Categories
Blog

Understanding Privilege

I would like to believe that I am a self made man. Don’t get me wrong, I know very well that I have not rewritten history, I am not a influencer or a trend setter in any way. I work for a living, and absolutely will need to do so in order to build a stable environment for my family. But I would like to think that I have come a long way from growing up in TamilNadu to some guy in Houston, Texas. I want to be clear here. I am not implying that living in the USA is making me a better person than somebody who lives in India. I am talking about measure of progress in the journey of life. I do genuinely think that the effort I have put in to make myself better is the primary reason that I am what I am today.

I went to the school nearby home. I absolutely had no idea of what the world beyond school looked like. I was a studious kid and all, I played a few sports and hung out with other 15 year olds doing stuff that only 15 year olds can. Yet, when it mattered, I was able to pull away from the bad company, focus and do well enough in the exams to earn a shot at an engineering college. College was nothing like life portrayed in movies that I grew up watching. There were a ton of kids who had better grades, a lot of them played sports at a different level and honestly put me to shame with their sense of fashion and knowledge of the world. Their interests in books, music and cuisines were varied and I was amazed at the confidence with which they wooed the ladies. At first I struggled to adapt, but soon I was able to pick up the pieces and used the time to transform myself as a person. My grades improved, I got better at sports, I developed a taste for music, books, and I found love. A final year flourish ensured that I had a job before I left college, had a university rank and an opportunity to go further ahead. You might be thinking, wait none of this is special. What is he touting about. Fair point. But what you need to understand is I had made the transition from doubting myself to knowing that I belonged. That feeling made all the difference at work. I was able to quickly master new things. I set myself to pursue various interests and put in the time to make myself better at many tings.

So when somebody comes and tells me that I was lucky enough to have these abilities I don’t take that statement very well. I think that I am being disrespected as my efforts were not being acknowledged. I tell them we are all created the same and the only thing that differentiates one from another is the effort. They do not seem to understand at all. I am upset and I decide to go take a walk. The rhythmic cadence helps me calm down. I get an overwhelming urge to write this experience. As I start to relive my personal moments of success I notice one thing. It is not always me on the podium, I am never alone. I am surrounded by my friends, by family and well wishers. In the pictures, some are even more happier than I am at my success. I am not so sure now. 

I put my thoughts on hold as I get ready to combat the daily routine of life. My kids school wants us to donate non-perishable foods to help homeless people. I had a hard time explaining what being homeless meant to my daughter. She was just not getting it. Where are their parents? What happened to their home? As I struggled to answer her questions, I couldn’t help think about the turns their lives must have taken. While there is a general sense of pity, that feeling disappears as you move on. It is said that you can have empathy only when you have experienced similar situations yourself. A person like me has not even entertained a thought about the same. So will I be in a position to really understand their plight? 

As I read about the protests gripping the nation about CAA – NRC, I am being told that I don’t have to worry about anything as I am  Hindu. Uncertainty is a looming threat for several workers in the private sector, but rest assured there is comfort in knowing that you have a home to go back to. To hear that my citizenship is assured in my country because of my religion is not essentially an argument that I am ready to bite. Clearly there are many factors that influence how a person’s life plays out.

Malcolm Gladwell in his book outliers looks to describe what makes special people special. It starts of being fun but then towards the end you are pretty stunned to see how generic themes like birth months, neighborhoods and even access to facilities help shape a person’s career. He did not belittle their personal skills and drive and all, but just points out that these people had access to opportunities that others did not. The outliers just maximized their opportunities. I couldn’t help but draw parallels here. I guess everyone really is a product of their own environment. I get it. Once you seem to accept this you will see the little things that enable you to be who you are. Here is a silent nod to all those around me who made me what i am today. Thank you.

Next time when someone tells me that I had lucky breaks I will still tell them that they were wrong. I was not lucky I was privileged.

