Yesterday I was in the queue at an ATM in my office. Being a captive ATM center the queue was expected to be small. But not so; for everyone working in this building seemed to be wanting to have a piece of it. It took me more than half an hour to get my hands onto the ATM and cash in hand.
The scene is similar across the city. People are standing in the queue to get cash in smaller denomination. It has been the case for 5 days now - since 10th November to be exact. People are standing in the queue to withdraw money either at ATM or at bank counters. I can notice that daily the queue is getting shorter, which is a good sign.
To start with, I never understood the reason of existence of such a long queue. not that everybody needs cash all the time. In a time when plastic money is an easy replacement of paper currency, those who can live with limited number of cash notes at hand, should not get into the queue. Those who need the cash should be the ones to be helped and given priority in withdrawing cash. I have been living with 320/- in my wallet since our Prime Minister took the call to call it curtains for INR 500 and 1000 notes and I have been managing well. I avoided any place where cash transaction was required. These days malls, grocery shops, medicine shops - all accept card. People in general are aware of shortage of small denomination currency and are ready to wait for some days to get their due. My newspaper vendor did not mind. neither did my neighborhood shopkeeper.
The small vendors, like vegetable vendors etc who do not have card swiping machines initially had problems but as it is said necessity is the mother of invention, they found the way out. they would accept 500/- note but will not return the change. They would provide you with vegetables on demand till you consume your 500/-. That's a win-win situation. at one hand, you get divested of a 500/- note and on the other hand, that vendor has a guaranteed business.
At a time when the nation woke up vigorously to support Anna Hazare and wanted corrupt system to go, black money to be unearthed, when the real action is taking place, why to shirk from our responsibilities?
We, the nation, should stand to the need of the nation and support an activity which has right intention behind it, instead of complaining. Agree, we feel pain when we have to stand in the sun for 2500/- but remember pain is temporary, glory is permanent. If we can come out of it as a nation with cleaner economy, it would be an achievement.
Having said that, government must also do its bit, which to a greater extent it is doing. but some more action would definitely go a long way. Yes, tolls have been waived off, parking fee at airports have been waived off. but some folks still feel the pain at the place where it hurts the most - hospitals. Government must ensure that all hospitals - whether it is private of govt ones - must accept old currency. The health sector should not be paralyzed by the lack of willingness of hospitals to accept the currency. Hopefully, this would have been taken care of by the govt by now.
There still are some, who would cry wolf against this initiatives:
1. Those, whose political ambitions are hit by this sudden strike by the government
2. Those who hoard black money and are unable to find a way out
3. The fanatics who would forward anything on social media without verifying, many of them being an arm of those falling in first bracket.
But do we really take them seriously?
The queues will grow shorter by the day till it reaches an acceptable length and with that hopefully the cash outside the system will also thin down. till then, we are ready to stand for sure.