Friday, 20 January 2017

Shreyas and Preyas

‘Shreyas’ and ‘Preyas’’

When i was studying in the Post Graduate course at Utkal University, Bhubaneswar, an Essay Writing Competition in Odia was organized. The essay was to be written on the spot. I had participated in it. The subject of the essay was to be announced one hour before its commencement.
The topic was declared on time and it was ‘Shreya Ebam Preya’ (‘Shreyas’ and ‘Preyas’). Most of us the participants did not at that time know the meaning of the expression. So we went to the library to consult books and dictionaries. 

In my attempt, i had written that ‘Shreyas’ was a matter of head (brain) whereas ‘Preyas’ was a matter concerned with the heart.

In my essay, i had quoted Oscar Wilde, who through the protagonist in his short story ‘The Model Millionaire’, had said, “An artist’s heart is his head.” I had read this story during my first year in college. I had written in my essay that Preyas was a matter of heart (feeling) whereas Shreyas was a matter of head (brain, a person’s thinking, discriminating capacity). By having the heart and the head separate, non-artists often feel torn between the two. I had got the third prize. 

I have referred to such a dichotomy, towards the end of my post ‘Death Shall Die’ dated 12.01.2011.   There, i have referred to the interaction between Nachiketa and Yama, god of death, in Kathopanishad during which Yama discloses the dichotomy of the paths leading to shreyas and preyas.

A search in Google resulted in the following elaboration of the subject.

The Katopanishad speaks of the two-fold path available to mankind, namely, the worldly, Preyas and the spiritual, Sreyas. The path of worldly enjoyment is also known as Pravritti marga. It is very easy to get hooked to this path for seeking material gains that are no doubt pleasurable but our sense of discrimination will tell us that these gains are not only fleeting and unsubstantial, but also pull one into the cycle of birth.

So, the other choice is to choose the path of realisation or the Nivritti marga as opposed to pravritti marg. The focus now shifts to welfare of the Atma and not the body. Realisation is reached through renunciation and Nachiketa symbolises discrimination that chooses Sreyas — that which is good and the right. He rejects Preyas though this appears pleasurable and sweet. Actually, this two-fold path becomes the means to attain the end, salvation. 

For wise and discriminating people, Preyas gradually leads to Sreyas when one learns to mentally renounce its attractions. The result of this choice made with determination is permanent. This inspires one to practise moral values which bring about chitta suddhi. It is shown that the Absolute Brahman is realised only when there is purity in one’s thought, word and deed. The success of the result depends on the extent of effort expended.

All human endeavours fall under two categories: the preyas and the sreyas. Among the human acquisitions and experiences there is not a single aspect that lies outside the pale of these two.

The Kathopanishad reads: "The good (Sreyas) is one thing, the pleasant (Preyas) is another. These two having different purposes, bind a man. Of these two, it is well for him who takes hold of the good; he who chooses the pleasant misses his end."

"The good and the pleasant approach a man; the wise man considers and distinguishes the two. Wisely does he prefer the good to the pleasant, but a fool chooses the pleasant for its worldly good."

Pleasures that are sense-bound come under the category of preyas. The majority of mankind constitute seekers of preyas but there are a rare few who aspire for the transcendental. Scriptures describe this transcendental experience as the sreyas.

Here are three videos on the subject (Source: You Tube)

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Dhan ki Baat III

It Began in 1946

India’s first demonetization was in 1946 in pre-independence era by the colonial British Government. During World War II, businessmen had hoarded black money made out of the prevailing scarcity of household items which were supplied to Government for its war efforts. At that time, notes of Rs. 1000 and 10,000 were demonetized.

Specimen of Note of Rs. 10,000 Issued by British Government of India, withdrawn in 1946

This very first demonetization in India in 1946 figures brilliantly in the film ‘Vijayalakshmi’ where the female protagonist’s greedy father-in-law who finds his nemesis in demonetization of Rs.1000 notes.

The first demonetization after independence of India was in 1956, when all notes carrying the British monarch’s head, were withdrawn.The second came in 1978, when Morarji Desai was the P M. Notes of Rs. 1000, 5000 and 10,000 were demonetized. At that time, these notes constituted a minuscule of total money-supply and hence common people were not affected. At that time, i was posted at Etah in U P. Our Branch had a single such note of Rs. 1000. However, this time, notes of Rs. 500 were in wide circulation and so common people were seriously affected. 

During 200-01, Rs. 100 notes were the most used in value terms. Rs. 500 notes were half of Rs. 100 in use. Rs. 1000 notes were just 4% of Rs. 100 notes in use. During 2003-04, Rs. 500 notes became the most used; Rs. 1000 notes were still only 23% of the Rs. 100 notes in use. During 20014-15, use of Rs. 500 notes increased substantially; Rs. 500 and 1000 notes were 8 times the value Rs. 100 notes in circulation. Apparently, inflation is continuously depleting the value of currency notes in terms of the price of goods and services in India.    

