With the latest demonetization measure by Prime Minister, Modi, suddenly we are all either sitting on currency that needs to be exchanged or with low cash. There is a minor sense of panic you feel as you suddenly start counting the 100s, 50s, 20s that you may have tucked away in a drawer or even start peeping into your children’s piggy banks.
Immediately after the move was announced I had to travel and I wanted to have at least a few hundreds for any emergency. Yes, plastic money is accepted pretty much at almost all places in Bangalore but there are still times when you need cash. Anyhow, my son had a few hundreds in his wallet. God bless him! Saved me a trip to the stressed out ATMs.
After exactly 8 days, I ventured out to the nearest ATM close to my house and this was a queue that I encountered. The ATM was anyway almost out of cash, I was told. Across the street, an ICICI branch looked deserted because both the ATM and branch had run out of cash. The situation left me in despair. I decided to try again the next day.
Instead of going to an ATM, the husband and I queued outside a bank branch the next day. This time things were more organized. Yes, we took about 2 hours but managed to deposit our few old notes and withdraw some money as well. This would come in handy to help out my maid as well as some other people who were low on money. Despite the long queue, people are quite well behaved. In fact, we were helping each out out. There was banter among strangers and the bank staff was doing a fine job. It made me feel good to see how well we were coping with the situation.
I know my experience is very limited. I live in a city where my milk guy delivers through an App that I pay for with Paytm. My kirana store guy bills me monthly and accepts credit card. So mostly my cash outlay is only when I have to pay salaries to the helpers at home and to the neighbourhood ironing guy and other stray cash purchases. Groceries, medicines, fruits, petrol – I can buy everything with plastic money. Even more so since the demonetization.
Is the move good or bad? Well, I am no economist. But I’ve long hated how people who refuse to pay taxes and some of them are really moneyed splash their ill begotten wealth. Why should they be allowed to get away when every penny that I make is taxed? Why should honesty be an exception and not a rule? I know sounds very idealistic but why not.
Yes, I understand that not all black money is stored as cash. I am sure land dealings and gold buying is also being keenly looked into. Yes, we still have a largely cash-driven economy. In the smaller towns and villages where banking is still sporadic even more so. Hence, the measure has wreaked havoc on some who have had to suffer to exchange their money and withdraw their cash. The implementation should have been better planned but then hindsight is always 20-20.
Yet, we cannot deny that it is a very bold move. At least a politician has dared to do more than just make noises. Yes, it has caused inconvenience and sure I wish it were better planned. Two weeks later and we still don’t have the much-needed new 500s in the market. I think if we all focus on how to facilitate things for others, help each other out and help the move, it will make things better for everyone.
I will give you an example. The other day, I had to pay my monthly bill at my kirana store. As I was waiting for him to swipe the card, a foreigner girl came to buy something from the shop. Her bill came to Rs. 200+ and she did not have hundreds so she handed him an old 500 Rupee note. He said he could not accept that. She was Iranian and did not know what to do. So he offered to take that 500 rupee note. I commended him on his gesture. He shrugged it off saying that he anyway has to queue to exchange his notes. How will she manage in a foreign country? He had to help her out. A good lesson for all of us.
I believe that this move in the longer run will work out better for the country. It is a first step in our battle to weed our corruption. A lot more needs to be done but at least a firm beginning has been made. Only time will tell how exactly this move will pan out.
Just download the App (or update it for current users) and you will see a notification which when pressed will take you to your location (works for all over India) and show you the list of all banks and ATMs near you and their activity in the past few days.
Really very useful given the current times. Next time for sure, when I am heading out to the ATM, I will first check which ones have cash using this App.So how has demonetization impacted your life? Are you in its favour?
Featured Image courtesy: Kunal Mehta at Shutterstock.