Demonetisation: Take your medicine and like it even if the PM has ‘maxed the dosage’

In eight days, 47 casualties have been reported because of demonetisation. That’s approximately six lives a day. So, if the casualty rate stays steady, expect 300 deaths.

Written by Ashish Khetan | New Delhi | Updated: November 19, 2016 4:02 pm
demonetisation, currency exchange, note exchange, old Rs 500 note, old Rs 1000 note, new Rs 2000 note, new Rs 500 note, narendra modi, BJP, black money, note ban A security guard speaks with senior citizens queuing outside a bank to deposit or exchange their old high denomination banknotes in Kolkata, India, November 19, 2016. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri

The historic call made to the people, to the housewives, the farmers, the elderly and the infirm, the rich and the poor, to stand in queues for hours, day after day, is not merely an exercise to exchange a few notes of currency. No, it is a call for mass sacrifice, a ‘maha parv’ to forge a great nation.

Like soldiers in a war, you have been called upon to sacrifice so that Prime Minister can build an “India which you desired.”

A father who has to leave his ailing five-year-old daughter at home to stand for hours in a queue at a bank to get the money to buy medicine; a farmer who can’t sell his produce or buy fertilisers and seeds for the new harvest; a farmer in Telangana who hung herself from a ceiling fan because she thought that her life savings were now worthless pieces of paper; the eight-year-old who died because her father was unable to pay for petrol as he needed to rush her to a hospital — all this ‘takleef’ (suffering) hurts our Prime Minister. ‘Kisi ko takleef hoti hai to peeda mujhe bhi hoti hai (I also feel the pain of your sufferings), he said in Goa.

But “takleef uthani padti hai,” he added. After all, didn’t he share his own ‘takleef’ when he pointed out how he had arrived just the previous night from Japan and would have to take the trouble to travel to Karnataka and Maharashtra and then attend a late-night meeting in Delhi just to run the country for our benefit?

When seen from the lens of an individual, losing a parent or a child might seem a great personal loss. But seen from a national perspective, it is merely a necessary collateral damage. Nation-building requires such mass sacrifice. History bears testimony to the fact that great nations have been built on collective sacrifice. The loss of a few hundred, even a few thousand, is a small price to pay for the national good.

The silver lining is that this “peeda” (pain) will last for only 50 days, as the PM promised.

In eight days, 47 casualties have been reported because of demonetisation. That’s approximately six lives a day. So, if the casualty rate stays steady, expect 300 deaths.

But, strictly speaking, these deaths can’t be attributed to demonetization. As several BJP leaders have sensitively explained, people also die in queues waiting for rations or train tickets. These deaths are the result of weak hearts and weak nerves.

Those who are sowing seeds of doubt in our minds, provoking us to question demonetization or how it has been planned and implemented, must be condemned.

In fact, our sacrifices pale before the sacrifices of our PM. “Mere pyare deshwasiyo, maine ghar, parivaar, sub kucch, desh ke liye chhoda hai,” the Prime Minister said, choking up with tears. After hearing him, only small-minded people will talk about their own problems. The nation is immortal, its future is shining, the PM reminded us.

He has shown his mettle and now he calls upon us to test ours. Do we deserve to be Indians? We should look within and ask do we deserve to be addressed as ‘my dear citizens ’ (mere pyare deshwasiyo) by our dear leader?

This is also the time to prove our honesty.

This is a great purge (don’t confuse it with a Stalinist one). After December 31, only the purest among us will remain. The impure will have been washed away in a tide of clean money. Pure people make a pure nation. Imagine how wonderful our motherland will be on the morning of the first day of the new year.

This is also the time to root out the enemy within. All great nations have carried out this exercise. We should watch out for those who are criticising demonetisation. Those who are cribbing about long waits in long queues? They are traitors. Their place is on the other side of the border. They are conspiring against our beloved leader. They may not, our Prime Minister declared, looking around him warily, even let him live.

Hence, the urgent need to cleanse our country of anti-nationals.

By the time this ‘safai’ is over, all the traitors will be identified for future reference. “Ek baar safai ho jaati hai to fir choota mota machhar bhi nahi aata hai (After he clean-up is done, even a trifling mosquito doesn’t survive,” he promised. Maybe that’s the plan — to have those marked out as traitors meet the same fate as mosquitoes.

To make the country sufficiently cleansed, the PM has promised that there will be more action, more maha parvas in the new year. “To stamp out dishonesty, corruption from this country, a few more projects are shaping up in mind,” he said.

He added that for future projects, he may have to employ one lakh foot soldiers. Imagine the onerous task of spying on others, conducting raids, intercepting phones, interrogating suspects, employing the third degree on hardened black money suspects. Surgical strikes will then be carried out by individual citizens.

Will these foot soldiers be offered permanent posts or given temporary contracts? Given the enormity of the task ahead, we may be in for many years of this ‘war’.

So far we have only had monuments built in memory of the soldiers who have been killed in traditional warfare. We may soon have memorials built in memory of martyred citizens. We may soon have an India Gate in every city, every town, even every tehsil.

However, this doesn’t mean that monument-building for martyred soldiers will stop. Cross border surgical strikes, one presumes, will continue.

In his Goa speech, the PM briefly mentioned the problems we might have to face in case the nation goes into a full-scale war. “The electricity will go off, essential supplies will stop, trains will get cancelled, instead of carrying passengers, trains will carry soldiers,” the PM said he told a journalist who was prodding him to take the country to war. I guess, with Pakistan.

One wonders who that journalist might be.

The PM further said (and since the subject is war I must repeat him verbatim), “Kahna bada saral hota hai updesh dena bada saral hota hai, jab koi nirnay karte hai samanya manviya ko koi takleef nahi hoti.” In other words, the PM said that while sermon-giving is easy for journalists, a common man experiences no hardship when it comes to coping with such sacrifices (imposed by the government). So, should we, the common men and women, be ready for a war? Was our PM psychologically preparing us for a great war? Or was he repudiating those who desire a full-scale war?

We don’t know. Only time will tell. What is clear is that at the moment a full scale war would entail life without power, essential supplies and trains. Though the PM didn’t talk about the scale of death and destruction that a war would cause, it is common sense that the total casualties would be many times more than in the ongoing ‘war on black money.’ So maybe we should be grateful?

Some may still see Modi’s speeches in Goa and Belgaum as dangerous demagoguery. Some may still denounce making the nation synonymous with the cult of any leader. Some may still ask questions even at the risk of being labelled anti-nationals.

Don’t these people know what’s good for them?

This is the best of all possible decisions in the best of all possible worlds made by the best of all possible leaders. So take your medicine and like it. Even if the PM has “maxed the dosage on this occasion.”

(The author's views are personal.)