Posts Tagged ‘Lalu Yadav’


Frankly, I am getting tired of people droning on about standing in bank queues and the time they have to waste, and all the wonderful or terrible people they meet. What the fuck were you doing when there were no ATMs? Did God come down on Earth to dole out cash to you? I think one of the biggest crimes any government committed in the last 70 years was the launching of ATMs. It made us lazy, it made us impatient, and most of all it made us forget the pain of standing in queues.

In the last three weeks I have been reading about people allegedly dropping dead in bank queues because they’ve forgotten what it was like to stand in a queue. And I use the world ‘allegedly’ deliberately. I am sure there are genuine cases too, and it’s sad, but I am sure by the time things are back to normal the number of deaths will come down to single digits, and many of those too, this sexed up media will realise, were unrelated to standing in a queue. Maybe, we should shut down ATMs every few months to let people live a more realistic life of the 1970s and 1980s where they stood in bank queues that sometimes stretched to the street outside. I know there are problems. It is a mind-boggling exercise which could not have been done any other way. There have been problems many un-anticipated. I am sure, in hindsight, even the government realises the process could have been better planned. I am sure villagers are the hardest hit, but to make it a doomsday scenario is stretching the truth a lot. And in this one has to blame sections of the media who are deliberately misreporting to create a panic. If the villagers are having problems the state and district administration should approach the centre and make arrangements to disburse funds. The problem is when bankers, government officials and politicians are themselves are corrupt, who do you trust? I know of labourers who have bank accounts opened in their name all of a sudden, with funds being deposited in them. Since when did one need to deposit Rs 50,000 in a savings bank account, when one can maintain a zero balance?

And I’ll be honest, my family too felt the sudden shortage of cash with banks running short, and wondering how we spend the old denominations. Fortunately, all three of use debit cards and wire transfers. Maybe it’s called being smart. I also connected to Paytm and have never been more relieved, because I have to carry even less cash around now.  I too had problems with my account in a co-operative bank. I waited for the problem to ease, and when it didn’t because they were giving only Rs 2,000, I wired money from there into the nationalised bank account I have and withdrew Rs 20,000. We cut down our expenses, saved enough last month to ensure we could pay the maids on December 1. So stop cribbing so much, and move on. I did.

I also know that the entire country cannot go cashless and neither is the government forcing you to. But can those who want to, do so, instead of having to read planted reports by a subjective media demonising the plan? Indians are so gullible that they believe anything and that is what the media is hoping it can achieve in its efforts to ensure this plan fails. This country is littered with stories of idiotic Indians falling for a con. Look at the way people fall for the dumbest trick around – the spam mail telling you that you have won millions of dollars. Or someone claiming to be from a bank asking for your ATM card and pin. The fact that the government has to release commercials on TV channels telling people not to fall for it should tell us what a bunch of idiots we are.

Which brings me to this whole engineered controversy about demonetisation being a waste of time, money and energy, because black money will not go away. It is bizarre. No, black money won’t go away. If it did, we would all be living in Utopia. Let’s face it, a thief will remain a thief. He will find new ways to break the law. Years ago, when we moved to Gurgaon, I went to buy a lock. I told the shopkeeper I wanted a big lock for the front door and he smiled and said “Taala sharifon ke liye hota hain, choron ke liye nahin” (Locks are meant for the honest (to tell them you’re not home), not for thieves). I mean, the police put up traffic lights, road dividers and lanes, in the hope that we will follow traffic rules. But some people think they are above the law. We can only make laws tougher. And it’s not like all the people who had black money got away. We are reading about sacks full of money being discovered and the arrest of bank officials who have been helping the unscrupulous change their currency.

As for the opposition politicians who are protesting the loudest, it’s obvious they’ve been hit the hardest. Now that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has stolen their ideas, reinvented them to suit his party, and put paid to their plans, they are hell-bent on getting rid of him. That is why people like Rahul Gandhi, Lalu Yadav, Mulayam Singh, Arvind Kejriwal, and now Mamata Banerjee, are indulging in hysterics. In which country did you hear of a state being taken over by the army, when there is a civilian government at the centre in power? You have to be a complete imbecile to come up with such an absurd fantasy. Rahul Gandhi accuses Modi of TRP politics, conveniently forgetting that he too was doing just that with his khat sabhas and the farce of standing in a bank queue to withdraw Rs 4,000. Doesn’t he know there is a bank and an ATM in Parliament House? Oh, but how would he, he is hardly there.

If this is the way Rahul, Kejriwal, Mamata and the rest intend to push forward their candidacy to replace Modi in 2019, then Modi can be sure of another two terms as prime minister. Also, we don’t need comedy shows on TV channels anymore, these political stand-up comics will do just fine as replacements.

As a tax payer I am happy even if 2 per cent of the crooks in this country are nailed. I would consider it worth every minute I spend in a bank queue.

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I was reading a Facebook status update about train passengers in Patna without confirmed reservations who barged into a reserved compartment and locked themselves in, thereby effectively denying legitimate ticket-holders entry into the bogey! There are only two States in the country where such a thing can happen – Bihar and Uttar Pradesh!

I remember writing a blog post after the Assembly elections when Lalu and Rabri were given marching orders by the electorate in 2010 and Nitish took over. I had also said in that blog post that it would take Nitish at least two decades to put the State back on the road to some semblance of prosperity.  After that, I had heard that Bihar had been changing for the better. For Nitish Kumar it must have been like climbing Mount Everest.

His biggest problem would have been to change the mindset of people who have lived in the belief that if they want something that is not theirs they don’t ask if they can have it, they just take it. In other words, the Goonda culture. That is Lalu’s legacy which has filtered down to the man on the street in Bihar. The kidnappings, murders, etc are all part of that legacy. And that is what I hoped, Nitish would change. Unfortunately, I don’t think that is happening, though I sincerely hope I am wrong.

So when I read the FB update I remembered an incident during a trip back from then Calcutta to Bombay sometime in the mid 1980s. When the train reached Kiul there were just four of us in that IIIrd sleeper compartment, which meant that at Patna, there were berths reserved for the rest who would be boarding. What happened next was a fascinating replay of what happens at most railway stations in the East and North on any given day. Those with reservations got in and got comfortable. Then a train conductor appeared outside and shouted to those clamouring for a seat or berth to form a queue. I marvelled at the order he had managed to put things in.

Then he stuck both hands out and as passengers trooped in, they put money in the TC’s palm! I watched mesmerised. It was like clockwork — opening his palms, closing his palms once the money was in, putting his hands in his coal pockets, and then pulling them out for the next round. He soon got tired and called for help to pocket all the money! There are, I think around 74 berths in a IIIrd sleeper, but there must have been at least double that number in the compartment before the train left Patna.

I took down his badge number and name and on my return to Pune, wrote a letter to the railway minister. About a year later I got a reply from the ministry, which stated that they had conducted an inquiry and found that there was no TC with that name or number on that route, and no such person at Patna Junction either! The letter helpfully added that since I was sure of the TC’s identity they would be having an identification parade at Danapur Junction on a given date, so I should be present.

I wrote back to the railway minister telling him that I wouldn’t be attending any ID parade, because after a year it would be impossible for me to identify a man I saw on a dimly lit Patna Station. I added that having been born and lived in Bihar I knew exactly what could happen to me, if I ever landed up there to identify a crook!

It is these incidents that have given Bihar a bad name. So let’s hope for Nitish’s sake, that whatever happened at Patna Junction recently was an isolated incident, and not a sign of things to come – or return, to what they were during Lalu’s time.