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Indian Government’s Surgical Strike on Aam Aadmi

Long queues in the banks. ATM closed. Panicked people, trying to get their demonetised money exchanged from the banks – these are the scenes outside our homes and offices in today’s time. 

Post the announcement on Tuesday night by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the entire nation went into a frenzy, with several not knowing what to do with their money. 

In his statement PM said, “Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes will not be legal tender from midnight tonight, just worthless piece of paper.” And to get rid of their banned notes, people started queuing at petrol pumps, medical stores and also at ATM centres to deposit their money.

Even though the last date of exchanging or depositing the now redundant 500 and 1000 rupee notes is 30 December 2016, many were not aware of the facts and with the amount of rumours going around, it hit the lower strata of the society the most.

All this might have been done keeping the good the nation in mind (curbing black money and circulation of fake currency which had gone up in the past few months), but were there proper plans put in place before implementing the demonetisation scheme? I think not! I think the PM should have taken into account, the several daily wage-based labourers, the payment of daily requirements like vegetables, milk vendors, who for sure don’t except debit, credit or Paytms.

And what about the ones travelling? Or since it’s wedding season, what about paying for the small things that come up during a wedding? This most definitely will work against the black money hoarders, but won’t they have already pushed out their money overseas? Even a few hours were enough for many to do that.

Standing in queues isn’t a very pleasant experience: you’re waiting patiently for your turn at the bank, and when your number is finally up (and as the gods are against you) their system slows down! And the manager will later come apologise but is unable to help in any other way than say sorry, which at this moment feels more frustrating than Trump winning the US Presidential election! 

New Delhi: People queue outside Bank of India to exchange their old Rs 500 and 1000 notes in New Delhi on Friday. PTI Photo by Kamal Singh(PTI11_11_2016_000098B)

I think the most happiest people right now in the country will be the ones at  Post Office, after all, it’s now that they get to see so many people under their roof, exchanging money, asking for help (making them feel important, given that no one even gives a 2nd glance to these forgotten structures these days).  

And when the ATMs finally opened on Friday, the entire country burst out in jubilation (it felt to me as if Shravan was over and I was looking at a lip smacking plate of fried chicken!). But when the same ATM centre runs out of cash when it’s your turn, it feels more frustrating! Adding salt to the wounds are your sadist friends who will wave their crisp new notes, withdrawn from the same ATM, five mins before you!

Navi Mumbai: Unfunctional ATM machines in Navi Mumbai on Friday. ATMs with were not working till noon. PTI Photo (PTI11_11_2016_000121B)
PTI Photo (PTI11_11_2016_000121B)

The most I feel sorry for are the bank executives who have to be at the firing line of the customers, and patiently hearing them out, even as some hurl abuses. Come on, how our the bank executives at fault? They are putting in more than 12 hours, just so that this entire transition of getting notes exchanged is carried out smoothly. And they, just like the common man, have to stand in the queue to get their notes exchanged (at least this is what I saw at ICICI bank in Nariman Point).

Looking at all the chaos around me, I feel PM Modi should have given more thought and planned in a more better way to lessen the worries of people. It feels as if all this was taken for granted by the government. 

It will be fun to watch, several political biggies standing in the queues, just like us, to get their notes exchanged! Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi did, though it looked more like a photo op (my sister called it cute!), but he did nonetheless. Was it to actually get the feel of the situation from ground zero? Or was it to gain an upper hand among his counterparts who haven’t been seen on TV or heard off or on Twitter ever since the big announcement on Tuesday.

Indian National Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi carries a bank form as he exchanges rupee notes of the old denomination at a bank in New Delhi on November 11, 2016. Long queues formed outside banks in India as people crowded into deposit and withdraw money after the two largest denomination notes were taken out of circulation. / AFP PHOTO / -
Indian National Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi carries a bank form as he exchanges rupee notes of the old denomination at a bank in New Delhi on November 11, 2016.
Long queues formed outside banks in India as people crowded into deposit and withdraw money after the two largest denomination notes were taken out of circulation. / AFP PHOTO / –

Coming to the much hyped Rs 2000 note, I must say I’m disappointed! First, the purple colour makes it look more like Monopoly game money than an actual currency. The greenish and reddish now redundant 500 and 1000 rupee notes respectively at least had an affair of authority. They looked smart and looked like actual ‘money’.

To set the rumours straight, this Rs 2000 note has no chip, or any such technologically advanced feature (the government doesn’t watch so much SCI-Fi people to make such notes). But the government had assured that the said note can’t be copied (this, only time will tell). For now, the ones holding the Rs 2000 note should be more worried about getting change (it was difficult to get change for Rs 1000, this is more than that) rather than think about the colour of the note, it’s overall ‘feel’ or if it can be replicated!

The decision to demonetise notes of higher denomination is undoubtedly one of the biggest shocks the Indian economy has received under the Narendra Modi government.

The debate rages on, and it will be worth a watch the effects this might have on near future.

 

(Written By : Ronak Mastakar)