While surfing through the news channels, there was a special broadcast of the Prime Minister’s speech. The surprise address to the nation heralded that there was some significant announcement on the way. Just when the banning of 500 and 1000 rupees notes was announced, I started dialing my friends and relatives and informing them about it. While some were in utter disbelief, others were confused about its consequence. What followed were a flurry of updates on social media. Depending on one’s political leanings, predictable positions were taken. The decision was welcomed by some with bouquets, while others had only brickbats to offer.
My first concern after the announcement was regarding the 500 and 1000 denomination notes that were gifted to me by my grandmother and cousin for my birthday. There was a need to change those gifts which were given with the dearest sentiment into something having a “legal value”. Perhaps for the first time I realized that notes are not merely pieces of paper for transactional purpose. They have associations and a sense of relatability.
Next day at the bank, there was a queue and the bank ran out of cash while many of the citizens ran out of patience. Some questioned if indeed “achhe din” has arrived, a reference to the PM’s famous election slogan, and some hailed the move as a great leveller between the rich and the poor.
“The rich has the credit card as an alternative, you can only see the middle class and the poor in the queues,” remarked an elderly man.
The morning after the announcement, the lady who does the household chores at my place came running to my mother asking if black money is indeed black coloured notes. My mother explained what is black money and how it is unaccounted wealth. She heaved a sigh of relief but remained confused.
The queue at the bank turned into an eclectic mix of fellow-citizens. There were people hooting and cheering when the cash-van arrived. There were some who were protesting against the bank’s decision to allow withdrawal of money only once, while an elderly man inquired if the staff at the cash counter had lunch.
I managed to withdraw the required cash and while walking back home, I spotted a number of fruit and vegetable sellers putting up announcements reading that a payment through mobile wallet was accepted there. My parents kept reminding me to download a mobile app to pay the electricity bill. It made me think if we are indeed moving towards a cashless economy wherein even the neighbourhood chaiwala (tea-seller) would be accepting payment through mobile wallet to keep him relevant in a fast-changing world. Maybe Darwin’s theory of evolution is something that we can fall back upon during these challenging and changing times.
Owing to natural human tendency, we are uncomfortable with change in our quotidian life, whether the change is for good or bad. All we can wish for in the current scenario is for the change to happen for good.