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We the People

Pallavi Mody

Author: Pallavi Mody

Date: Thu, 2016-12-29 11:35

This write up is not about demonetisation or about how the demonetisation has disrupted the country and the economy. Nor is it about blaming the government, the Reserve Bank of India or the entire banking system.

It is about us; We the People (of India). It is about our behaviour and how it showed different colours with the backdrop of demonetisation over the past month. Nani Palkhiwala wrote a book with the same title way back in 1984. I am borrowing the title and the theme to point out how something major in us is amiss.

To quote Nani,  ‘The symptoms of our malaise may be economic’, he says at one point, ‘and may show themselves in price rises and shortages. But underlying the symptoms is a disease which is not economic. The diseases are moral and political and constitutional, and in order to cure them we must recognise them’- ‘We the People’ by Nani Palkhiwala 1984.

I am startled at the behaviour of us over the last month. From the time the PM demonetized the currency notes, we have seen different colours of our people. The masses have silently given their support by patiently waiting in the long queues. They actually believe that the country is getting cleaner, we will get rid of the black money and this much of suffering is their contribution for a better society. They are convinced in the dictum of no gain without pain.

However the classes think otherwise; all gain without pain all the time. The classes have been busy in managing their cash by manipulating the system. In the first phase, it all started from depositing unaccounted money in accounts of the poor relatives, employees and acquaintances. The soaring bank deposits and especially the balances in Jan Dhan Accounts are testimony to the activity.

In the second phase, the rich and influential started connecting through their networks directly with the banks. The new notes issued by the RBI are fulfilling the requirements of this segment. There is a predetermined percentage of commission for the job, get new currency notes for the old anywhere anytime in India. The network is widespread from Gurgaon to Gujarat and Mumbai to Goa to Udipi to Chennai…

Why are we behaving this way? There is not even shame or guilt in openly discussing the matter. This is the way we have tackled taxes in the country for years. Evade taxes legally or illegally. Avoiding taxes by hook or crook was the survival manual in 70s when the highest income tax rate was 97.5%.   We are still hanging on to the mindset and even though the current rate is 30-33%, evading tax seems to be just a matter of habit.

Several questions emerge to define out mindset. Are we the people who take pride in breaking rules? Is there devaluation of our value system? Is finding short cuts and getting away smarter than to do what is right? Are we even aware of how a civic society functions?

Take one example - our behaviour on roads. We have gone from bad to worse whether we are motorists or pedestrians. We are ruthless drivers; jump signals, cut lanes, honk, indulge in double parking and pick fights at the drop of a hat. We are careless pedestrians; we cross roads and even railway tracks and resist using the over bridge. Simple road rules would make everyone’s life simple but who wants simple life?

We the people enjoy living on the edge. We the people enjoy breaking rules. We the people are smart.

 

 

 

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Comments

Nice thought provoking article. I appreciate views written by Pallavi Mody.

You have put the context “we people” in perspective. I agree we are the people who behave in different ways depending on situations. And, in fact this is applicable to anyone (not just us). The intensity or extremity may lies more in our case. A simple example is metro station and how people behave while riding metro trains. People follow rules, queues, etc. However, same set of people behave very differently the moment they come out of the station. This could be because of how people relate impact of our behaviour and actions in different situations. Society and experience may playing a pivotal role in shaping the behaviour that we have today. People do like comfort and when they see an opportunity they do not want to miss it. I feel it is more than the attitude of people which is forcing or influencing people to behave differently in different situations. We value such opportunities than people in other countries. To me, there is no direct causation that I can undoubtedly associate. It seems more debatable in nature. It is indeed important to identify far-reaching effects and its deep-rooted causes. But, I completely agree that “we are the people who enjoy living on the edge”.

I believe we are all party to it, we are the people who can suggest about anything. Ask for the suggestion and we are ready with bunch of ideas. Ask for the faults in system and government policies and we are ready with plenty of them. But when it comes to really personalise these ideas in practical life then we are the people who always take the back seat. We are the people who doesn't want to set an example rather be happy about the fact that if I am not following the rules so does other people. We are ready to break the rules but always hesitates to follow them. So, we should ask our self a question; are we really smart enough?

Actually we are habitual to shortcuts because it makes our life easy, and that’s how we are reacting to situations as you have rightly mentioned in your blog. We all are aware of the correct practices but still why we take shortcuts. Shortcut may lead to immediate benefits, but it’s never a permanent solution. The reform starts from the individual. I would state an example, we all know traffic rules. Red is meant to stop. But for most of us red signal in the presence of traffic policeman is meant to stop. In his absence we just pass by the Red signal. What we achieve doing this? Simply a saving of few minutes. I was also one of those who use to do it. One of my dear friend just to save few minutes took the wrong lane to petrol pump to get his bike refilled. He bumped into other car. But with God’s grace he is fine, no severe injury. I was just beside him. I was just shocked, it terrified me.That day I just decided that rules are meant for our safety and we should adhere to it. We the people break the rules for our short-term benefits but we learn to adhere them the hard way. Why not abide by the rules and be a responsible citizen. Why we need someone to monitor us? Why can’t we be honest to ourselves? It’s we who complain about corruption and we who follow malpractices to get our job done. Its time to change. The change starts from the Individual. Abide by the rules you will see progressive you,me and our nation. Breaking rules is not smartness……Its just an hindrance to our goals and progress in long run...

The word “We” has a meaning of “one or more other people considered together”. But in our country, does this word has any significance anymore?We have been shattered into I which stands for individual who thinks for himself, for his own benefits, for his selfishness. People have become selfish and have no interest in Country’s well being. They are not bothered about others. Nowadays any Nobel cause does not influence us till it is directly linked to us and if a Nobel cause is going to give us setbacks “We” are against those causes and recent past is full of such evidences.

