many who applaud your intended move, including me what baffles me is your under-preparedness to service the countless countrymen who are being subject to agony for no fault of theirs. For someone who claimed to have known the country’s voters, not to understand the magnitude of the damage is disappointing.
You live in a sarkari-serviced bungalow so you will not know the extent of damage caused to people in the street who need hard cash to buy and sell. Money for vegetables. Jobs to do and hours to commute. These are people who are now standing endlessly in bank queues, in vain. Taking leave from office when none is available.
You have a ready ambulance travelling with you and also on standby, so you will not understand the agony of the hapless Indian who has a family member in hospital. Hospital ATMs are as cash strapped. They run out of money faster than a Usain Bolt for gold. The physical agony has compounded the mental anguish. I talk of Urban India Mr. Modi. Where ATMs and banks are round the corner. (Now a days easy to identify by the serpentine queues any time of the day or night).
I am not talking of rural (non urban India) where the sight of a financial institution (and now money) is as scare as water during a drought.
In the olden golden era, Kings disguised themselves as commoners to take stock of what people think.
I think it is high time you did the same. On second thought, may you should not be trying this. You may not be able to digest it.
I am not an economist Mr. Modi. So I am not going to rattle of comparative statistic which substantiate the emotion which I have narrated. (Don’t give me facts, I know the reality, said Mr. Trump, in his bid to silence the vast majority who went against him.) Why do I get the feeling that your social media brigade will dish out a similar statement as HMV.)
To cut a long story short, Mr. Prime Minister, I don’t need a lesson in patriotism from your vast majority of bhakts. Think of the soldiers when you are standing in line at an ATM. Give me a break.
These whatsappers should be made to get to a Virar Fast local and told to get off at Andheri during peak travel time to know what hardships and life is too.
I started this piece by telling you I am an Indian. Proud to be one. All I need is for you to recognize the fact that there are honest salaried people who have a right over their legitimate money. And to be able to speak one’s mind without being trolled by your sena.
One banker told me last evening. It is high time someone raised his head and spoke his mind off for Namo to know the ground gravity of the situation.
The problem is, several heads have begun speak out. But are you ready to listen Mr. Modi?
Once again, for the fear of being trolled:
All names, characters, situations, country, leaders and currencies in this blog are fictional and bear no resemblance to any person, living, dead or likely to be born.