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Opinion » musings

Posted at: Jan 11, 2017, 12:53 AM; last updated: Jan 11, 2017, 12:53 AM (IST)

Wind the moral compass

Rajeev Ahuja
FOR a middle-class person like me, life is limping back to normal with the easing of cash availability in banks. I guess, the same is true of the vast majority of the population. No matter how painful the demonetisation process has been, most people will later remember it with much amusement: the initial days marred with utter confusion, impromptu reaction of the public, erratic supplies, long queues in banks, ever-changing rules and so forth. But I will remember it for a different reason.

Within a couple of days into demonetisation, I had come to owe Rs 100 to a cooperative milk booth in our neighborhood. The young boy, who operated the booth, knew me as his regular customer. He didn’t mind giving milk on credit when I didn’t have cash in appropriate denomination. But the very next day, the boy was replaced by a middle-aged man who claimed to be his uncle. Since the banned currency notes were permitted in select cooperative stores, including milk booths, such stores experienced a surge in sales. The increase in sale at that milk booth was probably too much for the boy to handle.

I kept returning to the booth, and each time I returned, I paid for my fresh purchases. Though I remembered the amount I owed, I didn’t rush to settle it. The boy hadn’t maintained any register, and his uncle was clueless. I waited for a few days hoping he would return. Days turned into weeks. Alas, there was no sign of him. Even if he had returned, I doubt, he would remember it. The fact of my owing him money was now known only to me. I could have ignored it as I was not offending anybody. But the little God inside me kept nagging.

Each time I would visit the booth, the thought would cross my mind. It had started to distract my attention. I was left with two options — to turn a blind eye and move on, or to listen to the little voice inside me. I decided on the latter. In doing so, the biggest thing I got in return was my own peace of mind which I value. It helps me focus on doing things I care the most.

Similarly, I think, the people who have avoided paying taxes in the past for whatever reason are now confronted with two options — turn a blind eye to the ongoing income declaration scheme, or to avail of it. In choosing the latter, they have a wonderful opportunity to reset their moral compass and move on in life to do what they care about the most!

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