India has survived the first 30 days of demonetisation that caused massive inconvenience to millions of people across the country.
India has survived the first 30 days of demonetisation that caused massive inconvenience to millions of people across the country. There are still 20-days left for the 50-day target set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the situation to normalise. Even today, PM Modi took to the Twitter to inform people that the “short-term” pain will lead to “long-term” gain for all.
However, 30 days after the surprise demonetisation, people are having trouble getting cash at the ATMs. Long queues can be seen at most of the ATMs. What has worsened the situation further is the fact that only 35 per cent of the total recalibrated ATMs for new currency notes are functioning. IE reported today that nearly 95 per cent of over 2 lakh ATMs in the country has been recalibrated till now.
ATMs are running dry because of the short supply of cash. For the pay-day on December 1, most of the cash was kept in branches as banks expected to make more payments over the counter.
Despite note-ban, most of the people have been able to continue with their daily lives, even in cities like Delhi. There have been some reports saying demonetisation has forced migrant labourers to return to their villages and many cash-based small-scale industries have been shut down.According to the Opposition parties, over 80 people have lost their lives due to demonetisation. In the absence of proper data, however, this number cannot be verified independently.
Several positive stories around demonetisation have also appeared in the last one month. For instance, migrant workers in Punjab mandi received their full payments in advance after the note ban. In Rajasthan, a woman managed to escape when her father and brother attempted to sell her for Rs 20 lakh, but the buyers couldn’t arrange so much cash.
The government is pushing digital payments on a mission mode. The impact of this would start showing positive results, but not so soon. In villages, many people have deposited cash in their Jan Dhan accounts. As per estimates, around Rs 21,000 crore has been deposited in these accounts in the last 30 days. Moreover, banks have also collected nearly 12 billion currency notes in these many days.
Though opposition claims demonetisation would destroy the economy and kill jobs, at present the situation doesn’t look as scary as it is being portrayed.
The government wants people, especially those living in urban areas to start making cash-less transactions. The government has also announced several incentives for this. SBI chief Arundhati Bhattacharya had told CNBC TV18 yesterday that cash situation in SBI ATMs would improve in a week.
However, considering the slow pace of currency note printing and people’s general apathy towards digital payments, the ATM queues, especially in cities like Delhi, are unlikely to end in the next 20 days. One can always hope for the best or start using digital payment tools.