I am angry, are all angry with Modi? MUJHKO GUSSA KYON AATA? – Chottebhai

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Chottebhai(A sequel to “Dil ka Dard”) Chhotebhai, in Indian Currents, Oct.0-15/2017

It is written as a sequel to MUJHKO GUSSA KYON AATA?, I am angry!

(Note: This is a thought provoking analysis of Modiji’s  rule as PM  during the last three years corroborating what he writes with any number of facts and citations  of unfulfilled promises, all collected under one head for easy understanding of any ordinary reader.

Chhotebhai shines best in assembling  these  data and that too humerously, especially in view of 2019 elections on which what the whole country is focused on. It is also to be seen how many of the secular papers in English and in the vernaculars will have the courage and clarity to follow  his example.

Even if they do, it will be a tussle between a David and Goliath, the BIG business and the media – print and visual, especially the social media — controlled by a ruthless government selling its wares in dazzling colours for the common credulous folks who like insects are prone to dash into burning fire mistaking it for heavenly light and splendour.

James kottoorThe writer is the Convenor of the Kanpur Nagrik Manch, and led Anna Hazare’s India Against Corruption campaign in 2011. One has to wait and see how things develop and who helps in this contest of enlightening the public to make truth to win. james kottoor, editor ccv.)

“Albert Pinto ko Gussa Kyon Aata Hai?” is a 1980’s Hindi movie starring Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi, Smita Patil and Om Puri. It received the Filmfare Critics’ award for the Best movie in 1981.

It is about the angst of a young car mechanic who initially felt that undisciplined and striking workers were responsible for everything that was wrong in society. Through bitter experiences he gradually discovered that the major cause of labour unrest and various social ills was the capitalists that controlled the economy. Abh mujhko bhi gussa hai (now I too am angry).

There is angst and disappointment. In my previous article “Dil ka Dard” I had expressed the pain felt by my fellow countrymen because of the tall claims and false promises of the Pradhanmantriji (PMG). I may be permitted the use of this acronym because PMG himself is adept at making English acronyms for Hindi phrases. AYUSH, for example, is an acronym for Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy, which are projected as “indigenous” medicine systems. Ayush is also the Sanskrit word for “life” an appropriate name for the Health Ministry. But there is a fly in the medical ointment. Unani means Greek, and the system originates from the teachings of Hippocrates (460 – 377 BC); and homoeopathy of course originated in Germany. So what is indigenous about them? Is there no place for allopathy?

More than the chasma (specs) you need the Mahatma’s nazar (vision), his attitude and approach to others. This Dusshera, the traders in Kanpur burnt the effigy of GST as Ravana in the Health Ministry? Is this the apathy that led to hundreds of kids dying in the BRD Hospital, Gorakhpur? So PMG I do have angst against you.

I previously challenged you on 6 of your major poll promises. I had not touched on terrorism. Despite your bombastic claims of a surgical strike, the terrorist attacks have actually increased. Earlier they were on soft targets, but now they are on military targets, with a repeat attack on Pathankot; proving that no lessons have been learnt. Kashmir was peaceful before you took over. But your National Security Advisor, Ajit Doval’s  doctrine has wreaked havoc there. You have lost the plot completely. You were visiting Nawaz Sharif on his birthday, and entertaining the Chinese Premier with lion cubs on a swing. Your naiveté backfired. There is a saying, “In war, truth is the first casualty”. So we really don’t know who blinked first at Doklam. Regardless, our foreign policy, if at all we have one, is in a mess. You have sidelined your own competent and humane Foreign Minister, Sushma Swaraj. So PMG, I am gussa.

Your announcement of a bullet train has only added more grist to the mill of angst. In recent months there were three major accidents in the vicinity of Kanpur, where I live. A week ago my wife and I went to visit a friend in Bulandshahr, 7 hours travel time, by the 14613/14614 Sangam Express. The up train was 8 hours late, and the down one 4 hours late. While awaiting our train I noticed that the display board was showing every train running late! So PMG, I am gussa.

I support your Swachh Bharat (SB) campaign and the drive against black money. But both are hastily conceived and poorly implemented. A couple of weeks ago the President, Ramnath Kovind, who hails from Kanpur, came for a SB rally at a non-descript village called Ishwaripur. I had never heard of it before. After the tamasha, the next morning’s newspapers were blazoned with photographs of the litter strewn around. Hypocrisy at its worst. So PMG, I am gussa.

