While scrolling down news feed, I bumped into a heading “a forty-year-old washerwoman died due to shock on hearing currency ban.” As I read in detail, I realized she had gone with two notes of thousand rupees as a form of savings to the bank. Only after she went to the counter, she was informed the news. She was half-informed that money was invalid hereafter. No one possibly cleared the fact that it would get exchanged for new.
Since then, the currency ban has claimed around 100 lives. Most of them were older people who were queuing up to get exchange or deposit. They died because of stroke, heart attack etc. In fact, the count includes a cashier at SBI who was at the counter when he got the attack. What has gone wrong actually? Is it an economic strategy that was poorly executed?
Some of the issues that have been seen include:
- Lack of information distribution – While standing at the queue, I tried to speak to people. Four people had four different perspectives. People were speaking to each other to understand the process and how should they apply, fill the forms and execute. There should have been bank volunteers to explain the entire plan. Had people been well informed, there wouldn’t have been tragic endings at several households.
- Recalibration of ATM post currency ban – I was astounded by Arun Jaitley’s statement “ATM will take 21 days to recalibrate.” So after, the ban has been put, people have gone berserk and it is now that the officials have realized it will take 21 days. Imagine, the kind of after effects it will have on common masses. The team should have thought from all angles before applying a half-baked strategy.
- No facility for senior citizens and disabled – Yes, this is the most critical part in the entire currency ban chaos. I saw older people standing up in broad daylight waiting for their turn. Also, they were highly confused with the latest banking paradigm.
- Lack of resources – I was amazed how a team of 20 people was catering to the requirements of approximately 50,000(tentative) people at a time. Why there were no new hiring? Banks could have hired people on a contractual basis to the massive bank activities that have got flooded in a matter of few days.
- Hassled processes and no time management – I spent around 5 hours to get my turn at the bank counter. I was not informed on which counter to go first and if it was important to get a number on my deposit slip. I simply barged into a counter till I was asked to go to some other. Similar to my case, several people had the same experience.
- Different banks, different processes – While public sector banks have tokens to enter the bank, the private ones on the other hand, do not require any. I do not know if there are any other rules. So, people getting confused again shouldn’t come like a new piece of information.
- No space for other bank activities – People have been running for withdrawal and deposit so much that there has been no space left for the activities like pensions, loan, etc. So who is going to take care of that?
- Standard time of banking operations – Through news, I realized, banks were supposed to work from 8 to 8. Though, it wasn’t made clear if it included time for bank’s own operations or public consumption. As a matter of fact, Axis bank got closed at 3.30 PM itself.
Hail to internet banking, the urban population would have added to the pain of currency ban impact. As per a report in Live Mint, the mobile banking value of transactions hopped 46% to INR 49,029 crores (in December from the previous month, as per RBI data).
Axis Bank has approximately 2.4 million clients who use the mobile platform for transactions (this includes its SME clients). As per RBI data, mobile banking transactions have augmented from 16.8 million in December 2014 to 39.5 million in December 2015. Should we thank heavens?
With the emergence of Paytm and other virtual banking setups, it has become easier to do day to day activities. But, it is limited to educated, and corporate people. As per The Hindu, Paytm has reached a record of five million transactions in a day as compared to Rs.2.5-3 million transactions previously. Thankfully, there is some respite even if a certain population is able to use it.
The objective to make the nation cashless cannot be materialized at the cost of middle-class’ man’s daily earnings. Think of life from a daily wager’s point of view and understand. We are an intelligent nation with stupid people. We react before we respond. No psychology was put while employing such an empowering economic strategy. In India, economics can never emerge as a success until psychology is applied.
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