Life is Anticipation…for a bright sunny day, waiting for acceptance letters, gifts etc. but the billion Indians had not anticipated ‘Demonetization’ announcement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the night of November 8, 2016. At stroke of midnight we were to witness another “Independence Day’ scenario when high denomination notes, Rs 500 and Rs 1,000, would be rendered invalid. His demeanor, swagger or assurance pinned it as a bold step to wipe away corruption, fake currency notes, terrorism and parallel economy. He had the public swooning in anticipation of corruption free India.
We believed him, till reality struck and we were left standing in queues outside banks, post offices and ATMs waiting for that elusive new and shiny 2000 and 100 rupee notes. We believed our Prime Minister when he announced that ‘the inconvenience is short-lived and soon there will be enough money for all and ‘go digital’ to buy groceries, medicines and any big time spending’.
We are still standing in queues that are getting longer and murkier with some realizing it as a cash earner by taking a certain percentage from the exchange of old to new. Opposition parties and dissenters criticize the ‘India Changing’ move as ill-conceived, egomaniacal, that there are no rich and famous. Truoe the moneyed are not found anywhere in the queues. Rahul Gandhi, the leader of Congress party, did stand in one queue but it was more of a photo-op to be seen with suffering junta. Politicians, industrialists and social big wigs have their minions do their dirty work or contact bank managers and staff to get their old notes exchanged for new.
Grace period skipped from 15 to 30 to 60 with no end to misery, anger and deaths and we are still queuing up in cities and villages for our own money. The lucky few with credit, debit cards and e-wallets looked at De-monetization as another political quirk. The vocal shout, scream, abuse and the sufferers faint, there were a few deaths, prompting newspaper headlines and television anchor to scream ‘murder’.
We have turned into a nation of ‘queuers’ or if we look at the ‘bright side’ we are learning the ‘art of waiting for our turn’ and that ‘Please wait…you are in the queue’ does not sound so jarring as before. We are waiting, in reality.
I belong to the lucky few, digitized, but at this juncture empathize with the villagers, the poor and the daily wage earners subsisting on cash payments, patiently waiting for the ‘elusive’ new money. They still believe in Modi.
Meanwhile corruption continues as it is now the turn of new notes to be hoarded while ATMs are non-working and I have run out of my last 100 Rupee note. I safeguard my new pink, shiny Rupees 2000 notes, had managed only two in the 4000 bracket receivable, as it is too precious to waste. A reminder of the travails and trials and Anticipation.