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

thank you

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?

yes I agree, we are good at preaching than practising

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.

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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???

Dear Ma’am, Reading your blog the ‘We the people’ on the behavior of the masses and classes in India was truly reflective of our current way of life. As you rightly said, the characteristic of trying to take a shortcut to evade the system has become intrinsic to our DNA. Though there are few exceptions, they are overrun by the majority. Apart from the demonetization and road behavior examples stated by you, another prime example of such behavior can be observed in our Police force. Not only has the institution of the police force lost respect among the citizens, they have also instilled aversion towards the police in the minds of the people. I feel the reasons for such behavior is the callous and ‘chalta hai’ attitude that has been continually passed on from generation to generation, not only in the general public, but more so in the bureaucracy. Bending rules has become the norm of the hour. Would it possible to ever change this behavior? It would require something very inspirational to do so. A few suggestions to buck this trend would be to increase activities such as:  Create fool-proof measures to prevent rule evasion.  Instil rule adherence mind set among children right from school (Grass root level).  Device methods to identify and punishment offenders.  Rope in public figures (Celebrities, role models) to create awareness.  Make politicians and administrators accountable. ‘India can achieve 10% GDP growth by FY20: CII’. This forecast by the CII highlights the favorable growth trajectory that India is on. A population of 1.25 billion has recently been an advantage for us. We need this 1.25 billion to rise to the occasion and emerge better and stronger in all respects. To start off with, we need to improve on factors highlighted by you in your article. Only then can we aspire to achieve holistic growth and to be a true superpower in the near future. Thank you

A spellbinding blog to describe the people of India. I think apt title for this blog can be “We the Smart People”. We the smart people of India, do not break the rules just because we like breaking the rules but because we think that we are smart enough to get away easily without any penalty. We can relate all the things mentioned in the blog to our daily experience in personal and professional life where we use all means to accomplish our goal as we know that no one is going to catch us. Can we get away in the US or European country if we break even a simple rule? Or as matter of fact, do we deliberately try to break any rule in foreign country? Answer is a big NO. The simple reason is that we are smart to understand the repercussion of any wrong doings in the foreign country. Since independence with time, we the people of India, have changed a lot and have become concerned about ourselves. Lot of people had sacrificed their lives for the country and better future of the countrymen but they never knew, people will become more smart to get things done in frugal way without thinking of the impact on other countrymen. We the Smart People have become habitual to shortcuts because it makes our life easy, and that’s how we are reacting to situations. We the People are smart enough to find the loopholes in the system and exploit to the fullest extent to get the benefit ignoring the fact that it will impact ourselves in longer term. For example, if we are evading taxes, government will not get sufficient money to invest in public welfare program. We in-turn crib about government not doing anything for improve infrastructure. I think rather than using our smartness in wrong way, we should utilize it to find new ways for the development of the country and its countrymen. That will give an individual more satisfaction than breaking the rules.

Thanks a lot Mam for very interesting and fun to read article. In the point regarding demonetisation, it was such a pleasure reading two different sets of India – Classes and Masses. For sure it’s sad to see how classes used masses for hiding their undisclosed incomes but at the same time I am somehow fascinated by JUGAADs of we- the people. It’s interesting to read several cases in public domain wherein people from classes and masses have successfully gamed the system. Its not only few ones like -Harshad Mehta, an intelligent Broker who knew the exact loopholes with the Indian economy and the banking system but common people- just like you and me. How we managed to hack Uber and Ola Refer and Earn policy to earn free rides. How we managed to get Free credits from PayTM forcing them to come with new sets of rules and regulations for money transfers. I think it’s in our inherent nature – to seek out ways to find what is best for us without considering moral and social obligations. These have to do with - a large population having limited opportunities. We grow up fighting to get OUR share of opportunity. We always find Jugaads to get most out of available to us. I am not promoting or justifying these cases. Infact I am sad that we use these traits mostly while crossing the legal lines. Imagine India if we the SMART people used these traits in ways that were constructive.

“We the people” opening lines of the preamble of our Indian Constitution. The people who wrote our constitution and its preamble chose these words to start the preamble with a purpose. I think they might had thought that an idea of a country or republic can only survive when the people it belongs to can feel that country inside them. So the prime purpose was to bring a sense of belongingness among the citizens towards constitution. This belongingness comes with awareness of rights and responsibilities as mentioned in the constitution. We often remember the rights given to us by the constitution but forget about duties and responsibilities. History is evident that any revolution for change has been successful in producing desired results only when the people participated in it wholeheartedly. It is the people who derives the change by being the part of that change. It is very easy to play the blame game specially when we are living in democracy where we have freedom of speech but at the same it takes guts to admit one’s own mistake and rectify it. Governments, councils, parliaments and other constitutional bodies are there to formulate and declare a policy but the onus of executing it sometimes lies on us. As beautifully said by Mahatma Gandhi “Be the change that you wish to see in the world”, for our sake we can replace the word world by India at any time and be the face of that change.

