It was a cracker of a Diwali. Fuel prices which had taken off like a rocket in the days preceding Diwali, burst into stars (of the economy) and came down in a shower of sparkles along with excise and vat rates and helped us take our eyes off our wallets – just for a little while. It was Kaizen (Japanese for just-in-time) at its best and a true eco-friendly cracker. The savings were spent on crackers as Delhi’s API shows!
Heard of Newtons Laws? Not a science student? Not a law student? That’s good because they are complex formulae that straddle both disciplines in contravention of its own theory.
The first law – the law of inertia – says that when all forces acting on an object are balanced, then it will remain stationary – at rest or inert. Like all of us were as the fuel prices remained reasonably stable.
Then the second law kicks in! Newton’s second law of motion can be formally stated as follows: The acceleration of an object as produced by a net force is directly proportional to the magnitude of the net force, in the same direction as the net force, and inversely proportional to the mass of the object. In a nutshell, a mass will remain at rest if there is no external force or the forces are balanced; if a force is exerted on it, it will move in the direction of that force! what goes up must come down and this is because of an external force.
This happened when the economy began to tip over and the vocal protests became both loud and clear and as Tim Clancy says – a clear and present danger! Statistics have it, that if taxes had not been raised to the level before they were brought down marginally, the prices of petrol and diesel would have been Rs: 66 and Rs: 55, given the current prices of international crude and the ”cost-plus” cost of Production formula of OEM’s. But again, like the ECG, it’s not the flat line that keeps us alive, but one that goes up and down constantly; isn’t it? and it’s always the fattened lamb that is chosen for slaughter!
A similar gift at Christmas could speed up consumption, the basis of any economic growth according to great economists – Travel, fruits and vegetables would be cheaper and would fly off the shelves and be replaced equally quickly – the circle of life would then be complete. There is no difference between presenting a gift or gifting a present in acknowledgment of some special occasion, achievement, gesture, festival, etc. … so, we can still hope.
Hope lies eternal. Here, please note that “lies” is used in the verb and not adjective form. Sticking with Wren, Martin, and Oxford, the Dictionary has it that the nouns gift and present are synonymous in their meanings referring to something that is thoughtfully given to someone without the expectation of return. Without expectation of return is key… But I know and you know what happens at festivals. I give a gift of dry fruits and/or cake to the neighbor – this after seeing what the neighbor has given me! He passes it on as his gift to his neighbor as his gift. So a return is expected, always! Let me be clear – his includes her too. Nowadays though, her does not include his!
There is much debate about the use of Crackers and their significance during Diwali. Diwali is all about the light that dispels darkness (in our and others’ lives through us). For the rest leave it up to the various ESCOMS! So, if a cracker brings a burst of light into our lives even for a moment, it’s in the spirit of the festival. Nothing wrong. In fact, it’s the triumph of the good over the bad evil of silence and darkness.
It’s the accompanying smoke that is worrying people especially with Covid still lurking in the shadows waiting to pounce. All it needs is an Ally as France needed England and the US during World War II to attack. But there is no fire without smoke now, is there? There is also the issue of sound. We all need a sounding board, but don’t want to be one especially to a cracker of a sound. But how do you make the night light up without smoke and sound that penetrates the ears of animals like the US cluster bombs did in Iraq? That is the dilemma. is there a lesson to be learned from vaping? And will there be any joy? Will good triumph over evil in that case?
Incidentally, yesterday was the fifth anniversary of the famous or infamous demonetization exercise – depending on how much you lost after midnight on Nov 8, 2016, and which political party is your favorite riding horse – when the color of money changed overnight from black to white. No grey, not even one shade was to be allowed, forget about the 50 shades of grey which are present in every economy.
Though the goalposts were shifted constantly, economists say many unexpected goals were scored by some new players and some veterans who learnt the new game quickly.
In the five years since the sudden announcement, a large part of the informal economy has transformed itself into the formal economy – Kirana stores have become Big Bazars, digital payments have shown a whopping increase along with their transaction fees – so much so that some of them are even coming out with IPOs, and transparency in the real estate industry has increased in favor of buyers – some of the state governments have been forced to reduce registration stamp fees to boost sales especially to encourage JAPL (Just Above Poverty Line) people who aspire to own a house to buy one rather than rent one. MAPL (Much above the poverty line) prefers to rent than own – for a lot of reasons! And the tax compliance regime has got a great boost! Everything that people want to be on the record, is on record…. Like before!
Our money now has 9 main colors, but not black or white! There is a grey area (one that has now returned in a new avatar) – the Rs: 500 Rupee note which according to monclass.com is stone grey! But with the color of money getting more engaging, like a Kanjivaram saree, more of it can be seen in the economy- 14.7% of the GDP to be precise which is a lot given that it had dropped to around 9 % after demonetization. So, where it is coming from and where is it going? Any idea? You may have if you have it. If not, who cares?
The rule of a transparent economy is to be content with what one has – even if it’s nothing! Having nothing is a virtue in our economy. Because then you can get. If you have – you have to give – in the form of taxes! But one must appreciate its growth, for if not, how could relief material be distributed with such consistency and immediacy during the lockdowns and other disasters? That’s a question for the analysts to answer – they love these dilemmas! It keeps them occupied, if not employed – you can find them in all the think tanks except the Arjun MKII!
So a Dhamaka, Pataka Diwali is over; we got our gifts (the reduction in the cost of fuel (vehicle, not human – that depends on state govts) and fruits (from demonetization) so what next?
Well, it’s time for our children to enjoy…. come children’s Day even if we have to blame Nehruji for this wonderful day on which we celebrate our children and try to ensure that their rights are not violated!
This Article is written in a lighter vein. It hopes to bring a smile to your face, and you must not ascribe motives to its contents. There is no connection to events and characters in real life and if perchance you find a connection with any such real-life event or character, rest assured it’s purely coincidental.
Image by Ritesh Tamrakar