Helpmates all-over, as in past

Helpmates all-over, as in past

It is really funny to feel the crunch of notes. Despite all the advances made by the plastic money in the form of credit and debit cards, currency...

It is really funny to feel the crunch of notes. Despite all the advances made by the plastic money in the form of credit and debit cards, currency notes have become inherent and intrinsic to our life.

The changes that these notes brought into our lives are many. All those used to good old banking days realise what they miss in lives now-a-days. The banker, be it the cashier or accountant or an officer or a manager, of yesteryears was the one whom the customer knew personally by name.

In most cases, the staff knew their account holders by name and the business hours were not strictly confined to exchange of notes. It was meant to be a chatting time too. One used to find customers occupying the chairs next to them or sit in the manager's cabin sipping a cup of tea.

Apart from pleasantries, personal matters like achievements of children and events like weddings were discussed. The friendly attendant was always there to offer you a glass of water first.

Then came the era of cards as life got busier. The bank slowly became a mere transaction point. Neither the bank staff nor the customers had time to know each other. It was simply not required. Our visits to the banks got reduced, except for an occasional errand.

Life changed elsewhere too. The friendly neighbourhood shops, usually known as kirana stores, used to play an important role in our lives not just supplying our groceries but also warmth and friendliness. Children were not demanded to bring in cash to buy toffees.

The grocer knew which families they belonged to and never asked questions but just handed over the same. Fathers and grandfathers always knew the elderly shopkeeper and their children were friends with the next generation. Several households used to run monthly bills and sometimes even more. There was no problem. One could always pay later.

As technology started battering our lives, everything it touched underwent a change. A customer of a bank at best became a token number who only waits for his number to be called. And, as kirana and general stores turned into super markets and then malls, racks full of goods began staring at the face of the customers. It came to a point where we don't see the owner but are dealt with by a professional manager.

The only attention is through the CC cameras that monitor our movement. After all, it is all business. That is all. The busy life anyway had no place for the old world charm or warmth. Inter-personal equations had no place or role in the life. Earlier we were all neighbours. Today we are strangers.

That is not until the 8 pm of November 8 of 2016. That time of the day when the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, decided to address the nation in all his seriousness about a malady afflicting the nation, something changed. Parallel economy is so deep and dangerous that there seems to be no way out of it.

The black money, the fake money and the white money lived together in this country for long as three siblings born into the family of greed and avarice that people never cared much except for an occasional denigration. Those in the profession of politics always played a lip service and everyone knew why. Some called it necessary evil but many understood it as the main economy. The white money was limited to the working class and the labour and to the employed and may be to the ordinary business class.

But all had to depend on the currency one way or the other. Thanks to Narendra Modi, the zooming economy got stunned and the common man is still in a daze. But, ingenuity in him has surfaced in no time. The grocer is no more a stranger. The tea points are not demanding on the spot payments. The vegetable vendor is amenable to collecting the money 'tomorrow'.

There is pain written all over, but the poor and the not so poor are rubbing shoulders once again in the long queues. People being what they are, that is leading to a natural bonding. That is the beauty in pain. It makes people care and share. Someone ahead of you at the ATM centre may be rude to you, but once he draws the money, he does not mind exchanging a few hundred notes with the ones who could not access the same on the day. People are learning to round off the bills to the available denominations.

There is a sense of awareness among the people as to how much dependent we are all on one another. Engrossed as we were with our mobiles, Whatsapps', twitters and instagrams we got used to only Facebooks. Today we are reading the faces of the people and coming to know their stories, standing in the queues. Needs are pushing wants to the back of the shopping list. "Chalo adjust kar lenge" attitude has come to the surface.

It is not just a transition from note-based economy to app-based one but also a transition from a society of oxymorons to the ones inhabited by human beings.There are of course some negatives too as to when we see the petrol bunk fellow insisting on "full 500" petrol to be filled, but our hearts get elated when we hear the unknown vegetable vendor saying "theek hai. Baadme deejiyega paise" (Ok. Pay me later).

The Safal vegetable shop owners are not stocking to the brim any more. "I only get what moves out. Those that perish fast like milk etc are not stocked. Carrots and capsicum is out and so is paneer. Imported fruits not necessary. Store just what one needs to live", is the philosophy of the vendors. .

That is the quintessence of it all. The trust factor is making a comeback. This could take some more time for the return of the old world charm. The rural areas are already switching over to the barter system. Everything is not hunky dory as yet. It may never be so. But the resilience of human beings is surfacing once again. Hapless societies are trying to figure out the best of the ways to survive.

There are some sections which are worst hit like the agri labour and those dependent on the earnings of their sons and daughters working far away. Construction labour too is suffering. Narendra Modi sought 50 days to sort out the problems. Common man does not know whether his patience preserves his sanity that long. If the government could really keep its word, it should be a hassle worth going through falling back on the past wisdom. If not....

How about political parties? Is black money and fake money only Modi's problem or is it our nation's? A matured democracy would have seen all parties joining hands in the fight, but alas, we cannot expect it in India. The people are willing to cooperate. The question is whether the politicians are?

No one knows how it is going to play out as the nation stands at a cross roads! If the experiment fails, India suffers grievously. Demonetisation is not an amendment being pushed by the Modi government to be opposed brutally. It is a reality staring at us. It is time for consensus on how to come out of the travails safe and strong.

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