The Narendra Modi government is really cute. It first announces a new game of football, makes it own rules, changes them several times in the middle of the game, asks every player to shoot the ball in the same goal and then announces it won 9-1. Congratulations!
The government can, of course, celebrate the results of the feedback on the demonetisation app. The results, the government claims, 90 percent people are in favour of the ban on use of Rs 500 and 1000 currency notes.
In the history of democracy, nobody other than the North Korean government would have enjoyed better ratings.
But, if I were the government, what would really worry me is this: If the ground and rules were mine and everyone was playing for the same team, running towards the same goal, who scored that one goal against Team demonetisation? When, like the North Korean elections, it had no room for dissent, who voted against it?
The prime minister’s app and its questions were actually similar to a famous advertisement of a pressure cooker. Jo biwi se suchmuch kare pyaar, woh Prestige se kaise kare inkaar! His entire questionnaire was based on a similar argument: Jo desh se sachmuch kare pyaar, woh demonetisation se kaise kare inkaar!
Do you think black money exists in India? Of course it does, not just in India but all across the globe.
Do you think the evil of corruption and black money needs to be fought and eliminated? Of course every evil needs to be fought and eliminated.
The entire quiz, as a friend quipped, was like asking who is the best Prime Minister of India? a) Narendra Modi b) Himesh Reshammiya c) Narendra Modi or d) Anupam Kher.
Considering that the government wanted to hear only what’s music to its ears, it is really a surprise that the government bothered to ask ten questions. It could have just asked us all to chant ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ and interpreted the response as our voice vote for demonetisation.
There are surveys and, well, there are surveys. We know what the prime minister said at a Delhi rally when opinion polls predicted a BJP defeat in the Delhi elections. But, since this one suits the government, let it enjoy the voices in its echo chamber.
Outside, of course, the demonetisation experiment is being panned as a policy quirk that could ruin the Indian economy and the lives of millions of people. Experts across the globe are predicting that it will derail the GDP, lead to enormous hardships and loss of livelihood for millions in the Indian unorganised sector. It has been pointed out that the plan will not address any of its stated objectives — wiping out black money, ending corruption, terror funding or use of counterfeit currency.
The experiment has Robert Mugabe written all over it.
And, for argument’s sake, even if the premise behind the demonetisation drive were logical and rational, the implementation has been a disaster. It has brought the entire country on the road, made everybody fall in line and lead to loss of lives, trade and jobs.
Every bank is out of currency. ATMs have become dry. Withdrawals through cheques are limited to Rs 2000. Traders and farmers are destroying perishable commodities because there are no buyers. From midnight (25 November), petrol pumps and medicine shops too will stop accepting cash. There are fears that wheels of the Indian economy will come to a grinding halt once transporters run out of cash to refuel.
Almost every Indian in a country of 125 crore is suffering. But, if the government thinks it has pulled off a miracle just because a few lakh Indians found enough time to get out of queues outside banks and ATMs and play fastest finger first, good luck to Modiji and India.
Even Indira Gandhi was convinced Emergency was good for the grateful country would give her bumper votes for making their lives miserable.
Since this is the season of asking questions, here are two from me: Did Dharmendra Kumar of Tindwari village in Banda district respond to the prime minister’s questionnaire? Last heard, he was at his three-year-old daughter’s funeral who died after he failed to get money for her treatment in spite of queuing up for a few days.
Ghar main beti bimaar hai par paise nahin hai!