You have chosen Mahatma Gandhi’s chasma as the symbol for SB. The Mahatma and his wife Kasturba cleaned the public toilets, not just for sanitation, but more so to express solidarity with the bhangis, who were at the bottom of the heap. I have seen you and your ministers using long handled brooms to sweep a few dry leaves. But I have not seen any of you actually cleaning toilets or night soil. More than the chasma (specs) you need the Mahatma’s nazar (vision), his attitude and approach to others. We just celebrated Gandhi Jayanti. That morning I messaged my Gandhian friends that the U.N. had declared the day as International Non-violence Day; but you have diluted it to an SB day. You need to groom better ideas than the ubiquitous broom. So PMG, I am gussa.

I have always been against black money, and have suffered immense financial losses because I chose to stick to the straight and narrow, in both business and property dealing. I would have been thrilled if you had succeeded in your campaign against black money, via notebandi or otherwise. But the RBI Itself has admitted that this was an exercise in futility. This Hindi proverb is most apt, “Khoda pahar, nikli chuhiya” (you dug up an entire mountain and only uncovered a squeaky mouse)! So PMG, I am gussa.

At the macro level economists have told you that like notebandi, the GST has also backfired, not just for its rates of tax, but more so for the complexities of compliance. Petty traders, small manufacturers and artisans cannot afford to hire chartered accountants, legal consultants and computer operators to feed all data online. So many, like me, have simply opted out. My family has been in business here for 160 years. Now the time has come to call it quits. I am literally closing shop. I was a pioneer in organised retailing in this city 25 years ago. Now it is game over. So PMG, I am gussa.

Fifteen years ago my family entered into a builder’s agreement to erect the city’s first mall, and I am the President of the Owners’ Association. From the time GST has been levied my accountant spends most of his time figuring out what to do from the experts, and uploading data, if the server is working. As a result our billing cycle has been disrupted, causing a severe resource and cash crunch. So PMG, I am gussa.

 This Dusshera, the traders here burnt the effigy of GST as Ravana. A cold storage owner told me that they had to throw out tonnes of potatoes because the farmers did not have the money to redeem their stocks. The local distributors of Tata Tea and Nestle both told me that their sales have dropped 30% after GST. You talk of SB. Besides brooms you need toiletries and disinfectants. Earlier under Value Added Tax (VAT) toiletries were taxed at 14.5%, under GST it is 28%. Under VAT disinfectants like phenol were at 5%, now increased to 18%. So how can we aspire to a SB? At this rate, not just me, large sections of society are going to be disillusioned. One does not need to be a Nobel laureate like Amartya Sen to know where the shoe pinches.

Kanpur is famous for its leather industry and exports of finished leather, footwear and saddlery. I quote from a report by Mukhtarul Amin, the Chairperson of the Council for Leather Exports. Leather is a very labour intensive industry. Not just the Muslims, but Brahmans, Hindu Punjabis and Bengalis, and even some Malayali Christians are in the industry. GST on jobwork by small craftsmen has been pegged at 18%, and on leather goods like belts and purses at 28%. Duty drawback on exports have been reduced from 9.6% to 2.6%, thereby making the industry more capital intensive, and allowing cheaper markets like Bangladesh to emerge. Despite a crackdown by the National Green Tribunal and the economic slowdown of 2008, the leather industry grew by 11%, says Amin. But now he claims that leather exports have declined by 30%. So not just me, many more people are going to be gussa with you dear PMG.

You have waxed eloquent about a cashless economy and digitalisation. The day after your notebandi declaration PAYTM ran full front page newspaper ads. The majority shareholders of PAYTM are Chinese. So who benefited? Digitalisation will benefit Mukesh Ambani and his Jio. At a recent conference on mobile phones I heard him frankly admit that the money would come, not from the phones, but from data usage and transfer. So like Albert Pinto’s, my eyes are also opening to see who is really controlling the country and benefiting from your policy decisions. So PMG, I am gussa.

Whenever my man goes to the bank to get my poor savings bank passbook updated he invariably returns dejected because the “servers are down”. There are several more firsthand experiences in different sectors that show that digitalisation is not the Viagra for the economy that you are making it out to be. So PMG, with your digital dysfunction I am both dejected and gussa.

Yes the capitalists are happy with you, and will surely continue to fund your elections and event management. Chartered Accountants, tax consultants and revenue lawyers (anticipating increased litigation) will also be happy. But whether they have enough votes between themselves to get you re-elected in 2019 remains to be seen. As of now, vast numbers of ordinary Indians will join Albert Pinto and me in saying “Hum sabko gussa aa raha hai”.