Categories
Blog

2019, Year that was

Categories
Blog Opinion

The one about Identity

A few years ago, I had made note of an essay by Prof. Amartya Sen who talked about the need for humans to embrace broader identities. He thought that this would break barriers and promote the spirit of oneness around the world. The idea that I could shape my identity through my interests fascinated me. I have always felt a kinship with like minded people and was quite happy when I realized that these broader strokes could help me find my place in a global society. The internet and social media fueled my quest. Social media websites such as Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, Blogs, Podcasts made me see a side of things that I had never had the chance to experience before. My taste for global cuisines grew, I started reading a wide genre of books, I discovered music artists from around the globe.

While I don’t think that these experiments fundamentally changed me as person, it made me more aware of things that I had not really paid attention to before. And the more attention I paid, I started to become more biased to experiences that fascinated me. My online social media circle became limited to a carefully curated set of personalities that I found appealing . My  real world social interactions became increasingly limited to folks who subscribed to my view of ideals. On one hand, I wanted the people to see and hear about the things that I was discovering, and yet as I found out that many did not particularly care or had other interests that seemed unworthy to me I wanted to go be left alone. The struggle manifested itself as impatience,  frustration. There was no end to the list of things that could annoy me. I thought that I could control things by indulging in my own interests. The harder I tried, the less fascinating the experiences were. I started to feel like a disoriented cave diver in the dark waters. I had no sense of direction and I was swimming around in circles. I knew I had to reorient myself quickly. I have the privilege of having a very stable support system to get through some hard times. I knew I could rely on that to haul me out of my predicament.

One of the things that I had trouble agreeing to with many was the definition of Identity. What is one’s Identity? The answers that I could come were I am a father, a husband, a son, a brother, an immigrant, a programmer, a runner, a bibliophile, an Indian, a foodie. I could have gone on and added generic terms that described my nationality, my mother tongue, my sexuality but I am still not convinced that these helps define Me as a person. If you walk into a room full of people and call out people who match these identities I can assure you that there will be more than one who fits the bill. So how do these things uniquely identify me? Another thing that was bothering me was the obsession with “I”. Was I becoming a victim of my own ego?

The answers randomly seemed to come to me through the Principal Upanishads. The book talks about the importance of realizing the value of self. It seemed ironic at first that I would go back to the oldest known books to validate my thoughts. On the contrary this took me down a path of extreme learning and made me understand the nuances of Dharma (Righteousness), Artha (Wealth), Kama (Desire) and Moksha (Liberation). The key lessons were around the importance of senses and consciousness. The clarity of thought in these books amazed me. I learnt that while the senses helped focus on the outward aspects of life the consciousness allowed to focus on the inward aspects of life. When one questions oneself, then he invokes his consciousness and strives to balance the four phases. Ultimately, everyone pursues the four to varying degrees, and it is extremely important to understand that the others need not have the same spectrum of interests as you do. This was the ray of light I needed to reorient. While I still cannot answer the question as What am I, I am no longer weary and now I understand that to understand what I am I need to be what I am.

I come from the land of people where the mind is without fear, and the head is held high and where Knowledge is free. I do wish that others  wake up to such a heaven.

Categories
Blog

2018, The Year That Was

Categories
Blog

The one about Día de los Muertos

I recently watched the Pixar-Walt Disney movie Coco. The movie won several accolades and focuses on the Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead). The holiday serves as a day to offer prayers and to remember friends and family who have left us from the mortal world. I had the feeling that the subject was going to be a bit dark for a children’s animation movie but it was definitely a fascinating movie. The subject of death is not welcome topic of discussion in my home. The wife believes talking about the subject is inviting trouble and her idea is that this is a subject best left alone. It is not my intention is not to write a critique of the movie, or dwell on the subject of death by itself but there was this scene that made me feel vulnerable. In the scene, one of the characters in the nether world, longs for someone in the mortal realm to think about him, so that he does not drift into the nothingness of the dark. The scene was extremely poignant to me.