Thank you ma’am for writing the blog “We the People” which reflects on the behavior of larger section of Indians towards tackling social issues. Be it the problems caused by demonetization or be it related to payment of taxes, be it related to careless driving , breaking of traffic rules or be it picking up fights over petty issues. Our behavior or to say the behavior of large percentage of Indian population & their smartness in managing the system is a matter of grave concern. Agreeing on the fact that there are widespread implications when people break rules, when people manage their taxes, when they find a way to convert their bundles of unaccounted old currency, but I wish to differ & say that every nation has its set of issues. For a country like India, whose population is nearing 1.35 billion & when each state can be compared to a small country based on the sheer magnitude of population, the resolving some of the above problems for any government or lawful body is a complex & prolonged task. So herein the onus of improving our system, improving our behavior lies with us. I would like to appreciate the sense of responsibility shown by many Indians during the demonetization phase when they peacefully waited in long queues to withdraw a small sum of their own money. This is the hope which if cultivated further can bring transformation. Those whose accounts flooded with someone else’s unaccounted money, or those who formed a nexus with the banks to convert the currency are accountable for punishment. But thinking in a broader way, it was people like us that helped those to carry out these unlawful activities. This brings us the question, if we are aware of the wrong doings going on around us, why did we not raise our voice or put a compliant through the proper channel? So society at large is responsible for its own wrong doing. Many taxpayers or say salaried employees have their taxes deducted at source, but people in business tend to evade taxes. How does this happen? One way is a taxed sum of someone’s money can be converted to black money when we buy something & do not seek a valid bill for the purchase. Such small steps can largely improve the system & bring a larger section of society under the tax lens. Unruly road behavior, breaking of traffic rules, honking, spitting in public places & such other activities can all be attributed to individual behavior. A moral change can be initiated by cultivating the right & moral responsibility amongst the younger generation which can take it further to the next level. Stricter laws, harsher penalties, vigilant government & such measures are needed for changing our behavior but more importantly the transformation within us is the need of the hour.

Change is inevitable. We Indians are known for our intelligence in the world and have been growing economically. But, are we growing socially? Are we being responsible towards our behavior? Looking at the number of rule violations, be it traffic rules or tax rules, the answer to both questions can be written as ‘no’. To improve behavior of citizens, we need to bring out culture revolution in our society. It will be difficult to imbibe cultural change in this society because same person who violates laws in India, adheres to all laws once outside India. But cultural change won’t be impossible. We need to make efforts towards making a society which will accept change with time. In initial phase, we need to start teaching the importance of all rules in life from schools, be it tax rules, traffic rules or social rules. As development of people happens from his/ her early learnings, teachers and parents should mould children in such a way that they should feel the laws are hygiene factors in life and adhering them is the way of leading a successful life. Next part will be how to change the ignorant behavior of our citizens? Every person understands repercussions of bad behavior, be it breaking rules or wasting natural resources like water, but people are indifferent with these activities. They really feel that things can be bought with money. We have to make people understand that everyone has equal right on all natural resources irrespective of his/her social strata. How will this happen? Obviously not by putting penalties but by cultural change where people will understand their responsibility towards society.

Mam, I was happy to read your article as most of your points resonated well with my thoughts when I saw the demonetization move abused by few people on Facebook. The comments have made me think about our behaviour in different situations, which you have rightly pointed out. Many people who rejected the move have suddenly started feel more responsible and empathetic for the people who were standing at the ATM. Most media houses have tried to side-track the main issues and focussed only on the number of deaths caused in the ATM line. The irony of the situation is that those who proudly evade taxes are the ones who complain a lot about the government’s inefficiency. Another question which strikes my brain often is “Why do we have traffic cops at automated signal junctions?”. All this boils down to the basic habit of breaking the rules which are more ingrained in our DNA from generations. The problem of breaking rules by us has reached a mammoth stage. The root cause lies in the basic thought that “If I follow rules when others are not following, will it make any significant progress”. Although it may not make any progress, but you would surely inspire others to follow the rules. Everyone wanted to change but none of us were ready to change. I would want to end this by Gandhi’s famous quote “You must be the change you wish to see in the world. “

Ma’am, I think the commendable histrionic in the face of adversity from a common Indian is worthy of accolades that not even mankind can afford. This piece, “We the People” was an ironic yet befitting testimony to the hypocrisy that we have developed over the due course of time. The events spoken of in the article, wrenches sadness into my being. We talk of our perceived annoyance towards every issue that we might be directly or indirectly subjected to. But never do we falter from indulging in an activity however illegal, when it comes to making our life easier. But along with you I will ask these people, is it truly making your lives easier? The pretentious calm and the sleepless nights are agreeable to the classes whilst the simple proposition parting from the money which wasn’t theirs in the first place is unacceptable. Masses stood in never ending queues and some lives were lost, but the back doors were opened for the people who were willing to pay the under table “Conversion Tax” for their black money to be painted white. The opportunist opposition political parties saw this as a way to finally stave off further rise in popularity of the ruling party & more importantly its Prime Minister. Everyone started fuelling their own personal agenda but never did a person ask his/her conscience that if whatever he/she is doing is wrong or not. The more gruelling fact is that barring the person who earned his money rightfully, no other person did actually feel the body blow of being out of cash. It is said that Indians are God fearing people. But from the series of disgusting events of malpractice that unfolded since 8th November 2016, it seems that even God would fear indicting us, We the malicious Indians.

