CASHLESS ECONOMY? DONALD TRUMP BELIEVES NO COMPUTER IS SAFE

The article originally appeared on India Today.

US President elect Donald Trump believes computers are not safe and it is better to follow your conventional methods when it comes to dealing with sensitive information or matter.

According to the reports in the US media, while interacting with reporters on the New Year eve, Trump said that no computer was safe. News reports quoted him saying, “It’s very important, if you have something really important, write it out and have it delivered by courier, the old fashioned way because I’ll tell you what, no computer is safe.”

He further said that even a 10-year-old boy can do anything with a computer, “I don’t care what they say, no computer is safe. I have a boy who’s 10-years-old, he can do anything with a computer. You want something to really go without detection, write it out and have it sent by courier.”

That is in stark contrast to what is happening in India.

The country is preparing to go digital with financial transactions and the government intends to usher in an era of cashless economy hoping it will weed out parallel economy and black money from the system and thus will help in eradicating corruption. The government is going big about it, promoting and launching digital payment platforms with the latest addition of BHIM app that will act as a Unified Payments Interface (UPI).

But there are many who are worried about cyber threats to this digital push. And they have reasons to believe so.

US Barack Obama has expelled 35 Russian diplomats for the alleged Russian role in cyber attacks on the US political parties in the recently concluded US Presidential polls. We can gauge its seriousness from the fact that such a huge public expulsion of diplomats is rarely seen in the US-Russia ties.

Then we cannot forget that when Rahul Gandhi’s and other leaders’ Twitter accounts were hacked recently, it took many hours to restore them, in spite of being such high-profile cases. These are just some much talked about instances. Hacking is increasing rapidly with spread of digitisation in our lives.

When the US Presidential Polls is not safe from cyber threats or when the US President elect prefers to use a ‘courier’ than a computer to exchange sensitive information, can we believe our money will be safe in apps of our mobile wallets? Though the government has assured that it has worked on this aspect, detractors and the political opposition is counting the threats of the move with such instances.

©SantoshChaubey

WHAT MAMATA ANTI-DEMONETIZATION HINDI TWEETS TELL US

Mamata Banerjee is very active on Twitter (@MamataOfficial) and basically tweets in English and sometimes in Bangla. But she is using Hindi as well, and strategically, in order to reach a wider cross section of people on the demonetization issue which she is vehemently opposed to. A scroll down her Twitter feed will show that increasingly most of her tweets on demonetization are in both languages. She has tried to emerge as a central figure of the anti-demonetization front and her outburst began on Twitter only when she termed the Modi government decision ‘a financial chaos and disaster let loose on the common people of India’ after Narendra Modi finished his address to the nation announcing the decision that has kept India hooked since then.

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Her Hindi tweets also indicate that she is now looking for a wider canvas politically, something that the ensuing chaos in the aftermath of the demonetization drive can give her. She has hit Delhi streets and has held meetings and parleys against demonetization since the Parliament’s winter session began on November 16.

Now that the opposition parties have decided to launch a pan-India anti-demonetization protest with ‘Aakrosh Diwas’ on November 28, they all will try to mobilize masses as much as possible and Mamata’s use of Hindi to reach out and appeal to people, along with her image and streets-smart style politics of ‘Ma-Mati-Manush (Mother-Motherland-People)’ will come in handy here. Demonetization pangs have affected people across the country and speaking in a language that reaches out to the maximum number of people is certainly a logical idea. Also, now that TMC is a national level political party, speaking and tweeting in Hindi makes sense when the heart of India’s political landscape, Uttar Pradesh, a Hindi speaking state, is going to polls in the next few months.

©SantoshChaubey

WHAT BYPOLL RESULTS TELL US ABOUT DEMONETIZATION?

If we go by the results of the bye-elections announced yesterday, we get it straight – that demonetization is just a political issue which has not those social contours as is being projected by its opponents.

Bye-elections were held in four parliamentary constituencies and ten assembly constituencies spread across six states – Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Tripura – and in the union territory Puducherry.

Going by the charges that the political opposition is levelling against the NDA government led by prime minister Narendra Modi, there could have been just one possible outcome of these bye-elections – the BJP facing a humiliating electoral loss.

