Exactly two years ago, on November 8, 2016, people were having a normal day at work, discussing how the Diwali vacation went (Diwali that year was on October 30). Several had just come back after long Diwali leaves. Little did they know, in less than 24 hours, it was going to be a different world altogether as Prime Minister had a speech lined up later in the evening.
Around 8- 8:30 in the evening, as people prepared to leave office, Modi announced that his government was scrapping the notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000. To say, the move jolted the nation would not even capture half of its reverberations.
While the focus of the world was US presidential election, the results of which were announced on the same day, Modi's statement turned the attention to India. Some, who were not in front of the TV and were informed by others about the news thought that it was a rumour. Many wondered how was that even possible. Well, soon they realised it was true and how!
Demonetisation was essential to fight the menace of black money, according to the PM.
Indeed, black money has long been a scourge of the Indian economy. Recently, news agency
PTI, citing Swiss National Bank (SNB), claimed "money parked by Indians in Swiss banks rose over 50 percent to Swiss Francs (CHF) 1.01 billion (₹7,000 crore) in 2017." However, government sources later denied the reports saying that money in Swiss banks had come down by 80 percent under the Modi government and that the Swiss banks' data was "misinterpreted" by the media.
Modi, while announcing the note ban had said, "To break the grip of corruption and black money, we have decided that the five hundred rupee and thousand rupee currency notes presently in use will no longer be legal tender from midnight tonight, that is 8th November 2016. This means that these notes will not be acceptable for transactions from midnight onwards."
"The five hundred and thousand rupee notes hoarded by anti-national and anti-social elements will become just worthless pieces of paper. The rights and the interests of honest, hard-working people will be fully protected. Let me assure you that notes of one hundred, fifty, twenty, ten, five, two and one rupee and all coins will remain legal tender and will not be affected," he had added.Immediately after the announcement, reactions started coming in from across the country. Social media platforms were loaded with news articles, jokes, memes, supportive and critical posts on the Modi government's announcement which created an "emergency like situation".
Modi's rivals termed it as a “heartless and ill-conceived” decision.
"Once again Mr Modi shows how little he cares about ordinary people of this country- farmers, small shopkeepers, housewives-all thrown into utter chaos," Congress president Rahul Gandhi had tweeted.
“Withdraw this draconian decision. While I’m strongly against black money, corruption, deeply concerned about common people, small traders. How they will buy essentials tomorrow? This is a financial chaos and disaster let loose on the common people of India. The PM could not get back the promised black money from abroad from the rich so a drama to divert (attention from) his failure,” Mamata Banerjee said in a series of tweets.
Congress spokesman Manish Tewari termed note ban decision as “insane”, calling PM Modi a “modern day Tughlak”.
While the politicians came out expressing their support and criticism across the news channels in various debates, the common man was preparing to stand in the queues outside ATMs and banks, which lasted for months, affecting finances of people and even causing deaths.The pros and cons of the demonetisation continue to debated, but the evening of November 8, 2016 will not be forgotten in a hurry.