Death, Demonetization and Human Accountability

By Mohammad Azeemullah

For the last ten days or so nothing has occupied the space of public mind in India as that of the traumatic impact of demonetization. It gives us the impression that nothing is happening in India at present more than what demonetization can only cause events to happen.

At tea-stalls, shops, offices, schools…demonetization is the only concern for the people to worry about or the only issue for them to talk about. India, it seems, has come to a halt.

To many, in the phraseology of Charles Dickens, demonetization is the best of times, it is the worst of times, it is the age of wisdom, it is the age of foolishness, it is the season of light, it is the season of darkness, it is the spring of hope, it is the winter of despair, we have everything before us, we have nothing before us, we are all going direct to Heaven, we are all going direct the other way.

India Agriculture

Weeks earlier media were packed with news of diversity from politics, entertainment, sports, crimes and so on. Life walked normally.  All of a sudden, public have felt the jolt of demonetization earthquake.

The psychological scar is so deep that the parents when they wake up, the idea of standing longer in the queues distress them, the children who get ready to schools, are worried if they could have snacks of their choice in the canteen, the patients who need urgent medical attention, hope to rely upon prayer for healing…almost all walks of human life have been deeply affected by demonetization impact in the country.

‘Time is a great healer’, so goes the common adage.  It will surely heal the wounds but what about reports of deaths arising out of demonetization shock.

So far the deaths of more than thirty people have been confirmed by various sources of news. Hardships to withdraw money from the banks continue to take human toll as the days pass by.

A young man died of heart attack in Kanpur while watching Prime minister Narendra Modi’s announcement of demonetization. The man had received Rs. 70 lakhs in advance for selling his land just the previous day. He had been trying to sell his land since months. (ABP News)

Another report is equally heart-rendering. A washerwoman in Kushinagar district of Uttar Pradesh, came to know of demonetization only when she reached a bank to deposit two 1,000-rupee notes she had saved. When told these were no longer legal tender, she died out of shock. (Hindustan Times)

Numerous reports of human causalities keep coming while many deaths have gone unnoticed from the gaze of media. Children, youths, women and the old have succumbed to the strain.

Undeniably, there is a direct link between the abrupt announcement of demonetization policy by the Prime Minster of India, Narendra Modi and the reported deaths of some innocent citizens.  The correlation is rational and valid.

While deaths caused by negligence of public apathy, the government is quick to announce compensation to the victims of the families.

In this case of people dying of having direct shock from abrupt announcement of demonetization, no effort has been made to reach out to the families affected. Instead a different perspective of argument is conveyed to rationalize the reports of such unfortunate and untimely deaths.

Has our society gone to a level where loss of a human life does not evoke too many emotions? Has society’s view of death as a sad thing faded over time with only family members having the time to mourn the loss of a person?

When will political parties become more apolitical to live up to the expectations of public in time of their tragedy?

When does death become legal to qualify the criteria for state compensation?

In any another incident of death at public place, due process of investigation is made to find out the cause and effect of the tragedy. In this particular case of death arising out of demonetizing policy, no effort has been made even to shed tears.

Who should be held accountable for loss of human lives in this chaotic rush of demonetization?  The lackadaisical approach by the government states: ‘If people die, let them be so…presumably for a greater cause to the nation.’

Sudden and unexpected announcement is the characteristic of a dictator? Secrecy is the instrument of autocracy? The beauty of democracy is consensus. Had democratic norms be followed, undue sufferings and unfortunate deaths of hapless citizens could have been avoided.

Categories: Asia, Demonetization in India, India, Mohammad Azeemullah, WORLD

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