A Short letter to RBI: Sanity & Suggestions

Hey RBI,

High Five! Not so well done, but not too poor as well! I hope things are fine inside. Lots of troubles I heard. Lots of noise and stories. Heard Chandrababu Naidu broke off his head yesterday, exhausted and in vain. Even Manmohan! Well, tell him, “In the short run, either you die or made to die. Life happens as you escape the made to die points”. And this coming from Operations, not Economics’s cup of tea to figure out that. So, lots of fun around, lots of fire. I know you’d been busy to catch up with the physical world. It happens when you’re working while the rest of the world is your customer. I never knew of discounts as long as I worked at Flipkart, while expected by friends to know of deals. I thought to give you some round up, some random beating around the bush, some review and a sane suggestion, that will enable you tame exercises like demonetisation on demand, at the flip of fingers. It acts as a flush, like in a car, doesn’t it, the demonetisation? (Flush is one additive put before changing oil, to dissolve and drain out carbon, to keep engine fresh and kicking) To markets, fair price discovery is the engine, unauthorised wealth the carbon and demonetisation the flush. That’s how I understand, tell me if I’m wrong.

So this goes to your inefficiency in conjunction with IT, for your inability to harvest tax-payers from a 700 million work-force, in 70 years, leaving over 87% in the informal sector doomed for life, and the 90% of THE 1% (the tax-paying population) incarcerated along serrated blades. Both of you happen to be world’s first ever service providers to any sovereign nation to remain ‘Emerging’ over 70 years leaving behind as much as 99% of potential yet to be exploited. And I believe, neither RBI nor IT has any role in inducing the rest 1% to pay taxes. I see no bigger shame than that to the extent of being unforgivable. And that happens for your lack of visibility over transactions. But, thanks for leaving that opportunity, that’s my gain now subject to my whims, my fancies. For the time being, I’d recommend RBI’s website as a mandatory courseware along the length of graduation, one course every semester, to foster entrepreneurship, should India want to. In the world all it requires is intent. You’ll suddenly find jobs running after people, every kid starting up, less fear, more fun, more brains. Wrong people designing the courses. I guess babus, forgot to use brains until the boss told, and when boss asks, there’s little time to use brains. And then bosses have bosses. The rocket science to India’s wealth distribution, the same old sensational figure, the top 1% owning 58.4% the wealth, the last last 90% scrambling over the last fifth (20%), including all black money.

I wonder, RBI if you know that you can be turned into a fully automated unmanned central bank to a country, a world’s first, in one year, should someone decide. Other nations might face troubles doing so, but not India, just a subject to decision. Notes I’ll outsource to likes of sodexo. There will never be a counterfeit. All for your proficiency or dubious inefficiency accrued over the years. So, here am I saving your jobs, with an idea that will help you build trails in the system, and data enough to die with, enabling all your rocket sciences, apart from  Currency Operations. Else an idea is all that takes. RBI can be reduced to a software.

Also sorry to come in late. I’d once thought to tip once early on. I knew you’re going to mess it up, but chose to enjoy the show. One in India, you need to mind your own business, ideas unwelcome in this country. The thieves knew they’re thieves and the tax-payer proud, yet inconvenienced, rightfully for remaining aloof. In fact an enormous sadistic joy. Tell Modi not everything in the world is surgical. And non-surgical elements are also in demand. These days he’s going overboard, further getting you performance pressures, I understand. But then he didn’t have the luxury of good basic education like us, also that mostly he addresses illiterates, he has to. I’ll ease that, don’t worry. He’s one Tendulkar as captain, while you the RBI, Srinath to him. Srinath until today has issues with Tendulkar, of gap in expectations. For Modi works more than 18 hours a day, not everyone else will, impractical ask, hence the conflict. Rest you should figure out on your own. My issue is your incompetence mixed with arrogance. That arrogance that every sarkari babu has. (of some unseen power) On one end while you aspire to make India a superpower, raring to go over 7500 dollars per capita, on the other you’re struggling to manage one fifth of that. I thought you need support, some inspiration and sanity. And also some straightening. You could have figured this out on your own as well, way back, but for the lack entrepreneurs in your team, for being babus. Until a boss tells, you prefer slumber. So waking you up, is your real boss. I’ve a vote, remember!

(Note: Tendulkar in analogy and Tendulkar in real are different. Being Tendulkar is an insatiable urge to wear India on the chest, day after day, forever until the body gives up. Feat performed by select professionals, life threatening to imitate at home. As for Modi, he’s one Harsha of Politics, giant colossus among herds, sane, aware, but still a Politician. Career begins at Rs. 2500, though susceptible to self-hikes)

So RBI.  That was a break. I know you’re a babu, limited capacity. Attention now. I’m presenting you a simple process which should have come at least 20 years ago. Not radical, not undoable. For a while I did feel like a genius, like inventing something, only to realise someone is already doing that. Sodexo. Same as you Currency Operations. In fact if you and IT had worked properly, Sodexo wouldn’t have been required. Companies would give cash to have lunches on its interest. And India would have owned at least 16% of the global wealth by 2016. Currently Indians value to some, I’m ashamed to type that- 1.2%. (Lions at home!) But you do little more of rocket science, manage country’s reserves. Hafta from banks and so on. So you need a little more, navigation for your rockets, sophisticated radars. And you’ll never need an expensive plastic note or a GPS enabled currency. You’ll escape counterfeit and you’ll still track. But that was the best rumour that India ever had. I’d have carried on with lie. Let’s change a para and beat around the bush for a while, a little on politics.

