This is Part XI of a series of articles (the most recent of which is linked here) in which I have provided regular updates on what started as the demonetization of 86% of India’s currency. The story of demonetization and the ensuing developments were merely a vehicle for me to explore Indian institutions, culture and society.
The Modimobile is making the rounds amid a flower shower. [PT] Photo credit: PTI Photo
Tribal cultures face an inherent contradiction. They create poison from within to grow more collectivist, controlling and tyrannical — members of the populace looks for nannies, and they readily find sociopaths to exploit that need. Their lack of organizational skills, their inability to engage in economic calculation and their irrationality lead to massive internal stresses and the ultimate devolution of such an unnatural society.
India finds itself in a situation where it is grasping for more totalitarianism to solve the problems that totalitarianism created. The demonetization exercise was an assertion of India’s underlying tribal and collectivist culture.
Demonetization Pain Continues
Cashless ATMs continue to be the new normal in India. In a recent conversation, economist Professor Madhusudan Raj mentioned that as many as 70% of the ATMs in his city are still not operational. The situation in villages and small towns is much worse. Banks are often clogged with people.
Eventually most people who must have cash will get it, but businesses need easy access to large amounts of their own cash without incurring transaction costs. They continue to face horrendous problems, which are translating into closures, retrenchment of staff, and bankruptcies. The tax authorities are getting increasingly rapacious. According to Professor Madhusudan Raj:
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