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Empathy In The Phase Of Demonetizaion – Does it really exist?

Demonetization is a historic step undertaken by the ruling party since Independence to scrap black money and lower corruption in India. The Indian economy is undergoing a dismal phase due to severe cash crisis with the withdrawal of old 500 and 1000 rupee notes. Our daily livelihood and working, solely dependent on cash transactions, is adversely affected. Withdrawing money has become a Herculean task with long standing hours outside ATM and it has brought huge discomfort to the general public. With the issue of cash crush in the market, I personally encountered a situation when I felt totally helpless and it eventually led me to a series of questions confronting the existential dilemma of our existence in this capitalistic economy.

Standing outside the ATM nearly for an hour, I was annoyed to know that it dispensed just 2000 rupee notes. I was in urgent need of 100 rupee notes for petty works to be done. My wallet already had old 500 rupee notes . I could not  exchange those old notes that day as  there was rush at the bank and many of us went back empty handed due to hard cash shortage.I felt as if I was going through a major life crisis ,which I have never faced ever before.The old notes adorning my wallet made me think all over again about the materialistic pursuit that we chase after in our daily lives. All aspects of life come to be defined in monetary denominations by us such that we overlook the larger aspects of humanitarian concerns that makes the society stand together at difficult times.

I was perplexed so as what to do with those notes and standing outside the ATM also brought no relief to my situation.In a hurry,I rang up my mother to inquire about transactions and murmured in annoyance. At the ATM, there were many acquaintances but no one came to ask so as why was I worried.There was an elderly person standing next to me at the ATM who overheard my conversation on the phone. With a friendly gesture, he inquired, ” Do you need any help? Anything urgent?”  Annoyed to answer in that situation, I mentioned the discomfort of exchanging old notes at the bank. Within seconds, he was ready to take away my old notes and provide me with new ones. His amicable behaviour  made me thank him before leaving.

As I walked back home, his action and words echoed my mind. It was unbelievable to expect such extended help from a stranger. It made me rethink that why none of my acquaintances came to help me when I had already mentioned my problem to some of them. People easily make judgements and form opinions about others making simple situations complicated. In one lifetime, all of us undergo moments of crisis and suffering. Such circumstances arising out of government policies and reforms make me contemplate about my attitude towards others. It also made me think about my own actions so as whether I would have offered help to any person in need.

According to Bill Bullard,”The highest form of human knowledge, is… empathy, for it requires us to suspend our egos and live in another’s world. It requires profound purpose larger than the self kind of understanding.” This is a strenuous phase which our economy is undergoing. Government policies and reforms take time to be implemented in the long run. There might be many people around you in dire need such as an ailing old person in need of money for medicines, domestic workers who lack knowledge about transactions or an outstation student living away from his family. Look around and empathize. Your support and help might help someone to stand during this moment of crisis. What the society demands now is  empathy and a little understanding. It surely makes this world a better place for all.

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