Family, friends, colleagues, associates and many strangers strive to form a web of connected circles around you. Some of these connections stay strong over your lifetime, some linger on the back of your mind as part of your experiences, and some stay forgotten. Yet, there is always a chance, for these connections to change and that is what makes our life so precious. However, with Death there is a certain finality to it. There is nothing that you can do to alter the connection as you are left only with their memories. Losing someone to death is an absolute life altering experience. You can never view the fabric of time with the same lens.

Losing my grandfather was one of the most difficult moments of my life. I felt as if I had lost the guide to my moral compass. I do have my friends and God to thank for helping me deal with the tough times. Death has brutally ended a friendship,  but also brought together a beautiful friendship that I cherish to this day. It has taught me several valuable lessons about the importance of goodness, kindness, and other virtues that I had not cared about earlier. I hope I have put some of these virtues to good, by helping others get through their tough times. I can only hope that I have lived up to the expectations of those who are no longer here, and through my actions and thoughts have managed to keep the bond as strong as it was when they were here. As long as life flows through me, I will cherish the memories, and the bonds between us. I know you all are there somewhere and in that i find solace.

Categories
Blog

I, Read

I try to read as much as I can when I get a chance. The 45 minute bus ride that takes me home gives me ample time to get a few pages in, and the activity also keeps me away from unwanted conversations with other passengers. However, a few weeks ago I did get into a very interesting conversation with a fellow passenger who also happens to be the librarian at the Central library. As the conversation drifted to the favorite books and authors section, I realized my reading map was all over the place and I was unable to recollect several things about the books I had ever read. I decided to us this opportunity to catalog the books I had read, and throw in some data analytics to try squeeze some information out.

I have used Goodreads to catalog the books I have read in the recent years. I had also retroactively added many books from my college days into the website. I did not bother to add many of the Fairy tales, Famous Five, Secret Seven or the Hardy Boys books. Sure, those books set me up to become an active reader later in my life but I think it is safe to say that I have outgrown those books. I was able to export the Goodreads shelves to a spreadsheet and I had in my hands a definitive list of books I had read, and wanted to read.  The plan was to throw this dataset into an analytic platform such as spotfire, or powerBI and study my reading habits.

The First thing that bothered me about the list was the number of books I had read. Currently as of September 9th 2018 I have apparently read 275 books. (Excluding the books earlier seems stupid, now!) According to a study done by lithub the average reader reads 12 books a year. I averaged 8. I have always been shocked at how extraordinarily ordinary I have been my entire life. While the Goodreads website has a couple of useful tools like Reading Stats and Most Read authors I was disappointed to see that the exported list did not associate a book to a genre. I have started to read more in the recent years than in the past, so hopefully I will catch up to the average number.

I later found out the as Goodreads allows a book to be cataloged under multiple genres, it does not support the genre field in the exported list. Another challenge that i faced was to figure out how to keep my local copy updated with the books i update on the website. As i was pondering over the problem, a colleague showed me a pet project that he had done with Excel. I was actually surprised at the data processing and analysis ability Microsoft has added into excel in the recent years. No wonder, it still remains as the favorite go to tool for several engineers.

So i set up an excel spreadsheet that was connected to the “Exported” file from Goodreads. This allowed me to refresh my core dataset every time i had a new file from goodreads at the click of a button. I set up a secondary data set that mapped each book title from the exported dataset to a Genre. This i had to do manually, it was tedious but in about an hour i had mapped all the titles i had to a genre. The final step was to setup a “join” in excel that combined the titles along with the genres. Doing that gave me a final dataset of what i wanted. The books i had read, along with metadata like dates read, author names, genre and publication year. I had struck gold in terms of data analysis. I threw this information into the Pivot table of feature and this is what i found.

