‘The idea is good but the implementation is bad,’ is the common refrain that we hear from the 7% (as per reliable surveys, which I won’t question) who criticize demonetization. I belong to an even more minuscule minority. I believe, the idea is bad, and therefore, the implementation is shoddy. Or rather, the idea is bad, even if the implementation had been exemplary.
I have no doubt that almost all of us have been complicit, in varying degrees, in the generation of the so-called black money. But in a country with one of the highest inequality rates [Top 1% own 58.4% of the wealth in India, and top 10% own 80.7% of the wealth; as per other reliable studies], it defies logic to go after 100% of the people, when the same or better results could have been achieved by targeting the top 10%. Even if the major black money hoarders lie outside the official top 10%, it would have been surely possible to identity the major sources of black money generation and go after them. That would have been much more optimal use of available resources and bandwidth than this mammoth wild goose chase.
Two other aspects irk me more.
One is the now stated objective of a cashless (read, digital) economy. In the short run, it shows complete disregard for the current demography of the country. In the long run (though all of us will be dead), it betrays an utter lack of concern for privacy and freedom. It is scary to think of so much data in one place. It’ll lead to more centralisation. It does seem inevitable now. But there is still that minuscule minority that dreams of a decentralised society, where other non-digital modes of truly cashless living shall emerge.
Secondly, the assertions about the moral basis for the idea. The moral high ground that is being claimed for this move is something that my mind refuses to concede. No moral act needs such secrecy and deception.
Some of the kurals that I’ve been using when I discuss Aram with school children, have been continuously ringing inside my ears during the last couple of weeks:
இன்னா எனத்தான் உணர்ந்தவை துன்னாமை
வேண்டும் பிறன்கண் செயல். (316)
Shy away from doing to others
what you perceive would have harmed you.
நன்றே தரினும் நடுவிகந்தாம் ஆக்கத்தை
அன்றே யொழிய விடல். (113)
Even if some good comes out of the gains generated by
being unfair, desist from making that gain.
வேலொடு நின்றா னிடுவென் றதுபோலும்
கோலோடு நின்றா னிரவு. (552)
The extortion and graft done wielding the sceptre
is no different from robbery done pointing a spear.
உள்ளத்தாற் பொய்யா தொழுகின் உலகத்தார்
உள்ளத்து ளெல்லாம் உளன். (294)
One who, true to his heart, lives without lies,
will forever live in the hearts of all.
மனத்துக்கண் மாசிலன் ஆதல் அனைத்து அறன்
ஆகுல நீர பிற. (34)
True moral integrity lies in being spotless in your thoughts;
everything else is loud and blatant posturing.