2016 draws to a close. Been another year down the rabbit hole for the country and pretty hard personally. I confess I am glad to see the last of it.
The personal scene seems better in the coming year. The parent due to die has died. The parent alive is as healthy as she can be expected to be under the circumstances. The son had three surgeries this year. All things going well, he isn't going to see the inside of an operation theater any time soon. A relationship that had gone through a devastating phase is better than ever.
I wish the same could be true for the country. A deranged government without checks and balances is a scary proposition. The single minded focus now seems to be the imposition of a cashless agenda in a mostly cash dependent country. No price seems too high to pay in the service of this agenda. By hook or by crook, this bunch of crooks will use the money of citizens to save the banks. It seems inevitable.
A country with little knowledge of internet security is rushing headlong into keeping its wealth in digital form and accessible mostly digitally. What could possibly go wrong.
In the meanwhile, holding notes that were the staple of our wallets will be illegal in a few months. Just having them at all. Not transacting with them or anything. Looks like the "I promise to pay the bearer" promise of the RBI cannot be wished away as easily as the government wishes.
We have no idea why the national anthem is played in film theaters before films play, but the Supreme Court now wants us to stand for the national anthem. Apparently forcing someone into some action is called respect. A lot of forced actions seem to be interpreted as voluntary these days. For example people being forced to queue up in front of banks to not lose their hard earned money are called "supportive" of demonetisation by the government. I guess if someone holds a gun to your head and tells you to run, you'll probably also be called an athlete.
The government does not owe people truth anymore. In the din of deliberately enforced chaos, more silently the question of government accountability appears to have been comprehensively dismissed. Right from the Prime Minister giving pre-recorded "live" speeches to giving information to people about the exchange of their money, that it cancels arbitrarily. Whim has dictated what the government would call the objective of its attack on the assets of citizens.
The silent acceptance of the Indian people is baffling. Have we indeed been so dumbed by propaganda or cowed by government authority that we do not object to the arbitrary truncation of our rights? To political parties that make national policy being funded by non-citizens of India? To the withdrawal of permissions to receive funds by NGOs?
It seems our government wants us to give money to middlemen in order to be able to use our own money with the reckless promotion of cashless payments. The ruling party that had objected to the Aadhaar for security reasons now is giving it access to our bank accounts - presumably so that if we do not do the transactions it takes to bail out its cronies, they could put its vast pool of "apolitical" and "independent" volunteers to doing them on our behalf?
A country with no concept of internet security, with most people not having access to the internet, with a government whose websites are usually insecure, misconfigured or plain broken is taking a mandatory leap into a digital future. The Prime Minister's personal application, promoted on government websites and described on the appstore as an official application has had security vulnerabilities exposed at least twice. Private ssl "secures" (or rather doesn't) the government site for filing RTIs online putting RTI activists at unknown risk.
The insistence and pursuit of the government to become a "Digital India" with no attention to security or infrastructure reminds one of a pretentious person wearing expensive clothes and flaunting fancy possessions, while wearing underwear with holes underneath. The lack of attention to their own rights and living conditions by a people dazzled with grand shows of governance on TV speaks of a country not interested in asserting that it be respected.
This is depressing shit. I wish I could be optimistic, but I think 2017 is going to be yet another year down the rabbit hole for India. It is a country that has taken its independence for granted for so long, it can no longer recognize colonization enough to be wary. A country that is so bloated on some imaginary grandeur that it sees no need to see how claims measure up to facts and verifiable information. It is a country that is a consumer of governance and too lazy to be interested in self-rule.
Things are going to get much, much worse before they get better. If they get better.
Unless something changes. Unless WE change.