Demonetisation: How cash-strapped people are struggling to get a hold of their money

With banks closed in many parts of the country after demonetisation, cash-strapped people started making beeline outside ATMs from early morning.

FP Staff November 14, 2016 12:49:23 IST
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Demonetisation: How cash-strapped people are struggling to get a hold of their money



Nov 14, 2016 - 19:02 (IST)

People are going out of their way to support their families

My friend Reagan George had withdrawn Rs 10,000 from the bank following PM Modi's announcement on withdrawing the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. He gave half of that money to his wife's ailing father (to buy medicines) and also installed a Paytm account in his name.

Reagan lent Rs 2,000 to his brother whose son had a birthday and had called all his classmates. The couple is now left with Rs 3,000. The wife Yashmi Prasad said, "We cannot stand in the queue for money in the bank again. We are using our money frugally and choose to buy veggies from online stores and use our debit cards."

Nov 14, 2016 - 18:57 (IST)

People forced to skip work

My friend Shailza Rai, a research consultant, lives alone in Mumbai. She feels that PM Modi's announcement has led to panic and that people have gone `rabid'.

She shared her experience, "I stood in a queue for over three hours at an ATM and when it was almost my turn at the machine, the link stopped working. This is leading to terrible frustrations. Some people were chanting anti-government slogans. I have just Rs 300 on me. Soon, I will have to join that long line at the ATM to withdraw money. Since, I don't think my money will last till the weekend, I may have to take a day's leave from work, stand in the queue and hopefully get Rs 2,500 now against the earlier limit of Rs 2,000 from a calibrated ATM. Other ATMs will still give only Rs 2,000, I am told. I won't be able to pay the sabziwallah and for the auto rides for many more days."

Nov 14, 2016 - 18:54 (IST)

People are budget-conscious following Modi's demonetisation operation 

My friend Aparna Khemani works as Director, Operations at a museum consultancy firm. PM Modi's announcement has forced her to scrimp. 

"I was fortunate that I withdrew Rs 1,000 in Rs 100 denominations on 5 November. The announcement did not jolt me as I had money on hand. However, I learnt to be cautious of the notes in my possession. I have curbed thoughtless spending. So, for instance, I don't hop into a cab at the slightest pretext. Ordering an Uber is out as that would mean Rs 100 is wiped off my meager savings on hand. I take the train more for travel. I don't have a Paytm account. I have learnt to work on a small budget. I am walking a lot more. So the announcement has been good for me health-wise," says Khemani

Nov 14, 2016 - 18:00 (IST)

How demonetisation affects the veterans

It is funny how one has to go on two consecutive days to get Rs 10,000 from one's own account when Rs 20,000 is the permitted limit for the  week. This means more time spent in queues and double work for bank employees who are overworked and are doing a remarkable job.

Mercifully, this limit has been raised to Rs 24,000 per week single withdrawal. Different banks have different system for queues. Some branches have two lines – one for money exchange and other for deposit and withdrawals. Other banks have just one queue. Most ATM’s are not functional.

Surprisingly there are no affluent people in the queues. Longest queues are for currency exchange where the periodicity of exchange permitted (now Rs 4,500 in lieu of earlier orders of Rs 4,000) was unclear to public. Announcements were made that anyone who had exchanged currency the previous day cannot do so again till the next week.

Poverty in heart of the Capital can be gauged from the fact that some poor were depositing old currency in their accounts ranging from Rs 600 to Rs 1,500 or Rs 2,000. Full marks to demonetisation and the necessary surprise, but execution could have been better. There is a need to flood banks with new Rs 500 notes and permit single withdrawal next month to Rs 50,000. Military veterans were to be given enhanced pension under 7th CPC vide GoI circular issued in end of October. This, along with arrears, was expected to be credited in pension accounts by first week of November. But with banks neck deep in demonetization, hopefully veterans will get the enhanced pension early next year.    

Nov 14, 2016 - 17:20 (IST)

Demonetisation reveals true heroes

My maid Sangeeta and her husband, who works as a helper at a mall, make a combined income of Rs 15,000 per month. They have two children — a college-going daughter and a son in the 10th grade. 

