Note Ban: Week 1

The moment Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the withdrawal of currency of higher denomination namely, 500 and 1000, people took to social media and anchors took it to news bulletins asking why none of the previous government ever took a bold step like this questioning their intentions. Why did our country which was once even headed by a prominent economist and our central banking authority once headed by Rockstar Governor who was so adamant about making Rupee strong that he kept the interest rates high till his last moment never took to such radical steps? While people could jump on the bandwagon quickly blaming the intention of the previous government as the regime was marred by scams, very few can question the credibility of the RBI governor we had.

While the knee-jerk reaction to the whole thing was of appreciation but with the cash crunch and the problem being faced by commoners queueing in front of Banks and ATM, the situation demands an answer (and not a political slogan of sorts but rigid statistical data) as to how much of black money menace is being curbed by this move.

Balaji Vishwanathan on Quora summed up beautifully when he pointed out as to why two different kinds of people need to be there at all time. An optimist who keeps the morale high and a pessimist who can remind everyone of thrones that are coming on the way.

While people are aware of the transactions that are dealt hugely in black money and there is no denying that the move rattles the cages in the right way but a statistical viewpoint which is the percentage of black money out of the total, falls short when we see only the cash transaction. Most of them, as we know, are in the form of foreign bank accounts, gold, and real estate. (The situation is similar to what we have in Pareto’s Law, where in 80% of black money is in the hands of 20% and these 20 % are wise enough to keep it in a way other than cash.) Apart from the black money, there’s a problem of white money not being as white as it is considered to be (gaining political favors by huge donation is one such example which over times creates a symbiotic relation between the political and business class keeping the working class completely out of picture)

Therefore, no economist in his sane mind would ever pull this off because he’ll go by the data-driven approach. Nevertheless, the popularity of this move and the zeal and enthusiasm of common people who are willing to face hardship right now in the hope for better future makes me optimistic. If nothing else, this move has at least brought back people’s faith in the government which was going downhill because of repeated scams surfacing during the previous government regime. At least, people are now going to think twice before offering and accepting bribes (They’ll now have to think of new ways). But then there was a time a few years back as well when the morale of country was high with the Anna Hazare movement and it saddens me with what happened after. The results of the movement were not as great as we wished for and therefore, the whole morale building story isn’t something which I can subscribe to.

Nevertheless, the following line still gives me hope

“The fool was able to do it because he didn’t know it was Impossible”

The other side of the Story

I am surprised to find how polarising this decision has been. There have been incidents that have polarised people of our country to a huge extent before, (the Kashmir issue, the JNU issue and the ban on movies starring Pakistani Actors to name a few) but this has penetrated even further.

The moment you try to analyze the step taken by the government critically, the social media bombards you with terms like anti-national or blames you for being corrupt and a hoarder of black money.

The same has been true for all other instances as well. While the supporters of the government bask themselves in glory when this happens as they think they have given a befitting reply and have actually won the conversation/debate and ultimately convinced the other side but the other side is not dumb. And we all saw what happened because of such swift labelling and judging people (without critically analyzing situation) online lead to in the US elections.

If Trump can be the President-elect of US, can Rahul Gandhi be far behind?

And therefore, I appeal to everyone to not discard public views and be open (even to ideas which you find difficult to believe in) because with the machine learning algorithms knit-picking our preferences and building our next news feed on the basis of that, we going deeper in the echo-chamber and that is BAD.