Long lines outside banks, non-functioning ATMs and a fast-declining enthusiasm against major economic reforms…the common man is at his wit’s end with the current demonetisation move.
Some events are so momentous that they stay with us forever. The Mumbai terror strikes of 26/11. The falling of the GBP to a lowly Rs 45 immediately after the Brexit vote. The shock election of Donald Trump as the USA’s new President. And now, the demonetisation of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes in India.
This last one has hit hard more than the others, because it has gone to the root of what we hold dear: our daily life. Let’s face it, each of us have a stash of currency at home, much of it in denominations of Rs 500, and some of it in Rs 1,000. We’ve been using this money for transport, settling small bills, paying for vegetables and groceries, and other cash payments. By no means have we been hoarders, this is petty cash that sees us through one day to the next.
Take it away – or render it useless, like the present Government has done – and it awakens all that is fiendish inside us. Suddenly, we are forced to stand outside banks in serpentine queues, without food or water or even a restroom break, simply to get our hands on our own money. And for what – so that the Government may weed out black money and corruption, both of which are not a part of our lives by a wide stretch.
It’s been days since the historic announcement to pull the plug on Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, and not all of us have been able to get our hands on the cash lying in our accounts, nor dispose of the useless notes we are sitting with. But beneath the simmering tension and open hostility that many people are now feeling towards a Government that has pushed this move down our collective throats, is there really anything more serious than a little inconvenience?
Bear this current situation with a smile, because…
* There is no need to panic. Though you feel that your bank is going out of its way to work at a snail’s pace, the RBI contends that Indian banks performed over 10 crore exchange transactions (where you surrendered the old notes and got Rs 4,000) till Sunday – that’s a lot of money that has legally changed hands and operations are set to pick up the pace this week.
* ATMs are being loaded with more cash, so that you won’t be the unfortunate chump that waits in line for an hour only to be told that the machine is out of cash.
* Banks are working overtime to dispense Rs 2,000 notes from ATMs, though a complete overhaul is expected within two to three weeks. So if you line up to withdraw money, you might find a shiny new Rs 2,000 leap out at you!
* Rs 500 notes are coming back! If you were left scratching your head after a string of stores refused your Rs 2,000 note citing a lack of change, you can take heart in knowing that new and improved Rs 500 notes are also coming back. Rs 1,000 notes will also be brought back in a new avatar by the end of the year.
* The ‘shadow’ economy is set to go. If you were ever infuriated that your local sabziwallah or the guy who does your laundry has more ready cash than you – and he doesn’t even pay any taxes, grrr! – you can now feel happier knowing that this crackdown on the ‘parallel’ economy that exists only in cash dealings will bite the dust. Though small payments to the tune of Rs 500 are still a possibility, the larger picture is a better one: businesses dealing in ‘black’ will have a tougher time hiding from the law.
* Things will be restored with Rs 2,000 fuelling the economy. India is primarily a cash economy, but the Government is trying to walk the tightrope between ‘less cash’ and ‘cashless’ economy models. Though the situation seems grim at the moment – and it is, if you are left with only a few hundred rupee notes – things will go back to normal as the market is infused with Rs 2,000 notes.
* Finally, there is a crackdown on corruption and non-declaration of wealth. The Government gave non tax-payers and those with undisclosed income enough time to declare till September 30 this year. Many did, and were not penalised heavily but were taxed as per the arrears and tax structure payable. However, the demonetisation is a heavy blow to those hoarding cash to the tune of crores of Rupees. Declaring anything above Rs 2.5 lakh till December 31, 2016 is liable to come up for scrutiny. Indeed, every person is now under the scanner of the tax authorities.
* It has happened before, and we adapted. Indians have a high propensity for adjusting to sudden shakes and tremors. If you thought demonetisation is a Narendra Modi brainchild, think again: the first such move was made with Rs 1,000 and Rs 10,000 notes in 1946. These denominations were revamped and brought back in 1954 along with Rs 5,000 notes. Then all three were demonetised in 1978. The RBI then next demonetised all currencies in 2015…the point is, it has happened before, and we survived. We will survive this time, too.
 http://www.livemint.com/Opinion/i7yroJy3fSATLD0i6fEfjL/Dont-panic.html  http://www.ndtv.com/india-news/old-notes-valid-for-10-more-days-amid-dash-for-cash-10-developments-1625070?pfrom=home-lateststories  http://profit.ndtv.com/news/economy/article-high-security-rs-500-notes-released-for-distribution-1625066  http://scroll.in/article/821073/note-demonetisation-86-of-indian-currency-and-12-of-gdp-has-been-frozen-overnight  http://www.moneycontrol.com/news/economy/demonetization-to-benefit-indialong-term-experts_7936381.html  http://scroll.in/article/821073/note-demonetisation-86-of-indian-currency-and-12-of-gdp-has-been-frozen-overnight