Sensitivity: The First Casualty of Demonetisation

Many of us have been able to handle the demonetisation crisis well. Many have not. The former have no right to poke fun at the latter, abuse them or call them unpatriotic because they are facing legitimate problems.

Written by Nimish Dubey | Updated: November 14, 2016 11:00 am
Demonetisation, Notes demonetisation, Notes scrapped, notes banned, new notes, Reserve bank of india, RBI, Narendra modi government, Modi government, government demonetisation, black money, catch black money, catch fake notes, fake notes, fake currency, fake currency notes, fake indian currency notes, FICN, public inconvenience, ATMs, nearest ATM, ATM search, Bank, nearest bank, bank branches, bank notes exchange, currency exchange, ATM queues, ATM lines, Bank queue, bank queues, bank line, bank crowd, banks crowd, ATM crowd, deaths, demonetisation impact, demonetisation effects, india news, indian express This is not about whether the decision to withdraw the currency notes from circulation was right, wrong, or was poorly implemented. This is about the kind of commentary that has accompanied it on a variety of social networks.

The first casualty of war is either the innocence or the truth, depending on who you prefer to believe. But the main casualty of the demonetisation of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes in India seems to have been something every bit as important and human. Sensitivity. No, this is not about whether the decision to withdraw the Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 currency notes from circulation was right, wrong, or was poorly implemented. This is about the kind of commentary that has accompanied it on a variety of social networks.

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Of course, it is a big issue. After all, most of the currency in the nation has just been rendered useless at very short notice. Of course, emotions are running high. But by any standards what has been seen over the past two days on social networks has been appalling. People have been criticised and abused for complaining about standing in long queues for hours. People have been abused for “not being able to bear a little inconvenience for the country” just because they said they were finding it difficult to get their own money from the banks. People have been branded unpatriotic and irresponsible for not having bank accounts and credit or debit cards.

And yes, the example of the Indian army jawans who are braving it out on our borders has been evoked to tell anyone who is having problems getting the new currency that “hey, stop being a s**t, think of those protecting you. They are having a much tougher time.”

What has been altogether missing is what gives our species its name.

Humanity. There have not been too many people expressing sympathy for the hardships being borne by those who are queuing up outside banks and ATMs for hours. Yes, the hardship of standing in a queue for a few hours is nothing compared to patrolling the borders of the nation day in and out. Yes, a nation has to make sacrifices to eliminate an evil as expensive as black money. But that does not make standing in a queue for hours fun or struggling to find money to pay for basic amenities a wonderful experience.

No one – NO ONE – has the right to say that a poor rickshaw puller or a vegetable seller is at fault for not opening a bank account when he or she is unable to buy anything because all they have is a Rs 500 note, which no one accepts. A daily labourer is within his rights to complain about missing two days of wages because he has been trying to get new currency notes from a bank.

Many of us have been able to handle the demonetisation crisis well. Many have not. The former have no right to poke fun at the latter, abuse them or call them unpatriotic because they are facing legitimate problems.

The Indian Army is the nation’s sword arm, our pride and defense, not an instrument to deride the very countrymen it is protecting.

The demonetisation move is a bold one. And if it is silly to deny that in the long run it could prove immensely beneficial to the nation, it is no less so to deny that a number of people are being inconvenienced – and severely so – in the short run because of it.

There are two sides to demonetisation, and one of them is painful. All I am asking is for people to acknowledge the latter and help whenever possible. And empathise. It is not about being patriotic. It is not about the Indian soldier. It is not about being pro or anti our Prime Minister. It is about something far more basic. It is about being human.

These are not easy times, as the queues outside banks and ATMs prove. Given our infrastructure, it is perhaps too much to expect a simple, quick fix solution. But is it too much to ask for some sensitivity, please?

