A very interesting thing happened today morning. I was sitting in my papa’s office and reading a book and then all of a sudden my uncle, with excitation, handed out a few crisp 500 rupee notes to my father. It took no time for me to make out that the notes were forged and my uncle, owing to his experience with handling notes, had found the ‘truth’ about them just while counting them. And then, out of curiosity, I took those notes from my father and began scrutinizing them. And to my dismay, the notes were exactly the same as the original notes except for two things. The paper was a bit thicker than that of the original note; however I could notice this only after I was told by my father to feel the thickness of the note. And the golden thread, where RBI is written in small-sized letters, was broken.
Well, there is nothing so surprising about coming across a few forged bank notes. One gets to see many of them at different times. But what was astonishingly painful about those notes was the fact that these, even after being ‘exposed’, were not destined to turn into ‘ashes’ (as it is a general practice to destroy the forged currency)?. The client who had given those notes to my uncle was sad that he was cheated by someone else but the other person accompanying him kept on solacing him by saying that he would make those forged notes ‘run’ in the villages. And this made me ask the other guy:
Agar aap pakde gaye to kya hoga? (What if you get caught using these notes?)
To this he replied:
Gaaon me kaun pakdega? Ye to bahut aram se chal jaayega gaaon dehaat me. (Nobody would find out in the villages. These notes would be just perfect if used in a village.)
And this made me think about the narrow mindedness of that person. Just to save a few thousand rupees, he would actually commit the crime of using the forged notes, and not by his intelligence but by taking advantage of a poor and uneducated villager. But then I thought, what if these notes some back to him in some or the other? Will his cycle go on forever and there would be nobody who would choose to lose his few five hundred rupee notes and save the country from a series of false transactions and dwindling beliefs? For notes are not just pieces of paper, those are the words of trust passed on from one person to the other with each transaction.
He later told that some people in the village have the business of buying forged notes at half the price (written on the note) and using them at different places (and thus getting a full 100% on the investment). I don’t know if the police knows about it or no and why the villagers have not reported this to police. And do people really use this service of selling fake notes?
And that man told further:
Ye note to tilak me de dena chahiye!! (These notes are well suited to be given as dowry.)
This sentence made me think whether the person is so selfish that he would give fake notes to his own son-in law or this was a remark from a man tired and trodden by the ill system of dowries. Whatever the case may be, what made me sad was the fact was that the person represented a very general individual in the society and when he was speaking, it were the words and beliefs of the society. And if a society as such degraded moral values, the future indeed seems bleak, no matter whatever growth percentage we achieve in our GDP.
Suddenly, it struck to me that the person might not be educated. But then I asked myself: Does it really matter whether the person was educated or not? Would the attitude towards the notes have been different in either case?