8th of November. The entire country was sent into a whirlwind with the announcement that the Prime Minister made. The existing Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes were demonetized and were going to get taken out of circulation and new notes introduced in an effort to bring out the stashes of black money that plagues this country.
One word : Master stroke
The decision isn’t without its downfalls. I know my own parents who are in the middle of renovating the house, and had withdrawn some cash from the bank and the work has halted till we can get the currency exchanged to pay the vendors and the workers.
But everyone is happily accepting it. Why? Because for once, there is a glimmer of hope that justice and equality is given a chance. While the hard working classes have been paying taxes, the rich and the ones hoarding cash have been happily contributing to nothing more than inflation. It seems like crony-capitalism and unfair advantage is given a stab. It will take a few more stabs to curb it, but the monster atleast has been put on notice.
And here comes a company from the new economy. Paytm. Runs a full page ad as the front page and apparently sees a 400% growth in their traffic and numbers. Good for them. But here’s the question. Did they actually take permission to use the PM’s photograph for an intent that is clearly just to promote their commercial interest?
“Sources have confirmed that you cannot use or reproduce the PM’s image in any shape or form in any advertisement even for Government Of India schemes, unless you have the mandatory written permission and the matter/contents of the purported advertisement has been cleared for publication or telecast by the PMO and the Director General, Press Information Bureau.”
There are only two ways this could be:
- Either Paytm knew about this much earlier than the rest of the world did and hence had the necessary permissions in place.
- There was no permissions taken and it was perfectly fine for them to commit the mistake and then ask for forgiveness rather than follow the rules.
The irony is, the point of this whole effort is to bring about an equal process – that no one is above the law and that as citizens we all have to adhere to the rules set, pay our taxes and contribute to the nation to the best of our ability. If the new breed of company is of the likes of Paytm, which would flout the rules and if these are the safeguards for our new “cashless” economy, then I am seriously worried. We are simply filling the coffers of a greater monster.
What is even scary is that companies like Paytm have been issued Payment Bank Licenses and they are exploring payday loan products. If this is the standard of ethics they hold to, where is this going to end?
I know, most of us would simply shake our heads, nod and say “What else do you expect?”. It is a bit too late for the US to ask that question. But we still have time. If we want a better country and see change, then we need to demand better – at the least for those who are leading the way in the corporate world, to follow the rules.
If the act of curbing one lawlessness, benefits another act of lawlessness, what exactly has changed? It is even more so, when it is done under the garb of patriotism.
PS: I am equally appalled at Media houses, who never bother to ask if the companies have permission to use the PM’s picture in an ad.
Note: I know Vijay Shekhar Sharma as a person. I applaud the hustle here, and admire him as an entrepreneur. I know the support he showed for Net Neutrality and the enthusiasm he has for building India into a powerhouse. That more so makes this oversight, terrible. With many who look upto him as a role model, this is not his best moment.