Money, money, money…legal tender

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By the time, my readers read this post, the brouhaha on the withdrawal of our Indian currency in the denomination of 500 and 1000 would have tapered off, but for the political class who do a double take with their dropped jaws will remain locked with the bombshell.

Not to be left behind in this real exercise of cleaning up the India acts, husband and myself  did our bit, like all ordinary mortals, to contribute to being responsible and upright citizens. Our nation rebuilding process started with a visit to the bank and a long serpentine queue, normally seen in temples like Tirupati, welcomed us. We noticed that there were multiple queues within the main one and scores of people crisscrossed with the semblance of a railway junction. As we stood, blowing hot and cold, clutching the once sacrosanct, now defunct legal tender, a bank official distinct with his neck tie and identity card made himself visible to guide us like the ship’s beacon in stormy waters or maybe an orchestra conductor minus the baton. The baton was however compensated by a posse of policemen deputed to hold back the surging crowd, eager to lay their hands on the new Gandhi embedded in the purple avatar!

But unlike in Thirumala, there were no special entry or quick entry tickets to have an accelerated glimpse nor could anyone bribe their way for a fast new buck. The hordes of Whatsapp messages in the previous two days and nights too had prepared us with an extra dose of patience for the long camp at the bank. The down time was roughly two hours, during which we filled up forms, easy except for the mile long savings account number, had the pay in slip, identity card and the copy ready, ogled at a wide cross section of people, some suave, sober, few panicky, perturbed,  scanty jocund and jolly beings, others crafty, cunning, ready to jump the queue. Despite all the advisories, few who were within striking distance, were turned back for lack of support documents. They had simply gone blind to the bold instructions stuck in every nook and cranny of the office.

All the same things were seemingly under control till this burly man entered and had everyone’s attention with his loud irritating baritone frothing expletives at the bank people, the Government, the system, the country, and all and sundry. The ATM had refused to vend money to him and his disgruntlement was ired on everybody.  He was gently frisked away from the scene and sanity prevailed again. Did I say that too soon, for there was young and old posing with the new note, taking selfie and posting it on the social media!

The clock in front of us was ticking away to the lunch hour and we normally have the misfortune of running out of luck, to see the cashier disappearing to satisfy the pangs of hunger leaving us in the lurch just as we reach the counter! But that did not happen as the staff worked on rotation basis and there was no lunch break and our turn did come.

I clasped the currency in all tenderness and examined the reincarnated Mahatma with an all new profile picture, and perceived a mischievous and mysterious smile similar to Monalisa, a soul who stood for cleanliness in every sense of the term. I was on the threshold of an era where the greedy few would not be amassing and hoarding wealth, shady dealings and hawala transactions would be a thing of the past, bootlegging, black marketing, gray and underground markets would vanish, corruption and bribery would take a back seat and the economy flourishes with trade and commerce. It was a new dawn for a spotless unsullied and unsoiled, matching the crisp bill I had, India, that would hopefully be flawless and blemish less and the currency would be really legal tender and the economy would start off on a clean state.

Nothing ventured is nothing gained…so the adage goes and the Government has broken new ground and pray that these winds of change is a trail blazer for tomorrow.



65 thoughts on “Money, money, money…legal tender

  1. Clean slate?? I wish slates could make some difference to the mindsets! I appreciate your high hopes Sunita.
    These winds have struck us here in US too as the ATM refused to process any money from our Indian account, which seems quite ridiculous!

    Liked by 2 people

    • While I understand the inconveniences to Indians globally, every reform must have a beginning and we must have patience to reap the benefits. However prepared the Government may be to avoid the liquidity crisis, there will undoubtedly be teething troubles which have to be overcome.


  2. Sunita, when Mr Modi made a statement on television on 8th November 2016, there were large number of people who appreciated this bold move. Looking at how things ended up in last 3-4 days, it seems that poor and common man has burned his hand, the most. Standing in queue for hours, wasting his productive time is far from desirable. Looking how things have turned out for the foreign tourists who has been struggling with the situation and caught unaware, I feel sorry. I have seen so many foreign tourist standing in long queue outside banks, they’re wasting their precious time which was meant to experience the tourist attraction and the city, now being wasted for no fault of theirs. People frown at the bearer of Rs 500 and 1000 notes. Large number of ATM machines in India Don’t support the new Rs 2000 note dispensing. And who will ensure that new notes won’t be counterfeited ? I’m not sure if this is how things should have happened!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. True there are operational hassles due to the secrecy and surprise element that had to be factored in.If the scene flushes out the fake notes and exposes the defaulters even partly,it is worthwhile.
    Your post was enjoyable and the portly fellow fuming and frothing in frustration and being whisked away or frisked brought the scene at the bank without any dilution.
    Thank you,Sunita

