Currency demonetization was a strategic move by the government of India. It is well understood why it was taken. Despite the last-minute harassment, a quarter of the Indian population understood that there is a bigger picture to the idea, thus accepting the decision.
However, there is a section of the society which has no other option but to bear the brunt of the transition stages-those who do not have bank accounts.
According to a report prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers India for the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and Payments Council of India (PCI) in 2015, close to 233 million people do not have bank accounts in India.
In fact, Global Financial figures released by the Reserve Bank of India in 2015 suggested that India is home to 21 per cent of the world's unbanked adults, faces a significant challenge in catching up with the rest of the world in universalising banking access, reveals global financial figures released recently by the World Bank.
In such a scenario and such an economic turmoil, how can we help?
Enlighten, don't frighten
Assuming most of the unbanked population in India comprise of daily wage labourers and the BPL group, we can be rest assured that this particular group also comprise of the illiterate. Naturally, they are confused and have no clue about the financial ramifications.
If it is your cook, driver or gardener, ensure that they know what this means. Explain why it is being done and tell them not to hit the panic button.
Open a bank account
Social media is flooded with such examples of generous moves. Paulomi, a resident of Banaswadi shares her story.
Like Poulomy, another Chartered Accountant clearly determines how to help the government. He puts it neatly, saying:
So, its payback time and be the guaranter for your househelp in the bank and help her tide over the difficult times.
Pay in low denominations
Buying vegetables and fruits from small-time vendors with low denominations is a great gesture. Because, if they are held up with 500s and 1,000s, unaware of the current situation, the money would be useless for them. Stop other customers from fooling them and passing on the message to the vegetable sellers.
Take care of the senior citizens in your building
Senior citizens who live alone or are ailing need help standing in queues. Either accompany them or offer to exchange the currencies or withdraw money on their behalf. You can also take them to the nearest ATM where they can do the needful.
Stay away from black marketeers
The temptation of jumping any queue is unavoidable. But do not jump the queue in this case. It can cost you your integrity and life, forget defamation. A resident of Doddabanaswadi, under condition of anonimity narrates her ordeal with a black marketeer.
"A person approached me from nowhere and offered me to help in exchanging my currencies worth Rs 10,000, but with a condition. For every Rs 500, he would pay me Rs 300. I immediately refused. I knew, this could cost me hours of waiting, but I could not afford to avail illegal means."
Do not strain the banks and do not hoard
Recently, the Reserve Bank of India urged people not be anxious. It has assured that enough cash in lower denomination is available in the banks. So, there is no need to hurry. Alpana Killawala, principal adviser, RBI had said in an urgent plea, "people need not come over to banks repeatedly to draw and hoard. Cash is available when they need it."
Moreover currencies can be exchanged till December 30, even beyond in specified RBI offices. "As there is ample time, people need not rush to exchange putting avoidable strain on the banking branch network", RBI said.
Another advise, even if you are in the queue, do not insist bankers on issuing all lower denomination currencies. It may be difficult to turn a Rs 2,000 note into lower valuations, but things will fall in place once the market is stabilised and enough lower denominations flow in the market. At least, you have legal notes that can be used later.
At the banks, wait for your turn. Do not confuse the bankers with uneccessary questions and demands. Remember, they have been working for hours to put things in place and make your experience as comfortable as possible.
Consider this case. Manasa P, a journalist, narrates her story at an HDFC bank branch in Jayanagar.
"I had to wait for an hour to reach the withdrawal counter. I had deposited a cheque of Rs 4,000 and stashed the money when I was issued the currencies. Later, I found that I had been issued Rs 10,000 instead of Rs 4,000. That was a severe mistake. I knew that the bankers have been working overtime post Modi's declaration. I went back and sought the help of the customer service. They realised their mistake immediately and thanked me for the help."
Avoid any temptation to keep mum in such situations. You may have a short-term gain, but that is undeserved. You are indirectly playing a role in taking the economy back. Wait patiently for your turn in the bank and make no mistakes while counting the currencies you are being issued. Carry important documents and fill up the required forms carefully.
If someone needs your help in the process, do not hesitate to help. Help banks manage the crowd by reducing their burden of customer care.
Last of all APPRECIATE! We all are going through trying times, but this will tide out too. Remember history and thank your stars that money laundering may soon be a thing of the past. Support the government in its initiative and help those who need your advise. Use social media as a platform for enlightenment, not as a medium for spreading rumours and panic.