 

Fiction was by far what i read the most. I also apparently have a strong preference for Thrillers, Fantasy Fiction and also have a preference for books on philosophy, religion and biographies. Who knew? It seems that i have picked up on the range in the last few years. Hopefully, i will hear about more fantastic books and so will you in the near future. In the mean time do visit Literary Hub and Maria Popova’s blog. You might well be surprised. Happy Reading.

Categories
Blog

The Existential Crisis Phenomenon

Time flies! Busy Day! I hear these statements a lot. I have also wondered as how I can spend days, weeks, months and yet have the overwhelming feeling that I have done nothing special. In the recent past, I have found solace in order. I have a schedule that I have tried to keep up (for the most part). I set myself up to only do things I absolutely cared about at this point and I go about my day taking care of business one at a time. While, this approach has kept me busy doing thing I have wanted to do it also has given birth to a nagging line of thought. It is exactly like a fly that is in your house. It does not bother me for the most part, but when it does start buzzing near me it drives me nuts. May be this is the existential crisis phenomenon! So just like that just to bring some purpose back in life and to get the nagging thought away from my head I signed up for a half marathon. 13.1 miles. The race is in 12 weeks. Over the course of the next twelve weeks let us see how we get going. I think I probably will write a post to cover the progress for the week, If something memorable happens I will share that too.

Categories
Blog

The importance of Kindness

Some time ago, my dad was conned in a bus ride back from work. A crook picked his pocket while another distracted him with a story that he saw money fall out from my Dad’s bag. He only had a photo copy of his drivers license and a few spare change for the bus fare so no major harm done there. My dad was sure not thrilled and he was quite angry with himself for letting his guard down and trusting the word of a stranger. The thing is my father grew up in a small town, every body knew every body and they talked about every thing. So his natural instinct is to trust people. He would usually tell people his life story the fifth minute he met someone. We have always made fun of his for being so easy going and like-able but this was different he was sort of blaming himself for being nice in today’s world. No matter what we said, he refused to believe it was sheer bad luck and decided to be more selective in his company and choice of words. Though at times i had wished he had shown better judgement in his company, i absolutely did not like it when he became a grumpy version of himself. I thought that he would get over the incident over time, but he was pretty shaken up and refused to give up his grouchy self.

Two weeks later he received a call from an unknown number. My dad being his new self refused to answer the phone from the unknown number, but three or four rings later my mother picked up the phone. The call was for my dad from a person in Sankari (45 minutes away from home). He was a trucker and he had found my dad’s wallet near the bus stand. Apparently the crooks had thrown the wallet away finding nothing worthwhile in it. The guy had come upon the wallet lying in the ground and upon finding the emergency contact details safely stashed in the wallet he called the number to tell us that he had found the wallet. He said he was currently on his way to another town and he told us that he could either ship the wallet over post or hold on to it and deliver to him the next week when he was back in town. My dad of course did not trust a word he said, he even had a theory that the crooks were trying to con him again as they were not happy with what they got the first time. I think he managed to say that since there was nothing of use there he did not particularly care about the missing wallet. My mother started to give my dad a hard time for putting his own details in the emergency contact card details. yeah! right.

Three days later, we received a package and inside was the missing wallet. The trucker had sent it to the address on the license copy and along with it a note to my dad. Translated it read something like this. Dear sir, I know one can go through some bad experiences in life, but do not let these stray incidents affect your trust in humanity. Hope this reaches you and makes you feel better. My dad immediately called him back, thanked him and even offered to reimburse the cost to send the package. The stranger refused and just asked my dad to not let go of his goodness that easily. Now i don’t know if he had tears of happiness or if he was just overcome with emotion. But he was smiling for sure and now does like to claim that he knew that good things would eventually happen to him. yeah! right.

A couple of crooks and a gentleman taught me a valuable lesson that day. The importance of Kindness. Sure courage, loyalty, intelligence are all virtues that assist one in the quest for perfection, but kindness and loyalty are what makes you a better human.

