Demonetisation: Black to White
By Ananya S Guha
After seeing red, we are now witness to black. Black everywhere: in queues, shops, and markets. We have been blackened, so that the change could be brought on. Black to white is the mantra. Then the change. To banks for white, to the shops, which refuse to do anything else, excepting chanting the white or black mantra.
Even my normally white face is changing to black.
Then money stashed away in houses is black. Earlier it was pure, as pure as gold. Talking about gold, there is also the conversion from black to gold! But gold after a certain limit is also black. Black times have come, but we are determined to change all this into pure pure, unsullied, white.
So, why did it happen? It was a silent revolution. You see all these years the people of our country were colour blind. They could not distinguish between black and white. So they had black holes, doors, corridors, rooms in their houses. And they thought that these were ideal places to stash money. No one would know, and they could continue praying to God, thanking Him for all his blessings. After all, a few crores of rupees make a lot of difference. You can buy a few houses, sell them off, and so on. You can make foreign visits and, of course, you can buy that unalloyed thing called Gold. It almost sounds like a fairy tale, doesn’t it feel like a house of pure gold? Then, of course, their children won’t have to study, they can do business in gold, enter politics, etc. Black is so symbolic that it can saddle you firmly anywhere, till of course the Income Tax departments are looking the other way and not seeing red or white.
So our country now is colour splashed: black, white, and red. And some people are red faced, thanks to income tax raids.
In the midst of this silent revolution, people are weeping, shouting, and, sadly enough, dying. Because some unscrupulous people are not accepting black. They want only white, they say. So they will give you four hundred white for five hundred black. But our people have such fervour for white that they greedily accept it without a fuss. So we are on a white campaign, irrespective of caste, community or religion. Hai Hai Black. I just hope we are not becoming racist.
In the meantime, there are whispers that there are income tax raids, a la black (money). The poor say, “We do not have any income, so let them raid.” The rich smirk, “Like Ambani, we have converted black to white.”
The rumour also has it that there will be conversion tables and charts. The long lines that I see, maybe, also for that. Hurray, our conscience is taking a beating. All over the message is: “Good let them have it, these thieves.” But we cannot underpin who they are, because in this country, they are ubiquitous, they change colours, black to white.
Meanwhile, it is heard that a great man spent a few hundred crores on his daughter’s wedding. She must have descended from the heavens, and the money must have come from there. Otherwise, how is it white?
From tomorrow I am going to wear white shirts. We need apartheid in money, as its colour is changing into despicable black.
People are dying, heart attacks, money attacks, income tax attacks. Some are committing suicides out of sheer anguish. Some do not have identity cards, or pan cards; they are used to stowing cash in their houses.
The conversion charts better be ready, before macabre death converts us. The other day, a new perspective has been developed on the black money theory. I had put on one of the television news channels (to fall asleep, as the sedative was not working), when I heard a booming voice say that there is very little black money. If you hoard, it doesn’t mean that this is black money. In other words, the colour can’t change, and anyone can hoard – the rich, the poor, the good, the bad, the ugly. Very interesting, I thought. The discussion went on in its inimitable manner. The sufferers are in the villages, someone thundered. I looked at those five hundred and thousand rupee notes in my wallet. They looked unblinkingly at me.
Now we have one question at the centre stage. Who owns black money, and how much of it has been deposited in banks? And the next question, a corollary: Where does it now go to? Will there be a vigorous cleaning up from black to white?
And now the lines. They have been mostly well behaved, although some people have died out of irritation, exhaustion, and compulsion. Compulsion, because they have been compelled to wait. Now if all money is black, certainly we have to wait for the inquisitor to examine whether it is still white or not. A few deaths do not matter, where only about one hundred and forty died the other day. But that was in a train accident, and not because of black money. The few instances of black money deaths can, of course, be pooh poohed in larger national interest.
While good money is driving out bad money, let us embark on a massive national campaign to drive out bad people.
Ananya S Guha is Regional Director, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), Shillong.
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