This past fortnight has been emotionally stressful. It has shaken me to the core and perhaps many more like me not just in India or America but in many parts of the world!
The Modi money-quake in India and Trump’s astonishing victory which has revived the Alt-right movement in America are two events which are not just mere tremors but will shake the very foundation of their respective nations.
Enough has been written about them and despite dissections and debates, no common ground would emerge. People on either side have strong views and communities have been divided and relationships strained due to these debates. Sadly no one would give ground to another.
My concern is more at the micro level, more humane. My pain is more personal.
I am not able to cope up with a society gone emotion dry neither can understand how educated friends on social media, politicians and even general public can turn a blind eye to the human pain and treat it with disdain. How people can accept images of people being brutally lathi-charged and being beaten black and blue with calm and take that as normal crowd control than the perverseness of a raging clueless regime?
More than sixty people have died in India from the day of money-quake standing in unending lines, not being able to take the stress caused due to financial concerns or lack of work, not able to use their own hard earned money to pay medical bills, seeing their lives getting shattered… And nobody cares! Sixty plus lives and the Indian nation and its citizens have no empathy! As if it is the price to be paid for a common good.
Should not the great leader or his disciples who call this man-made disaster a sacrifice on part of citizens in the name of nationalism, have thought of a better way which could have prevented these deaths?
People wait in the lines from dawn to dusk in front of Banks and ATM hoping to exchange their own hard earned money. And people on social media with fancy credit cards, online accounts and the luxuries of cashless easy lives laugh at them or ignore their fate as destiny of the lower class Indians. In various discussions threads emerge where the elite upper class refers to these people as losers or as low class Indians destined to stand in such lines for their lives. It is assumed that they do it for money on behalf of others or in want of having nothing better to do. If at all some are doing it for earning small change, then isn’t that too a new cottage industry created by the elite?
Nobody considers that a daily wager or a laborer who has to earn his/her daily bread also has to waste his time standing for hours in line to enable him to use it. Many a times he may not even have the luxury of having an account or even proper identification. Yet he suffers. Sometimes going hungry!
On top of that a large part of the economy has come to a standstill. Retail business has come to a grinding halt, trucks and buses have stopped, auto-rickshaw drivers are idle, small shops are suffering, farmers in remote villages have no cash to buy items of daily needs and yet the nation has neither empathy nor any regard for their pain.
The nation celebrates the war cry of the great leader- ‘Make India White again’.
As if cash meant black. That is a new definition of black I am getting to understand in India. I always thought that cash was liquid asset which could have different colors, black or white depending on how it was used. For an old couple withdrawing their pension at one time and using it throughout the month to pay bills big or small, it was convenience. For a daily wager, it was the reward for the hard work of the day. For a traveler, a means of going from one place to another without worries. It was white and pure. It normally changed color to black only when it was stacked in the money chests of many great leaders or their cronies in governance or business!
All economic data talked about less than 10% of the black stacked in liquid cash while the rest was safely castled in real estate, gold and other precious commodities and in foreign bank accounts not traceable on the Indian radar. And yet one fine day, the great leader decides that cash is black and that the ‘entire’ Indian citizenry including the daily wagers, the pensioners and street-vendors, all as holders of this black money to be punished for their sins. With one dictatorial act without any debate or discussion in a democratic country and without any planning to ensure that no hardships are faced by the ordinary people, he dramatically declared the currency to be useless in a few hours. Did he have no concern for the common men or did he consider all to be ‘cheats’?
In America, the ‘New’ great leader who has his own grandiose plans to ‘Make America White again’ has started off with selecting the worst amongt the racist, pseudo-nationalists, bigots, women and gay right haters, Islamophobics as his loyal lieutenants in his war against a section of his own countrymen- the ones who possess shades of grey or are pure Black! America is excitedly looking forward to the great purge and to be ‘White again’.
Minorities including Hindu ladies wearing bandana, Sikhs wearing turbans, Muslim men with a beard or a Muslim lady with a Hijab, Blacks, Asians and Mexicans, all have started to feel the heat. They have started getting abused, punched, rebuked, laughed at and mocked even brutally assaulted, all in the name of the White pride revival. Plans are being made to start a Muslim registry which may later be followed by other religious registries, for making a list of immigrants to be deported, of building walls and breaking families, of denying women the choice to abort unwanted pregnancy, of denying the rights of the LGBT community to live a normal life, of making a righteous movement as ‘Black lives matter’ to be made unlawful. And the majority Americans are raising a toast to all this in their Thanksgiving luncheons. Sadly what may follow will be a loss of human lives, of shattering of millions of dreams and a loss of hope in humanity.
Among all this hatred, these dictatorial traits of the great leaders and their followers or Bhakts, I am lost as to the direction the world is going.
These leaders are willing to pay any human price for their decisions howsoever right or wrong it may be. They take ‘bold’ steps which are cheered by their loyal followers and a roar is created to let the cries of the sufferers be lost in the din. If economies crumble, it is a short term loss. If people suffer, it is minor aberration. If people die, it is sacred sacrifice.
No, Mr Modi and Mr Trump! As much as a facade you may create of ‘Making your countries White again’, we understand your real motives. It is not for the common good of your countries but for enabling a fear psychosis in the minds of your people and trying to build a larger than life image of your own self. Your narcissistic personalities are evident when you take these actions especially without debates or discussions with professionals in the field.
In the last few weeks, I have gone to the interiors of Trump country and seen surprising hatred and coldness towards a brown harmless man in the eyes of many Americans on the street. I hoped that I was wrong but alas Americans showed me my real place as they saw through the myopic lens of the Trump mandate.
In India I have stood in lines for hours to exchange my own small cash and shared the pain of ordinary citizens and have seen tired faces shocked at the turn of events- elderly fainting in the lines and the policemen shouting and abusing common people like us just because we have no voice.
I am lost, sad and dejected. We have lost our respective battles for sanity and civility.
I can only hope that someday the world will look through all this and tell all the Big brothers who accept human suffering as a necessary pain that this is wrong.
One day may the great leaders worldwide have some empathy and decide to give human lives more precedence while taking decisions to change the shades of grey of their respective nations from Black to White! Or White to Black! Or in between!
Published in Times of India on 24th November 2016. Link below-