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  1. A
    Aid
    Nov 14, 2016 at 6:12 am
    After Jan dhan yogana an Indian family needs hardly 4000 to 5000 cash lt;br/gt;I don't know from where this crowd came from.lt;br/gt;It is fishy it means they are standing for someone else n number of times in n number of areaslt;br/gt;Or else so called as opposition parties fit for corruption are creating this havoc lt;br/gt;This means all the command men are corrupt lt;br/gt;Sorry Mr Modi your objectives of flushing out black money may get defeated by command man itself who encourage the corruption
    Reply
    1. K
      Krishna Bhagawan
      Nov 13, 2016 at 10:17 pm
      the problem is common people. every time we don't ask for receipts we contribute to black economy. All of us should ask for receipts, and pay tax.
      Reply
      1. D
        Devi Prasad
        Nov 15, 2016 at 4:20 am
        Why not the media also go and talk to people standing in queue infront of government liquor s shops? And why not they find out if the s have increased or decreased during the past 7 days? If decreased, it implies that household savings have increased. In contrast, if s have increased, it implies that the common man, who buys 'quarter' is having no problem at all. Why CMs are not disclosing their daily excise receipts flows during the past 7 days?
        Reply
        1. R
          Raghu
          Nov 18, 2016 at 3:01 am
          None of BJP guys have expressed any remorse for the deaths of innocents. Life to them has not much significance.
          Reply
          1. A
            Ariba
            Nov 13, 2016 at 1:19 pm
            You are playing very safe.
            Reply
            1. N
              NotABabu
              Nov 13, 2016 at 1:18 pm
              Dear writer - please stop hiding behind the names of poor rickshaw pullers and veggie vendors. They seem to be handling the situation much better than you. If you are complaining about your problems maybe you should go join Kejriwal - who is a master of blame-everyone-else. You talk of humanity as though your sufferings are so inhuman. Please grow up and learn to handle life's little problems. Unfortunately you don't have Sonia hi for your mother.
              Reply
              1. D
                Datta
                Nov 15, 2016 at 4:39 am
                I do not think humanity is lost on anyone. But is there any Indian not affected? Why should only a few cry? Besides, what is the opposition doing to help the people who are suffering this difficult time? There has been no picture on TV to show that any political party has arranged water / food or any other help for first 3 days. If you are so pro-poor, go out and help. The point is this rhetoric comes as a reaction to what people see on TV. Neither opposition leaders nor TV channels have helped the cause.
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                1. A
                  akash
                  Nov 13, 2016 at 4:29 pm
                  Please stop hiding behind Indian army.If there is a problem,its better to acknowledge it,some solution may appearstead of evoking fluffy nationalism every time
                  Reply
                  1. G
                    GNS
                    Nov 14, 2016 at 9:20 am
                    India allowed taking out of India Rs.25,000 per person from 2014 and so me and my wife took out Rs48,500 this February and plan to visit India next February but then the time for exchange ends this December.lt;br/gt;Our so-called net-savvy PM and FM and even RBI Governor have NOT replied or acted on my pleas to allow ALL Indian banks overseas to accept these banned notes for credit to their accounts with various Indian banks or issuance of DDs payable in India.lt;br/gt;It looks like NAMO wanted demonetisation on X day and the bureaucrats agreed with zero or inadequate planning. It is a good measure with zero planning for taking care of ordinary people's lives. This was no secret measure as PM and FM say. A money changer in Sydney CBD told me they stopped dealing in Indian Rupees 2 weeks before PM's announcement. Same may be the case in Singapore / HK too. Only Indians / NRIs were kept in the dark.
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                    1. S
                      sunny
                      Nov 16, 2016 at 8:31 am
                      Normally in films one can see frustrated people enjoying drinks. Perhaps these Q wala come to that category
                      Reply
                      1. S
                        sunny
                        Nov 16, 2016 at 8:38 am
                        One should admit that the planning of the case is absolutely wrong. Govt now and then issue new type of notes. The action should have been taken after the new Rs500 start dispencing from our ATM. Initially Govt statement is that the thing will be in position with in few days , then FM says about 21 days, now PM says bear it for another 50 days. Now Sha may come with some other date I think calling the action as surgical strike on Black money is an ----to our brave army as they done many successful surgical strikes with in 3-4 hours time
                        Reply
                        1. E
                          Ex Muslim
                          Nov 14, 2016 at 1:58 pm
