Friday, 25th November 2016
I do not want to fire a blank to make a point, this week too. If I do, what is the difference between me and the elusive new 500 note? The job of a journo is to write, note or no note!
The mystery and misery of the missing 500 note remained unsolved and unresolved through the week, at least till the time of going to press - this column, I mean, not the notes; we cant print the latter much as we would like to as a public service, that is. But that would be counterfeit and so printers like us can only helplessly watch and wait with those for whom reaching the counter itself is a feat.
The obvious reason for the cash crunch is that the RBI’s ‘security’ presses are hard pressed for time and probably, paper too. But then, to note, pardon, quote a Hollywood punchline, ‘nothing is what it seems’. The well-meaning PM had proposed; but who knows who disposed? Such questions are quite natural. After all, even bankers are clueless about the massive mismatch between the print quantity claimed by the RBI and what actually came into the banking system. ‘Lost in transit’ may seem a pretty weird conspiracy theory.
But, the long lag and longer lines are only pushing the needle of suspicion higher.
And why not? Cases of collusion between bankers and political/business moneybags are rife. There is hardly any notable character spotted standing in a queue, barring Rahul, who could not tell State Bank from a Swiss bank. And that too was just an insensitive one-off photo-op. Or maybe, he and his mom are really struggling for a single meal sans their cash stashes, what with Dollars, Euros and yes, Lira, too now even more taboo. Ditto with many such rich-yet-poor VIPs from various verandas and halls of fame, all of whom apparently had no noteworthy stock of the now notorious notes.
So if we put two and two together -- no, make it 2000 and 2000 together, what do we get? Surely not eight 500s given the scarcity, but the dampening thought that the touted targets might have flown the coop! The whole house was set afire along with us, innocent inhabitants inside on the pretext of destroying a few fattened rodents running riot in the store for long. But as we scan the ashes we don’t see their skeletons which means the bandits and bandicoots have scooted with the loot, either much before or through the pores in the present de.M drive. Tragically, petty pickpockets are feeling the pinch!
The distinction between black and white money is, well, not exactly black and white. In a quirky economic geometry, the parallel economies mostly intersect, yielding several gray shades. Tax paid money withdrawn and withheld at home is white all the same, whatever the volume. It becomes black only if the seller of goods or services for which the ‘white’ money is spent, is not in the tax net. Add bank holidays and strikes, financial insecurity, prospect of emergencies, spendthrift spouses etc to the menu, and we have an economic diet rich in vitamin C. But suddenly, the common man’s, and particularly, the common woman’s wisdom of saving for a rainy day is deemed and declared a vice.
Aah, the rainy days and how they mimick the new 500 notes! We in Chennai are facing the driest November ever in many ways, what with mon’soon(!)’ and ‘Any time(!)’ money giving the lie to their own nature and nomenclature, while the clouds remain shut like cash counters. Parched purses and de-waterised wells are the flavours of the season. And we have the dreaded December staring at us and raring for a possible action replay!
We don’t stop breathing to save oxygen. Daily life can’t be halted with a stroke of the pen. But what a muddle: Messed marriage schedules, missed EMIs and commitments, muddied agri sector, morally shamed and psyched populace and mortally crippled trades. The last one - the hit on business - will have a cataclysmic and cascading effect, despite the official kite flying on long term benefits. For SMEs and shops, time is money and indeed, many may not be around if and when milk and honey flows.
And we hear the RBI’s presses may have given birth to near-identical twins. We now have legal counterfeit: The much awaited lone 500 rupee note has arrived with a clone and only one should survive. Even the parent can’t tell which to sell and which to kill. That partly explains the delayed delivery. What a jinx this 500 has turned out!
But let us take the pledge again: We hate terrorism, corruption, black money and fake currency. And we surely are not with the stall-warts of Parli, who only have a political stake in the pathetic plight of us, notary, er, votary public!
And many like me feel greatly embarrassed at being accidentally seen on the same page as Rahul or worse, Mamta. So, PTO!
About ColumnistA chartered accountant and a cost accountant by qualification and a person of friendly disposition but someone who values his and others privacy, T R Jawahar was not cut out for journalism. But how Jawahar has ended up as one of the most prominent journalists in Chennai and the creator of some important big news brands at such a young age is the stuff of destiny and the dint of hard work.
Born to that doyen of journalism and a legend in these parts, T R Ramaswamy, well known by the affectionate acronym TRR, Jawahar no doubted has inherited his analytical and writing skills from that great man. Apart from this, the father and son duo share another important quality that define their entire world-view, which is humanism. A warm empathy for all beings in the world is the core of their beings.
After the passing away of TRR in the late 80s, T R Jawahar took over the helm of the Chennai’s most popular English eveninger, News Today, and seen it grow through both good and bad times. Through the unceasing publication of News Today, Jawahar is continuing the legacy of his father who founded the paper as a social commitment as well as an entrepreneurial venture.
Jawahar further perpetuated the journalistic memory of his father by founding the popular Tamil eveninger Maalai Sudar. The two papers have carved a unique niche for themselves through an adroit mix of news and views, which help the readers to retain their Indian cultural identity.
Apart from this, the biggest and the most path-breaking journalistic venture from Jawahar is Talk Media, that publication stable that has now become the talking point in the city with a slew of neighbourhood weeklies covering the length and breadth of Chennai. His Point Blank column in the Talk Media is hugely popular for its most forthright views conveyed in cheeky and witty manner.
To discuss Jawahar just in journalistic terms would, however, amount to doing a huge disservice to his rounded personality. Endowed with a sunny sense of humour, Jawahar is a connoisseur of movies both in Tamil and English. He is a virtual treasure house of knowledge on Tamil film music and Tamil poetry. He is a history buff and a keen reader of English and Tamil works, which is counter-pointed by his fetish for modern gadgets. A willing traveller, he has brought to bear those varied experiences in his trips in India and abroad on his writings.
Despite his professional achievements and his focussed administration of a company which employs over 500 people, Jawahar remains essentially a family man, a caring husband and a doting father. He derives his strength from his wife and daughter, and his home and office forever remain his temples.