Mam, you have touched upon a subject very close to my heart. I have always wondered, why a country which boasts thousands of years of legacy and value system is always in the news for wrong reasons. Newspapers are filled with all negatives things happening around us. In fact, according to a survey, we are one the unhappiest nation in the world. A deep introspection led me to the following hypothesis, we as a society have developed a psyche of maintaining status quo. ‘India me ye sab chalta he’ has become our national motto. In fact, we take pride in our ability to bend rules. It’s disturbing to see the trend where society associates ‘power’ of a person by his ability to ‘manage’ rules governing the state. We see people throwing garbage on the road, we will blame everyone from PM to CM but we as a society won’t take a collective stand for what is right. We will cry for the lack of infrastructure but are not ready to pay extra taxes for the same. Our love for the nation is evident only in two scenarios- During war and cricket match against Pakistan. However, there is hope. A better way to change this attitude of the society would be by going back to our roots. Value based education which was the pillar of Indian GuruKul system needs to be included in the school syllabus right from the beginning. We can also borrow from the Japanese society where they have embraced the future but by still maintaining a connection with their past. It will take few years to see the benefits of these changes and I am sure ‘we will win not immediately but definitely’.

Great article written about the mindset at the hindsight of demonetization. We have been hearing cliché about glass half-filled since long. At places, people washes their cars with lot of water, to make it look good because it gives them sense of pride when discussing with friends. We have been appreciating the smells coming out of soil after it has been watered in our veranda. India is all about celebration. But, we never realize that at other parts of India people could be suffering from draught (for example Latur). Water is resource. The hall filled water glass is resource, it could have quenched the thirst of a person after the lecture. All these wastes of resource are done because we don’t realize that there could be problem somewhere because of our behavior. We will only start acting in right direction only when we will recognize the problem as mentioned in the article. Sab chalta hai attitude has sunk the boat of India because we have been appreciating that attitude since ages. In my previous job, I got the opportunity to visit Japan and attitude of Japanese towards each aspect of life was eye opener for me. For example, there was waste management system, in which every household must put a same type of household waste on a day of the week to be picked by municipality. No Japanese has ever defaulted during my stay over there. What this small act collaborative act of Japanese means that they recognize the issue of resources. It saves the cost of segregation and savings thus generated can be better utilized elsewhere to improve the necessities. We are in dire need of attitude correction and mindset change, to make the country worth appreciating.

Thanks Madam for writing such a beautiful article which shows not always Juggad is good. We the people take pride in getting things done in shortcut. It is good as long as it is not violating any rules. Coming to the topic of how we reacted during demonetisation, it sad to see people who are from classes are finding ways to manipulate the system in a quest to avoid paying taxes to the government. I agree that the exercise was done for a good cause, but while implementing such huge projects, one has to take care of plugin all the loop holes. The government should have anticipated all the possible ways of manipulating to keep people who defeat the system at bay. I whole exercise is to get better of the people who are stowing the cash without keeping it in the system . Irony of the exercise is when classes are using their contacts to enter the banks through back door and get their work done, masses are waiting in long queues and are hoping for betterment of the society .I believe the change has to come from within the people. The street smartness / Jugaad should be used in a constructive manner. Another aspect that I want to point out is, we as educated individuals, shouldn’t encourage shortcuts in the wrong direction. I am sure , most of us would read this article and will agree, yes , we should be the change and if tomorrow we need a driver’s license to be done and if we learn that by tipping the agent we can expedite the process, we all would be tempted to do that, due what ever reason it is . I strongly feel this attitude at the bottom of the pyramid should stop so that corrupt people at the top will be effected. With that being said, let us be the change .Jai Hind !!!

I would like to put my perspective on the topic “we the people”. The blog rightly puts across the point that people are so much inclined toward economic prosperity .They tend to forget the moral obligations required to attain this economic prosperity. But why does one break all the rules and obligations? It’s because people around us who have chosen the path of breaking rules are enjoying the prosperity they wished. So a person who wants to follow a path feels deprived and hence tend to start breaking rules as well So, How does all these mentality develop? Children at tender age are quick to learn and they learn by seeing things around them. So when the society around behaves in a particular manner ,chances that a child cultivating the habit is also high. When they grow up they practice these habits and become a role model for another set of generations. This cyclic habit keeps revolving and passes on to the future generations. The Habits cultivated may be good or bad will depend upon the people they have seen while growing up. If he/she was surrounded with people having good traits the child is bound to follow that and vice versa. Unfortunately in India we hardly find people who follow rules. So a child is bound to break all these as he/she has seen people around doing this and moving on in life. Thus to bring upon a change and stop this malaise, we grown up’s need to take up the responsibility and set our habits right so that we become a ideal role model for the future generations

This article is thought provoking! Demonetization has surely exposed deeper moral, political and constitutional issues within the Indian society. Superficially we are “We the people” of India but a majority of us think just about ourselves and our own benefit and this is the underlying disease that needs to be cured before we as a nation could make any major progress. This selfish mindset stems from the way Indians have lived their lives: resources were hard to come by, there was always a race for survival and only the fittest survived. Therefore, when people managed to reach a position of power or influence, they wanted to fulfill their hidden desires, make money legally / illegally for their future generations so that their generations do not have to start afresh and go through the same grind. It is extremely important to weed out this selfish mindset in order to eradicate corruption from the country; people should understand that their act of selfishness also provokes someone else to misuse the system in the same way. Any corrupt person should realize that his act of selfishness takes the money away from someone who needs it the most. For example, tax evasion lightens the government’s pockets and there is not enough money to be spent on health, food, employment and infrastructure. As a result poor get poorer with almost no essential means to survive. A rising income divide can make people resort to extreme measures to earn money, for example a corresponding rise in crime can collapse the social structure that we live in. Therefore if we have to make progress as a nation we have to actually forget the “me” and embrace the “we”.

