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Chottu, Malik and Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Narendra Modi plays Robin Hood in Moradabad but encourages theft by the poor…writes Bikram Vohra

Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Robin Hood stole the Sheriff of Nottingham’s wealth and distributed it to the poor. The legend grew and turned romantic. Prime Minister Modi pretty much turned Moradabad into Sherwood forest when he announced that all Jan Dhan holders who had loaded up their accounts with other people’s black money (about Rs 30,000 crores) after November should now plan to keep these ill gotten gains while those who gave it to them should start marching off to jail.

 Obviously, the announcement was received with rapturous cheers. Except that it bypasses the fact both sides colluded in the deal. For another, even if we argue that the poor were compelled by circumstances where their bosses (masters, sahibs, maliks, munims, seths, Thakurs and whatever) ordered them to do so or else they would face the consequences, it is exactly this relationship that will prevent the vast majority from either surrendering the route map of the money or coughing up names. They are not going to risk their jobs by becoming quislings. There is no other job waiting outside. Nor does the ‘gift’ come with any guarantee of employment.

Such impractical statements not only make presumptions that all the rich are bad (not that Rs 2.5 lakhs is exactly enough for a castle in Capri) and that all the poor are little angels but contributes to the class divide, encourages loathing and suspicion and pits one against the other. The government cannot absolve itself of the role that it has played in creating this equation when it announced that upto that sum (Rs 2.5 lakhs) being put in an account no questions would be asked.

In the first days, it was no secret that people were using their minions to do the dirty work. Some even proudly spoke about it. No one denies that it was wrong but that it was allowed; when populist interpretations are made which call on you to take what is not yours, it reminds one of the French revolution and the sound of the tumbrels.

We are now one step away from breaking the glass window and looting. Why not find the key to the office safe and take the money…same difference.

Modi would have better served the situation if he had said take out that money and clear your accounts of what is not yours and give it back to your bosses and tell the Seth and the Malik and the sahib to go fly a kite. Don’t keep that fruit of the poisoned tree in your account. Give it to the authorities if you cannot give it to the bosses but don’t keep it…Let not your bosses get a chance to take it back from you.

Now that would have been a fight worthy of the Prime Minister. Not reducing the gravitas of the situation to a theatrical hostility that does no one any good. What is edifying about making statements that suggest there is great glee in having the rich fall at the feet of the poor. The rich never fall at feet of the poor. They would simply manipulate them and if they did fall at their feet momentarily it would only be to pull the edge of the rug.

Why were Jan Dhan accounts not exempted from the allotted Rs 2.5 lakh ceiling and the nation informed that any untoward spike would be seen as criminal in such accounts.

Thing is we cannot turn this into a social war. That is far too dangerous. If the ‘them’ and ‘us’ becomes the spearhead of the demonetisation movement it might win some votes in the imminent elections but over the long haul will turn as sour as lime when nothing pans out.

Allowing the poor to keep the black money of the rich only replaces one crime with another. And before the cascade begins how does one draw the line in the sand between what is rich and what is poor.

It does not become white money.

And as for sending the hundreds of thousands to jail even if you got a handful of names what crime is there in in ‘gifting’ your staff a bonus of Rs 2.49 lakhs?

Can we really see the truly rich and corrupt and the big time scammers at the top even losing a minute’s sleep.

Contrary to the current trend a huge number of well off people take care of their lesser fortunate brethren…so do you. Let’s not destroy that powerful pillar of our society.


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