Bharat is going through a make or break moment. The twin ills of corruption and black money have been plaguing our country for decades, and in 2014 when we elected Narendra Modi to lead the nation, one of the foremost expectations was that he would fight this hydra-headed monster.
The demonetization of Rs 500 and 1000 notes announced on 8 Nov is a key part of the overall battle against corruption, black money and fake currency. But ours is a cash-based economy and withdrawal of 86% (by value) of all currency is bound to have a major impact.
Several of our fellow citizens are facing lot of difficulties right now due to the scarcity of cash to carry out their day to day transactions. The general sense among people is that this was a good move to flush out the black money hoarders, but the implementation of the scheme has not been optimum and lot of people have faced extreme hardship in order to withdraw or exchange their own legitimately earned money.
At this point, we have three options –
A.) Spread rumors, panic and chaos to worsen the situation. This is what many political parties and those with certain socio-political agendas have chosen to do. A big chunk of MSM (mainstream media) falls in this category too.
B.) Withdraw our own cash, and do nothing.
C.) Try and make things better – help the truly needy, assist the authorities in easing this difficult transition period.
Those who choose option C and want to know how they can help, should read on.
What you can do?
1.) Do not add to the rush at ATMs, banks and post offices if you can avoid it. If you have access to debit/credit cards, e-wallets etc. then you can do without cash for a while. Remember, there is time to exchange/depsot the old currency notes till 30 Dec, 2016.
2.) Help those around you who are in desperate need of cash – especially of lower denominations like 50, 100 by sharing what you have – this could mean paying advance salary to your maid, cook, driver, milkman etc. Do not hoard currency notes of 100, 50, 20 assuming there will be a shortage – RBI is pumping in enough cash, the only way of creating a cash shortage is if we citizens panic. We should emulate those who are depositing 50/100 notes in bank so that needy can get cash. You can also order grocery online for those in dire need, and ask them to pay later.
3.) Assist those standing in serpentine queues in your cities by filling out forms, handing out water and eatables – senior citizens in particular will be grateful if you can stand in queue for them.
4.) Spread the right information, after educating yourself with all the details –
- On ground: Gather your society or neighborhood working class like security guards, maids, gardners etc and inform them on why demonetization was done, what the withdrawal limits are, and where all the old 500 & 1000 notes are still accepted as legal tender (at cooperative stores, for govt hospitals, utility bills, rail tickets etc). Poor and ill-informed are at risk of falling prey to touts, price gougers and rumor-mongers – talk to them, inform them.
- On social media: Social media, especially WhatsApp, can be used constructively or destructively. Please ensure you spread only official, verified information and not speculative, unverified messages. Operators of political parties like Congress, AAP and certain media outlets are at the forefront of the propaganda war to ensure demonetization fails and the nation plunges into utter chaos – exercise extreme caution before circulating any ‘news’ of the new currency notes being flawed, looting in shops, violence or deaths in bank queues, BJP leaders being tipped off in advance, shortage of essential commodities, transporters or traders strike etc. Strike down false rumors the moment you get to hear of them – warn those forwarding such messages that such rumor-mongering is a serious criminal offense. Be especially careful of misinformation on WhatsApp.
- Informed criticism of the government and suggestions on how to tackle the current situation are important – let us add value to the ongoing debate, but be wary of becoming pawns in a larger political game.
5.) Share information about open ATMs in your area – there are already crowd-sourcing efforts that you can leverage and add your inputs as well –
- Bharat’s largest Cash Management and Payment Solutions company CMS has provided a website to check status of 55000 ATMs managed by them.
- Swarajya Has Come Up With A Public Service Feature to locate functioning ATMs
- Use the Twitter hash tags #ATMsWithCash #workingatm #ATMnearYou to find working ATMs in your neighborhood or update others
6.) If you are a trader, or provider of goods and services who can afford to provide services on credit, please do so.
7.) Educate others on how to use mobile payment gateways like UPI, IMPS and e-wallets like MobiKwik, PayTM, Oxigen etc. For eg. twitter user @_Indiandoc has created a blog to explain how to use UPI (Unified Payment Interface) – a payment system that allows money transfer between any two bank accounts by using a smartphone. Lets share such information, and help those around us to adopt mobile banking – the next 50 days can be used to accelerate Bharat’s progress to a cashless & more transparent economy.
The Government, RBI and banks are working on a war footing; they are well-apprised of the gravity of the situation and are burning the midnight oil, as they should. The PM has asked for our help for the next 50 days – let us do our bit to help him.
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