Don’t let the ATMs dry up, for it will dry up people’s patience too

Going, going, gone!

In what is being termed as Surgical Strike, Indian Prime Minister Modi demonetized Rs.500/- and Rs.1000/- notes. Today, nearly after a week of the announcement, I finally summed up courage and strength to stand in the queue for a few hours to get my daily ration of valid currency. It was inevitable: I had run out of Rs.100/- notes. 😦

In a recent gathering, Prime Minster got it right: “People are with us on the demonetization.”

True, like all law abiding citizens, I too support the move, primarily, for two reasons: you do not want to oppose something that inherently seems right, and two, it is payback time: I am ready to take pain if this move instills greater pain on the looters! Well, I guess that is what is meant by a small sacrifice for a larger good. 🙂 

Let me tell you that it takes great political will to take a decision that our Prime Minister took. So, why have voices of dissent started to grow stronger by the day? People have obviously not turned their back on the policy, but are running out of patience with the implementation. Like one great man once said, “Plans are nothing; planning is everything.”

Just like most problems, this too started with the design: Someone sitting somewhere in the central bank or the government figured out that the sucked out Rs.500/- note and Rs.1000/- note could be replaced by Rs.2000/- notes; chartered planes were used to distribute Rs.2000/- notes across the country! And yes, the inflation has increased the cost of prices, but it is still not so bad that people can do away with Rs.500/- and Rs.1000/- notes!!! You still need lower domination notes to carry out daily transactions.

People are a malleable lot: so, the government got the bank staff to extend their working hours, work over weekends and holidays to dispense cash to the eager customers. But what about ATMs? These machines have become the cash dispensing flag bearers in the new economy. However, in this hour of need, 40% of ATMs are not working either because they have run out of cash or there is an issue with the system! Will not such situation naturally lead to condition bordering on panic?

And the solution does not lie in giving press statements asking people not to panic – it is not panic: it is a just need to have liquid cash for our daily transactions. In fact, the government today said they were bringing in an additional measure: Our finger is to be inked by an indelible ink when we exchange demonetized notes at the bank!!! What? How much more absurd can it get? The rationale provided for this step was that people were converting their black money to white money by exchanging it over the bank counter!!! So, is the government itself admitting that demonetization has not addressed what they have all along been proclaiming: suck out black money from the system? It looks like it.

So, as a law abiding citizen should I be frustrated and be upset with the government for having made me go thro the pain for a cause, which by their own admission seems to have failed? To start off, I would say No, for I think demonetization has achieved at least one thing: it has helped control terror funding, which was mostly funded by the fake currency circulating in the market. To that extent, I believe it is a successful effort. It may or may not have sucked the black money that was floating in cash. But, if the administration does not pull up its socks and does a better implementation, people will soon run out of patience and that is not a good sign in any set up.

So, don’t let the ATMs dry up, for it will dry up people’s patience too!!!

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