I couldn’t agree more with the views expressed in the article. You see people making sure not to litter when they go on a foreign trip but forget their civic sense when they are back. An aeroplane would still have its seat belt lines on and might have not started deboarding but you will still see people already nudging each other to stand in the aisle. I would like to get into examining how this attitude has been ingrained in us. Since the day we are born we are constantly reminded how important it is to ‘grab the opportunity’. Many would say they would want the corrupt to be given the harshest of punishment but would end bribing the traffic police when they jump the occasional red light. And the little child watches from the back seat. This is now a way of life. It’s not that we would have the same level of resource per human to match the prosperity levels of a developed W. European country anytime soon. So the notion of ‘grabbing’ what is available might still make some practical sense, but will this be our conduct when we wouldn’t mind using adjective like ancient cultural value wisdom when we talk about our country ? The problem is such a behavior is getting incentives. Its time we taught our children that we can achieve much more collectively rather than climbing over each other’s back. Till then ‘Arre bhai line mat tod, ek ghante se hum bhi khade hain’

Dear Pallavi Ma’am, I couldn’t agree with you more on how much we as a society take pride in breaking the civic rules. I think we feel an overpowering need to demonstrate that we can outsmart the system. Avoiding taxes has become a way of life irrespective of the income level and the tax bracket, working around the rules such as producing fake medical bills to save taxes is a norm. Traffic rules are only meant to be followed if there is a traffic policeman around; otherwise the rules are negotiable as per the drivers’ convenience. If you dare to remind your taxi driver to not jump signals, he would let you know with his smirk who the smart one out of the two really is. Civic sense or rather the lack of it in the context of our country has been widely discussed and it is an undisputed fact that we as a country don’t seem to care much for it. This attitude cuts across all ranks and sections. We don’t think of it as important. In today’s fast paced life, in the run towards achieving our personal goals, civic sense as a value and ethic has become a matter of least priority, almost a burden. Often we think that civic sense is only about keeping our surroundings and roads clean. It is actually much more than that; it also encompasses abiding by the laws of the land, showing respect to and consideration for others and maintaining decency in public places. Civic sense is an ethic of social nature, and unfortunately it exists on the bottom of our list of priorities.

Ma’am, firstly I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for offering us a brief yet one of the most insightful courses in PGPM, Business Environment. I thoroughly enjoyed your sessions. Your blog has touched upon a very sensitive topic. Are we losing our sense of right and wrong? Are we getting too blinded by our self interests? Demonetisation, as you rightly pointed out, is only one of the events where the true nature of the new age Indian was revealed. Isn’t it similar to when a traffic cop asks you to pull over for jumping a red light? We are ready to negotiate an unofficial deal with him while we might criticize our politicians for accepting bribes. ‘Oh the magnitude and repercussions of what our politicians do is massive when compared to this’, we try to justify our actions. But what’s wrong is wrong. Period! The new age Indian wants it all, fast and easy. I must accept even I would love to have it that way. We want our country to be like those in the West. But isn’t our complacency one of the biggest hindrances to the same? We collectively need to look at the bigger picture. Enough with the short sightedness! Enough with me, myself and I! Enough with the ‘chalta hai’ attitude! We are one of the biggest emerging economies in the world. The world looks up to us for our talent and growth potential. And we the people don’t behave in a way worthy of it. It is easier said than done though. The mindset will not change overnight. The onus lies upon us to behave responsibly and lead by example. And it doesn’t have to be top down; it can be bottom up as well. The implementation can be made really simple if we realize that our actions reflect who we are. But how one wishes it were that easy!

Professor Pallavi Mody was very nice to place her ideas on Demonetization in such a respect full way. But Lot of people in our system doesn’t deserve to have this respect. This is again not in favor of any political party but lot of crack down and good policies implemented by the government goes down in drain only because of handful of people who work for there own Benefit. The Demonetization was appreciated by every one but there were lot of people who also worked against it for self Benefit and in turn made it less effective. And so the statement made by professor Pallavi Mody Stand very tall. One thing I noticed very remarkably during Demonetization is that lot of rich people turned to be a Messiah for poor. Asking if they require any fund for help. We could see a changed world around where each of them was trying to find ways for smooth passage. There was one class who was grappling for cash to meet daily needs and other class who was sitting on heap of cash and trying to find a safe heaven. It was a shock and every day we saw a surprise where rich people finding new ways to secure there moneys and government changing there policies to check mate them. We could see lot of good affects of Demonetization Unrest in Kashmir going down , bribery going down , 14 Trillions Rs coming into Banking System, Lot of people Opening new Bank Account. But the most important feature which I think has paved a way was use of Digital money. And this could be a big step towards making India corruption free and keeping track on money to be used in correct means. We the people if would have thought of country bringing into a right track this was the best opportunity. Even though Demonetization has given some good advantages but this could have reaped more benefits if there was still more participation. This kind of reform will take time in future to again implement. It is not only the government’s responsibility to clean the system but also peoples equal responsibility and this is what can be clearly seen when we are analyzing advantages and Disadvantage’s of Demonetization. Human values and Ethics needs to improved and taken to next level and this could be done through a strong education system. If this basics are strengthened then we will see a day when we the people will be contributing positively to society and country instead of pulling down initiatives and reforms which are suppose to be game changers. Thanks to Professor Pallavi Mody who has instigated this thought among us and let us take this as a start to make change in future and understand how we the people would have been better to make our society and country more worth while.