Categories
Blog

There is an app for that

So every company is at promoting the buzzwords Digital, Mobility, Analytics, Cloud to employees and customers alike. The place i work at is also seeing a digital revolution and the upper management has asked us to come up with innovative mobile apps that disrupt the regular lives. I do understand the smart phone has changed our lives forever. Call me old school, but i still like to put some trust in my memory and self over an app to do things. Now a couple of my colleagues (let us call them 1 and 2) i believe have sold their souls to the smart phone. They claim that their phone has the potential to do every single thing that i can think of. Oh come on that is stretch for sure right, you cannot have an app for every single thing you like to do in your day to day life. Like what says 2. I did not want to give them easy wins so i told them not to reel of apps that i had used up to the point and i also asked them to ignore the broad categories of apps under news, photography, social media, life style, weather etc . 1 & 2 still seemed pretty confident that they would find an app for anything i threw at them.

Since we were having the conversation at a pub, I asked how about an app to find out about beers? “Untappd” says 2. 2 tells me about the app that allows one to track and rate beers tasted. The app then generates a recommendation list based on your likes and also lists the pubs nearby that sell the drink you want. Wow, as i take in the details i see the metro bus pull over at the corner of the street. I knew that there was an app to track the bus schedules but then the bus just groaned as it went over one of the numerous potholes in the city. I bet you there cannot be an app to track pot holes in the city said I. There is one for that says 1 after a few seconds on his phone. This time i am shocked Really? who builds an app for that? The city of Houston does beams 1.

I clearly had underestimated the Digital warriors. I was unable to think of anything at that point and struggling to come up with new ideas. Seeing my predicament 1 & 2 decided to intervene. They decided to take several creative liberties to make the search more challenging. Let us see if there are apps to rack places where i have… begins 2. oh No, I knew where this was going. Yup…says 1 before i could respond. I meant….begins 2. Yup for that one as well says 1. I sat dumbfounded. why would you know about these i ask? why not? asks 1.

2 pulls out an website that lists the weirdest apps ever built. He reads out as 1 finishes up his beer

  • An app to block out the Kardashians content from appearing on your browser.
  • An app to tell if the picture that you just took was that of an hot dog?
  • An app that allows you type using only four words ****, yes, no, you.
  • An app that allows you to type only with 1000 simple words.
  • An app that allows you to pop pimples on the phone screen.
  • An app that tells you when to go pee when you are watching a movie.

The evening was definitely not going the way i intended, i surely was toast. For an IT engineer i was so not embracing technology to the extent others were. It sort of popped the bubble for me and i let a volley of cuss words.

And yeah i now know that There is an app for that too.

P.S The apps that i absolutely love and use are Good Reads, Weather – Go Run, Run Keeper, Black Player, Spotify, and YouTube.

Categories
Blog Opinion

Demonetization Thoughts

On November 8th 2016, the prime minister of India announced on National TV that the 500 and 1000 rupee notes were demonetized effective midnight. The PM announced that the people had until Dec 31 to exchange the old notes. Post Dec 31 the people could exchange them at the specified RBI branches. The government believed that this step would help curb counterfeit currency that fed terrorist activities and fight corruption by bringing black money hoarders to book. He asked the people of India to put up with the difficulty for a 50 days, and to view this as a step towards a new India. People obliged, everyone felt this step was in the right direction. None of the major opposition parties questioned this move as they would be seen as aiding the evils that plagued our society. As the days progressed the practical realities hit home. Banks and ATM’s started running out of cash, people started complaining about the need to endure long lines to get money, news reports showed the impact on small businesses and cash based merchants. The government and the RBI announced a slew of measures to counter the realities. Rules were introduced, changed, revoked every single day. As the end of the year approached, it became clear that the challenges would last for more than the 50 day period. The opposition parties started to hound the ruling party holding it responsible for the manner in which the whole process was handed. The ruling party and its supporters blamed the opposition for raking up anti national sentiments and for not supporting the noble cause.

