Demonetization: What can common man do to cope?

From the midnight of 8 November 2016, Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 notes ceased to be legal tender. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s bold step was aimed to end corruption, curb black money  and tackle counterfeiting. While experts and the public alike hailed the move, the implementation of this massive exercise was bound to cause hardship to the common man in the short term.

Public interest - Demonetization

The scheme in brief

People could exchange old notes at all issue offices of RBI and branches of commercial banks/RRBS/UCBs/state co-op banks or any head post office or sub-post office till 24 November  2016. Limits were set for exchange and withdrawal. Valid identity proof was to be shown to exchange cash. Old notes can be deposited in bank accounts. A letter of authorization is needed if you are depositing money on behalf of a friend or relative in their account.

Exemptions were given for some days for certain transactions. For instance, people could use the old notes at government hospitals and to buy bus, rail or air tickets, at petrol pumps and to pay utility bills. Micro ATMs were set up in rural and semi-urban areas to ease the cash crunch.

What you can do as a good citizen

  • Don’t get panicky or create panic. Assess your cash requirements sensibly and don’t jam ATMs if you do not need that extra cash.
  • Use other payment methods like cheque, demand draft, debit/credit card, net banking, e-wallets, NEFT, RTGS or IMPS.
  • Educate yourself and others about the provisions for exchange and deposit of old notes and cash withdrawal.
  • Help your illiterate domestic help by telling them how to exchange money. Give them short-term loans to tide over difficult times. Ensure they do not get sucked into ponzi schemes.
  • Do not get rid of your old notes by giving them to your maid, vegetable vendor, a poor labourer or a villager who does not know what to do with them. The illiterate or unaware may not even know these notes are no longer legal tender. They may not have bank accounts or ID proofs.
  • Lastly, experience the rationing of cash with a positive mindset. After all, we can also live with less money and less expenses.
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