An Open Letter To The Prime Minister Of India – Views From Prabhakar
Dear Prime Minister
For years now, I have felt the injustice of our system. Seen people getting rich by being corrupt, while I have stayed middle class. Often people have asked me why I don’t have as much money as them and I have always maintained that I am proud to be what I am. Proud to sleep the moment my head hits the pillow. But when people buy expensive flats for Rs 10-25 crores and expensive cars in a jiffy, I always wonder how they did it. After all, once upon a time they were the same as me. Then I see this tremendous change in them in just 10 years. Many of them were my juniors, and I have been left feeling that somehow maybe I was a failure, compared to their successes. At least in monetary terms. But fortunately, I have never equated money with success. Francis Bacon once said ‘ Knowledge itself is Power’. And I am one of those hopefuls who think that Knowledge is more powerful than either Guns or Money.
But somewhere deep inside, I know that it is because at least some of them lived a dishonest life. And here comes the great conflict that I have been living with for 39 years of my professional life. That it has paid to be dishonest in this country for so many decades. And I have always thought that there will never be any justice in this system. That the dishonest people will keep succeeding, and honest people will live an ordinary life. That the Income Tax Department will write me a letter to say that there is a Rs 2000 discrepancy in my returns, while the man who is making crores will never even get a letter from the Income Tax Department. The unfairness of that has always depressed me.
Even more disappointing has been the fact that most dishonest people have never been caught by our legal systems, they have never gone to jail and never paid a fine. So one day, in the papers you will read about some famous politician or businessman being caught in a scam worth lacs of crores. After a prolonged period of freedom which you feel is so unjust, you hear of them having spent some time finally in Tihar Jail. But then after 9 months they are back to leading a normal life in our country and enjoying the fruits of their ill-begotten wealth. This is what really hurts. That even after having committed an economic crime of that magnitude, they are able to walk around freely and laugh at honest people. Unfortunately, public memory is short, like Alzheimers. Everything is forgotten.
When you went on television on 8th November, I had an alert on my smartphone that you were about to address the nation and I waited like many others with bated breath. I can’t tell you how happy I am with demonetisation. With a post graduate degree in Economics, I can’t help feeling that people around me who are criticising the move don’t really understand the concept. Finally, I feel that we are moving towards some justice in this country. Although my larger neighbourhood is full of stories on how the people with black money are still managing to launder their wealth.
For example, in an over 100 flat complex, a housewife was busy calling all the neighbours she knew and didn’t know, asking them if they would deposit 3 lacs in their bank accounts for which she would offer them a fee of Rs 50,000. Or the neighbour who lives in a flat that costs over Rs 25 crores who sent 10 of her servants to stand in a queue at the bank to exchange Rs 4000 of the old notes.
Fortunately, the bank for some reason guessed that they were from the same household and exchanged money of only the first servant in the queue and sent the other 9 servants back, much to the disappointment of this particular housewife. Or the unscrupulous politician who gave away 3 lac loans to farmers in the old currency which of course has to be returned in the new currency, of which I am seeing several messages on WhatsApp, with pictures of the cash and the politician. Sometimes I wonder if people will still get away with it. I hope not. And I hope you will take adequate measures to bring in the guilty. I want them to suffer. Demonetisation will be the great equaliser between the honest and the dishonest.
If black money and corruption are so rampant in our country, that it has become part of our social fabric and a part of the Indian culture, I am not surprised that I see so much criticism in the newspapers about your demonetization move. After all, if there are so many people with illegal cash, doesn’t it stand to reason that they would oppose you and criticise your demonetization scheme in the newspapers? Of course, I do hear that the poor people are suffering. The newspapers are full of it. And I do empathise with them and I am confident that you will do your best to alleviate their suffering. Strangely I am a little unhappy not to hear stories of how the rich and the corrupt are suffering. I want to know more about that from the newspapers. Can’t they publish the suffering of the rich and corrupt? Because that will gladden my heart.
When you gave your speech on TV on Nov 8, 2016, I burst out laughing. My daughter felt proud that I was laughing hysterically, while many were biting their nails, going into depression, and running around frantically to the jewellers.
I want to wish you every success in rooting out this evil from the country. Even if I don’t benefit, since I have already suffered for so many decades, I hope at least my children will benefit from all your moves to remove corruption and black money from our country. As I write this I know that I am speaking for millions of honest Indians. I am proud of you. And I am proud to be Indian. Jai Hind.
About the Author:
Prabhakar Mundkur is an ad veteran with over 35 years of experience in Advertising and Marketing. He works as an independent consultant and is also Chief Mentor with Percept H. All previous posts of Prabhakar can be found here.