Tuesday, November 8, 2016
Priyadarshini Park, Mumbai
I had just spent the last 30 minutes running, which is something I love doing with my iPhone on airplane mode. I find that it helps me disconnect from the rest of the world for a little bit. This particular night, my run was interrupted by my friend coming up to me in a frenzy.
“I know you said you wanted to run until 9 but this is important”, she panted. “The government is discontinuing Rs.500 and Rs.1000 notes”.
I rolled my eyes at her and said, “Nice try”.
“I don’t believe you. Show me a news article on Google”.
She did. That’s how it started. It still hasn’t stopped. The government’s decision to devalue currency has been all that anyone in India can talk about. Overnight, I went from having Rs.3800 in my wallet to just having Rs.300. My shiny Rs. 500 notes were now only worth the paper that I had cost to make them. It was a concept no one could have prepared anyone else for.
Wednesday, November 9, 2016
At midnight, I had invited about 15 people to come to my home for my friend’s birthday. I had ordered a cake for everyone, one that I was going to pick up and pay for at the end of my work day. The problem: I only had valid currency of Rs.300 to pay for the Rs.900 cake. I ended up collecting the difference from friends at work.
As I did, I couldn’t help but marvel at how something so simple had become infinitely more complex. On the way to the cake shop, I had to take an Uber and use PayTM. I paid Rs.900 in denominations of Rs.100 and walked out with a cake and an unsettled feeling in my stomach. Perhaps it came from the knowledge that I had Rs.0 in usable cash on hand right then. On the way back home, my Uber driver cancelled my pickup and suddenly, all drivers and cars were busy. I was stranded, in the middle of the road. On either side of me, there were black and yellow taxi cabs with impatient but eager drivers standing next to them. I could not have taken a taxi even if I wanted to. So I waited.
The middle of the road and the afternoon Sun made me think about how I was not the target for the currency demonetization scheme. Prime Minister Modi had announced this in the hopes that corruption would be curbed and that black money would be caught. Modiji certainly did not mean for my plight to happen, but it did. Because when you target a country like India, where the wealth distribution is far from standardized, and when you influence something as day-to-day as cash, you end influencing a lot of people that might not necessarily have anything to do with the battle that you are trying to fight.
Thursday, November 10, 2016
I came across this buzzfeed article.
It was about how the common man was impacted by the country-level decision to devalue Rs.500 and Rs.1000 notes. Some of the testimonials are heartbreaking. All of them are realities that many in India have had to face over the last two days.
While I agree that this is a step in the right direction towards solving a problem that has persisted in the Nation for a long time, it is not without consequence, which makes me think that reform is not an action, it is a process.