07 Tuesday
November 2017
Demonetisation & me.

One year back, the nation was shaken up on a wintry evening by our dear Prime Minister and I watched first with amusement, then growing disbelief and then sheer disdain as the entire dance of a billion plus people unfolded.

I don’t have any horror tales to share, nor did I wait in endless queues for money exchange or ATMs.I had enough 100 rupee notes that helped me get through, and the milk booth took old notes.

I knew I was witnessing history and I was eager to see how well our system would handle it. The next morning walking on Sukhna lake every where I heard people talking non stop about Modi, historic, notes, profanities, but then that’s just a figure of speech for some people.

In the 50 days that followed I was shocked beyond disbelief that the Finance Ministry could make such bungling disasters. They made notes of a smaller size and did not correct the ATMs which were to be the lifeline of the entire demonetisation process. Suddenly there were 8 hour queues in banks and every day we had new regulations, sometimes twice a day, and no one could get any work done. The maids, the staff, the sabzi wala , the patients….. for 50 days, the nation could speak of nothing else. Unfortunate that we witnessed government mismanagement of such phenomenal proportions. It made me ashamed that a nation that could send Mangalyaan to Mars and multiple satellites into space could bungle up such an operation by sheer lack of vision. The government needs better administrators. It’s as simple as that.

About 42 days later when the queues had subsided I went to deposit my old notes in the bank. I was handed a form to give an explanation in writing why I didn’t do this before. Why didn’t I want to waste few hours of my life standing in queues? Well….. How does one answer that question. I simply wrote because I believed my prime minister when he said you have time till 30th December.

So I didn’t suffer any inconvenience except that I payed extra charges to the bank for my existing Point of Sale machine as they jacked up the rates arbitrarily. I make most of my payments by card even today because I like the concept of digital India, but almost all patients have shifted back to cash again. The bank charges have gone up for everything be it an NEFT or a cash deposit, and I often wonder why only the banks benefited from Demonetisation.

Various studies from Harvard and contradictory statements from IMF have had me stop believing that demonetisation has made India lose lakhs of jobs or that these sweeping reforms will improve the economy in the long run. I dont believe any of these because I simply don’t know who to believe. In a digital age it’s hard to digest that the RBI still doesn’t know how much money it had in circulation and how much came back, nor that they have no idea of the number of new notes they sent into the market. I don’t believe because every statement coming out depends on the political affiliations, pro if you support the ruling party and anti if you support the opposition. Why do we not have unbiased opinion any more? Where are the experts who’s opinion can remain neutral and give us the truth?

My truth is that my friend who quit her job 8 months back is yet to find an opening. And I spend less than I did earlier , as somewhere a feeling of a poverty conscious has crept into the Indian psyche. I visit malls and find myself not buying anything I don’t need.

I found a purse with 40 notes of Rs 1000 in my mother in laws old clothes in April .No one had cleared her trunk since she passed away last year and I was sorry that my dear father in law’s hard earned money was wasted, because the government has not envisaged situations like this. Or because they were scared every loophole would be misused by the unscrupulous Indians. But many people lost their hard earned money simply because they didn’t have the contacts or smarts needed to change their old notes.

I’m sorry my country is run by such a government . But then, we elected them in the first place.

Dr.Sarika Verma
ENT Surgeon & Allergy Specialist