There was a Bollywood movie called 100 days, a 1991 film, starring Madhuri Dixit and Jackie Shroff – one of my favourite movies. The plot of the movie is something like this – A young girl, whose elder sister is reported missing, falls in love with the next door handsome rich neighbour, gets premonitions followed by panic attacks. The visions, which gets stronger after her marriage, are related somehow with her sister, and leads her to the wall of the isolated mansion owned by her husband, behind which she finds a buried skeleton that happens to be of her murdered sister, who was a history research student investigating and writing on stolen museum monuments sold in the black market. Well, in the end the criminals are caught—some self confessed, some arrested. Interesting plot, good music, overall a great movie.
Now, if we apply the same plot to the 50 Days of Demonetization in India, then well, no one was practically murdered, but the economy experienced sudden death of the most popular and favourite forms of Indian currency – the 500 and the 1000 rupee notes. And the black money that was stacked in the safe boxes or buried in the walls, ceilings, floors, was either extracted by the one, who placed it there or by the Income Tax Department. Some amount was burnt, some abandoned in dumping grounds, some were torn, some were submerged in the waters, some deposited in the donation boxes, but most was deposited in the banks, were it truly belongs.
Post 8 pm, Tuesday, 8th November 2016, life in India took a strange turn, halt in some cases.
Despite clear announcements, there was a panic attack among the masses, with queues that no bank has ever witnessed. But the banks of India did a remarkable job. Hats off to all the bank employees, who did not shy away from putting in extra hours and efforts, yet stayed level-headed despite the ignorance, the tantrums and the anger displayed by the agitated crowds. The cashier at every bank, not just stayed calm, but was cautious and vigilant of the amount and notes exchanged.
If demonetization was a ‘Project’ with a start and an end date, then Indian Finance Industry has accomplished the project quite successfully. Yes, there were hiccups, but those are expected in a country as big and diverse as India, with a population over 1.2 billion at literacy rate of about 74%.
Demonetization received appreciation and criticism equally. In my opinion, it was an excellent call by the Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi. Our country was facing huge cash deficits due to various reasons, and now banks have funds. Indian economy has slowed down, but this short term risk will bring long term benefit to the nation—obvious to some, oblivious to some.
If demonetization is discussed as a ‘Change in Indian Economy’, then it was a big change and relatively successful due to cooperation by all those citizens who understood the benefit it will bring to the country and to its future. Retired citizens, senior citizens, specially abled citizens, the youth, the housewives, the corporate professionals, those aware, those who tried to get aware—all stood in the queues, Banks and ATMs, for hours, but did the needful and complied to the new rules announced almost every 15 days.
As of now, the news channels are still discussing the effects of demonetization on Indian Economy and the discussions will continue for a long time, into the New Year and post that, because this decision was a landmark decision. Digital India, Cashless India is an achievable vision. All that is required is a lot of awareness and a lot of patience with a willingness to change and to learn. And the past 50 Days have proved that the country can change if guided properly towards the goal.
We still have a long way to achieve the Swachch Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Mission). This is just the beginning. Cleaning anything, anyplace, anywhere is always an annoying job, but if done wholeheartedly, the results are sparkling. We are in the process of polishing our economy; it will sparkle, it will be radiant, it is just a matter of time.
I am optimistic. I am hopeful. I can see that Incredibly Incredible India we all hope and aim for.
Wishing all the readers a great year ahead…
Happy New Year!