Amazing articulated the reality in simple words. Very rightly said that we are the ones who lead to the problems we face. In our day to day life we face certain issues and behave in a stereotype way. Whenever there are any challenges or problems in our life we, rather than finding out the solution, go for the short cut for our individual benefits. We never think about the society we live in. There are certain set of rules formulated for the social discipline and advancement but who the hell would want to follow them. We never go by what is required to be done, instead we do what we feel is right which most of the time is at the cost of social responsibilities. Let us talk about the newly started air conditioned and technically advanced express trains. The trains are designed keeping in mind all the comforts of people using them. The trains had all the facilities which Indian population would have never ever imagined to be in Indian public transportation. There were smartly designed beds, comfortable staircase for occupying the upper birth, high quality air conditioners, lights, charging sockets, fans, wonderful interior decoration, small televisions in all the compartments, personalized earphones, special space for bottles and mobile phones, neat and tidy washrooms and much more. Within 2 days of starting these express trains, the people showed their true colors. The earphones were stolen, the television screens got scratches, the washrooms were all dirty and in miserable conditions which nobody would want to use, the compartments were full of garbage despite of the dustbins provided inside, the decorative items like photo frames were stolen, and the trains became as ugly and filthy as the characters of the people who used them during those days. This is what is done by we the people. These actions of ours result in deteriorated quality of public transportation which ultimately we are only going to use. We do not value what we get in initial stage and then blame government that the transportation ministry is not working efficiently. I mean common!!!!!!. High time we grow up and understand that nobody else but we are responsible for the problems which we are facing in our lives. Poor road quality is because we do rash driving, long queues in the government offices is because we do not do justice to our jobs as government employees, black money is created at large because we do tax evasion and are so self-oriented that we forget that there is a society at large of which we also form a small part, that requires contribution from us which in turn will benefit us and our family in the long run, accidents take place because despite the construction of sky walks, flyovers, subways we tend to take short cuts. We need to change ourselves and our attitude and approach if we want the world to be better off for us. Otherwise, we will continue to grow what we will sow.

This hard hitting truth is a slap on US the people difficult to digest,primarily difficult to personalize. I could actually correlate to every sentence in the blog which gets me to think and think but not take an action . yes the demonetization, the rich people and their PEHCHAN is always worrying as well as annoying ,but steps need to be taken if not immediate at least gradual. but this starts with self realization. A few days back there was this one photo which went viral of ex British PM standing on a crowded train without making a fuss about he was , in the same time there was the airindia MLA nuisance going in India . A marked difference in how the power gets into brains. Educated people spitting on roads , breaking signals, littering etc many nuisance a educated person is doing. I don't have problem with elderly and uneducated people but with people like us. so as is said the only constant is change , to get a change we need to change ourself , our neighborhood first and stop complaining .

Start from Self - Thank you ma’am for bringing this topic on the table for discussion. We live here and experience such activities every day. Demonetization is just the latest of one such experience. This problem exists everywhere, but the intensity is very high within our system. The way we think itself is a question. We see people praise those who made money by breaking the law. Feel proud to be ahead of others using unethical means. Break signals, evade taxes and what not. The person who practices ethical behavior is seen as ignorant, boring and lacking the sense of today’s world. Such behavioral patterns exists since time immemorial. But it has reached to extreme in this current era. I think the social disparity has grown to such an extent that, it has become unbearable. The reaction is what we see in the behavioral patterns. The rich become richer, poor become poorer. Law is broken with pride and evil prevails over good. Such examples are shown, published and glamorized in society and a person with good intend is shown vulnerable and powerless. Do we really need to make a hero of a criminal? Each and every one is responsible to make this society an ideal place to live. Think and dream of a world where everyone has equal opportunities, has freedom of speech, enjoys good governance. We should know how to stay together, as a society, in diverse conditions and keep values above all. Think of the irony where Government is requesting to surrender LPG subsidy, have to tell us to declare our income, pay tax and to beat all of these is appealing people to build a clean nation with ‘Swachh Bharat’ campaign. Still struggling to understand the basics of life. Law is only a support system. Good behavior, Civic sense etc. is not to be governed by law but should come from within. We should practice this irrespective of whether someone is watching us or no. Then we can call it a true change. I hope, transitioning from developing to developed nation includes a clean mind-set also.

Agreed, we the people enjoy breaking rules. We started this Swachh Bharat campaign a couple of years ago on 2nd of October. We reported the progress achieved on that day with Before and After photographs. We published our achievements and our care for nature in the social media and collected thousands of ‘likes’. But, pertinent question is have we made any meaningful change? Have we taught our children the need to keep our home, school, society clean? Have we practiced it at our workplace? If answer to these questions is ‘NO’ then we have lot of things to do. We need a paradigm shift in our thoughts, values, approach and that can only bring the cultural change. I live in a township whose dwellers are highly educated; a unit of best school of the country operates from within it. We also undertook the Swachh Bharat campaign in school and within the township. But after the initial euphoria died down things are back to the same. Everyday, when I go out for the evening walk I notice lot of empty packets of chips, wrappers of chocolate scattered all along the road. There is at least a dozen dust bin in the roughly 2 km stretch that I traverse every evening. But still we do not use it. This is because the idea of ‘Swachh’ has not sunk in us as yet. We are living in a virtual world, a world of facebook and twitter, the ‘likes’, never ending list of ‘friends’ and ‘followers’ cannot change the world, this is REALITY which we have not identified. Here, the culture comes, we need to change this and only ‘WE’ can make this happen. I don’t think this is tough, the reason is simple. When we go out of our country for Holidays or on official trip we make sure that we don’t throw our litter around. We are aware that we may end up on the wrong side of the law if we do not follow this. We are cautious about that. To make the change happen we have to_ • Practice Swachh at our home, parents to imbibe this in the young minds • In office space practice, appreciating in social media will help If we can do at least the above two, then we are preparing a generation for the future, who has Swachh in their blood and we can see a better future. This will take some time as India is a vast country with huge population which is a problem when we compare ourselves with other Asian countries like Singapore or Malaysia.