When PM Narendra Modi announced the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes, Sangeeta was worried. She had saved Rs 2,000 from her earnings to send to her ailing father in her village. "I hope my father will be able to find the change and use the money," she told me.

In one of the houses that Sangeeta works, the 'sethji's' wife asked her if she would deposit Rs 2 lakh in her account. In exchange she offered Sangeeta a percentage of the interest. Sangeeta declined. When I asked her why she did so, she said,"This is how one develop's bad habits. I don't want to get used to any kind of living which is not from my earnings. I don't want my children to learn bad habits. The sethani was a bit upset with me. But that's alright. If she does not want me to work for her, I will find some other house to work. I am not doing anything that will make me uneasy and teach my children wrong things.

Nov 14, 2016 - 17:12 (IST)

Bengaluru will bear the torch of India's digital revolution

What amazes me is the resilience of men and women on the streets of India. While the middle class has it’s plastic money and can transfer funds from one account to another, to pay their bills, the multitudes of Indians who deal with cash are quickly adjusting to the changes. 

This last week I also found out that many of these people do have bank accounts. Only they either do not know how to use them effectively or are afraid to make a mistake and lose all their money. But, living in the tech savvy Bengaluru, it’s not long before they will master technology and go digital.

Take for instance, the Uber or Ola drivers in Bengaluru. Many of them have taken to mobile technology, like fish to water. They have already mastered Google Maps and use it to arrive at your home, without calling you several times to ask for directions and also take you to your destination without any trouble. They’ve also mastered the complicated technology of billing patterns, bonuses and reviews very quickly. 

Recently on an Uber ride, I overheard one driver talking to another. He said, "I checked my bank account through the app. They haven’t paid me bonuses for last week, did you get yours?"

This past week, Ola and Uber drivers in Bengaluru are asking customers, who are used to paying in cash, to deposit the money in their bank account, if they don’t have cash.

Perhaps, Bengaluru will be the first city in India to turn its workers from the un-organised sector towards digital banking. 

And, when we do that, I can tell my daughter in San Francisco, that yes, we too use plastic money for all our daily living needs.

Nov 14, 2016 - 17:02 (IST)

Comic Con gets creative 

At the ComicCon on Sunday every stall had hoarding which said saying they accepted Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes. One vendor, wearing a T-shirt with multi-hued comic heroes emblazoned on it, had a hoarding that said that ‘All Gandhis accepted here'.

At one stall where I presented my new Rs 2,000 note for some totes I bought, the stall owner, gave it back saying, "Ma'am why do you want to spend it? Keep it, relish it for a while, you’ll have to stand in queue to get another one. For now use your plastic card." 

Most of the vendors were willingly swiping debit and credit cards for even small amounts like Rs 150 and Rs 250. As everyone knows, most stores refuse to swipe your plastic card, if its below Rs 1,000, so it was a pleasant surprise to pay even small bills through plastic money. 

Nov 14, 2016 - 16:57 (IST)

Vasantha, my proud vegetable-seller, is a suffering due to the lack of a bank account

My vegetable vendor Vasantha comes to my neighbourhood every morning rolling in her cart. She is a good business sense and doesn't let stingy housewives drive down her prices. Often she doesn't sell vegetables to those who refuse to meet her prices. 

Today she told me that her business was suffering. Minutes within the announcement of demonetisation, she found out about it. 

She said,"I used to buy Rs 5,000 worth of vegetables from the wholesalers. But now I buy only Rs 3,000 worth because people don't have change and want to pay me in Rs 500 notes. Where do I get them change from? The wholesalers are ready to accept the Rs 500 notes, but insist we buy for the entire amount."

​Vasantha doesn't have a bank account and says she's thinking of opening one now.

Nov 14, 2016 - 16:43 (IST)

My maid is learning how to use her bank account

​Lakshmi, is my maid and besides my home, she works in some five houses and earns some Rs 13,000 a month. I pay her salary in cash and so do the others. When I asked her whether she had any problems last week, she said, she was among the lucky ones, as she had changed all her Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes, long before the announcement.

