Demonetization – A Political Calamity
8th November, 2016.
After a long day I was lying on the couch at home. My phone buzzed with a message from a friend. Surprisingly, it said 500 and 1000 rupee notes are banned from midnight. Later flipping through the T.V. channels, I realised it was true. The prime minister of the country has banned these currency notes. The reason was ‘Demonetization.’ I never heard of this term before in my life being a so called qualified professional.
9th November, 2016.
The people in the train, office, cafeteria, gym and everywhere else were talking of this political calamity which has struck the nation. I quickly had a money check. I had three notes of rupees 100 with me. With this in mind, I decided to spend wisely till I get a chance to go to the ATM. All the ATMs were closed for another two days which added to my misery. A friend of mine in office was running out of cash completely. Hence she had to take out money from her child’s savings from his little piggy bank.
Two days later….
My mother was running helter-skelter all over to exchange the few currency notes of 500 and 1000 that we had in our house. I felt bad for my poor old mother waiting in queue outside the bank for hours. I felt even worse when I saw a pregnant lady standing in the ATM queue in the scorching heat. I walked 2-3 km in search of an ATM where there are less people, but all in vain. In fact the queue was getting longer with each passing day.
The news channels and the print media were repeatedly giving stories about how this move has affected bank employees, the Indian economy, business or the black money holders. I was neither of them. I am just a salaried employee who works nine hours a day to earn a living yet I am affected. I was truly getting frustrated.
It was a Sunday morning. I had to get out of my bed at 7 a.m. and go to the ATM to fetch money. It was no less than an achievement for me. The neighbour arrived asking for some vegetables from us. Obviously the vegetable seller doesn’t accept card. There was news of people falling unconscious in the crowd while withdrawing money, older men being rushed to the hospital due to stamping outside a bank and all the worst possible things that can happen. All in all, I was fuming.
The sale of Rolex watches, gold and silver increased abundantly but nobody bothered about the poor grocery shopkeeper whose sale declined drastically as people ran short of cash to buy grocery. The newspaper boy arrived at the door to collect the money for the previous month. Sadly we had no money to give him. He said, “This is the same story everywhere. Nobody has money to pay. I have to pay my bills too.”
In other words, I was not a black money holder. Neither the newspaper boy nor the shopkeeper is. Likewise millions of people are not but still we are falling prey to this ‘Demonetization’ monster.
A week later….
My maid didn’t arrive for work since two days. When she came the next day, I enquired about her absence. The poor woman started sobbing. She said in a husky voice, “I had no money to buy food for my children. Nobody was ready to accept a 1000 rupee note that I got as my salary last week. Rest of the people are not having cash to pay me money. I am illiterate hence cannot fill the form to exchange cash.” I was deeply moved. It was heart breaking to see someone dying of hunger.
My mother immediately accompanied her to the bank. She filled the form for her and made it a point that she gets the money. I was thankful that I could at least fill a form or withdraw money from the ATM. People are at a terrible state. Demonetization has truly taken a toll on the corrupt as well as the innocent citizens.