I’m certainly the one who is a citizen of India and remotely follows any rivet of news that usually tends to amass national attention (or outcry, pertaining to several cases) has witnessed the hullabaloo regarding the demonetization of 500 and 1000 rupee notes. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s sudden announcement found millions of Indian citizens queuing up at the threshold of all sorts of financial institutions, and a flurry of comical pictures whizzing up on social media. While the abrupt alteration hit hard with some, the single galloping wave towards the probability of a cashless society caused much speculation in the minds of many, and for some, this news breezed past by as though they were hardly affected by demonetization of 80% of India’s current currency.
Cashless India – demonetization of 80% of India’s current currency
Scrutinizing the effects of the demonetization of 500 and 1000 currency notes, every strata of society has been dealt a different hand. Considering the scenario of classes at the most fundamental level, we find that the working class has been smote the harshest blow. People who are a part of the financially vulnerable class, i.e, the lower working class generally comprises domestic help, masons, factory workers, people living in scattered rural regions and such, who usually deal with 500 and 1000 rupee notes, which constitutes their wages. These people are also by and large the people who constitute the illiterate class, and it being doubtful that most of them can afford the luxury of televisions or any other perpetrator of news – with little or no information they are rendered vulnerable at the hands of practitioners of exploitation. Also, without stable bank accounts or proper identification, they are and will be denied exchange of the now demonetized currency notes.
Taking stock of the situation within the realm of the middle class, the upper middle class – which constitutes a good deal of those who practice petty, and sometimes even grand corruption, and those who partake in the exchange of black money – has seen some of its members rushing and haranguing to convert their black money to white, as can be seen with the cropping up of several colourful (some might even say creative) methods in order to do so. One such method employed by the aforementioned that has come to the fore is their booking flight or railway tickets to any destination, which they wouldn’t actually put to use, and then asking for a refund, which leaves them with an abundance of pure, white money.
The middle class, to generalize, comprises those who cannot afford running the risk of being a part of the cycle of black money, nor does it comprise members who may be rendered helpless or vulnerable as may be seen with the lower class, and thus, has been inflicted with somewhat inconsequential changes – local changes, to be brusque – which leaves them with the only trouble of depositing and collecting money, and waiting for hours at and beyond the threshold of ATMs and banks, unless we take heed of those in the middle middle class who run small businesses.
Small business owners and traders have been gravely affected by the lack of consumerism for the time being, as the sudden throttle of the flow of money in the economy has disrupted the trade of supplies of essential and/or perishable goods. CAIT, the Confederation of All India Traders, has appealed to finance minister Arun Jaitley to be allowed to continue business which means exchanging goods for at least one of the now demonetized currency notes with the consumer if he is equipped with his or her KYC (Know Your Customer) details. Retail and trade business have seen a steady downfall in activity after PM Narendra Modi’s announcement of the demonetization of 500 and 1000 currency notes. The smooth of transport of goods has also been blocked because most drivers only had the now demonetized currency notes. CAIT mentioned in a statement to the media that trade between the retailer, the distributor and the consumer has been obstructed, hence its demand to the finance minister.
Speaking of ministers, with the assembly elections in Punjab and UP looming close, PM Narendra Modi’s decision to demonetize the higher denomination currency notes and his stringent stand against corruption may score him a significant amount of seats and might prove his new policy a powerful defense against the opposition parties in both UP and Punjab. The voters of Punjab might let the incumbency factor that comes with ten years of the rule of the coalition of BJP and Akali Dal to rest as PM Narendra Modi’s Jan Dhan policy is put to more extensive use, what with the prospect of the ability to open bank accounts with minimum deposits and paperwork coming to the fore as a feasible solution. The flow of counterfeit notes in the Indian economy has been blocked with the onset of this initiative, which combats terrorism as it throttles the funding of those counterfeit notes by terrorist and/or militant outfits, which turn also combats inflation with the blockage of circulation of counterfeit notes, which thus lend to the formation of excessive money, counterfeit and real, in the economy.
While PM Narendra Modi’s decision has seen some doffing their hats off to him for his active stance against corruption, many have not hesitated in criticizing his lack of proper contrivance when it comes to this policy, a policy which has shaken millions of Indians to the core and left several of us hopeful as to where India might stand globally in the years to come.