Back from Japan, with the country still under tremendous pressure from Government’s demonetisation move, PM Narendra Modi delivered an emotional address in Goa. He requested the people to rally around his government in this fight against black money and confirmed that this struggle will continue for at least another 1 month, may be even for two months. He said, “I know the forces up against me, they may not let me live,they may ruin me because their loot of 70 years is in trouble, but I am prepared.”
During the first couple of days, people were fairly patient around the country despite cash being critically low in most households. But as the banks and ATMs opened up, it became clear that government was underprepared to meet the huge demand following the ban on 500 and 1000 INR currency notes. Many banks issued new 2000 INR notes but they are virtually unusable at this point as few merchants can provide change for such a large note.
Banks are short on supply as well. Most people are unable to withdraw their full quota of 10,000 INR from banks and money is running out fairly quickly. Despite government’s claims, most of the ATMs are still not operating. Those that are working have long queues waiting till midnight and cash is running out extremely fast. PM Modi expressed his desire to make all transactions cashless but the reality in India is far from what he envisions. Most merchant outlets, vegetable markets, small shops, restaurants and grocery shops are not equipped for cashless transactions. Despite his best intentions, it is highly unlikely that a vegetable merchant will accept a cheque anytime sooner.
Adding to this is the fact that many parts of this country do not have proper banking infrastructure, especially the North-East part of India. According to data published, there is 1 bank brunch for 10,000 people in this country. If you consider the high concentration of bank branches in major commercial centres, the situation in remote areas become obvious. A lot of people who depend on daily income are forced queue in front of banks and post offices instead of trying to earn for the day. Tourism industry has taken a huge hit, especially for people who travelled or were travelling during the blackout period.
All in all, this decision to ban higher currencies to stop fake currency and catch people with black money off guard was welcomed initially but as the plight continues for common citizens, government is feeling the pressure. If the situation does not normalize within next few days, there are chances of law and order debacle as people are finding to hard make both ends meet. No wonder the PM had to come up with an emotional statement but that does not seem to stir the patriotism in citizens as it seemed to do on the night of 8th November.