Posts Tagged ‘Mamata Banerjee’

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.


It is time institutes that groom youngsters to become airline crew also start a course on basic etiquettes for airline passengers. We must be among the most uncouth, illiterate passengers anywhere and could do with some basic training on how to behave once inside an airliner.

On both Indigo flights, to and from Kolkata, the people who travelled by them made we wonder whether we really deserve to fly. Most passengers are mentally still in the passenger train age! I read an update on Facebook from a friend, Huned Contractor, who asked why Indian flyers take a little walk down the aisle and go to the bathroom after the ‘fasten your seat belt’ indicator has blinked on.

I guess it has a lot to do with the fact that money may bring you luxury, it doesn’t necessarily breed class. It’s the typical Indian attitude – “I am paying for the flight so I have the right to treat the services and people at my disposal like dirt.” It is like the rich, but uncouth Indian who checks into hotels, uses foul language and shouts at staff if he finds something amiss in the room. There were times, during my stint at a hotel, when I felt my sticking my middle finger into a guest’s face who misbehaved!

I was astonished to see how many people popped out of their seats to take a leak the minute stewardess announced that we were about to land. If they held on for two hours couldn’t they hold on for another 15 minutes? But, no, they had to rush off and queue up before the toilets, hopping from one foot to another, till they were told to get back to their seats. When we were kids, we were told to go to the loo before getting into bed. I guess some people just haven’t outgrown that.

Then, when the ‘switch off electronic devices ‘ sign came on, I saw people merrily chatting on their mobiles, even after the stewardess asked them to shut it off. And lastly there is a rush for the exit as soon as the aircraft taxies to a stop. Most people who travel by air either have their drivers or family pick them up or take a pre-paid taxi. Luggage is usually travelling on the conveyor belt by the time we reach the arrival lounge. So what is the tearing hurry? I guess that is the train passenger’s mentality that still hasn’t been conditioned to fly. Take the way in which passengers get into the airport bus that ferries them to the aircraft. They’ll all crowd around the entrance instead of making place for the others who are getting in – like they might get left behind!

I remember, this Sikh gentleman once on a flight from Pune to Delhi who was up and standing near the front exit even as the plane’s wheels touched the tarmac. The air hostess marched up to him and sternly ordered him back to his seat. He stood his ground, till she raised her voice. No male likes being ticked off by a woman in public, so he slid back in his seat! But the minute the aircraft stopped he jumped up and dashed off towards the rear exit!

So are the institutes listening? Please teach us how to behave on an airplane!

I was in Kolkata on a three-day break  to attend a student’s wedding. I try to avoid weddings. Even the ones which my wife drags me to, I go with great reluctance, because firstly, I get bored out of my skull and secondly the food at most Maharashtrian weddings is standard – not that I have anything against it, actually I quite relish the ‘Masala bhaat’ – but the rest of the stuff is too bland for my tastes! And then making small talk with people who I hardly know is a bit much.

However, in the present case, I went because the student threatened to lynch me if I didn’t attend. I know she didn’t mean it, but when someone asks me with such ‘sincerity’, I don’t like to act pricey. She was also among my brighter students who was genuinely interested in pursuing journalism as a career. I guess I owed her, at least, that much.

There is another student who is mad at me because I didn’t show up for her wedding in January. In her case, there were extraneous circumstances related to work which stopped me. But then who asks, why! They let itchy fingers do the talking on a social networking platform. And I am not going to reply. Also, I honestly don’t remember whether she even sent me an invite for the wedding, although I did see it put up on Facebook.

As for Kolkata, just briefly, the city has improved from the last time I was there over two decades ago, for the wedding of a friend, who said she didn’t think I cared enough to show up! I did meet some Bengalis who didn’t have too many nice things to say about Mamata Banerjee. They were shocked when I said I was sorry for her, because she was up against all the male chauvinists in the Left Front! I then added that the Leftists were still smarting at the thrashing they got at the hustings. I just love getting under people’s skin! She might not last another term but then neither have the Leftists done much for the State in all those years of systematic rigging that kept them in power.