"I will bring my passbook and my account number, so that you can deposit the money from next month into my account," she told me.  Lakshmi doesn’t know where her bank is, "I know it’s not at the one down the road, but the one at the Nanjappa road traffic circle," she said.

Nov 14, 2016 - 16:39 (IST)

Mother opens daughter's piggy-bank to access small notes

My friend Sabrina Mascarenhas, an artist, just realised how wise it was to put money into her three and half year old daughter Mila's piggy bank. "When PM Modi announced the demonetisation, I did not see it. The next day morning I read about in the newspapers. My husband, Rigzin Kalon and I were pretty calm about it as we had money and did not have to go to the bank to exchange money desperately."

She added, "Rigzin had Rs 700 in Rs 100 notes and a couple of Rs 500 notes. I had one Rs 500 note. I realised that Mila's little piggy bank was full of generous gifts from her grandmother which were in currency notes. Rigzin and I would occasionally put coins in her piggy bank and sometimes let Mila do it herself. It is a playful activity for her. The piggy bank was a gift that Mila received on her birthday. I decided to dip into it and when we opened it we were elated to see Rs 200 in Rs 100 notes and coins of Rs 10 and Rs 5."

She said, "I had paid my maid and other utility bills and there was no urgency to go to the bank. We also had our debit and credit cards. Mila's piggy bank helped us travel in a rickshaw without having to spend the money we had."

My friend's husband resembles a foreigner. Considering the actions taken by public to ensure the convenience of foreigners, her husband was able to get change for a Rs 500 note. Sabrina recalls, "Rigzin, who is a film maker from Leh-Ladakh looks like a foreigner and was able to get change from the super market. I think that is because of his appearance. We are happy with the PM's announcement. We wish public transport allowed the use of mobile wallets and we could pay sundry services like carpenters and electricians digitally. The bright side for us is that none of us fell ill because that would have meant to spend the currency in our possession. We even went out to eat out and though we paid by card we happily were able to give a tip, too. All thanks to Mila's piggy bank!"

With banks closed in many parts of the country, cash-strapped people started making a beeline, early in the morning, outside ATMs but with limited success as most of the cash vending machines are running dry.

Scuffle and heated exchanges were reported from ATMs and banks from many parts of the country.

Demonetisation How cashstrapped people are struggling to get a hold of their money

Various sections of the society including small traders, restaurant owners, transporters etc started feeling the heat as the dependence on cash is very high.

Banks are unable to service as heavy rush making it difficult to handle the situation.

After government issued advisory banks have started making special arrangement for elderly and physically challenged.

In a bid to provide convenience to people, the Centre on Sunday eased key restrictions including raising daily withdrawal limit from bank accounts and ATMs as well as increased the amount of old and now defunct currency notes that can be exchanged.

To augment cash supplies, newly printed hard-to-fake Rs 500 notes were also released in market.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday night announced the surprise demonetisation of higher denomination notes.

After a review by the finance ministry, the limit of old and now defunct Rs 500 and 1,000 notes that can be exchanged for freshly minted Rs 2,000 and a new Rs 500 notes was increased from Rs 4,000 to Rs 4,500 yesterday.

Cash withdrawal limit at ATMs was hiked to Rs 2,500 from Rs 2,000 a day.

Over 12,000 Delhi Police, Rapid Action Force and paramilitary personnel were deployed on Sunday to maintain law and order as a large number of people queued up to withdraw money or get their notes exchanged at various banks and ATMs in the city.

Owing to a Sunday, there was more crowd outside banks and ATMs, and personnel of Delhi Police, RAF and paramilitary forces were ensuring that people stay in queues and maintain law and order, a Delhi Police official said.

"More than 12,000 personnel of Delhi Police were manning banks and ATMs across the city. They were ensuring that people stay in queues. We are committed to maintain law and order in the city," Delhi Police spokesperson Rajan Bhagat said.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date:

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