Discussion with a Taxi Driver on Demonetization, Modi And More

Cab drivers, it is said, have their ear to the ground and are good judges of public mood due to the range of people they encounter and the places they traverse. Given the media and political storm over demonetization and other assorted issues ever since the Modi Government came to power 2.5 years back, now is as good a time as any to get some feedback from the common man.

Couple of days back, I had an interesting conversation with a cab driver on the way to the Pune airport. Here is what he said on a variety of issues –

On Demonetization

  • Everyone, cutting across communities, is happy with demonetization.
  • The parties worst affected are Congress and NCP (Nationalist Congress Party). NCP, in particular, will be badly hit as it used to buy votes by paying each voter around 4-5K, or by showering them with gifts during election time.
  • Terrorists are also badly affected by demonetization (notebandi) as their activities have gone down considerably.
  • Cashless transactions are ok for those living in urban areas, but it will be difficult for those living in backward areas like Sangola (Solapur district) where he (the driver) had visited recently. Things are yet to improve for the uneducated masses living in villages in interiors.

On Modi Government

  • Opening of Jan Dhan accounts, construction of roads and the demonetization move are the three top works carried out by the Modi Government.
  • Surgical strikes on Pakistan were also very good. It has badly rattled Pakistan and people are happy about it.
  • Police is performing its work more efficiently now, and you can find traffic police stationed at all junctions irrespective of weather.
  • Corruption has come down in RTOs as the process to obtain a driving license was now online. Earlier it would take Rs 2000-5000 to get a license depending on availability of documents; the policeman taking the test would also take Rs 100 separately. Now, this all has stopped and you can get a license in just Rs. 200-300. The entire driving test is monitored from the control room which tracks your car. After the test, you are even given a printout of your performance. Tests are becoming tougher – you have to form figure H, S, 8..park the car on a ramp. Earlier, you just had to change gears and drive a short distance. Honest people were failed…all this has stopped.
  • Prices have come down, vegetables are not as expensive as before.

On Criticisms of Modi

Allegation 1 – Modi has gone on excessive foreign tours

  • Let me take my own example – if I don’t go outside to drive a car, drop people..how will I grow my business, earn money? Similarly, Modi goes on foreign tours for the good of the country, not for tourism. He goes abroad to drive business, import new technology,  to set up new plants and generate employment for the young. If he were to say that I will only sit in my office in Delhi, how will that work? The new generation likes Modi a lot.

Allegation 2 # ‘Rising Intolerance’ narrative in media

  • This is not true. Even some Muslims like him, especially if you talk to people in Kondhwa (a Pune suburb with significant Muslim population).
  • When you try to do good work, there are many who will try to pull you down. Some people, from other parties, spend money to create sensation and fake news to malign Modi. They don’t want him to work.

Today, Modi is the only leader who is capable of sitting in the PM’s chair. We require more educated leaders in Parliament..but Kejriwal doesn’t have much substance. He came to power only because of Anna Hazare.

On Christian Missionaries & Predatory Proselytization

  • Yes, such missionaries often visit our home (he stays in Pune). They don’t ask us to covert, but talk about Prabhu (God, i.e. Jesus) and how praying to him can solve our problems. There is this church in Dapodi (a Pune suburb) where people from all communities go and there is a huge rush on weekends. People say that visiting that church can even cure your disease – they give you a special water and pray for you. But I don’t believe this is true…it is possible that some of their own people (Christians) spread these rumors and claim miraculous healing.
  • There are various types of people in the world. I respect all religions..I bow down when I see a temple, Gurdwara, church or dargah.
  • If confronted with someone who says that follow only my religion & believe in my God, else you will go to hell (the basic missionary message), to such a person I would say “Show me both heaven and hell first!” Just like we do a recce before buying a flat, I would want to see what services I get in heaven or hell, before making up my mind!
  • People are becoming smarter these days, and don’t fall easily for con artists.

This conversation showed me how someone with common sense can see through the propaganda being dished out 24×7 by large sections of MSM and agenda-driven views of eminent commentators. Left-liberals & seculars don’t realize that Modi has established a direct connect with ordinary folk – they trust him more than any other leader in the country right now. And these are not blind, unquestioning devotees – but rational, sensible individuals who are experiencing the qualitative difference in governance under Modi, while being fully aware of the challenges that still exist.

It also showed me how Hindus are so tolerant and accepting of others, believing in the distorted idea of ‘Sarv Dharm Sambhav’. But this open-mindedness is being abused by missionaries and others. Even intelligent Hindus like this taxi driver don’t realize the existential threat posed to them and their unique way of life by fundamentalists from the Abrahamic faiths – Christianity and Islam. This lack of awareness is something which must be countered on a war footing.

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