The demonetisation of high currency notes of Rs 500 and 1000 on November 8, last has sent the rumour mills working overtime. But even voices from the Government corridors have been conflicting. Prime Minister Modi is heard to have said that Rs 500 and 1000 currency notes would appear in a new avatar. Now the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has ruled out the possibility of reintroduction of Rs 1,000 note in the immediate future. The new Rs 2000 currency released in the ATMs on Tuesday created major problems for people having less than that amount in their bank accounts. Many wanting to withdraw Rs 500 or 1000 were seen walking away dejected since the 100 Rupee notes too were not being dispensed. Meanwhile Government has lifted the withdrawal limits for farmers and families that have a wedding at hand and said they could withdraw up to Rs 2.50 lakh from their bank accounts after providing their PAN details and a self declaration. This is a great relief for people in North and Central India
The concession given to farmers who have taken crop loan or have kisan credit card can to withdraw Rs 25,000 per week is a also a welcome move taken after farmers presented their cases before the Finance Ministry officials. Also those who have got payments through RTGS or cheque deposit in KYC compliant bank account can withdraw an additional Rs 25,000 a week. This takes the total cash withdrawal limit for farmers from KYC compliant bank accounts to Rs 50,000 per week. Such concessions are fine for those who have bank accounts. But that is not the case in India.
There are many who support the demonetisation scheme and the cashless transactions propounded by the Government but such people are not aware that many millions of Indians do not yet have bank accounts. In Meghalaya, for instance, until a few years ago people hid their money in trunks and almirahs because they could not trust the banks. When the Modi Government announced the Jan Dhan Yojna in 2014 people tried to open accounts but many were turned away as they had no documents for KYC compliance which is compulsory. It will take a while to bring people under the ambit of banking. Until then the Government must try and understand the plight of those who do not have plastic cards to pay for goods and services. The assault on black money is welcome; the manner in which it is executed had left a bad taste in the mouth for thousands.