Historic Chaos: One Billion Indians Line Up in Queues to Exchange Currency Notes

The Indian government recently demonetized the high value currency notes of INR 500 and INR 1,000 and asked the public to exchange them for smaller notes of Rs. 100 or newly minted INR 2,000 currency notes.

The intention was to ban the high value notes swiftly and any one who had black money, fake currency and illegally sourced cash would be sitting on a worthless bundle of paper since they wouldn’t be eager to exchange them out of fear of being asked exactly how it was obtained.

Other benefits of the move would be a increase in the banked population (a bank account is needed to deposit the banned currency), more people paying taxes (you have to disclose how you obtained the money), increased cash reserves for banks (estimates suggest the move could net the government over $45 billion) and an increase in digital payments (as most people would now see it as less of a hassle).

A week later after the announcement though, it has turned into an unmitigated disaster.


You need to have a bank account to exchange currency notes

A stunning lack of planning and foresight has resulted in long lines, empty ATMs and a population that is confused and panicking as the December 30 deadline approaches.

The reason is that over 86% of the currency in circulation in India is made of these soon-to-be illegal INR 500 and INR 1,000 notes.

inr 2000

The impact has been felt across all of India. Small and medium businesses in particular are having trouble paying their suppliers and employees.

ATMs are empty and the only solution is to wait for hours – in some cases for days – in lines at the bank to deposit the illegal notes and get new ones.

There’s a rush to hoard small notes of currency and cash payments have become a national nightmare.

The long lines mean wasted time for tens of millions of people (India’s has over one billion people) and there is as at least one report of a farmer committing suicide after waiting in line for 2 days and failing to get new currency.

You can compare India’s chaos with that of Pakistanis’ during Biometric Verification of SIMs, only with at least 100 times more in magnitude: India is six times the population of Pakistan, and imagine they are to exchange currency notes and not verifying one SIM like we did

Another man murdered his wife after she didn’t ‘wait long enough’ in the line at the bank. Other reports suggest hospitals and doctors are refusing to treat patients in critical care if their families pay in denominations of cash that was banned.

There’s a consensus that there was a lack of planning for the volume of withdrawals and deposits that would take place after the announcement and despite the Indian government’s efforts to resolve the situation, the outlook is still bleak.

Some experts have even suggested political motivations for the timing of the move, since the ruling party is eager to retain seats in upcoming elections in key states and that has only served to further anger the public.

Not to mention, this is only the early implications. They have to face long-term consequences, check below tweets for example:

And the list goes on:

Indians are taking to social media to voice their frustrations and top trends are all about #CashCleanUp, with many expressing their frustration with the government and the situation while others are defending it as a necessary measure to combat corruption.

Talal is a Director and the Chief Content Officer at ProPakistani. Reach out at [email protected]

      • im trying to say that the sim vericfication drive was not mismanaged, it was a planned activity and everyone got the sims verified easily before the deadline

        • Yes and also without an active SIM, one could survive (happily?). Without cash, people are starving, patients are suffering and companies are running out of business.

  • few days ago. ProPak was appreciating india’s decision of those currency notes and was suggesting Pakistan should do the same. But see, it’s not the corrupt and rich people who suffer by these things. it’s just chaos for common people.

  • This had to happen. Every big change bring chaos but after that things get better like never before. Imagine the benefits of sim verification and its impact. People always get in trouble and shout when there is new bridge under process. But after its done then they realize that it all the trouble was worth it.

    This move if bring 100 times more trouble then it will also bring 100 times better change.

  • Thank you Quaid e Azam for giving us a separate country or Aamir Atta would be seemed standing in the queue on front in the picture above. And this website would be named “proindia. in”

  • CashCleanUp is good idea by banning 5000 notes, but the deadline is not much, it should take years to cleanup.
    But there must be many people having foreign currency(Dollars, pounds, etc), they must be laughing at them.
    They should have come up with better plans, instead of putting a rule over night.

    • 5000 rupees serves well to pay large some. You don’t have to carry many thousand notes with you to pay while shopping.

  • A good strategy to dig out the illegal money…. If these tactics are used in Pakistan the majority bureaucrats or politicians have the illegal money or collected through illegal channels would reveal before the nation.

    • Nothing is revealed. These bureaucrats and politicians use their sources
      to change notes over night from banks. Only ordinary people suffer.

  • First of all you don’t need a bank account to exchange your money daily max limit is 4500 rs and standing in queue might be problem but you can withdraw upto 10000 rs by a cheque, and with 10000 you can easily survive a month so all in all it’s great move and people are also supporting it. Biggest plus of this currency ban is plenty of small business even some sabji wala have started accepting e-wallet payment which is just awesome. Ex: https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/4a890dd0cbcda77ce449b6541d604d77bb2b8213db68183f5e9ac7b6549cd77b.jpg

      • You need One time password (OTP) which is sent on your registered mobile no. to send money through credit or debit card so it’s pretty much useless even if your card get stolen because still gonna need otp.

          • Firstly I was talking about surviving not living like a f**king king for a month. I don’t know if you’re an Indian or Pakistani but for 10000 you can easily buy every essential medicines you would need because most medicines cost next to nothing and you can also buy enough food for 10000 that will make your stomach explode and as for paying bills electricity, water etc that wasn’t even a problem before because most companies supports e-wallet as a form of payment. So no you don’t have to be a slumdog living in a swamp to survive a month on 10000 rs.

            And also 10000 is a daily limit not monthly you can withdraw upto 20000 every week.

            • No need to get angry. According to your entire rant, 10000 rupees is enough but you missed the point. It’s only enough for the family of one person. If you have kids, only the diapers of one will cost you 1500 – 3000 rupees per month unless you use plain towel as a diaper. School fees and other expenses are other things that will increase your living cost. And even if you travel on bus, the fare will cost you 500 – 2500 rupees per month. Electricity, gas and water bills will be like nightmares. And if the person is living on rental, he can only dream about surviving in just 10,000 rupees unless he is single and living in slums of some small city.

              • Dude, I bet you’re not even Indian that’s why keep spreading your ignorance here. First of all plenty of convenience stores do accept credit card/debit card so you can buy even a truckload of diapers if you want it’s not even a problem. I don’t know if you have ever heard a thing called cheque most schools accepts that. And it you’re spending 500-2500 rs on bus travels then I’m sorry to say you’re just an Idiot, there’s thing called a “bus pass” you should definitely check it out it will let you travel on bus at much-much cheaper rates. And I have told you before you can pay your electricity, gas and water bills it’s not a problem. Currency problem is for everyone not for few individuals so everybody understands people are running low cash so rent can wait for few days.

                Drastic changes like this does comes with plenty of problem but if you look at long term it’s literally one of the best thing ever happened to Indian economy in last few years.

                • Majority of indian population don’t even have bank accounts. So paying with debit/credit card or check, not possible.

                  Your govt is retarded. They should have given more time to change those currency notes.

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