Rough Cut

Strapped for cash in the Age of DeModitisation

With a minor twist - it's all paid for by Paytm.

 |  Rough Cut  |  3-minute read |   21-11-2016
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At the risk of being declared anti-national, may I, as an ordinary homemaker and consumer, explain how life functions in The Age of DeModitisation.

If you have cash, you don't have the right kind of cash.

If you have the right kind of cash, then you cannot spend more than a certain amount, even if you need to.

If you have a card, then there are shops that don't have card swipe machines.

If you have a shop with a card swipe machine, it is not necessary that your card will work - it could be the time of day when there are too many transactions and the system breaks down.

Welcome to a world where ordinary grocery shopping has become a logistical exercise worthy of a General Election.

If you're using public transport, then you have to make sure you have enough cash in smaller denominations.

Once you get to a market, you have to ensure it is a place where every shopkeeper has a card swipe machine. Otherwise, best of luck in finding everything you need under one roof.

If you have the misfortune of falling ill, you will also have to try several chemists before hitting upon one that has a card swipe machine.

pm-modi-at-global-ci_112116092515.jpg PM Modi addressing Global Citizen Festival. (Photo credit: @PIB_India)

If you have normal needs as a family or as an individual, you have to forego tips to servers at restaurants and beauty parlours; payments to parking attendants and petty loaders.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi may find it funny - after all, he finds our desperate search for Rs 100 notes so funny that he made a joke of it to impress Chris Martin and company.

But this is how middle class India lives. It has to eat, it has to commute to work, it has to drop children to school, and it has to buy medicines. Occasionally, even when it knows it is not adding to the greater national good by doing so, it entertains itself by going out for a meal. Or grooms itself - though not everyone has the privilege of attending rock concerts that the prime minister addresses, or attend weddings of businessmen his party is close it.

But perhaps a government run by pracharaks would not understand natural consumerist impulses. Pracharak meals are usually taken care of by admirers, the requirement of clothes is minimal, and entertainment consists of various exercises of the body and mind.

Middle class Indians are indulgent, given to amusing themselves, with a tendency to not keep to schedules.

They are unruly, often undisciplined, and thoroughly individualistic.

And therefore viewed with great suspicion by a party that dislikes anything or anyone that questions the convention.

It abhors the middle class which is the repository of everything it despises - liberalism, Westernisation, consumerism, secularism, and above all, democracy.

Democracy puts individual freedoms front and centre of public life. Indian democracy in particular celebrates Fundamental Rights as mandatory while giving Directive Principles, which are loftier ideals for the collective good, a lower status.

The Age of DeModitisation would like to reverse the order - it would like to make it mandatory for the citizen to do his collective duty while circumventing or curtailing his fundamental rights.

In another age, The Age of Indira, it started with nationalisation and ended with the Emergency.

In newly socialist India, it started with demonetisation. Who knows where the cashless trail will lead? To a Brave New World based on Henry Ford's assembly line: mass production, homogeneity, predictability, and consumption of disposable consumer goods?

With a minor twist - it's all paid for by Paytm.

Also read - One year on, how India will remember DeModitisation

Writer

Kaveree Bamzai Kaveree Bamzai @kavereeb

Consulting editor, India Today Group

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