Demonetisation has affected one and all. Everyone, from 15 to 50, are busy debating the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s move to ban old currency notes of 500 and 1000 denominations. New currency notes are being dispensed. But, there is panic and confusion among people. It is a move that has caught everyone from those in rags to the rich in one sweep. Subhajit talks to some young people to understand what they feel about this step by the government. Here’s a report, in the weekly column, exclusively for Different Truths.
Some rivers of India have been dumped with the old currencies, after November 8, this year, when the Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced about the ban on 500 and 1000-rupee notes. There has been panic and chaos along with appreciations and criticisms from various people. Demonetisation is the topic for discussion, for anyone between15 and 50. Almost everyone has something to say, including the many jokes, views and counter views that have been doing rounds on WhatsApp and other social networks. It began within hours of the ban on currency notes been declared. The vibrant youngsters also voiced their stand regarding the abrupt change overnight, when currency notes became nothing more than useless paper.
“It is a really good move. Now, India can grow economically. My support was, is and will be always with him, no matter what others say about him. He is worth it,” said Priya Batra, a student of M. Phil, at the University of Delhi and co-founder of YoAlfaaz.
On being asked about the PM’s motive behind this decision she said, “Yes, if there are other plans involved too…only then. Not just banning the notes. And he did whatever we asked for…and now people are turning against him.”
Niladri Chakraborty, an intern at Ambedkar Medical College, Bengaluru, had a different story to share other than the motive and political criticism. “It has its side effects, which are devastating. It was a sudden declaration, fine. But ATMs could have been recalibrated beforehand. The banks could have been stocked beforehand.”
He shared his personal experience during the first few days after the declaration. “I was taken ill on November 11. I ran out of legal tender. My account was credited with three months’ salary on 10 th of every month. But I could not withdraw it because it was impossible to stand in long queues. I had to borrow money from friends. When I recovered, I went to the bank with my old notes. After waiting for four hours, the bank ran out of money. Next day, I went again and exchanged my currency. But I saw an old man collapse. A few women and men were crying. They said they didn’t have money for medicines or to buy food for their children. They had come for faraway places. I saw despair everywhere, the ATM queues were chaotic, people were losing their mind because of heat.”
Rupak Mall, a student of para-medicine at CMRI has critically analysed the present situation. He opines, “The waterways were the major route for the entry of fake currencies in India. The major being Bangladesh, states like Punjab and West Bengal (Malda district) have been the hub of such smuggling. The sudden announcement has shattered the business of the biggest circle of fake currency providers. However, a question still persists about the security of the new currencies. Once the new notes are in the hands of such vicious circles, they would begin printing fake currencies once again. The initiative is just a start. There will be faults and flaws in execution of plans on a national level. Suffering of the common mass is also inevitable, but it is just a matter of time for everything to sort out. We have to be patient.”
Priya dittoed Rupak. She added, “Yes, issues were and are there. But they simply have to manage it if they want to clean India. No issues faced by me. It was a good experience for me. I loved talking to people in the queues. I enjoyed the time listening to other people. We all talked about PM’s good move. We all hope to have a clean digital India. How can people start judging the decision before its final take! Let’s just wait for his next move. We can’t expect anyone to clean India in just two-three days.”
The mission also has lots of loopholes. Most of the black money holders might have been burning or throwing all their stored currencies into the rivers but all don’t fall in this list. Many have invested their currencies in other sectors. “Some black money hoarders have already converted their stash into gold and real estate. There is a new form of corruption now, you bribe some money exchangers with a Rs. 100 note, if you’re too lazy, he’ll break your 1000 currency at the bank and will give you 900 back,” rued Niladri.
The entire pressure comes on the bank employees and ATMs. They have no free hours to spend. “They didn’t have much time to spare. But we requested them to create a separate queue for the old and other needy people. One couldn’t blame the bank employees.. They were suffering worse. Too much pressure. Some of the employees even skipped their lunch. They often had their lunch late in the evenings,” said Niladri, while talking about his experiences.
“Actually the counters are never free. Our work continues rotation wise. It doesn’t mean that all the counters remain closed during the lunch break. Few remain open. The work has to be faster than usual days, hence we find no time to talk our customers about other matters. At present, the speed has increased,” said one of the bank employees. The new currency, especially the 2000-rupee notes have been a nightmare for daily workers and middle-class citizens. “We are dispensing the 2000-rupee notes. However, people are hesitating to receive them. They don’t find an exchange these days. Also, until and unless we are a bit free, we can’t accept those notes as well. There is a tremendous pressure on us. Most of us are having health issues, especially dryness in the eyes, etc. due to prolonged exposures to the computers. Few officers are spending their entire day at the bank, even sleeping here. Unlike usual days, we have to work till 1AM.”
Indelible ink has been introduced in the banks for the security purposes in the case of monetary exchange. It is a deliberate attempt made to prevent the black marketers from escaping taxation.
The youth have their own opinions and thoughts on how to improve the mission and rectify the flaws. Educating the masses about digital payments is important.
“People who bought properties or invested their money in gold or something should be questioned,” stressed Priya.
“Protocols should be made for every bank. All the banks must have an ambulance parked near it. All the banks and ATMs must be provided with at least two security personnel. ATMs must be recalibrated before declaring such a move. Because the government confirmed few months back that 2000-rupee notes would soon be in circulation. Then why couldn’t it order ATMs to be recalibrated then. And for preventing entry of fake currencies, stringent policies should be enforced on the borders. Problem is, the smugglers always bribe inside men,” opined Niladri.
The current situation has shaken the very foundation of all middlemen and money launderers. However, the mission, as criticised, has loopholes to be dealt with strictness. Rupak rightly said, “The nation is in need of securing the money. The transactions need to digitalised and security should be strengthened. Also, foreign relations should be softened and made friendlier to return our currencies back to the nation. People with accounts at Swiss Bank won’t stop repeating their actions. It is their mentality that can never be changed. It is the nation’s initiatives that can return the lost currency back to home. Only then can we hope for a better India and obviously, a better tomorrow.”
Photo from the Internet.