                          No, people facing problems and having genuine complains are not anti-nationals, but fake leaders like Kejriwal, Mamta, Rahul hi and their supporters depicting this very important step as "anti-poor" and asking it to be withdrawn most certainly are. There can be no doubt about it. These will do anything at all for their political survival.
                          Reply
                          1. K
                            KA
                            Nov 16, 2016 at 2:31 pm
                            People died , true, but this is surprising there has been no riots, no unruly accident etc . This is the first time I see India. Standing patiently in a queue, which is commendable.lt;br/gt;People died because of their own health issues...which is sad.lt;br/gt;People died of heart attack etc which they are sick off..
                            Reply
                            1. K
                              KA
                              Nov 16, 2016 at 2:26 pm
                              You got it wrong, there was effort by some people to show even the media, to portray a message as if this is disaster..lt;br/gt;That effort to demonize the demonetization is what people fought for, you cannot blame people, because they got a chance to fight corruption and they want to use it
                              Reply
                              1. V
                                V S
                                Nov 14, 2016 at 4:59 am
                                Over the years, RBI made a big mistake by NOT introducing a 200 Rupee Note for wide circulation. Pressure on 500 rupee notes which account for 85% of Notes in circulation would have been less severe had a 200 Rupee Note been in large circulation. Regardless of the time factor for introduction, RBI should seriously consider introduction of 200 rupee notes. BETTER LATE THAN NEVER. Common man has little use for High Denomination Notes of Rs 1000/= and 2000/=
                                Reply
                                1. S
                                  Sanjeev N
                                  Nov 15, 2016 at 3:03 pm
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                                  1. A
                                    AK
                                    Dec 11, 2016 at 3:51 pm
                                    Not only is it short timed, it also does not tackle the menance. Black money is a production and concealment issue, and as subsequent events show - this is still getting generated. THis is just a one off event in the history of India, with no pre-warning and no future followup, apart from witch hunting. As I read somewhere, the black money will get dollarised, and completely go out of the system. Let us also not forget that the black money is also being used to generate more money, with just no taxes being paid. It would have sufficed to have a lenient policy to get it back more credibly in the syste. The way it looks now, we are in a Trump like situation with Google and Amazon and others parking their money legally abroad, as the tax and txation climate is too hot and taxation rates are as high as 35% in the US.
                                    Reply
                                    1. K
                                      kumud puri
                                      Nov 13, 2016 at 3:49 pm
                                      a very very well written article thank you
                                      Reply
                                      1. L
                                        L bhadrapati Devi
                                        Nov 13, 2016 at 11:46 am
                                        The writer itself has no sensitivity of the current crucial step of the govt. There is no complete blanket ban on any form of currency. Also, there are many way to payment rather than cash transaction. Moreover, how much small denomination currency required for one week stock of food and vegetable for a family of middle cl.
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                                        1. M
                                          mumbikar
                                          Nov 17, 2016 at 9:57 pm
                                          hope the bhakts read this article, because for them using the armed forces for anything dirty has become a fashion, started by they God. whoever said they are humans, they just fanatics, unwanted and rejected by majority of people, for them a death of another person is nothing, but if the death of they kind happens, that person is draped in the tricolor and paraded in public, even if he is a criminal !!!
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                                          1. M
                                            Mahender Goriganti
                                            Nov 16, 2016 at 9:00 pm
                                            How many hours people spend watching Bollywood movies, cricket etc, on every day basis?? This is once in a life time, that too for a cause and better life that is going to a lot cheaper across the board from real estate to gold and other fancy goods as honest money doesn't have to compete with fake and dishonest money and the goons. .
                                            Reply
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