Money is like a sixth sense – and you can’t make use of the other five without it – William Somerset Maugham
Demonitisation. This one word captured our imagination, time and in some cases our sleep over the past few days. No, this not another blog about the merits and demerits of it. It is a look at the way we Indians have reacted to the whole activity.
As per Discrete Emotion Theory, all humans have a set of emotions, which are universal. Paul Ekman and his colleagues did a major cross-cultural study and arrived at the conclusion that all humans have these six emotions in them: anger, disgust, surprise, fear, happiness, and sadness.
If there was any one thing that could have brought out all these emotions in us, it had to be money. Let us look at how these emotions played out in the last few days as demonitisation unfolded.
Humour (surprise or happiness): If anyone had any doubt if we Indians have a sense of humour, the last one week sealed the argument. Memes, SMSes, videos, images and more turned up in social media within couple of hours of the news. Photoshopped images of Rs.500 & Rs.1000 notes being used a paper packages to toilet rolls appeared. If you cannot cry, laugh was the message. Perfect timing with great speed.
Conspiracy (disgust/anger): Social media is a perfect platform to spin a web of conspiracy theories. Best of them was this one. Reliance Jio is giving away from airtime and data until December 30 so that Mukesh Ambani can convert his black money into white, which will come back to him in January 2017. How? Beats me. Can anyone explain it to me? Here is another. Urjit Patel was working with Reliance (true) and he had a hand in all this to help Ambani (how?) Though he became Governor 2 months ago his signature is already there on the Rs.2,000 note which means everything was kept ready 6 months ago (mind you it was only the design) ignoring the fact that you can incorporate a signature in few minutes and print in a couple of days! Social media is free and unaccountable so you can get away with anything. Creativity in conspiracy!
Nationalism (happiness): From hailing Modi as a messiah, to predicting death knell of the super-rich to visualizing a great nation, nationalists went overboard. Yes, it will (hopefully) have an impact on the way we do business, use cash etc. but to tout it as a panacea for all the ills in India is stretching the argument too far.
Help, support, and compassion (fear): Fear of loss set in the hearts of those with stacked notes but a wave of compassion arose in the hearts of many for the ones without the mean who will get affected the most. They put their best efforts to suggest ways and means to help these affected. From advising us not to palm off our old notes to unsuspecting petty vendors to asking us not to jump to unfound rumors and news, they have done a great done. Thanks.
Greed (disgust): It is the feeling that one started having for the haves. How to convert black to white is now the biggest trending search item on Google from India! Rich have paid out hundreds of crores of property tax, utility bills etc. in the last few days. Which means they had they had the means to pay, but did not. Why? For what purpose did they stack up that money? It is clear that the rich have not been paying for the public services and get what they want without paying for them! So it is the middle-class that’s has been holding the Indian economy up. God save the Indian middle-class!
We had a chance to see every shade of human emotion in full display in just a few days all thanks to 2 numbers written on a piece of paper. What then is our true worth?