Following the Modi government's move to demonetise the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes on Tuesday, the nation has been struggling to come to terms with the sudden clamp-down on cash transactions. Heated exchanges are a common sight at several banks across the country, as people try to exchange their old currency. One such scene broke the peace outside the Connaught Place branch of an ICICI Bank, when three persons engaged in an argument.
"Look at him. He is educated but he shamefully lacks the ability to understand the need for the new currency,” said one amongst the three, to an onlooker.
The person he was referring to was a well dressed middle-aged man, who was trying to raise a counter-argument against the new currency policy by stating that the black money garnered from the Indian economy no longer existed in the country – as it had been clandestinely stashed into foreign accounts.
But hardly anyone heeded to his argument. Rather his opponents silenced him by stating that the country needed the support and co-operation of the common man, to eradicate black money within the economy.
This incident, and many more like it, speak of the nationalistic mood prevalent in the country.
When people came in hoards to banks on Thursday, having faced almost two days of hardship due to lack of liquidity, the experience was rather counter-intuitive. Very few among them appeared to be fatigued or angered and rather looked eager to embrace the move by the government.
“We have definitely suffered a lot in the last two days,” said Majid Islam, while standing in the queue outside the ICICI bank. “I had two Rs 1,000 notes. But no one I approached was ready to accept it. I faced serious problems in purchasing food for my family.”
Many in the queue revealed that they were forced to sell their Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denomination notes for as little as Rs 300.
In this regard, it was not difficult to assume that the struggle faced by the common man during the currency transition will make him unhappy with the government’s move.
But it was surprising to see that hardly anyone looked annoyed. Most faced the hardship with a conviction that it was for the nation and the welfare of its people.
Anuj Pandey, another person who came to collect the new currency notes, was rather emotional in expressing his belief in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's move. He believed that Modi had made a master stroke with his move to curb black money.
A bank official claimed that they had faced no problem in exchanging the currency as per the stipulated guidelines.
All banks in India have been directed to exchange up to a maximum of Rs 4,000 per person per day and dispense up to Rs 10,000 per person per day in withdrawal, with the total weekly allowance limited to Rs 20,000 per week per person. The customers are also required to present identification at the time of transaction. The only problem faced by the bank, the official said, was the 'mad' crowds that had rushed to collect their money.