Prime Minister Narendra Modi's demonetisation hit the poor but they forgave him because they believed he was on their side and the move was aimed against "filthy rich people", says former member of the erstwhile Planning Commission Arun Maira. It was, however, yet to be known whether the rich got hurt, he added.
"People in our society are evidently upset with the rich having so much. Mr Modi and also other people like Mr Anna Hazare were listening to the people who were upset with the establishment — the rich people and the government, that is, the crony capitalism. And that is what the Anna Hazare’s movement was against. It was not only against the government but against the corrupt as well”, Maira said.
"So Mr Modi took that movement and made that (corruption) the message; this (demonetisation) is to hurt those people (the rich), therefore the other people suffering took it like 'wow!'. That's why I think the rich people like us better listen.
Demonetisation should have woken us up that there is a big unrest in the country about us. Here is one person, Mr Modi, saying I will do this big jhatka for you (the poor). Whether the rich got hurt or not, we do not know as yet. Certainly the poor got hurt but they forgave him because they thought 'you are on the side of the poor people against these filthy rich people'," he added. The former member of the Planning Commission also stressed that an economy should focus more on the welfare of the citizens instead of the gross domestic product (GDP) numbers.
"Why do we want more jobs in the economy? Because the economy is supposed to be for the people; politicians are elected not just to raise the GDP but to produce results that matter to them (the people)," the former India chairman of the Boston Consulting Group said.
"So you have to construct an economy which is going to create jobs for people. In other words, the enterprises in an economy better engage with people," he said, adding there was a need for the enterprises and the government to “listen” to the people and to each other.
Asked if he was suggesting that GDP numbers, or numbers for that matter, do not generally reflect the wellbeing of the people, the 74-year-old management consultant asserted, “They do not."
"We put into the GDP only what we can measure. So far we haven't spent hardly any time in measuring people's feeling of trust, people's feeling of well-being. We don't measure these things (but) we do measure the amount of factory produces," he lamented.
In his recently released book "Listening For Well Being - Conversations with People Not Like Us", published by Rupa, Maira draws from his extensive experience as a leading strategist to emphasise that by listening deeply, especially to people who are "not like us", a more inclusive, just, harmonious and sustainable world can be created for everyone.