While I do understand that such a large scale undertaking would definitely throw up challenges, I was mildly shocked by certain media reports that highlighted the problems common man had to face especially in the rural areas. As I started talking about the demonetization process with my friends I realized that people were really divided about the benefits, and the picture was not as rosy as the ruling party was trying to project. I tried to understand the numbers that ratified the decision and wanted to understand if this was all worth it. I do have to admit I am neither a economist nor a social policy maker, but I do believe my education and work experiences have taught me enough to put trust in my critical thinking ability. I am not anti-National, and i do want to see corruption free India. I am also ready to suffer long lines for the greater good but please do help me get answers to a few questions I have.

Fight Counterfeit Currency and Sponsored Terrorism:
It is generally accepted in India that most terrorist activities that happen in India are initiated by folks outside the border. The 500 and 1000 rupee note were apparently the most commonly counterfeited and used by anti-social elements to spread the reach of evil. I do not have any information to counter this claim so I will accept this on the word of our PM and national security adviser. It is true by making the (Specified Bank Notes) SBN invalid, we did cripple their financial resources. But unless major security features were introduced in the newer currency, what stops these hoodlums from resorting to counterfeiting again? Would stringer IT audits, and enhanced scrutiny on all financial transactions not help address this problem?

Fight Black Money and Corruption:
One of the major talking points in the news media and social media circles when the PM took oath in 2014 was his stance against corruption. People voted the UPA regime out after numerous reports of scams (2G, Coal, Augusta Westerland, etc.). The PM represented an incorruptible image and does lead a lifestyle that a common man loves to see in a leader. So it should be no surprise when he calls out corruption as one of the major problems that plagues India today. The Income Tax department has published the details of the returns processed for the year 2014-2015. The reports indicate that only 3.65 Crore of the 1.25 Billion Indians have filed tax returns for the year. That is a meagre 3%, so in theory the rest are potential black money hoarders. But taking in account the Indian economic pyramid, and the stats provided by department of labor (surveys– Ref Table 2.4) only about 20% of the population earn income for their households, and from the same paper the number of people performing agriculture based jobs is pegged at 49%. The agriculture based jobs have heavy tax rebates, and for all practical purposes cannot be considered as black money hoarders. (Ref Farmer suicides, news about failed crops). These numbers do indicate that there could be a number of workers who have earned income yet not reported income or paid taxes. Table 1.2 Range of salary incomeshows that roughly 50 Lakh people have declared an income over 5 Lakhs and hence are liable to pay tax. That makes it 0.5% of the population. The largest black money hoarders would probably be the ones who are in the system and enjoy the loopholes in the law rather than the remote few who are yet to be in the system. The tax payable for the 2014-2015 year was 4.5 Lakh crores, so unless the demonetization move causes the reported number to increase drastically the whole exercise might not be as successful as one thinks.

Another factor that indicates problems with this argument is the number of SBN currency notes returned to the RBI. As per the RBI report around 16.9 Lakh crores worth currency was in circulation as of November 2016 and 86% of the currency was in the SBN denomination. That represents about 14.8 Lakh crores. While RBI has not yet officially announced how much currency has been turned in, there have been unconfirmed media reports that put the figure at 15.2 Lakh crores. If this was true, then the amount of money returned to the RBI is only slightly more than what the  RBI states was in circulation before. The same report does state that only 60% of the currency was in banks, and considering the amount of Indians who do not have a bank account, the amount recovered is truly low. Where are the crores and the lakhs of Black Money that we were all expecting to be turned in? Yes there reports of raids in multiple places, news reports of currency recovered, but none of them were the magical figures that were predicted. Again, while I don’t think India does not have black money but I do know now for sure that it was not stashed under mattresses or roof top tiles as films show.

