The storms and their fallout

Rohit Dhankar

The demonetization fever is ebbing. It has been a storm of accusations and defense. Much of the defense was weak, confused and shifting. Initially it was to ‘eradicate’—not just to bring out some—black money. Then to stop counterfeit industry in Pakistan and then to stop flow of money into terrorist organizations; and finally virtues of cashless economy. None of this could have been achieved by demonetization in itself. Therefore, the defense was transparently unacceptable.

Accusations of course dismissed all this even without thinking and imputed motives from bribery, to collecting money to loan to big sharks, to some hidden motives. As the eradication of black money etc. Could not have been achieved solely through demonetization, and lacked convincing power; so did the accusations. But neither the demonetization totally ineffective in what the supporters claimed nor it was so pure that the accusations had no substance at all. Both sided ignored the other and purveyed their own lies in the name of truth; both has some grains of truth in their lies. But they together killed the spirit of healthy public debate in politics.

This was the third instance in one year (2016) which hugely eroded trust worthiness of the government and as well as the intelligentsia and opposition. The JNU farce, thickly flying attacks and defense in surgical strike issue and demonetization; all were occasions of blind clash without any desire to understand or enlighten the public. At the end the government is completely unreliable in the eyes of the people. It acts without thinking, and cannot defend or explain its actions. Its motives are dubious, analytical capability wanting, and communication with the public restricted to blind followers. The vocal intelligentsia was actually never understood in the public, but had an aura that evoked a sentiments of “if such wise people are saying so, it must be true”. Their stand in the last year has been so blindly predetermined that this pious sentiment has now run out of its steam.

This is the time when demagoguery that can invoke the deepest sentiments and hidden fears will reap rich harvest. Sane public debate is already impossible because of cacophony raised on the basis of half understood facts and already made commitments that fly in the face of reason.

Isn’t it time to reevaluate our politics, our political formations (parties), the concerns and aspirations of the people, and, last but most important, the language we speak? India needs a mass political education movement right now to survive as a functioning democracy. Are there any takers?


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