Demonetization – a boon or a boom? And the year that followed!
Today marks the one year anniversary of probably the biggest event that took place in our history. One man with power, stood at a podium in the evening, telling a nation of over a billion citizens that the money that they possess will mean nothing after the clock strikes 12. He decided our fate, alone – assuming he had the right to do so. Boorish!
This blog post is not to admire his guts or to criticize his audacity. It is just a recount of what we all faced after his tenacious decision.
We all saw the live telecast of the announcement that he made on 8th November 2016, telling us how we are to deal with what we have in the next three months. The fact was that what we had had just been turned into trash, just like that, in a snip.
I remember, being all alone in Mohali, going to the ATM at 10 in the night to get some cash as I was to travel to Delhi at the weekend and already people had started thronging the ATMs in their vicinity on the same night and no one had the slightest clue as to what the situation will be in the coming days. There was a sudden panic on people’s faces. The petrol pumps were serving hundreds of people already, grocery shops were packed, shopping malls were crowded and the jewelers worked through the fateful night.
It was alarming for those who store excessive cash at home. Black or white, right or wrong, we all had a big chunk of cash at home, which could easily be replaced with new notes at the banks but who knew that there would be thousands of people waiting outside banks every day for days to come, to get some cash and to exchange the old money with the new one.
Being in Mohali, I had not even imagined what big cities were facing or what the condition was in smaller towns and villages, where they have just one bank or ATM machine for several villages. The situation was grim. People waited outside banks for 8 hours at a stretch to get their money exchanged and many to just have a grab on their own money as they did not have the facility called debit cards. I was met with a lady in her early thirties, who had a four year old, who was at the hospital bed but could not be admitted because they did not have the cash neither a debit card to pay and complete the admission formalities at the hospital. They were standing in the bank queue at a time when their son needed them and when their son needed them to be with him in the hospital.
When I reached home in Delhi, everybody looked perturbed. When asked what’s wrong, I was told that a neighbor’s daughter was to be married within days, who by the way are blessed and have super healthy bank accounts, but they neither had the cash to give to the caterer nor for any other rituals that were to be held within days and they were borrowing whatever cash they could from relatives and friends.
What appalled me that our Prime Minister who has the best of advisors, consultants, experts, and knowledge geeks on his party, could not envision the situation our country will face after the excruciatingly poor execution of his decision. He had all the time to make a decision that has cost us a year of adversities but did not have the time or care to think about the execution of his narcissist decision.
There is no denial that in the long run, his decision is likely to bring some positive changes for our economy and country but that doesn’t give any government the right to completely disregard life and the situations that a nation of a billion+ people would face. More than the decision that was made, what hounded us all was that a person we chose had such disregard for the aftermaths of his decisions. He has been dealing with things his way, after all he was chosen to lead us because he had a vision that assumable could do magic for our country, but how imperiously he turned a blind eye to those who chose him and went abroad while we were struggling to make ends meet despite having more than enough in our bank accounts is shocking. It almost looked like he felt unassailable. But after a year of Demonetization, now when we have the outcome that can be assessed, his vacuous decision doesn’t seem all that wise to millions of us.