Organized Chaos

Title is symptomatic about India and what happened on November 8, 2016 when Demonetisation was announced by the Prime Minister in a televised address to the nation. With the reports being tabled in the public domain, our worst fears have come true because the whole exercise was a dismal failure. The underlying thought behind it was noble with a resolution of the deadly trident of fake currency, black money and corruption but the execution left the country as a whole in the lurch. I have no problems in calling a spade a spade.

Black money, corruption, demonetization, fake currency, notes ban
Demonetization 2016

The picture above is not a queue for groceries at 50% discount or a Mother Dairy depot at seven in the morning but about me and my wife standing outside a bank to withdraw cash at the peak of the travails on December 3, 2016. Because of the notes ban, there was a daily and weekly withdrawal limit which had to be adhered to and the public at large were the sufferers. When measures such as this take place, the dexterity of the population is out in full force and I am reminded of the band Dire Straits, pun intended. This was the peak of winter and we got in line at 6:40 am and my wife was expecting. We were seventh and were thankful that we would get in and would be able to withdraw. Unfortunately, the bank in question was only going to serve 25 customers that day due to unforeseen circumstances and there were notices put up proclaiming the same. The men who were already waiting before us gave us a token denoting the number that we would get in and this was completely independent of the bank. After an hour or so, it dawned on the gentry that women might be left out of the whole exercise and there had to be a separate line for the ladies, senior citizens and Delhi Police. Around 9:00 am, the bank officer announced that they would issue tokens and that there could be only 25 in number. This is where the commotion started with the crowd in the picture because those in the periphery knew that they would be left out. A lady started screaming at the top of her lungs, creating a ruckus, because she wanted to get in and there was utter mayhem. Quite literally push came to a shove and we slipped away because I could not risk it with my wife with the way she was. Came back after around 90 minutes and were able to withdraw with the token that was provided by the bank.

When 86% of the currency is taken out of circulation, mismanagement takes gigantic proportions. One of my colleagues was making open offers of accepting black money(on which taxes are not paid) at 20% commission. Even Paytm CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma has gone on record to say that the growth Paytm saw in the aftermath of demonetisation of around three or four months could only be achieved in conventional terms by marketing in the real world for at least two years. The real fear and it is my gut feeling that the government cannot disclose is that even after the exercise has been completed the amount that has been received back by the Reserve Bank of India is far greater than the amount that was in circulation and tomorrow is another day.

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