Queuing Up

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Once I read a quote in a book that “The best possible way to double your money is to fold it over and put it back in your pocket.” But a few days back I identified a better alternative to that which was to keep your money in bank rather than putting it in pocket, hiding below your mattress or saving it at your homes in lockers because you never know when your hard earned money may just turn out to be a simple piece of paper with no value at all. If somebody would have told you this a month ago, you would have considered it to be unimaginable but on November 8, 2016, the Indian government made a historic decision of demonetizing currency notes of Rs 500 & Rs 1000 and bringing in new currency notes of Rs 500 & Rs 2000 in order to the curb the menace of black money in the Indian system.The result of this announcement was a huge chaos among the Indian households where some lauded the government for taking such a bold move while others were concerned about the fact what would be lined up for them in the days to come. Though the government took several measures to ensure that the process of currency interchange takes place smoothly but the reality what happened after that was far from different. And what followed was endless queues outside the banks, ATMs & post offices testing the patience of every ordinary citizen. Such is the scenario that at present the debate is no more about black money or demonetization but the current hot topic is when are these long running queues going to end.

When I was in my final year of Mechanical Engineering, there was a subject of Operations Research in which there was a chapter that I found really interesting which was Queuing Theory. This chapter had problems related to managing the queues at the service industry with variables like service time & waiting time taken into account with the help of which one can identify the time period after which turn would come for a person standing in the queue to avail the service. I really wish if that theory would have been applicable in the current situation of the country considering huge chains of people formed outside the banks that would have left them with some hope if their turn would come that day or not. People have been hurling abuses at each other, pushing each other, engaging in fights with the queue members & even the bank employees and falling prey to deaths due to suffocation created by the queues. I don’t want to be judgmental but I don’t believe that there could be any worse form of death than due to standing in a queue.

While giving a thought on this, I went back to my school days where every morning our class teacher would ask the students to form a line (height wise with girls & boys forming a different line) and proceed for the morning assembly. Even in the assembly ground, the sports teacher would leave no stone unturned to make sure that the students stand in a straight line. As I grew up and went to college, the process of formation of queues transferred to hostel mess for collecting your food. And further as I started looking around I observed that there are queues present everywhere. From temples for worshiping god  to paying your electricity bills, from casting your votes during elections to appearing for Roadies Auditions (I really wish if I would have identified a better example), from getting the new 4G Jio connection to getting your security check done at metro station, an individual has to be a part of a queue across each & every walk of life. Queue formation is a part of simple criteria of First Come First Serve for any service you want to avail but there is one learning that I have actually derived from my sports teacher at school which is that formation of queues is a mark of discipline. The idea was never to discriminate or to bring any inconvenience to people standing in lines but to ensure that everyone gets a fair & equal chance to avail the opportunities being provided without creating a ruckus.

Now one may say that this answer is way too diplomatic and in no way is solution to any of the current problems that an Indian citizen is facing. The people who have hard earned money are being mistreated because of the uncontrolled crowd standing outside banks and are bearing the inconveniences while the rich people are comfortably sitting in their homes. Let me just take another instance for example. Few days ago, on 14th November (5 days after the demonetization was announced), marked the birth anniversary of Sikh Guru ‘Guru Nanak Dev Ji‘. So I went to a Gurudwara near my office in the evening. After taking the blessings, I went to the Langar hall where I noticed long queues at different counters for different food items being served.  At each counter, there were a few people who were involved in the preparation of food and then there were few who were serving it to sangat. And the most amazing part of this view was that everyone was doing it at their own will with a smile on their face without any kind of chaos by the people standing in the line. As time passed, more people started coming into the hall but the discipline with which langar was being served to people standing in queues remained the same. This made me arrive to the conclusion that probably standing in a queue is not that difficult task and all you require is a true will & the right intent. The people who stood in the long queues in the Langar hall are doing it to take the blessings of God which is their true intent. The same scenario can be applicable in the case of standing in bank queues as well.

It has been around ten days since this decision was announced and already people have started losing their temper. It is definitely not an easy situation at present but if we want to bring a change in the system, some adjustments will have to be made at our end as well. The people who are present on online platforms to make their daily transactions should give opportunity to those who aren’t to get their money interchange first. And the people who are standing in queues need to give mutual respect to others because lets believe that we are doing this collectively to eliminate the evil of black money from our system. The battle is long and patience will hold the key. Let’s not lose this battle because of our inability to handle queues.

P.S. : This intention of writing this blog was not to offer any political views regarding any of the government’s decision but simply to throw light on the current scenario and how things can be perceived in a better way. Because we all have the capability to adapt ourselves across different situations but the question will always remain that are we willing to adapt or not.

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