Demonetisation: Is India on the verge of bringing back the barter system?

The banks have just informed us on this foggy cold Friday morning that the money has not been delivered and their next quota is only Monday. So we have the profound sum of Rs 4000 for the weekend and shall be dramatically Spartan.

Bikram Vohra December 02, 2016 14:00:07 IST
Demonetisation: Is India on the verge of bringing back the barter system?

The banks have just informed us on this foggy cold Friday morning that the money has not been delivered and their next quota is only Monday. So we have the profound sum of Rs 4000 for the weekend and shall be dramatically Spartan.

All for the good cause, right? After all, some people don’t even have Rs 4,000. So be grateful.

And I am wondering how Narendra Modi, Arun Jaitley and Arvind Kejriwal are managing? Since I am older than all of them I can risk being familiar and asking them for an answer. Like who is paying for your petrol, Arvind? And the groceries? Have you paid the salaries for the domestic help? And how did Arun get his TV subscription renewed?

Demonetisation Is India on the verge of bringing back the barter system

Representational image. PTI

I am not made for this Paytm, e-commerce and cashless scene, and since I have to twist like a pretzel in RK Puram to get a signal on the mobile and the net is, at best, intermittent as a stutter, I am a bit chary about being cyber-hacked.

They cannot even filter porn pop-ups for innocuous feeds into search engines how are they going to get my money to the other guy? My fear is not that most of it won’t go through but when there is an error or a mistake or a glitch then who do I go to for redress?

Unless there is a system in real time and state of the art that allows corrections to be made and errors to be rectified, I flinch at placing all my details in a public forum.

I don’t know if I am a minority or a silent majority just too exhausted to say, 'look, we have no idea how it works and we don’t care how many ads you place on TV with the common man looking at the camera with wonderment like he just got the cheese because he has awakened to the excitements of cashless society and we don’t even have Arnab Goswami to tell the government the nation wants to know what buttons to press', the fact is that Ladbrokes would give to 10 to 1 odds that 90 percent of us are inept.

Inadequate. Incapable.

The other 10 percent can laugh at us as much as they want but unless there is a conviction that we will get some safety shoulders on the information highway and there will be police patrols, I for one am not going to be convinced.

So I am sharing these thoughts with my uncle who is a Mahavir Chakra winner and he tells me we are going back to the old days when we were kids in Chakwal (now in Pakistan) and had a barter system. Our chacha would say ‘aaj ‘kukra’ khana hai' (let’s have chicken), and a deal would be made whereby the chicken farmer would send a good, healthy chicken for five seers or atta and that’s it.

And the whole village worked on give and take. You want sugarcane, fine, send your mustard. Someone short on rice? Give us a goat.

Another couple of weeks of bankers telling people to buzz off and we should be facing much the same situation as we shift gradually but firmly into barter and begin exchanges.

Come to think of this, not much different from the geeks on their little magic machines celebrating their successful initiatives of transaction on small screens.

Maybe even better… you can see each other as you hand over the goat… because someone is taking ours.

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