All over the country, money is the hot topic. A month ago, the Prime Minister of India implemented a plan with the aim to remove black money from circulation. He declared two major cash denominations invalid – the 500 rupee bill and the 1000 rupee bill. These two are also commonly used in everyday lives of most people. The public has been given time till the end of December to deposit these bills in a bank , up to a certain limit and withdraw valid currency of 100 and 2000 rupee bills instead.
This has inconvenienced and caused damage to thousands of simple hard working people, farmers and businesses as the timing and execution of the plan has been appallingly poor. Yet, people have coped so far as they believe they are now participating in a cause that is for the greater good in the long run. As a by-product some people have realised that they don’t need as much as they think they do. Houses of worship and orphanages have been inundated with huge anonymous donations in the soon-to-be-invalid bills. Perfect strangers have helped each other out in various ways to help them tide over this crisis. Ingenious systems of barter are springing up in the face of this financial famine. There are horror stories, funny, sad and angry stories and people are talking to each other a lot more.
The most amazing thing to watch is the masses form queues outside banks. Orderly queues stretched over long distances on to main roads, around blocks of shops and on to open grounds. In all my life of knowing India, this is a first. Personal space may not be understood and respected by all but patiently forming and maintaining queues for many days and hours is an inadvertent gift of demonetisation.