Demonetization Demarcation: Optimism, Pessimism and Realism

What is optimism?

I was sitting in my office and was using the very rare 5 minute break to scroll through Facebook. It was the 8th of November and the Prime Minister had just announced out of nowhere that all the existing 1000 and 500 Rupees legal tender would be illegal from midnight. What next happened to me was a burst of happiness, surprise and shock.

Growing up, just like scores of others, I loved Shankar's movies - specially the ones that kindled the anger and irritation of the public against a corrupt government and society than bent itself to the whims of money. I felt a genuine and honest anger in me - so honest that it felt so unfair to suffer for having not done anything bad. A general conversation that you could hear among people after watching such movies - Such revolutionary measures will never be implemented, we will still be corrupt and all the solutions can only be done in the movies but not in real life... Yes, so was my thought and frustration that nothing significant would ever happen in India. I had never lost hope while I still believed we were changing, only in a slower pace. Common man - no great economic knowledge - able to understand far reaching implications of this move - but inconvenience - optimist looks to overcome inconvenience for a better future. I have always been an optimist when it comes to governance. Have to agree - optimism would get things done but not to everyone's satisfaction and content. I think that is what happened here - optimists focused more on the positive outcomes of the future thereby overshadowing the really hard and pressing present situations. At least that is how I looked at this issue and I am sure that is how anyone with hope for a better future would want to see. I was just watching a video of a rickshaw driver in Delhi being interviewed by CNN journalist - he says his daily income was cut in half and it is troubling him enormously but when asked "Do you still think the move was good?", he replies saying that temporary inconvenience is alright if the criminal big fishes suffer. Of course he might know less than me, more than you or maybe he is just another common man with hopes for a brighter India - a common man who wants to see through his difficulties with hopes that his work is not going in vain. A common man who earns on average Rs.1000 has a level of optimism and hope that I don't see in the middle class. You can argue that it is an isolated incident and that there are several other common men/women in India who are poor and who suffer. This is where pessimism comes in.

A pessimist looks at this situation, and he sees all that has gone wrong. Yes, the outcome of demonetization is not evident yet and hence, the chance of being overly pessimistic is easy. This is where a realist comes into play too. As the outcomes are not evident and visible, a realist would also lean on the pessimistic side. A realist mostly has the ground realities as the basis for this way of thinking. Ground realities at the moment might not be effectively reflective of how situations might be a year from now after a policy has been implemented.

How do I balance my thoughts now? Several contradicting incidents one after another pushes even the optimist for now to re-think his strategy, rethink if being blindly optimistic is right. But at the end of the day when I go to bed, I believe that tomorrow will be a better day and that keeps pushing me forward.

Concept of country and nationalism. If you ask me, a rationalizing liberal, I am against war and hence army and soldiers are not my idea of nationalism but coming together for greater good is.  I was reading an article in The Economist about the rise of a new nationalism. The article talks about two distinct types of Nationalism - Civic and Ethnic Nationalism. While the civic nationalism is described to be the one where people of a country come together and agree to push forward progressive ideologies and policies promoting equality/freedom whereas ethnic nationalism uses the people's inner fears, racial/caste pride, greed and vengeance as means to push an agenda. Optimism has a solution. Now that this move has been implemented, as a country, we can follow the path of civic nationalism and come together as citizens for common welfare. There are problems - I am not denying any of those but the solution is not to complain about the negative side-effects but to contribute in any manner possible to change the mood of the general public. A poor man struggling to make ends meet wants to ensure cash in his hands. For him, the person who thinks he is sacrificing a little bit of his already small food portions for the greater good, he would feel honestly bad when people want this move to be scrapped and made void. Scrapping the demonetization move is not the solution but looking towards the goal of eliminating the black economy and eventually achieving a just/fair economic system.

PS: I drafted this in November but did not post it as I was too uncertain about the credibility of my thought process. Now, reading it again in March 31. 2016 this is painting a different picture in my head. There is no conclusions to be drawn from this silly (not so silly) analysis but just few different ways to approach one situation. That is life in general - there is never one way to do anything or get things done - life will always find a way and will always make sure it is for the greater good! :) 


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