A parting salvo. Your slogan was “Sabka saath, sabka vikas” (For everyone and their development). Unfortunately it now seems to be “Khaas ke saath, samaj ka vinash” (With the privileged, and sowing the seeds of social discord). So PMG, I am gussa. Large sections of society are getting disillusioned; one does not need to be a Nobel laureate like Amartya Sen to know where the shoe pinches.

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3 Responses

  1. Ed Schreurs says:

    Varghese Pamplanil Thank you for the answer dd  october 28. Your anger is like      mine. My two children keep away from it. I am looking for a hint how I can turn my anger into energy and  make it fruitful. We might ask the next generation what they are going to do with  God, with Jesus, with the Church. I wonder what your children are going to answer. In time I will tell you what mine have said. Ed Schreurs, Netherlands  

  2. Sri Varghese Pamplanil wrote: Thank you Chottebai for your eye opener “gussa“ which in one go punctures the hyperbole of PMG. If wishes are horses, then beggars might ride. The trouble with Modiji and all other “jis” is the arrogance of infallibility and “I say so” attitude, the typical hallmark of autocrats. There is no Aladdin’s lamp to transform India overnight.

    Now PMG says that the Congress party is equally responsible for the mess of GST. I am no admirer of that party, but one cannot take lies for granted. Public memory is not so short to forget that the legislation was stalled due to that party’s insistence on putting a constitutional cap of 18% on GST. Just see what happened. The predilection of the babus to split hairs, by itemising each product and specifying their tax rates added to the confusion. Then, of course, voters in a specific region cannot be favoured otherwise. Grouping the products under broad headings would have simplified the tax structure. Grading of food items and cooking oil and packaging them in pilfer free packages have become a social crime to the Finance Minister and his babus. The hidden agenda may be to encourage adulteration of food and oil.

    About the demonetisation high denomination notes, the less said the better. In a predominantly cash economy, overnight withdrawal of bank notes played havoc. How can one pay the daily wages of a hose maid or a casual worker, ha ha, in a Rs.2000 note? How one can pay for vegetables worth, say Rs.20, with a Rs.2000 note by tearing it into 100 pieces. Madness at the noon may be the “ in thing” for the Alice in the Wonderland. How can one do small transactions? Digital mode to the unlettered rural folk. Or by a cheque drawn on a far flung bank in a situation where the recipient has no bank account and does not  know  or not in a position to open one after complying with umpteen formalities.  On top of it how a daily low wage earner can afford to maintain minimum balance ranging from Rs. 5000/- to Rs.1000/- and who have to walk miles to reach a bank. Even in an advanced country like UK and US, payments to housemaids, cleaners, gardeners and the like are paid in cash. Rs. 2000 notes help only currency hoarders and bribers, one note instead of two, requires, a smaller suitcase or less spacious receptacle.

    Persons of knowledge in banking, finance and the Indian economy and the nuances of international trade and aware of the dangers of crony capitalism, like former RBI Governor Reghuram Rajan and  Amartya Sen were booted out because they refused to be “yes” boys, the typical trait of career oriented bureaucrats. A time will come to realise that the emperor has no cloths.

    RBI was forced to shell out as much as Rs. 35000 crores for printing   fresh bank notes which otherwise would have gone to the exchequer. Are the new ones much superior? Not by a long shot. Bank of England notes and US bills have embedded chip, which facilitates identifying forged ones by using a pen like instrument in shop counters. On receiving a bank note for payment, the sale person in a super market in UK has to simply run it through a machine and the forged ones will be detected in a in a jiffy.  

    The Ambanis, the Adanis and like, Modiji’s friends who bank role him, know how to manipulate and window dress their accounts and cheat the system. If one really wants to improve the conditions of the hungry “daridranaranarayans“ on the margins of the Indian society, first fill their bellies with food and clean water, educate them up to a minimum level before introducing some unworkable hare-brained schemes. Modiji’s government is wasting its energies in catching the small fish allowing the killer sharks roam free. God. If any, save our beloved land.

  3. Isaac Gomes says:

     

    With the mainstream media being controlled by the five Cs – Corporatisation, Commercialisation, Co-option, Compromise and Communalisation, I wonder if it would have the courage to publish such a fearless, forthright and at the same time very creative article.  

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