Demonetisation of Rs. 500 and Rs.1000 currency notes has been in the news since 8th November and seen by many as the best Diverting of attention of masses by Narendra Modi Government.
Me, I withdraw 10k every month and use similar amount online or by credit cards for monthly purchases, bills payment. This month though, I am left with 3 Rs. 2000 notes which my banker gave while withdrawing cash – instead of normal Rs. 100 or Rs. 50. They are in my purse as no one – Grocer, Hypermarket, Chemist would give me change so willy-nilly I had to use credit card more times than I normally do. Some will call it – Less-Cash Economy, Some will call it success of Digitisation and some others will call it success of Modi’s Demonetisation program which has seen nearly 60 % of nearby ATM’s closure for shortage of cash.
I call it lessons in austerity by Modiji as many of the support systems I have and the shops I frequent tell me that ‘Sales are down’ ‘People do not have money’ and even barbers, Spas, Hotel owners tell me the same. The tea shops are doing brisk business as are the Paan and Cigarette wallahs. Malls are full due to holiday season – the parking lots over full and the roads have jams all around. Side Effects of Modi’s Demonetisation Diversion !
The true story of the Gardener
I go for a morning and evening walk and our corporator inaugurated a park I was walking into last year. It is a nice garden – not very well maintained but acceptable.
One day, the gardener stopped me and asked for some money as ‘Bakshish'( can’t call it begging) and justified by saying I manicure the garden and keep it clean and can I have Rs. 20. I had to go to the Raw coconut water wallah nearby and get some change to give him.
The Gardener would be seen daily at the same spot which is his makeshift ‘Hut’ between the two Walking paths where he, his wife and 3-4 children live. A daughter is school going who is seen in a Uniform. They have also made a makeshift toilet inside the Park for their use. They burn WOOD to cook and keep warm as winter is slowly setting in.
Yesterday, after 4 months I saw the gardener in pain. He had bandages all over his right leg and he had his arm extended seeking help. While I gave him some money I could not stop making following observations.
A. Bangalore as a Garden city is famous for its well kept gardens where Senior Citizens like me go for a walk.
B. The City and its municipal corporation’s apathy towards the Gardener and his family is apparent who live within the park – unauthorised in sub-human conditions.
C. Skilled Gardeners do not get paid enough and have to nearly beg every month from the walkers. No Skills Development Council for them – No training and certification in Employability skills for them.
D. The Modi government which talks about Ántyoday’ or delivery of its Direct Benefit Transfer and Jan Dhan Yojana to the last needy has not reached this Gardener. The Free Gas scheme has not been made available to the Gardener. There is also no Toilet in the Garden – so no Swachh Bharat here ! I wonder if the BBMP even pays him minimum wages or he is a contract worker??
How has demonetisation hit this poor gardener and family? No social security, No ESIS Hospital Card for his ailment and Of course – NO Cash at the time of need.
I must however, mention here that in the past 4 months the Gardener would avoid eye contact, leave alone an unexpected Namaste with a saluting gesture or with folded hands – he would not even return my smile and this was intriguing as I do not understand his language.
Not that I expected him to bow or salute – the least I expected was a return smile in true style of 2T=4T ( when you show two teeths in smile they become 4 teeth with a return smile) – so Mr. Modi the fact is the government has not reached the last mile or the last man and has made them so grim that they have even forgotten to smile back. Sad ! No?