The author discusses behaviour of different strata of society on the backdrop of Narendra Modi’s demonetization drive. She talks about how ‘masses’ have been supportive of the government’s policy and have even been ready to face temporary hardships to make the initiative a success whereas on the other hand ‘classes’ have tried to get around the note ban policy implemented by the Government on curbing black money to suit their interests. “We the people are smart” as rightly said in the closing line is a sarcasm thrown on the mentality of the classes of Indian society which seems to take pride in breaking the rules. I believe the author is absolutely justified in questioning the mindset and value system of these people, is startled and hurt at their behavior and of classes’ age-old tax evasion habit. The author also questions the habit of Indians to look for short cuts in each and everything they do and feel cool about it. To further add to the above point, she gives example of how people are behaving on roads today – they are ruthless drivers, are always ready to jump signals, indulge in double parking and pick fights wherever possible. Overall the society has reached a new low. I very much agree with this point of view of author and also at times question attitude of certain people, especially those who have the habit of criticizing and questioning everything in the society but the same people never ever come in front when there is a chance to do their bit for bringing change in the society. I believe there is a need for each and every Indian to come out of this mindset, become an honest and hardworking nation and come out of the self-defeating mindset of tax evasion.

At the onset I would like to thank our distinguished Prof. Pallavi Mody for sharing her thoughts in her blog “We the People.” All the points raised and issues mentioned by Pallavi mam are the ones on which I hold similar views . But then sometimes I question myself . I being a honest tax payer do I get what I deserve , flood free roads in Mumbai, footpaths to walk on without encroachments , shanties or shop extensions, in spite of collecting highest amount of taxes from Mumbai is the traffic congestion problem or public transport problem being solved in a systemic way? I happily gave up my LPG subsidy , but did the government take a vote or ask general public before sponsoring natural gas for lighting flame for a politician at a public park in Dadar 24/7. My tax payments go to fodder scam and providing Z plus security to godmen and government bungalows and other facilities to IAS, IPS officers and politicians , even the jailed politicians and gangsters turned politicians get VIP treatment in jail. Superstar convicts get parole and furlough while an innocent person can languish in jail as he or she may not have money power to fight case. Judicial system is clogged with pending cases mounting and lawyers being more of businessmen. That’s the time when I feel I really should not pay taxes. But then have I done anything on my part to change this , the answer is “NO” , then who am I to question the system. I guess many of us see all this but are too busy with our own life. My answer to this mess or a solution which I think might make at least some impact is having education system which is very strong,independent of political or religious ideology, knowledgeable and well paid teachers from the schools to colleges and institutes of higher education having autonomy, a strong judiciary and stern and quick delivery of justice and application of law . But again there might be many aspects of human nature, economics, politics , power and different layers of we the “Jugaadu” Indians that I am missing ,but still the blog by Pallavi Mam made me think a bit more .

“We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change" These were Mahatma Gandhi's words in his autobiography My experiments with truth. Today we see the definition of change has completely different. When we talk about change we first speak about what can be changed in the system, in the society, etc etc and the list goes on, but one is not ready to change oneself. This brings me to the boiling question, What makes us so reluctant to change? The answer to this question is not so complex, it is just that we like to be in the comfort zone and don't want to change ourself, but expect everything around us to change by itself. And we are proud of what we do, be it malicious activity. It is very disturbing to see all the negative news surrounding our nation, It sometimes surprises me, How can a nation with such rich heritage and cultural values face a situation like this? This is due to lack of discipline and a proper justice system. The culprit is confident that he will get away and the victim lives in fear of that he will be victimised again. All of these factors root to a basic cause, that is "Attitude". How many times have we heard the saying "attitude is everything"? But we never want to try that on ourself. It is high time that each one of us realises the importance of attitude and change oneself. This is essential if we want to move ahead and reach the goal that Mahatma Gandhi had set for us. And I think it is high time that we bring "I" before "We". I thank you, Ma'am, for touching upon this boiling question and giving your valued perspective about it.

The article has subtly demonstrated our behaviour as Indians towards responsibilities and obligations. The title “We the people” aptly fits to the article. Every Indian has undergone the experience of demonetization, But the analysis of the behaviour of the people during the demonetization has been presented in its true form. As were my fellow citizens, even I was frustrated during the demonetization due to the long queues and cash crunch. But in the hope of the better tomorrow, I had also pacified myself. Being a salaried person that too in a government, I was always critical of the tax avoidance by business people. I was happy for the fact that the tax avoiders will be forced to pay tax and would contribute to nation building through their tax contribution. But this happiness did not last for long and ended when I saw news about tax evaders and cash hoarders finding ways and means to convert the old currency to new currency. But, after reading this blog, I started to think about our attitude towards breaking rules. We, as Indians are known for complacency towards following regulations such as wearing helmet or crossing the signal, even if they do not entail a lot of effort or financial expense. Then, now let’s take this case about tax rules and regulations where it entails financial expense to follow the rules and regulations. We as Indians are famous for putting extra effort to create mechanism to bypass rules. Everybody is benefitted in this game of breaking/ bypassing the rules but the state. But we as Indians have to go a long way to realize that we ourselves form the state, we are no different from state and rules are formed for our welfare. It has been long 70 years since independence, but there seem no signs of such realization in majority of our population. Strict law enforcement is the need of the day for us to follow the rules and realisation of following rules will eventually follow.

