By Santosh Bhartiya
One thing is perplexing. It is perplexing to me or to the government, I cannot say for sure. But there is a point in it, which I wish to explore. We are setting out on a journey of making India digital, a journey for which the government is hell-bent on digitizing everything: be it your bank account or your private conversation, everything must be brought on to the digital platform. Sounds nice! But in a country where literacy numbers are not so bright, launching such program means launching it without preparation. It has not been explained to the people as to what digitization is and how does it function? Mobile companies, with the help of government, have spread their network across the country, which benefited them immensely, but caused a major damage to the country. Now previously inaccessible blue films, triple-X movies and porn movies became easily available to the gullible people through their mobiles. We did not educate them about their responsibilities. We did not make them aware as to how to use mobile to extract maximum benefit out of it?
Now under this government-backed initiative every transaction of money, including depositing, withdrawing and transferring, will be carried out through digital methods, with emphasis on using mobile phone to operate bank accounts. It is a completely new phenomenon. On the other hand the Aadhaar card, which may fall under the ambit of Supreme Court’s right-to-privacy judgment, is being insistently demanded by mobile companies to link it with your mobile number. A top-notched company has sold all the Aadhaar-related data to foreign countries. Perhaps the companies who left bend in this exploit want to take their bit of share. Neither the government nor the Supreme Court did ask them to do so, but mobile companies started demanding our Aadhaar cards.
This is a matter of great import and seriousness, because the government, which wishes to take the country into the digital era, in past three years did bare minimum to ensure that our communication system, of which mobile network is a part, could run uninterruptedly. Be it Varanasi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai or Bengaluru wherever I went, completing a call on mobile was like banging your head against the wall or getting irritated. As soon as you make a call and enter into serious conversation, the call gets dropped. You make a second attempt and the same story is repeated. One cannot finish his/her conversation on mobile phone without having at least three to four call drops. As far as the government is concerned it has turned a blind eye to this problem. Earlier Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad was minister in charge and now Manoj Sinha is the incumbent. Ravishankar Prasad used to express his mumbo jumbos, and now Manoj Sinha expatiates on the issue. Manoj Sinha says that the instances of call drops are decreasing, while TRAI, the regulating authority of mobile operators working under his own ministry, says that the call drops have increased.
I do not know whether you went through this ordeal or not, but many of our friends have experienced it. If you complete your call uninterrupted, it is like taking a dip into the Ganga; it means you have accomplished an extraordinary feat. Mobile companies charge even those call which get interrupted or get dropped. In other words multiple calls made on the same number due to call drop are not considered one. You have technology to club such calls in one. In fact the companies are charging three times over. Now the question: do these mobile companies carrying out this loot on their own or doing under government’s protection? Or if we put it in the common parlance: how much money these companies dole out to the political parties (the opposition as well as the ruling parties) as donation from the billions they are making.
No one is asking any question except the clamoring by those who are directly affected, but that clamoring too is almost dead on its feet. Like a bitter dose of medicine the use of cards (debit/credit) is being force-fed by the government. We are being asked to use cards while doing every kind of transactions including buying goods from provision stores. But the fact of the matter is that the shopkeeper makes you wait for six to ten minutes, while he attempts to complete the transaction through your card. Only fortunate few get their transaction done instantly. More often than not a customer gets prompted on his mobile that his account has been debited but the digital swipe machine failed to issue paper receipt. In such cases shopkeepers insist the customer to make payment or leave the goods he has bought. His money has gone. In case he makes repayment, then he will get the message that he will get a refund within 24 hours. I cannot say for others but I haven’t got mine. I went through such experience while checking out from two to three hotels. It may not affect the rich, but people like us who belongs to middle and lower middle classes and who in compliance of government’s instruction doing such transactions, are getting hurt. Even before this we have reported such things but never got any denial from the authorities or the government.
There is a company called Paytm, which was on the verge of closer, but the officials in finance ministry gave it a new lease of life and transformed it into such a big company that accounts of many people in our country got empty. Where did all the money gone through Paytm? It is not mentioned in their accounts. There is no taker of their complaints in Paytm or in the police. They sat at their home, defeated. Through Paytm records of all our transactions and connections become accessible to Chinese companies whose head offices are also located in China. We have entrusted China the responsibility of operating our economy. On the other hand we are waging war of words with China and engaged in phony war with them. Not only this, even more importantly, no one guarantee the transactions which get completed due inadvertent press of button. Earlier there were some system in place that used to prevent transaction with wrong accounts, but now you will not get a trace of your money.
The phenomenon of cross-connections associated with landline has cropped up in mobile phone as well. You’re calling someone else and get connect with someone else’s number. You have no idea to whom your call has been connected. Though during conversation one could make out whether the call is connect to proper number or not, but what about financial transactions. At least the government should take the responsibility of financial lost incurred by customer in such cross-connections. This is welfare government elected by us. It is the responsibility of the Government to protect our economic, political and national interests. If the government does not devise methods of protecting our accounts, then what does that government mean to us? That means the government is telling us that you keep our money at our home instead of banks. If you keep your money in banks, you have to pay taxes both at the time of deposit and at the time of withdrawal; you have to pay tax if you keep the money for less than a certain period or for more than a certain period. You will be taxed everywhere. I could not make it as to why the government has not made the country aware about all these things.
The biggest concern is that our communication system is going from bad to worse every day. TRAI’s says that July 2017 has seen highest number of call drop, while the minister says that the call drops are on the wane. Who is telling the truth? This truth falls in line of the fact that we cannot complete calls, we cannot do the transition, and there is no account of our money. Our money is insecure. For the sake of publicity we are told that ours is the most secure system in the world – digital currency, digital transactions, and whatever is on the digital platform is safe and secure. But this security is not conspicuous to us. Our experience is diametrically opposite to it. I have accumulated enough courage to say this to you, but there many middle class or lower middle class people who are unable to make it what to say and whom to say. The police do not listen to them. As you must be aware of the fact that there are only three such police stations in the country complaints related financial cyber crime can be registered. You will spend half your life but would not be able to find those police stations. There is no provision to register online complaint. If you send something to the Prime Minister on his email, you will get a prompt auto-generated acknowledgement, saying thank you very much; we got your letter and will respond soon. I haven’t come across anything more than this. If somebody has received more than that, he may let us know. But generally speaking it does not happen.
First, the digital communication system is flawed. Is it a conspiracy of some other country? But who are conniving with them from our country? Why does the prime minister unable to pay attention as to why the communication system is getting worse. I am convinced that Prime Minister’s would not have experience call drops, because in that case he must have expressed his concerned. I want to tell him that a large section 125 crore nationals is disturbed due call drop and that disturbance is directly related to financial transactions, associated with their bank accounts. Earlier those who had two to four lakhs of rupees stashed at their homes. They believed that their money is hidden and no one will take away from their homes. Now those who have money are worried about their children’s safety. They are worried that they might get a call from a kidnapper with a knife put on their children’s neck, because they have linked everything with Aadhaar. It is matter of second for unscrupulous elements to know about bank anyone’s account details. We are getting tangled into this maze. I request that the government to pay a little attention to this. It is necessary, otherwise we, we mean our country, may be trapped in a big trouble.