Cashless Economy and Digital India:
India is primarily a cash based economy. Even in urban India where food worlds, more and reliance markets have plopped up, the store at the street corner always seem to do brisk business. Markets (Sandhai, Farmers Markets) play a pivotal role in the economic model of India. The prices are low, and more often not there is minimal operating cost involved and households buy things as required on a Day to Day basis. This is evidently proven by the currency in circulation. The RBI report does state that 14.8 Lakh crores was the worth of currency in SBN as of November 2016. So the Demonetization move meant that the RBI should have looked to replenish the currency in circulation with other denomination notes at the earliest. It would have been highly illogical for anyone to make up the 86% cash by printing lower denomination notes (100’s or even 500s) within the specified timeline (50 days from the start) so the focus was to look to print 2000 rupee notes to make up the worth. This would probably explain as why banks were not able to provide for lower denomination alternatives when people turned up in troves for exchanging old notes. Example( A bank in Tamil Nadu received 1.6 Crore worth money from RBI for the demonetization. 1 crore was in the 2000 Rupee denomination the remaining 6 Lakhs were in the lower denomination notes). The fact that the SBN represented 86% of the currency in circulation does indicate that these notes were the preferred instruments for all cash based trade in India. The lack of lower denomination notes directly influenced reduced spending as consumers started either buying things in bulk or started buying from stores where they could use their credit cards. A family member had to close her shop for a few days as she did not have enough lower denomination notes to run her business. These small time merchants seem to be the ones worst affected by the move not the supposedly multi millionaire tax scammers or black money hoarders. The cash in circulation number reported by the RBI dropped by 48% since March 2016. Thereby truly defining a cash-less economy.

The government advocated the people to  embrace electronic transfers, e-Payments, e-wallets, digital transactions and has been trying to promote the Image of a digital India. Sure, several western countries have developed a digital system that minimizes the use of cash in day to day life. In the US, I do use my credit card at grocery stores, parks, movie rental boxes, shopping centers and even parking lots. It is extremely convenient, carries no service charge, helps me track all my transactions and makes me less worried about being mugged. The country has laws in place for data privacy and the banks systems are geared to detect frauds and cyber security attacks. True none of the systems in place are 100% fool proof, but the point is there is a lot of systems in place that helps or promotes cashless transactions. In India, definitely the past few years has seen a spurt in the usage reports of online payments and e-wallets, but these still remain confined to the cities and the private national banks. Co-operative banks, public sector banks still have miles to go before they enable digital transactions for all customers. The service charge on these digital transactions (2%) do not really help as well. The small time merchants I described earlier can afford to offer low prices because of their low operation costs and day to day transactions. Are we expecting them to up their investment and move to a digital system? Are the banks built to allow the same flexibility the cash based system allows? If not we just brought their livelihood to a halt. I think it is great the government has come up with payment modes such as BHIM and UPI, it is a bit concerning to see how government advocating third party systems such as PayTM and Jio Money. Unless there are at least clearly defined laws on the nature of data they can access and minimal rules in place that protect the interest of the consumer it would be extremely difficult to get a majority of the population to trust in these systems.

The System:
A new narrative that has been gaining traction is that now the cash is all back in the system the government can put in good use of the money. That is the most absurd thing that I have ever heard, the money deposited in the banks are the people’s (exchanged for other denomination notes). The money was already in the system, because the source of the money is known, it was just that the money was not deposited in a bank account. Surely, a little bit of common sense will help see the difference. How can the government claim this for their use? The SBN were declared invalid as a financial instrument so how or what would these notes be used for? Banks are seen as custodians of wealth. They don’t own my money. My deposits in the banks are mine and the banks are liable to give me back the deposits when I want them. How or what gives a democratic elected government the right to set limits on the money I can withdraw from my own account? Is there any draconian law that allows them to do this?

It must be the left-liberal in me that makes me question the oppression of liberty and stand up for others. While I try to defend actions with numbers and logic, people can throw my arguments to sink just based on pure emotion. While emotion is not bad it can sufficiently cloud your thought to be biased (True for me as well!) I do wish I find the strength and patience to help others see reason, but in the mean time if you think of me as the struggling liberal so be it.