Prof. Mody has aptly described the grey shade of Indian mentality with the example to demonetization. The question that why we people are like this can be answered by the basic truth that we are a diverse population. Cultural diversity is just one part, we are divided by states, constitution, income, classes and the list continues. The pride in breaching the laws which is quoted as “acting smart” is done by a part of the population and not the whole of it. Classes were created by people, but those are nourished by the government. One law or rule will be beneficial for a particular class and not for the other. It is very hard to get all the people on same page make them aware of the civic sense and responsibility. The disease of being immoral is deep rooted in our minds and it may take ages to create a revolution where it will all be fair and just as it is in few other countries across the world.

The blog talks about the sorry behaviour of Indians of breaking laws without a sense of guilt. This characteristic of people resorting to breaking laws has become part of the daily routine. The root cause of this behaviour is three sided. First, breaking the rules in India does not always entail punishment and the system is not robust enough to always find the guilty and punish them in time. This can be corroborated by the fact that Indians staying abroad would not consider breaking the rules for the fear of being punished. However, the same ones when they come back to India often follow the suit of breaking the rules. Second, Indians often make use of ‘Jugaad’ to circumvent the current laws without breaking the rules on paper. The complex structure of Indian tax is a by-product of the mischief done by Indians to evade taxes. The more the tax authorities try to plug in the loop holes, the more Indians find ways of circumventing them. This is evident from the fact that only about 3% of the Indians pay taxes. Taking the example of the time when FDI in online retail was prohibited (it is allowed now), ecommerce giants like Flipkart and Amazon had resorted to dodging the laws of FIPB to get funds from venture capitalists from abroad. Several shell companies have been incorporated in India to bypass the provisions of Income tax Act and Companies Act and resort to window-dressing the Balance sheets. Recently, as a part of Government’s efforts of crackdown on shell companies, over two lakh shell companies have been deregistered. Even during the demonetisation drive, as stated in the blog, almost 99% of the banned notes have come back into the system which proves the point that the ‘Upper Classes’ have successfully converted their black money to white through illicit means by side-stepping the laws. Thirdly, people in India resort to shortcuts for short term gains without any consideration for moral and social obligations because of the problems specific to India. Lack of infrastructure, huge population, widespread poverty, less opportunities, huge competition - these all pave the way for circumventing laws to relish short term benefits at the cost of long term damage. The larger impact of this is an overall deterioration of Indian economy as a whole. Change in this attitude in each one of us is important in the current times. Stricter laws and effective implementation by making sure the guilty are found and punished in time can go a long way in forcing a change in this attitude. Further, taking a quote from Mahatma Gandhi, ‘Be the change you want to see in the world’, there should be a change in the mindsets of each of us.

I strongly agree with the point you are making ma’am. There is something inherently wrong with our behaviour and approach to life. People often blame the government for everything that is wrong with the country. However, often, we the people are responsible for the condition of the nation. For some reason, most of the people not only in India but in most countries, have a very negative opinion about taxes. They seem to completely forget the reason for which taxes are being collected. If any government in power announces tax cuts, the common man rejoices. I think the people need to be reminded that taxes are meant for the greater good of the nation. If the nation is in a financial crisis, the people must step up and contribute to resolve that issue. The greatest challenge that governments face is that it is very difficult to increase taxes or announce budget cuts for social welfare programs. Doing so, immediately affects their popularity and the possibility of a re-election. In addition to all this, in India, a lot of people believe that the taxes they pay will end up in the pockets of some politicians instead of benefiting the nation. It is possible that due to this, people do everything they can to avoid paying taxes. We need to change our viewpoint and realise that by paying our taxes, we are doing our part in helping all the people of this country. There are several other examples where we the people are responsible for things not being right. People often complain that the trains and platforms are very dirty in India. Do we ever stop and think why is it that way? Every day, the platforms are cleaned. When the trains start out, they too are clean. It is we the people who dirty everything. We spit and throw trash everywhere and then complain of how unhygienic the railways are. We are at fault here, not the railways. Another example is when we talk of corruption. We all comment on how the government and a lot of the public servants are corrupt. We talk about the various scams and bribery. However, how often do we pay bribes to get our work done? When we’re caught breaking the signal or when we want to speed up the process at a government office, we don’t think twice before offering a bribe. It’s important that we understand that we are as much a part of the problem as the people who receive the bribe are. Things are seeming to improve lately though. I feel like a lot of people are realizing that our behaviour is part of the problem. If we want the standard of living in India to improve, we will need to do our bit. To get people to pay their taxes, it’s important that they have some assurance that the money will be put to good use. For this, we need more transparency in the governments operations. Every rupee must be accounted for. Hopefully, in the future we the people can work towards building a better nation.

