So the Finance Minister at a function last week commented that with the kind of population India has there are bound to be queues.
And I have been patiently waiting for the chaos and queues to get shorter at the banks before venturing to deposit and exchange my savings in Rs 1000 and 500 notes.
Each day brings a new rule, revised deadlines to use old notes, advisory on which old notes can be used where, exchange limit reduction to no exchange allowed. This roller-coaster ride of keeping abreast with new announcements further created an inertia till the next fear that may be Dec 30 deadline could also be rolled back.
So was it prudent to wait patiently for the queue to get shorter and not add to the ensuing chaos – have I not turned out to be the loser by choosing not to stand in 4 hr long queues and giving other more needy people the chance to manage their monies?
While the general public has lauded this path-breaking effort to remove the black money from the economy in one sweep, my only question to government and central bank is how will they ensure in the future that no black money gets accumulated? How to have faith in the system when one hears about crores of money being found in raids in new notes? When one hears stories of suitcases and sacks full of money being exchanged by bank managers from the back gates while common man patiently waits for money at the official doors of the branches.
While this move pushes the cash-dominated population to open bank accounts, help takes the country one step forward towards cashless economy, we still need to be able to withdraw monies as and when required – and this remains a challenge even almost a month after the mega announcement. ATMs still do not have cash, even when it is replinished it gets over in less than 15 mins. Banks are still struggling to arrange for cash and in spite of salaries being credited there is still no money in physical wallets.
The most hard-pressed are the low income strata who saved only in the form of cash at home, they get salaries in cash – and then see it wipe out overnight with no monies to buy even food. And in these circumstances one hears instances where businessmen have paid salaries and advances in old currency to their workers thereby converting black into white.
And while the country is still coming to terms with dealing with lesser cash to meet day-to-day expenses, there comes a Gold regulation – a married woman to only have 500 gms of gold and an unmarried one allowed only 250 gms. And how does government propose to implement this with people who have bought hordes of gold by black money? And how to weed out genuine legally acquired gold by savings with common man vs gold acquired through bribes and other under-hand means?
Or this good intention measure also would result in poor execution with common man facing the pain while the rich and corrupt continuing to sit on their hordes?