So that’s the worst thing with our politicians, neither do they know things, nor do they know to lie. Though, natural it is. To lie you need to know truths, many. Poor Rahul can’t even read speeches, how would he lie? Remember that ‘Poverty is a state of mind’ fiasco in 2013. That was one deep meaning wisecrack from Rahul Dravid way back in 1998. Zimbabwe Tour. “You can only grow richer once poor “, the insight. I’m sure the speech writer must have committed suicide on TV. He never wrote for him post that. Neither do they know politics nor work, to top these illiterates hike themselves. I wonder how dare they hike themselves without sharing with the team. Again the babu-syndrome. Babu is a human right of left to the left of right of left, with a password protected mind who logs in through someone else’s password. He has never to lose from his own pockets. There’s one basic difference between babus and entrepreneurs. RBI, careful, this is for your dumb boys. Entrepreneurs are organisms with results in mind and processes to find, while babus the ones with processes in mind and results to find. Frame this on your walls. And the Best Babu ever goes to Arvind Kejriwal. He was the first full time employee of India to have been liable of repayment to the employer after separation. Which he paid, and then took back with interest, this time by hiking himself. Admirable but I wish he leaves the Earth soon, or he can have the luxury to be my pet. I’m willing to Adopt Kejriwal, will take care responsibly without being let open in the wild. Subject to Delhi’s permission. In fact should India wish, they can give it back to their politicians, by their own game. Adopt a Politician like ‘Adopt a village’. Arrange a virtual parliament, to make them report to democracy, make them talk geeky, numbers and so on.  Hold something like IPL, an annual championship event – Governance Premeir League.  Again subject to corporate partnership. But a politican can be made to report to people. Fools are those who say democracy doesn’t work. You need to know to make it work.

So I’d said about currency management. I assume your currency notes or coins to be material tokens against the promises you make of wealth, for any exchange of goods or services in the territory. That makes your notes your inventory. And you earn money by counting the hops your shipments or notes make, (one hand to another). More the number of hands a note exchanges, more you earn. Your problems begin when your shipments(notes) go into a black hole, losing all its traces, suddenly coming over to you with documented forged hops that the note never did, making you bound to part with more wealth than you should have. And in the meanwhile, that note being absent from the market, also curtails the hops it could have, like a mischievous son asking for pocket money to drink in disguise of books, while you know he was absent from school, but he’s a son, you can’t deny. You can’t keep printing notes, or making babies. And those who earn loosely squander it loosely, giving rise to menace like inflation, and then you tighten interest rates and thus people like me take yours. While you continue to be babus, helpless but nothing to lose. (I’m curious to know how does RBI expect its business partners profitable when itself it doesn’t?)

To have any material movement, you need an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), an application software that captures information of movement, say for your case, serial number (of note), debit, credit, account number, denomination, debit party, credit party, location (properties of transaction). I guess you must have one of primitive types limited to printing and demonetizing. You open a serial number and forget. So you upgrade to this ERP, my types and let me show the magic it creates. Once you create this ERP, you give an API to people. So that they can scan a note over smartphone to verify genuineness or counterfeit. You will trigger smartphone usage, thus tech-literacy to otherwise content Indians (one huge charity), you’ll not need use nuclear technology to print notes, (plastic currency I heard), and freedom from counterfeit at one go. Militancy gone!

Next you upgrade some of your machines, integrate them with your ERP, and give access of your ERP to your channel partners, Banks, NBFCs, billers and so on. For banks and yourself, you’ll have to build a currency counter cum sorter. (You already have but dumb ones, faulty even to distinguish counterfeits or original) Sorters are now upgraded devices in the world, used in logistics which rely on optical inputs to trigger mechanical processing on shipment or material, (notes in your case), while it relays the information of movement to the ERP. Final shape for you should look like a small xerox machine. What it would do, take in a given bulk of notes (input), scan the serial numbers, sort by denominations while relaying the transaction information. (India Post uses advanced sorters) Say a Teller feeds in received notes, into a machine, and it scans notes individually and sorts it into appropriate chambers on basis of denominations (like they do at hypermarkets) Should the teller need to pay to customer, he just inputs the desired amount and gets a counted output, with data maintained upto serial number levels. For every transaction, you have details of debit/credit/ account number, location, handling agent, all details that you want, while it frees tellers and few managers at every bank. Day end or session end reconciling would be a thing of past while you’ve individual sign ins for your bankers. Foolproof security to shrinkage. Also a fear in the population for the sake of traceability.

Every time a note makes a hop to a bank, it gets recorded. And for all the notes issued but untraceable, you know the figures with serial numbers. But for peer to peer exchanges, every other exchange will be mapped, and with known counts of peer to peer, you know what goes on where, with whom. Cash crimes sorted forever. And as you have this, you can demonetise any denomination any day, as much you like with as much time you or people need. Plus a live data to all the rocket sciences you do. Accurate policies and Speed in km/hr as I want. While never can those IT guys ditch you, as you turn people to pay taxes. Neat, clean and a superfluous economy!