That was a powerful and thought provoking piece of article, mam. But questions like - Are we the people who take pride in breaking rules? – is also more of a collective society’s thinking, is what I believe. As in, in my opinion, we break rules as a society. We live in a world where we believe that one individual cannot make a difference and hence the chaos. For example, we want to get a cup of coffee at Starbucks, and we see nobody has a queue sense and people are hoarding the tender, chances are we will also follow the same instead of starting a trend of standing in the queue. The logic behind such actions is that ‘why should I alone follow rules when the whole world is breaking them. How will I make a difference? Little do we realise that an eye for an eye will only leave the world blind. Also, the opinion that if I earn it, I get to keep it, is predominant among us. That’s the thought that goes when people try to avoid taxes. According to them, I worked (be it legal or illegal way) for this money, why should I share a major chunk of it with someone who had no role to play in it. Here also, we do not realise that the money that we pay as taxes comes back to us in infrastructures, better facilities (which might not be the case in our country but still which is not a good reason for defaulting on taxes) When it comes to our attitude on roads – jumping signals, not following zebra crossing etc, I would like to say that – the same people when they go to places like USA and UK, follow the rules to the T. So, why the behaviour is different in one’s own country when the same person behaves in a more disciplined way when in another country, is something to think about. Is it because the rules are strict there, is it because we follow the “Mob Effect” and tend to go with the crowd where the crowd respects the rules set by the law? If we could answer these questions, we might grow as a more disciplined nation.

We couldn’t agree more. That “We the people” live on the edge. That “We the classes” found ways and means to get the unaccounted monies back into the system. However, some questions arise. Why the people of India enjoy living on the edge? Was getting unaccounted money back into the system a bye product of living on the edge, an example of enjoying breaking rules or was it a necessity? Is not paying taxes equivalent to degrading our values? Let’s start with the simplest question. Why the people of India enjoy living on the edge? Well, 65% of India’s 132.4 crore population is below the age of 35 years. As per psychology today, researches show that young people live on the edge for 2 main reasons: 1. They do not evaluate risk as well as people of older age group 2. Research on peer relationship and brain development concludes that during young age there is increased interest and influence of peers. Therefore, a youth is more likely to speed drive when she is watching as compared to when her friends are not watching. So, given the quantum of the young population in India, it is evident that people enjoy living on the edge. However, is enjoying breaking rules the main reason people don’t pay taxes or is it a necessity? To understand this, let’s compare policies and expenditure of government of India with that of the developed economy like the US Scheming through this year’s India’s budget analysis, the main headings are: “Massive government-funded health care”, “Subsidies for farmers”, “Free cooking gas and electricity” and so on. And here, we are not talking about free electricity to a person or a village, but to billions of people. All these benefits are only for masses, not for classes. And how is government able to pay for these benefits? From the taxes paid by the classes! Moreover, these are unproductive spending ie, the government is spending but not getting any return. And, such spending does not help anyone. By giving something free of cost, we are not enabling them to earn. Parallelly, looking at US spending’s, 28% is on health care and 24% on social security (old age, survival, disability insurance) and entire organized labour are entitled to these benefits. And unlike India, the majority of employment is under organized labour. Like the US, other developed economies also have similar policies. Now, implying these Macro policies at the Micro level, let’s take an example. In less than a year, most of the GMP batch will be employed in Europe or US. We will be willing to pay 30% tax to those government. Why? Because, their government will provide for my family’s and my health insurance, my kids’ education and many such other benefits. To add to that, the government of Netherland will be reimbursing my rent as a student even before I start paying taxes! Compared to that, in India, if an upper middle class pays entire 30% of tax, what are the benefits she will get in return? Won’t she have to pay unreasonable bills at a hospital in case of emergency or for exorbitant fees for her child’s education? Of course, she will have to. And those payments are made from the “unaccounted money”. Here, there is no thrill of breaking rule, it is about survival. Imagine that upper-middle-class person, working for 18 hours a day, unable to pay hospital bills for her family because she honestly paid taxes! And more importantly, because she has unaccounted money, does that mean there is degradation in her values? Maybe not. Maybe she is the lawyer defending a poor rape victim (free of cost, paying basic costs out of her own pocket) against a member of parliament! Or the psychiatrist taking care of mentally challenged orphans! The point is, India’s policies are quite populist in nature, impairing economy in general and in such scenario, people have to find ways and means to go on because after all, it is the survival of the fittest!

This is a very insightful article with an attention pulling title. Somehow, every time I read the title I remember the start of the oath I took as a games captain of my school; “We the game's captains solemnly pledge…” Now, if I look back, taking oaths to perform duties with responsibility and dignity as young students was a way to prepare us as a responsible citizen of the largest democracy of India. But as we grew up society taught us otherwise. It was ok to evade taxes, it was cool to break traffic rules and it was natural to look for our own greed before country and constitution. And in all of this, the teachings of that oath ceremony was lost somewhere. But the irony is we blame the bureaucratic system and government bodies to not function properly. We forgot that we are equal culprits. We can complain about high accidents rates but not think about following traffic rules. We complain about the blockage of sewers but never think how garbage that chocked the sewer reached there. Same thing happens with any radical actions of government like demonetization. We ignore the reasons for what the action was taken and start arguing about the justification of that action. Also, we start finding ways around it once we feel the heat or we find our benefit. And this all because we don’t realize our role in society but care about individual benefits. “Mujhe farak nhi padta kyuki mujhe isse kuch fyaeda yaa nuksaan nhi.” Till we don’t remember the feel of responsibility we had while bearing our school flag and carry it along for country and system as a whole I am afraid any action would not put our country to right direction.

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Email: info@spjimr.org 
Delhi Centre
Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Campus, 
3rd Floor Gate No. 4, Copernicus Lane
Kasturba Gandhi Marg, New Delhi-110001
Telephone: 011-23073121, 011-23006871
Direct Line: 011- 23383563

Link to SPJIMR Location Google Map