India’s ongoing demonetization process has created chaos and inconvenience for many Indians, especially the country’s middle and lower class. The government’s purpose is to scrap 86 percent of the current physical money in the system to curb counterfeiters and stop the financing of terrorist organizations.
Bitcoin.com spoke to Sameera Pandilakshmi, an Arts Administrator at Naveena Koothupattarai Educational and Charitable Trust, in Chennai about its impact on Indians.
How Demonetization Is Affecting India’s Citizens
Bitcoin.com (BC): As an ordinary Indian, what impact has the demonetization had on you so far?
Sameera Panddilakshmi (SP): In fact, demonetization has had an adverse impact on the way I carry out my daily activities. I had to start with exchanging the old 500 and 1000 rupee notes at banks which is highly time-consuming. Changes in the rules concerning the demonetization process on a frequent basis by the Government of India causes significant discomfort as one had to keep up with the deadlines. I don’t know what the government is trying to accomplish. New rule every three days. People have bitter feelings everywhere. There is a sense of urgency attached to even simple chores like shopping at a grocery store/supermarket, paying electricity bills, filling up the tank, etc.
BC: Do you think many Indians are for demonetization?
SP: Initially, the majority of Indians welcomed the demonetization move. They believed that it would wipe out corruption, hoarding of black money and the financing of terrorism. As days passed by, the consequences of the demonetization process made many Indians question the effectiveness of the move. More than 80 people have lost their lives due to various reasons ranging from standing in long queues at banks for long hours to being denied treatments at hospitals due to lack of currency notes of smaller denomination.
BC: From your perspective is a cashless society possible in India?
SP: The complete transformation of India into a cashless society is a possibility, though it can’t happen overnight. The transition will be easier for urban India compared to rural India due to better integration of the banking system in urban areas. eWallets like PayTm, Freecharge, Ola Money and Unified Payment Interface applications facilitate digital transactions to a great extent.
It is essential to note that more than 80 percent of the Indian population resides in rural areas and the government has been working on various schemes that target financial inclusion.
Welfare schemes like National Mission for Financial Inclusion, Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana (Scheme for Life Insurance), Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (Scheme for Accidental Death Insurance) have encouraged rural Indians to come forward and participate in banking operations.
RuPay Card Scheme launched by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has proved to be a starting point for electronic transactions among rural people. It is imperative for the government to scrutinize and improvise digital payment initiatives on a periodic basis to ensure that there is a smooth transition to a cashless economy.
‘Learning the Technicalities of Bitcoin’
BC: Have you heard about bitcoin, and do you think it’s the remedy for your current situation?
SP: Yes. I have heard about bitcoin. I am currently learning the technicalities of the bitcoin system. Though bitcoins may not serve as a remedy for the demonetization process immediately, I am looking forward to using them shortly. I am comfortable with digital transactions for now.
BC: How does the situation make you feel about government and rulers?
The demonetization process has caused a lot of inconvenience among people. The right to trade and the right to life has been affected during the initial days of the demonetization process. The government could have done better as far as planning, and implementation of the demonetization move is concerned. I am looking forward to the positive results the demonetization move is yet to yield.
What do you think about India’s demonetization policy? Share your views in the comments below.
Images courtesy of Sameera Pandilakshmi
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Interview: Impact of Demonetization on Ordinary Indians