Everything was going on at its pace all over the country. There was continuous stone pelting in the Kashmir Valley, Naxalites and Maoists were busy brainwashing the poor and down-trodden, hawala transactions were in full flow without many problems, bribery was in full swing in most of the Government establishments, people were paid to cause disharmony in the society on a large scale, extortion was quite prevalent and opposition parties were lurking on the Government for not being able to find a solution to most of these problems. Then Demonetization happened!
The evening of November 8th has already been engraved in the history of India. It was the day when the Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi declared that the notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 would cease to be of legal tender after midnight. The decision brought the nation to a standstill. 9th November was declared no transactions day for the banks to prepare them for the upcoming mountain task of exchanging the notes. ATMs were closed to refill them with the notes of Rs 100 and remove the big notes which had ceased to be of legal tender after midnight.
It was indeed a tough decision to take. The amount of pressure can be understood with the fact that 85% of the cash in the market had suddenly become bits of paper. Panic was bound to strike the common as well as the VIPs alike. As soon as the Prime Minister announced the decision taken by the apex, huge lines started to emerge in front of the ATMs. Just after the announcement, the politicians started refraining from participating in the debates for the night as they were not sure about the stand their party would take on the issue.
On 10th November, when the gates of the banks were flashed open, swarms of people thronged to these financial establishments to get their old currency notes either exchanged or deposited in their bank accounts. Each line comprised of more than 100 people at the least. The same scenario kept on replicating every passing day. Banks were kept open even on the weekends to reduce the pain and inconvenience. Most of the ATMs were still non-functional because of the logistics issues.
What came as a welcoming surprise is that the country accepted this decision with utmost responsibility and unanimity was formed among the masses. Everybody had lines of worry on their foreheads but they were relieved now that something was happening. They had understood that the country had taken a baby step towards positivity. The country has seen a lot in the past. A number of scams had tarnished the image of the politicians and the country alike. But here a step was taken which not only would increase the credibility of the politicians but also improve the perspective of what the world used to think about India.
Before the dust could settle down, the country had embarked on a new journey where people were not only moving towards cashless transactions but started giving plastic money more importance albeit out of compulsion. E-wallet applications like Paytm had done millions and zillions of transactions within a week. The middle class could have swung either way. The onus was on the middle class to make this demonetization successful or tragic. The middle class decided to move ahead hand in hand with the Government and the tide. The world was surprised the way the decision was made and the way the citizens of India had accepted it.
Prime Minister Modi left no stone unturned to educate the citizen about the problems he faced, the hardships the people would have to face, the positive outcome it would bring and the stashed black money that would be rendered useless. He strongly backed his decision with facts and statistics in Goa, Karnataka, UP and other places. Wherever he went, he went with a message and people took them whole-heartedly.
However, this did not go well will some of the political parties and a large section of the media. The mainstream media, which often is notorious for running its propaganda through its platform, was caught red-handed again when it tried to show the darker side of the coin with more focus. Every coin has two faces and not both of them shine equally strikingly. When a decision has been taken for the betterment of the masses and against corruption, it was the duty of the mainstream media to portray a positive face in front of the country. But it chose to be the same old haggling lady.
The political parties caught stunned were unsure of their possible reactions. Some decided to stay low whereas regional parties like TMC, AAP and BSP which are known to have amassed a huge amount of black money felt the pain the first. Mamata Bannerjee retaliated the first, followed by Mayawati, Lalu Prasad Yadav, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Arvind Kejriwal and others. Even today, most of the parties instead of supporting the Government’s decision are opposing it. They even called for a nation-wide strike on 28th November to bring the country to a standstill and in turn lost their ground even more. Leave apart closing their shops, people opened their shops for two additional hours to show their solidarity with the government and oppose the moves of the opposition.
Yes, the masses have experienced a lot of inconvenience in the past weeks but they all are ready to face it till the situation becomes normal again. The people have shown a huge sense of awakening and responsibility by the way they have handled this situation. The mass financial purging has laid the very first stone in many ways as it has not only saved the country from negativity but also has evicted a lot of problems in one go.
There has been no instance of stone pelting in Kashmir Valley since 9th of November. A huge number of Naxalites and Maoists have surrendered in past twenty days. No big Naxalite or Maoist attack has been reported since Demonetization. Hawala transactions have taken the worst hit as the intelligence reports have confirmed that the announcement has broken the backbone of these sloppy financial transactions. Corruption due to bribery has taken a huge hit. Corrupt bureaucrats have been under the Intelligence Bureau’s surveillance. Even the nation-wide strike was gravely unsuccessful because the opposition did not have enough money to fund the anti-social elements to force the people to close their shops. Goons who extorted money are left sulking at their own losses.
No decision is easy to take when a country and population of this stature is under direct influence. Yes, there have been errors and these are being rectified. The ATMs are being recalibrated as per the dimensions of the new notes. The Government is continuously taking steps to reduce the agony of the masses. It has been monitoring the situation on a war-footing basis. It is our time to stand by the Government and show solidarity with their decision to give us a clean and thriving economy after 50 days.
Now that the Government has taken a baby step, it is our duty to make it a giant leap. So let us unite and gift ourselves and our future generations a cleaner economy and a better India.