But that didn’t happen.

The results announced show the public has gone ahead with the status quo prevailing – and going by the geographical spread – Assam (Northeast), Arunachal Pradesh (Northeast), Madhya Pradesh (Central), West Bengal (East), Tamil Nadu (South), Tripura (Northeast) and Puducherry (South) – certainly a wide cross-section of the country – we can say it is not a localized reaction of a certain pocket.

The BJP, in fact, has fared well, and at cost of those who are vehemently opposing the demonetization move – like Congress or the Left front.

The BJP won parliamentary and assembly constituencies in Madhya Pradesh, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh comfortably, came second in the Coochbehar PC in West Bengal and came second in one seat in Tripura. That shows demonetization didn’t work against the BJP even if the bypolls were held 10 days after the sudden policy change announced by Narendra Modi on November 10.

What can we read into it? Are all the stories of people thronging banks and ATMs day in, day out and in night and people dying in queues are nothing?

To continue..

©SantoshChaubey

DEMONETIZATION MUST NOT END UP LIKE JUST YET ANOTHER POLITICAL ISSUE.

The whole country is trapped into the demonetization debate.

For its proponents, it is discourse. For its opponents, it is an illegitimate force.

Like always, there are many who are caught in the grey zone.

The trial and error juggernaut is marching ahead and it has been a mixed report for the government so far – in giving people their hard-earned money – in new notes and in old notes.

And this trial and error nature of it has given the political opposition a golden chance to score some brownie political (and electoral points in the season of state assembly elections) points by trying to corner the government. For them it is an illegitimate force and they have left no stone unturned in spreading this notion.

And what about people – commoners like you and me?

Well, either they don’t matter or if the systems looks taking care of them, it is like it is extending some sort of favour.

It is said that the common man is the basic entity of a democracy and the processes of a democratic nation should revolve around him.

But we live in the times and in a society where the common folks – people like you and me – are only given some value or hearing when either there is a massive civil agitation like Vinoba Bhave or Lohia or JP or Anna Hazare could do or when there is some court pressure – as we see from time to time – in enacting pro people laws – in interpreting the existing laws to prevent their misuse – even in bringing erring elitist people or organizations in line – like we are witnessing in the BCCI case.

There are many who are complaining. There are many who are resolutely supporting it. They are commoners like you and me. Like always, they must not be duped by our political establishment because they are supporting this demonetization drive in spite of massive inconvenience it is causing – hoping there will be fundamental changes to their lives after it – once the things start settling down.

And stakes involved here are enormously high – specially after reports of many deaths in bank/ATM queues.

The government needs to answer them – and to them who are complaining – because they own it – and they own the processes on every stage. If they are compromising, the government must also compromise to become sensitive to them.

Demonetization must not end up like just yet another issue to play politics. As the government has promised, it must do the promised cash clean-up to filter out Black Money from our lives.

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Cartoon: Ragini Chaubey

©SantoshChaubey

SHIV SENA AND BJP SHOULD SEPARATE NOW

The move which the BJP sees as a masterstroke – the move which threatens prime minister Narendra Modi’s life as he said in an emotional speech – the move behind which the whole BJP government stands united and is trying every possible measure to make it a success – the move for which the whole nation has stood painstakingly (or painfully) in queues day in and day out – the BJP’s ally and its partner in the Maharashtra government, the Shiv Sena, is seen standing with Mamata Banerjee opposing that very move – against that masterstroke and is going to corner the government on the demonetization issue along with the larger opposition.

It is when Congress, Left and Arvind Kejriwal decided not to join the anti-demonetization march to the Rashtrapati Bhavan by Mamata Banerjee on the issue.

The Shiv Sena has criticised the Narendra Modi government on withdrawing Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes. Its 21 parliamentarians marched along with the TMC’s 44 MPs and others including Omar Abdullah and AAP’s Bhagwant Mann. The Shiv Sena says demonetization has gone beyond the politics of government and its rivals and the party believes that this step is anti-people and has trapped the common man’s life in a tight spot.

To continue..

©SantoshChaubey