Businessmen and salaried employees, big and small enterprises, banks and customers all expressed their anger at the Prime Minister’s decision to demonetise two notes in November 8, 2016. The ones who were impacted most were the common people.
Cash flow was significantly reduced in the days that followed the announcement and there was no money available to buy basic necessities. Not to forget the long waits outside the bank branches to exchange old currencies for new ones. Several people lost their lives suffering heat stroke and heart attacks waiting in queues. A year later, the real victims of demonetisation recount how they spent hours to get hold of their hard-earned money.
“Banking system was unequipped to deal with the situation due to the sudden announcement from the government. They also did not have requisite amount of manpower to exchange the demonetised notes. There should have been at least 60%-70% extra Rs 100 and Rs 500 new notes printed and kept prior to the announcement to avoid such circumstances. It would have been much easier for us,” Raj Sharma, software engineer, said.
Regular payments of house rent, school fees or even monthly household expenditure went on hold due to the cease in cash flow. People belonging to working class, who keep all their saving in the form of cash, were in a quandary as suddenly all their money become invalid. Tech savvy people resorted to options such a mobile wallets, but the others were handicapped.
Retired people were also at a severe disadvantage as several of them tended to save their pension in cash leaving them with no money after demonetisation. Being aged, it was also difficult for them to spend several hours in the serpentine queues in front of banks.
Local businesses too took a major hit. Due to no cash being circulated in the market, sales went down drastically. People stopped spending on items apart from necessities. Businesses stopped churning profits and were not even able to pay their employees.
“We faced regulatory problems as we had to issue a letter to the government every time money was deposited in the bank. On the plus side, a lot of people and businesses who owed us money paid back in old notes post demonetization which was a boon for us. All we had to do was deposit it in the bank,” said Giridhar R. Mallya, executive director, EMCO Goa Pvt Ltd.
The wedding industry was also greatly affected. Parents who had saved cash for their children’s wedding were forced to cut down on expenses. Auxiliary businesses like flower decorators and photographers also didn’t get much sale as the public was cash-strapped.
K. Nandini, an employee of Uber said, “I was in college when demonetisation happened. We found it very difficult to find places to eat as there was severe cash shortage. We had to travel everywhere by foot as we had no money to travel by autos or buses. It was a couple of days before I could get some cash from the bank. “