The stated purposes of demonetization were curbing black money and corruption, drying of funds of terrorists and immobilization of fake currency notes in circulation. By December 30, 2016, the last permitted date for depositing the banned currency notes in accounts with banks, it was hard to remember what the original objective was. The black money argument was busted. More than 90% of the banned notes came back to banks. Most of it was likely to be recycled into new notes. Moreover, only 6% of this illicit money was held in cash. Now, demonetization is being termed as a movement towards a cashless – or ‘less cash’- society. It is relevant here to know that in response to an application under Right to Information Act, R B I declined to inform the reasons behind the decision.  

Was it wise to introduce notes of Rs. 2000? The size of the old Rs. 1000 notes were 2.2 times that of the new Rs. 2000 notes. Will this not make the work of people with unaccounted money to stash it away in less space? It would have been better to introduce new Rs. 200 notes, which would have been in conformity of the R-3 Principle which says that currency notes should be in steps 1, 2 and 5. That is to say that the next denomination should be limited to 2 or 2.5 times of the preceding one.

It appeared that people with black money resorted to numerous ways, - investigating officials were awestruck by the ingenuity of these - to skirt the declared main purpose of demonetization. Crores of banned notes were deposited in crores of no-frills-zero-balance Jan Dhan Accounts, small accounts of subordinates, lower level employees, dormant accounts, with a promise to give these Account-holders a ‘reward’ when the money is later withdrawn in new notes. A few commercial establishments paid advance salary for 6 months in old currency notes. It was reported that one political party got a deposit a total amount of Rs. 104 Crore by utilizing services of numerous poor ‘supporters’! Out of the total amounts of Rs. 15.44 lakh crore of demonetized notes, about Rs. 15 lakh crore is reported to have come back to the banking system. In connivance of employees of banks and even R B I, huge amounts in new Rs. 2000 notes were received by people with black money. Huge amounts in higher denominations were unearthed. This, when the total permissible amount of withdrawal was Rs. 24,000 per person in week!  Out of the amounts seized by Income Tax Authorities, huge amounts were in new notes.
Substantial amounts of old notes were discarded by the hoarders. These were found in garbage-heaps, rivers and other water-bodies. Early reports speculated that about 25% of the cancelled notes would not come back to the system as it happened in 1978. These reports said that these liabilities of R B I would be transferred to the Government as a special dividend. Later, R B I clarified that its  liabilities would not be extinguished and as such, there would be no special dividend for the Government. Ultimately, it turned out that over 90% of the cancelled notes came back to the system; apparently people with black money used ingenious ways to deposit these in banks. The Income Tax Department is investigating the matter.

Normally currency notes seized by police and Income Tax authorities are preserved by them to be produced as evidence when trials take place. This time however, due to the long time required for printing replacement notes, the seized notes were to be released to ease paucity of new notes.

Demonetization involved enormous human and economic costs. It is widely feared that GDP will go down by 2% because of this. The poor have been hit hard. Gandhiji had exhorted to “recall the face of the poorest, the weakest man and ask yourself, if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him.” As one commentator said, when we think of the cost –benefit of this decision in the months to come, this sensitivity to the pain of others will be the one thing that will determine whether the benefits exceeded the costs.

Issuing fresh currency notes - remonetization- has been a slow process. Restrictions on withdrawals are continuing even after December, 30, 2016 - the last date for depositing the withdrawn notes in banks. The limit on withdrawals from ATMs has only been increased from Rs. 2500 to Rs. 4500 but the restriction remains; the limit on withdrawals from accounts continues to be Rs. 24,000 per week. It is believed that while addressing the people on TV on the 8th November, 2016, the Prime Minister had said that those holding banned currency notes could deposit these with Reserve Bank of India till the 31st March, 2017 but now it is said that this facility is available only for NRIs. Unpleasant situations have occurred at offices of R B I over this matter.
However, the average Indian was not angry with Modi for demonetization. There was not a single case of rioting as predicted by his opponents. Most of the poor believed that the rich have been affected more than them. Gross mismanagement of a proposed demonetization in Venezuela went awry and had to be postponed due to protests, unrest and riot. Its President, Nicolas Maduro, unlike Narendra Modi, is deeply unpopular in the country. A commentator summed it as the moral of the story – Be popular before you let loose an unpopular move!

It is expected that the present shortage of currency notes and rationing will be over by February, 2017.


The reference to ‘black’ reminded one humorist who writes a regular column in a leading newspaper in India, about the saying, ‘Once you go black, you never go back.’ In this piece, she advises readers to refer to Google to find the meaning of this expression.

ADDENDUM : Rs. 1 Lakh Note!

Dr. Rajiv Srivastav, Professor of Banaras Hindu University has been doing a research on Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. He has come upon a currency note of Rs. 1 Lakh issued in 1943 by the Azad Hind Government in exile, set up by Netaji. It was issued in the name of 'Bank of Independence' and was printed in Burma. This was recognized by Germany, Italy, Japan, Croatia, Philippines, Ireland, China and Burma (Now Myanmar). Here it is:  



Reports say that Sayeed Mohammad Nuroor Raheman, Sahi Imam of Tipu Sultan Mosque of Kolkata has issued a fatwa offering to pay an amount of Rs. 25 lakh to any person who shaves the beard and head of Narendra Modi, as a punishment for his decision  of demonetization!!! Any takers?