As a comedian, I revel in knowing nothing - I make it up as I go along. No different than how monetary policy is made in India. I didn’t hear the news today, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they’d introduce a Rs 712 note or declared that those citizens depositing more than Rs 2.5 lakhs in cash would have to fight a drunk bison outside Parliament to prove that it wasn’t black money.
As much as I enjoy wild day dreaming laced with insane hypothetical scenarios (“Forget cash. Pay in gulab jamuns”, “Go cashless. And speak only on Mondays - spend the rest of the week…hearing”), I am a little more suspect when the central bank of the nation does the same.
It is fine for a passenger on a plane for example, to say, “I don’t know what happens next”, as it takes off. Not so much for the pilot. That’s the essential maze we find ourselves in. Us looking at policy-makers saying, “What’s next?” and essentially them, who are supposed to keep things stable, saying, “Um, I don’t know- what’s next?”
In Microsoft Excel, we call it a circular reference. That’s what has happened to a billion people - we’re circularly referring each other.
I have no idea whether my great grandchildren will benefit from demonetisation – they probably will, but by that point I as a human will probably be digital, let alone currency. I completely agree with our Prime Minister when he says that India’s future generations will be better because of this. They already are, because they aren’t alive right now to have to go through this hassle and stand in queues.
You see, it is not often you break trust between a man and his currency - it is like taking away his razor mid-shave, you don’t know what happens next. And when you do that, people think anything, absolutely anything is possible.
Can they decide your child is allowed tiffin in school every other day? Sure, why not. Could they decide all of Orissa needs to wear purple on Mondays? Absolutely. Could they mark one’s nose with indelible ink when they run out of forefingers? They must. Could they decide foreigners not only don’t get our currency, but we get to keep their theirs? 100%. As laws are made up like punch-lines daily, the more insane the better. In Rajasthan, only daughters-in-law who know karate can withdraw Rs 1201 (yes, that specific), every 3rd Wednesday? Wait and watch - that rule is coming tomorrow.
Point here is, everything has changed after November 8. And I don’t mean literally, because it is now November 29. I mean, how we view the world and what is or is not possible. That realm of the absurd and the concrete is where comedy resided - now the RBI lives there. I’d never known I’d see the day when comedy is behind and catching up with the Finance Ministry.
Someone on Twitter said we live in a post-truth world, where all lies are true and vice versa, all swimming in an ocean of uncertain half-truths. In the old days, that was just called lying. Here are 11 ways about how we live in a post-demonetised world. The pre-version of that world was called India.
1. The Security Guard at the ATM: Earlier invisible. A transparent blob of supposed security watching over transient cash withdrawing humanity. Now, the keeper of the world’s secrets, i.e. Has his ATM been restocked and could he call the gold card holding customer so he doesn’t stand in queue like a regular servant? In the absence of tender to bribe, would he be open to a bribe of 11 bananas to do this?
2. The Piggy Bank: Earlier scoffed as an infant’s pastime. Now the main source of family income.
3. Modi: Less an uncle person who gave speeches and traveled abroad. Now more as a source of energy, like JK Rowling’s dark swirling gaseous force in Fantastic Beasts, that can suck out things from the universe. Like 86% cash.
4. ATM: Previously just a calibrated computerised cash dispenser. Now an object of sheer wanton lust. When a full one is found - ecstasy.
5. A Rs 100 note: Once imagined to be the least interesting, (unwanted, probably en route to becoming a coin), currency note. Now the most desirable. Clearly, whoever changed the nation’s view toward this note, has read Cinderella.
6. Urjit Patel: Earlier a highly respected Ivy League-educated high priest of macroeconomics. Now, just a person who says “everything is fine” on Sundays.
7. Delhi as the economic capital of India over Mumbai: See 3 above. When one city is sucking and the other is blowing instead of sucking back, then notes flow in one direction - to Delhi.
8. A pink 2000-rupee note: Previously, a non-entity. Now, after promotion, the highest value of money you can have that doesn’t fit anywhere and can’t be exchanged for anything. Basically, like a loser husband to a glamorous wife.
9. The Opposition: Previously, people who shouted slogans and walked around the streets creating traffic jams for no clear reason. Same, now.
10. “Got some?”: Earlier, a reference to teenagers on street corners who may have found access to illegal marijuana. Now a reference to cash. To eat.
11. Your money: Once an earned symbol of your status. It’s increase meant your increase. Now a Sahara Shri impersonator. Once imprisoned. Released weekly on bail.
Feature Image Source: PTI/Reuters/Reuters