Demonetisation: Commoners Face Unending Troubles but Where are the Deep Pockets!

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Randomness seems to be inbuilt in our system. While the honest, pious middleclass, deposited huge amounts of money, collectively, standing in unending queues, those with loads of money were nowhere to be seen. The rich – read Deep Pockets – possibly have other means at their disposal. The arbitrariness of the class divide was once again sharp when the government of India declared the demonetisations recently. Old and poor people lost their hard earned money, in Kolkata and elsewhere, in pickpocketing – that however did not change the GDP – it was . The crafty got away easily, included. Meanwhile, guilds of crooks have taken over the academic too. Premier in the country are dancing to the tunes of scoundrel-puppeteers, who pull the strings. What happens to modest girls from non-English backgrounds when they come to study in research institutes? Here’s an insider’s view on the going-on in the world-of– crooks, by Prof. Bhaskar, in the weekly column, exclusively in Different Truths.

Now, there is only one content in the news in electronic and print media and in the gossip market – demonetisation. You deposit all cash of denominations of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 by the limited time the government of India has announced or this is gone forever. People have total faith in the government – they obey – where are the terrorists /militants /Maoists /politicians /industrialists /top bureaucrats? I have yet to see the ‘Deep Pockets’ standing in unending queues. People of all ages by gender-caste- community- are waiting endlessly, since , to deposit whatever cash in these denominations that they have without caring for what money (liquid cash) they will have with them to meet necessary expenses. Often they are told that there is no more cash to dispense that day by the banks while the government claims that the banks are flush with new currency notes of Rs. 500 and Rs 2000. I will not say people are in fear, though they might have panicked.

So far, as declared by the FM of India, more than two lakh crore has been collected up to November 12 that is within two/three days, which is no less than a miracle, particularly when bigger money from the corporate sector, directly or indirectly, is yet to come.

Social consequences are of course of different types – as a pedestrian economist, if I might call myself so, I fail to understand all of these – so continue to ask questions to people face to face and over the mobile phone. In most of the cases, the probable respondents keep mum, in some cases the enthusiasts support the PM saying, see now black money has come to be seen. I wonder!

Meanwhile, some poor and aged people also lost hard earned money in Kolkata and elsewhere, as informed, due to pick pocketing – that however did not change the GDP – it was money changing hands. I personally pray, ‘May God support the common people in all their pious endeavours.’ Ordinary people obey notwithstanding Vijay Malaya and many others like him. Different rules for different people, perhaps!

Guild of Crooks or Institutionalised Dilemma?

What flows from my pen is nothing new – most of us in academia know it but keep silent for peaceful superannuation, naturally. I know a committed academician in a Kolkata college has been suffering for her blind faith in academic discipline.

The dilemma takes different shapes – it may be cornering the most committed in academics, it may be punishing the most innocent, it may be playing tricks with the academician least interested in political games. The game makers and the executors generally belong to the guild of crooks.

In the pyramidal academic structure or in the hierarchy, if I may say so, the problems or dilemmas go deeper in ascending order. Take for example a frontrunner social science research institute, in Allahabad, that hopefully is committed to high rank research but engaged in low rank stabilisation of the teacher-taught together. The people drawing public money at large scale do not dare to question the marginal utility of that not-hard- earned-money is extremely high, and also, they have to care for!

The somehow selected decision-making authority remains in dilemma and tries to find out a common enemy – if not discovered, it is invented – after all, power, however, local and limited it is, needs a space to be exercised. This, in parallel, leads to decisions which are anti-academic. And this, in turn, leads ultimately to make the institute blunt and academic progress stunted. After all, in the ills (read wrong lessons) of the European institutional education that we inherited, there is hardly any space for Valmiki, Kalidas or Rabindranath Tagore.

Who cares!

A Confession

I was pondering over the idea to maintain excess capacity (operating at less than optimal capacity, to use terminology of Industrial Economics) in my on-going contact hours for students in Development Economics in a social science research institute for basically two reasons – one, my fatigue, and the other, institutional (unintended) hostility. I generally do not rub my hands in the invisible soap – so I talk straight to say it would have been difficult for receivers to guess my capacity. But then one day I found a girl student in the class with non-confidence and despair writ large on her face. I asked for the reason. She responded that she was born with such a face. Next day, she came to my academic office to tell her story that her parents had left her for the heavenly abode. She borrowed money for this study and that she also needs to develop competence in the medium of instruction (English). She is a migrant from Madhya Pradesh and is living in the city of Allahabad, in a rented accommodation, alone. She got a shock when I responded saying that I withdrew my calculation to keep excess capacity and that I would willingly devote my labour hour at least for students like her. She politely thanked me.

This reminds me the story of Rani, of Patna, at the postgraduate (PG) level in a Central University, who told me that she did not have any idea where to put “am, is, and are”! Rani is now in a premier social science research institute, in Patna, doing her D.Phil. and she writes to me in almost flawless English!

©Bhaskar Majumder

Photos from the Internet.

Prof. Bhaskar Majumder

Prof. Bhaskar Majumder

Prof. Bhaskar Majumder, an eminent economist, is the Professor of Economics at GB Pant Social Science Institute, Allahabad. He was the Professor and Head of the Centre for Development Studies, Central University of Bihar, Patna. He has published nine books, 69 research papers, 32 chapters,15 review articles and was invited to lectures at premier institutes and universities over 50 times. He has 85 papers published in various seminars and conferences.
He also worked in research projects for Planning Commission (India), World Bank, ICSSR (GoI), NTPC, etc. A meritorious student, Bhaskar was the Visiting Scholar in MSH, Paris under Indo-French Cultural Exchange Programme. He loves speed, football and radical ideology.
Prof. Bhaskar Majumder