    Liked by 1 person

    • These are bold steps that had to be taken at some point in time in order to clean up the system…corruption has seeped in all walks of life and each and every money transaction that we deal, be it in real estate, or getting documents or buying goods has some repercussions elsewhere with the rich becoming richer and porr poorer. The gap is widening and in the process, the middle class is almost on the verge of extinction. No doubt that the transition is cumbersome and painful, but as you rightly pointed out even a penny recovered will go a long way in setting right the irregularities. Thank you KP sir for your perspectives which are always judicious and insightful.


    • As this whole operation was covert and under wraps, the hardships caused to the common man is indeed large if not acute and enormous and will take couple of weeks for the dust to settle. Having said this, i for one feel that there is unnecessary panic created in the minds of the citizens by the politicians, media and to a certain extent the traders who have been refusing to not only take the denominations that are declared defunct but also not obliging to give change which is grossly affecting liquidity of funds in the market and in the hands of the individuals. Media is playing truant and wrecking havoc by highlighting ONLY the difficulties that common man faces and not taking the social responsibility to educate and enlighten.
      Thanks Maniparna for your insight.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Ha ha:) At the moment at least it’s no longer a rich man’s world:) and hopefully a couple of months will follow before the new means are devised by the experts;):D

    Liked by 1 person

    • So far I have not seen the so called rich standing in these serpentine queues exchanging or depositing. The myriad new and dubious ways of dodging the system and the changes are imminent in excess booking and subsequent cancellation of railway tickets, exchanging with gold jewellery, directing the undisclosed income to their agricultural income which is non taxable.The rich affluent communities like the Gowdas, Gounders, Reddys have their mainstay as agriculture which is now acting as a shield. All loopholes need to be plugged in order to make this bold initiative a success.
      Thank you so much Amit for your thoughts.


  5. Haha… What an intelligent perspective to look into the things. But I’m doubtful that this is going to help our economy. Seeing the following chaotic situation, it scenario looks quite political than economic. Hope things could be sorted out real soon. Nice read Sunita. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m glad the tellers didn’t take a lunch break. That would have been very annoying! I took a look at the 2,000 rupee banknote online. It’s actually pretty nice. The plan seems to have been somewhat disruptive, so I hope it works and turns out to have all been worth it in the end.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Very disruptive and tormenting to say the least but we, the common citizens carry tremendous hope in our hearts and bear all the difficulties to see a society that is rid of this malice at least marginally with this move. Yes, the note is attractive …

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Reincarnated Gandhi smiling like Monalisa? Ha, that was a good imagination. I appreciate your positivity. But I doubt if all the inconvenience the common man in India is subjected to is worth. Are black money bearers going to come into light? Time can only justify this move.

    Liked by 1 person

    • With each passing day, the hopes are also dwindling because of the liquidity and cash crunch with all especially the trade and commerce seems to be bearing the brunt of it. Apart from people who shop with their cards, there is absolutely no activity taking place. The Government needs to do something on a war footing to get us out of this imbroglio!
      Thanks Nandhini for your perspective on this essay

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Nicely written. Initial pain os expected in any change especially this one where utmost secrecy had to be maintained. As one WhatsApp message said we have to bear this hardship only few days whereas our valiant armed forces do it each day of the year! Our local HDFC Bank branch was extremely efficient. Staff did a great job helping people fill forms, reassuring them, offered water to all in lines. They were the heroes who worked tirelessly from 8 to 8. Without complaining. A large majority support the Govt. Dissenters were few. I support this move 100%. Thx

    Liked by 1 person

  9. For any major change to set in there is always some pain involved. Let’s hope that demonetization heralds a change in the mindset of citizens, economic conditions, and brings about the much needed increase in transparency of financial transactions, so that when you re – read this post after say 5 years, you again perceive the Monalisa smile. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I will repeat that I am in love with your word play – again!
    Glad that there are people like you who take the big ‘change’ issue with the spirit that the country is in so much need of. Time will settle the issue but the process is not a cake walk!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. That selfie of that old lady should be worth a million dollars!

