Heads I Win, Tails You Lose
November 9, 2016 1 Comment
“Do you remember Dr Rustom Pavri that character from Munnabhai MBBS that helps Munna pass all exams and not get caught by answering questions secretly on mobile?” asked my broker friend Jigneshbhai when we met for coffee this morning.
Swami and I had a distinct smile of recognition on our faces, but weren’t quite sure why Jigneshbhai was talking about that comic Parsi character.
“My CA friend felt like him yesterday night” he remarked.
Swami and I were wondering why. Seeing that, our broker friend clarified.
“All his trader ‘Munnabhai’ friends were calling him continuously yesterday night, like students who had suddenly got an out of syllabus surprise question in their paper.”
“But this time even my CA friend had no answer to this question. And there was no time to find an answer too!”
Swami and I then realized that Jigneshbhai was referring to the announcement made by the PM and Govt that 500 and 1000 rupee notes would be illegal tender from midnight of Nov 8-9, 2016.
It was the classic out of syllabus surprise question set by a tough paper setter aimed to fail cheating students, and given 10 min before the bell rings.
“And the best part is” continued Jigneshbhai, “that whatever happens, chances are high that the paper setter i.e. PM Modi and his government, win.”
Jigneshbhai was pretty excited about this new announcement and explained the various scenarios why it was a win-win situation for the government.
“Firstly” he said, “if you are a sincere student, this doesn’t apply to you except for a few days of inconvenience of exchanging now illegal tender for valid notes. For that small price, the government gains tremendously in the minds of the common sincere man.”
“Secondly” he continued, “if you are a cheat with cash, you can take the first choice of going to a bank and depositing it, and somehow declaring it. In which case, government gains with tax income.”
“And if you choose not to do it, then you are left with paper which you can’t do much with. In which case again the government gains because they eliminated some unaccounted money without the hassles of catching it.”
“And Thirdly” Jigneshbhai explained, “if you are a cheat with undeclared assets other than cash, you don’t suffer much immediately, but are going to think twice before generating more black money in cash. Again the government gains.”
“Fourthly” my broker friend wasn’t done yet “if none of this happens, the least that happens is the real criminal, drug, fake currency and terrorist organizations are anyway left high and dry with useless paper.”
“And finally” Jigneshbhai concluded, “beyond the economic benefits, the political gains in terms of clean image, brownie points and leaving the opposition with nothing to oppose clearly are like that MasterCard advertisement – things that are beyond measure.”
Jigneshbhai was truly, genuinely excited today. Perhaps after a long time, there was satisfaction felt that being honest mattered, not having black money was good. And the silent black money holder was probably worried for the first time in years.
But it was too early to celebrate. It definitely seemed like the first major step of many more steps of clampdown on domestic black economy. It seemed like an honest attempt, at the very least, and a genuine transformation, at the very best.
The old man in the sprawling bungalow who had been listening to our conversation from the table next to us, reminded us that of all the calculated risks, this would probably rank way up there for this government, with potential gains outstripping possibility of losses – for itself and for the country.
Like Amitabh’s coin in Sholay, it was a case of “Heads I win, Tails you lose.”