In the past “We the People of India”, have achieved the independence for our country from British Rule. In those days people used to sacrifice their lives for country & fellow countrymen. From those days to today, where tax evasion is routine practice, whole nation is being called as “Intolerant”. We Indians are “Smart”, but problem with us is we use our “Smartness” for doing illegal things. In our society breaking law is considered as sign of bravery & law abiding citizens are considered as fainthearted. This is why people break the traffic rules, over jumps the red signals or even evade taxes. We all are aware of the malpractices existing in our society, we also want change in our society, but who will do it? We “the people of India” always need heroes to solve our problems & we are waiting for our hero to come & solve our problems. We need to make ourselves aware that “we are the hero”; every Indian is hero who can change this pathetic state of our society. I may seem too optimistic, but just in case of demonetization people patiently faced the change, if we start following rules & laws, we can make India great again.

Hello ma’am, It was spellbinding to go through your blog, and I felt very much connected to my day to day experience in conversing with friends, colleagues and sometimes with strangers and co-passengers. We tend to blame the system for everything, but we do not self-examine whether our own behavior is justified. For small financial gain, favor, convenience and enjoyment, we disrupt the system. The examples given by you are very practical and we may add few more in the list like smoking in Public places, noise pollution during festivals, entering illegally in the queue, dumping waste here and there, and not wearing seat belts etc. On the demonetization context it can be seen that the branded shops were bound to make their transactions online due to cash crunch, but now they are again going back to the prevalent form of cash dealings. This has always helped the traders in tax evasion. We always take the chances for our own convenience. We really need to equip ourselves with right behavior for self-improvement and development of our country as well.

Attitude, word has both constructive and destructive meaning. If attitude is good then it’s boldness or brashness and if your attitude is wrong then it’s become arrogance. We are doing or enjoying by doing such foolishness is defiantly called arrogance. Now I have to decide from boldness or arrogance, which side of attitude I will choose. I have mentioned in tag “I am passing this privilege to my children”, When we born we don’t know how to walk, speak, eat but we learn from our surrounding i.e. well and bad both. My father always taught good things to me, but unknowingly gives some bad habits also like throw garbage anywhere, if its shortcut then no harm to go wrong side on road, etc. and I am following same today in front of my children. I am passing this shameful attitude to them unknowingly. Now it’s time to change, let’s shift our attitude from arrogance to boldness and help the society. Help our next generation to learn good things from their childhood, so we can develop a better tomorrow. “Attitude Matters”

We as a people have to change , a change in attitude & thought process is required. As an individual in most of the case we always know that what we are doing is wrong , but still continue to do so like jumping of signal, speeding the vehicle behind the specified limits, railway crossing..etc. This attitude needs to be changed,the country cannot developed,unless the people in the society does not have the right attitude. A country needs to be strong in it is policies,Laws & regulation.Once the fear of someone is watching over them is there in people, people will change, people will be afraid of consequences for not following & may help to overcome the situation like this

Breaking rules has become an attitude to showcase our superiority to others. This will change with corruption free society and robust law & order. Use of technology in law & order will also play a vital role on people's attitude change.

The only thing constant in this universe is Change. We see a lot of movies wherein a hero fights against evil, a pack of politicians or mafia & comes our successful. In real life is it happening?? In true sense it is; change is happening but very slowly. As mentioned in your blog there are two reactions two the effect of demonetization - positive & negative based on the category and expectations of people. It is very easy to comment on others behavior & action but when we say we the people it is first me who should decide what is right & do the right thing instead of thinking what others did & i followed them. The best example of change in our society is the transportation system. When we compare an airport with a railway station or a bus stand, there is a remarkable difference in the behavior of the people & as a result you find more hygiene, safer & aesthetic environment in airport as compared to other places, making no mistake the same people are traveling sometime, somewhere in all the three modes of transportation. As a citizen of this society it is our primary role to set own standards & people will follow what they see. It is the one who can influence masses by his actions & not the masses which will influence the one. Self responsibility to society, education & creating awareness along with penalties are some very vital tools which can move our society forward in the right direction & bring about a radical change in much faster way.

Nice article madam. The very root of corruption lies in the faulty system. We the people tolerate the misdeed. We ignore the growing parasites of corruption on our value chain. Such parasites become unmanageable at a later stage. We need to have proper policies and system in place to fight corruption. True education and character building can get rid us off this chronic. Pleasure of getting rich by evading tax or by violating traffic norm should be punished in an exemplary manner.

Ma’am, the article was really spell binding. The phase “We the people” has been put in a right context i.e. sarcastically. Because nobody here is thinking of we, they are all thinking of I. We put our small personal gains before the national interest. We all are culprits of this, ranging from those who do it to those who tolerate it. But why do we need someone to monitor us? Someone to make us follow the rules? I think time has come to change our attitude. We all have to become responsible citizens if we want this county to develop and hand over a rich legacy to our children.

We the cultured well l educated human being of present age sometimes we create rule and sometimes we intentionally violate those to make self-happy. It is happy to see other people are bound to follow the rules but nobody can force me and I will do my own way. We feel proud for being Indian but we refuse to use Indian product in case we get an imported product even at higher price compared to Indian product. We criticize somebody for using slang languages but when we use the same it becomes the part of smartness. We go to market and want product like apple but at the cost of potato. We want everything should be well organized and at convenience of us but we make it inconvenient and disorganized for others when we show it as our smartness or super busy attitude. But ultimately if we see can we say what ethical value we are adding to our life and what indication we are giving to our future generations we have lot of expectation from us???

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