    Jokes apart, thought the demonetization process is good but implementation has been very poor. People have committed suicides, many have tried to, just because they spent the entire day waiting in the queues only to be turned back away…for multiple days!

    My sister is an Officer in Bob, and i just came to know today another Officer died of a Heartache because people are getting nasty waiting in the queues and resorted to nuisance, while Government is helpless in providing the banks with adequate currency.

    Poor people have been suffering, those who want money for their kids to be married off have been at the receiving end of troubles. It is a mess to say the least!

    On the other hand, few terrorists killed today had new currency (notes of 2000) with them already.

    Liked by 1 person

    • No doubt that the public is put to lot of difficulties but a lot has been exaggerated by the media and the political parties. As far as marriages, funerals and medical emergencies, GOI has indeed made provisions to withdraw more money. Though there can be no foolproof system, at least we can strive towards that by plugging all loop holes and taking corrective actions. Thanks Alok for sharing what you have heard and read on this mega reform initiative. Only time will tell whether this exercise has been fruitful.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Thanks for sharing this personal experience, Sunita. I think you already know what I think of this whole issue 🙂 Much of it was presented in two blogs I wrote about this topic. I agree with you that a change of this magnitude could never have been without hardships, and all those crying over bad implementation should try to do something of this scale (sucking up 86% of the currency of the size of Indian economy) while keeping it a top secret and working with the almost-dysfunctional bureaucratic and administrative machinery (which is what we have inherited in India because of the bad governance of last several decades). Sure there are political reasons behind such a move, but it is a mistake to think that politics and economics are separate things anyway. Arthashastra is not an economics text alone, it is as much, and even more about state craft than economics. These things go hand in glove. Crippling terrorists financing is a political move, getting rid of naxalite networks is a political move, economics being used as a tool. And unmasking corrupt politicians is a political move, very much so. I, for one, am happy that we finally have a leader who can make a tough call in the larger interest of the nation and not be purely moved by short-term political gains. As for the economic consequences of this move, time will reveal the pros and cons. But then perhaps the biggest learning for me has been what I shared on FB –

    Seven quick things we have learned about India in the past few days:
    1. There is plenty of goodwill and cooperating spirit among Indian masses.
    2. There is no shortage of creative on-the-spot-thinking necessary to work through immediate and temporary problems.
    3. There is a great desire among the majority of Indians (regardless of class, caste, creed) to make things better for all Indians.
    4. There is an easy willingness to sacrifice short-term convenience for a long-term gain, if the cause feels right and fair.
    5. There is a bubbling energy and dynamism among the majority of Indians that when channelised in the right direction is the nation’s biggest resource.
    6. There is a uniquely Indian way of doing things which though may take a bit of time but is very effective in revealing the hypocrisy of those who had created a false image of themselves as champions of this or that cause.
    7. There is no shortage of economists in the country.

    Liked by 1 person

    • What a brilliant sum up of the repercussions of the massive reforms by a bold leader, the one of a kind after a really long time…maybe eons, and the latest update that I would like to share on this is the lukewarm response to a bandh call by the pseudo black money fighters, it gave me goosebumps to listen to the bus staff, auto drivers, farmers – the not so elite class vehemently coming out against the strike and working shoulder to shoulder with the GOI in making this initiative a success – as you rightly said on the economic, political and social fronts equally!
      I am fascinated with your deep understanding of the psyche of the proud Indian citizen and the mob psychology that has gone the positive way! The caroon in one of the media, of our PM as the pied piper with all the kala dhan following him faithfully was a treat to see!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks Sunita for your kind words about my understanding, I am merely trying to observe closely 🙂 But yes, I think we as Indians have for too long been very badly hurt by our own negative self-analysis and destructive mentality (e.g. bandh is so utterly destructive, and we still haven’t learnt how not to fall into this propaganda by corrupt politicians. Today’s experience of boycotting bandh is a wonderful example of how we are indeed waking up from our ignorance and slumber!). I haven’t seen the cartoon you speak of, but it sounds deliciously accurate! I am happy to have had this interaction with a like-minded and proud Indian in you 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  13. I am nodding my head in absolute agreement with what you have written in your posts and the valuable inputs in my posts too. Thanks Beloo.It is gratifying to be part of this wonderful blogging community.:)


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