I would be remiss if I didn’t write about what the anniversary means to me personally and try to project what I think it SHOULD mean to people of the two countries in the world I relate to tangibly.
The projections may be utterly inverted, as clearly I have failed to understand the majority of thought in both those countries right from electing Trump (who people thought would be a “game” changer as in the one openly racist, utterly ignorant, and totally unqualified for the game of playing President, to the game of who can nominate the worst suited people to hold critical government positions), to calling a peaceful, thoughtful gesture by Colin Kaepernick unpatriotic (while talk of major officials having clandestine ties nature with Russia are shrugged off), to always supporting groups like NRA which literally have done nothing for you and never will (support ACLU, if you must, maybe the word liberty is not as clearly understood by people who tote guns as it should be); then the catastrophic economic decision for demonetization by PM Narendra Modi being exalted as brave- when the people actually suffering were poor and old Indians. How is the PM brave? for making a ludicrous policy censured by a majority of real economists worldwide, seem like some act of cleansing of our nation’s not-entirely-Hindu soul ( he LITERALLY CALLED IT SHUDDHI YAGNA – ‘a pyre to make us pure’ translated losely, my blood boils figuratively at his gall) because apparently our poor are not suffering enough that we need images like this photo essay has, to reaffirm their misery.; then there are the gourakshaks who speak for the rights of cows in India and beat up people who transport, have any kind of meat in their house AND happen to be Muslim, and claim the same high octane of righteousness that every single monster who has hurt others for a cause that somehow is purported to be above humanity has claimed in the past. Thinking about that kind of fervent righteousness reminds me of 9/11 where innocent lives were extinguished to make a point about religion, imperialism and hegemony by the Taliban. It reminds me of every soldier and civilian killed in the Iraq war (2003-2011) that was totally unnecessary and based on false pretenses. Of the Rohingyas who are being driven away from their homes by the purportedly peaceful Buddhists and the Myanmar government. They probably lose no sleep over this because you know, they are Buddhists and anything they do is peaceful and right. It reminds me of every Nationalist movement that thought nothing of the people who live in those nations and called for groups of people to hate, fight and kill each other for the betterment of a “Nation”. Like one can make a map happy by changing its boundaries and the colors of dots that stand of population type in the region. Moreover TO make a MAP happy, one must make sacrifices. Nationalism should be about preserving national parks in the US, preserving ancient buildings in India and at least trying to objectively assess issues faced by the minorities and the marginalized. Nationalism should be to aid the Puerto Ricans when they need it the most, to put an end to their billions of dollars of debt, a debt that can never be repaid anyway. If people in need are less equal from people not in need then the premise of nation is only for the rich and the healthy. But the rich don’t send their children to the army ( remember how Trump never served). So whose nation is it?
PM Modi thinks (or at least says) that our Nation, India, deserves sacrifices to rid itself of black money that was never much in the form of hard cash to begin with. 94% of black money is in estates and gold, that is not a new fact of 2017, it is a known fact forever. To bring back the 6% everyone stood in lines for hours to get their own money, were DENIED their own money as banks and ATMs ran out of money. And just to stamp on our faces exactly how incompetent the government can be and still get away with it, the printing of the new notes lagged far behind the need. Still, for the entire time the process of bans, exchanges, ATM upgrade to fit the new notes lasted, the middle class and the lower class believed in the cause. They believed because every one likes to think they suffer for a reason and that bad people will be brought down by the virtuous (with Mr. Modi adopting the role of god appointed messiah) as their sins reach some tipping point. These are the two main reasons of success and omnipresence of religion: solace if not explanation for human suffering and winning against evil. And it worked for a while. Aided by the fact that for the GENERAL public trillions or lakh-crores of rupees that makes up the 6% of black money in cash sounds like a LOT because they have never seen or heard the likes of it, and were never told it is just 6% of the actual lot of black money. The hard economic fact of that is that even if it was ALL recovered under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana, the income declaration scheme, and the guilty penalized it would still not have been worth the expense to the government and the colossal loss to the informal sector which, wait for it: actually employs people and pays for their livelihood and drives the economy. The claim of making India cashless where even Japan is not, is so laughable to not be worth more than this sentence. I suppose everyone must have known that the Mallyas, Adani’s, Ambani’s and yes, the Bachchans will never be caught, but maybe they did not guess that they will prosper as they sell more oil, phones, dataplans etc.
It turns out that the promising hope of delayed deliverance at a later point, be it apocalypse when God will fly in and banish the sinners to burn in hell and save his true believers or the black money hoarders will one day be caught AFTER all the cash has been extinguished from small businesses and as farmers realize they are going to starve some more, works quite well for demagogues.
It does not work well for economists, who have gone ballistic with figures and data (Article by Larry White); please read this one too by Vivek Kaul, to show that not only was the hardship useless to bring back black money, it SLOWED the economic growth like never before, it was akin to government approved legal money laundering because 98.6% of circulating cash went back to the banks and the likelihood of hoarders of black money in cash, to ever be caught and pay the penalty of 50% to the government is well nigh zero. Yes, the same probability that Trump would change overnight into a knowledgeable, well-spoken, well-read adult who knows that winning is not the end of it all, often it is the beginning of something you don’t know how to handle, also and foremost: who gave a fuck about other people (even one other person except his own self).
While in the U.S., recent elections in Virginia, NJ have heralded a real change in the game. The future of dreamers still remains uncertain as DACA is on hold. It is still 3 yrs (unless Robert Mueller is actually our messiah appointed by God) for Mr. Trump preaching America First in world summits which are designed to bring the world together. 3 years of unsuitable heads of major government agencies like EPA, USDA, and heck, even the White House. 3 years of twitter squabbles with North Koreans that could lead to WWIII; with journalists, news agencies and heck yeah, attorney generals, senators, other White House officials! 3 more years of ‘waiting to see what happens’ as if administrative things happen on their own and the utterly reassuring ‘it will be good, it will be great, and we will WIN!’.
I have only small rays of hope that people of India will see the truth, will see that painting everything saffron is not the way for ‘vikas’ (progress) in India. It is infact, the pure anti-thesis of that. But there are rays and I hope that the few things India stood for: secularism, knowledge and education, liberal arts or liberty in arts and empathy (if not working policies) for the poor and marginalized will make a come back and from there we can progress to changes to social structure and economics.
The days when the U.S. could claim being stable enough to excuse its huge arsenal of nuclear weapons, are in fact, over. The U.S. maybe stable (I explain myself because I believe some Americans don’t understand what I say unless I make it clear, because everyone has different understanding of sarcasm, especially in writing, like the use of maybe in the last sentence, when clearly it is surely). But it’s head no longer is, and I am not the one making this up (refer to explanation one line above): the determination of soundness and leadership qualities are always made by the world at large (e.g., we can’t ask Trump to validate his own stability) and one only needs to see what the Chinese /French/ German newspapers are saying about current President. For a change, I was being optimistic about “3 years left”. It is more likely 7, right?