Motilal Oswal
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Motilal Oswal
Nov 09, 2018 09:13 AM IST | Economy

Remembering demonetisation two years on…

On November 8, 2016, I was in Kolkata at an ATM to withdraw Rs 10,000 for my mother’s medical tests. It was 7:45 pm when my wife from Delhi called to say Prime Minister Narendra Modi would appear on TV to make an important announcement. Soon after, demonetisation was introduced. Like many Indians, I had in possession plenty of cash that suddenly was of no value. For the next seven days until I boarded my flight for Delhi, I had to borrow some thousands of Rs 100 and Rs 50 notes to stay in Kolkata.

I launched a mission to find out the woes of the people who were struck by the sudden decision of demonetisation. Hundreds of people were on the streets in serpentine queues. It reminded me of the ration and kerosene queues of the 1980s, which took hours or days to get. Every place I travelled, the scenes were no different from those of the previous.

A bank guard helping an illiterate woman and at the same time looking after the law & order. 
A bank guard helping an illiterate woman and at the same time looking after the law & order. 
Lorry driver Gurdeep Singh from Chhattisgarh got stranded in Dhenkanal in Odisha because he had only demonetised cash. He had to wait until someone from Chattisgarh got him the new notes.
Lorry driver Gurdeep Singh from Chhattisgarh got stranded in Dhenkanal in Odisha because he had only demonetised cash. He had to wait until someone from Chattisgarh got him the new notes.
A restaurant employee shows her first Rs 2000 note.
A restaurant employee shows her first Rs 2000 note.
A woman in Uttar Pradesh gets the feel of her first Rs 2000 note.
A woman in Uttar Pradesh gets the feel of her first Rs 2000 note.
Arun Jaitley's first budget after demonetisation.
Arun Jaitley's first budget after demonetisation.
As the temperatures rose in March, sale of water bottles shot up.
As the temperatures rose in March, sale of water bottles shot up.
ATM outlets were shut for months. This is at the Ajmeri Gate side of the New Delhi Railway station.
ATM outlets were shut for months. This is at the Ajmeri Gate side of the New Delhi Railway station.
ATM vending machines were not immediately calibrated after demonetisation. So most of them were out of order, adding to the misery of people.
ATM vending machines were not immediately calibrated after demonetisation. So most of them were out of order, adding to the misery of people.
Delhi's Connaught place had office goers taking time off work to take out money from ATMs.
Delhi's Connaught place had office goers taking time off work to take out money from ATMs.
A man stuck in a long queue feels the despair.
A man stuck in a long queue feels the despair.
Free tea was distributed to people standing in queues.
Free tea was distributed to people standing in queues.
Long queues outside banks were a daily sight.
Long queues outside banks were a daily sight.
Gurudwaras served food to many people who camped outside banks to get demonetised cash changed.
Gurudwaras served food to many people who camped outside banks to get demonetised cash changed.
Non-resident Indians queue up in front of the RBI office to change their cash.
Non-resident Indians queue up in front of the RBI office to change their cash.
Many banks were out of cash for several days.
Many banks were out of cash for several days.
People outside banks were in a state of panic.
People outside banks were in a state of panic.
The queue outside the Reserve Bank in New Delhi stretched up to two kilometres.
The queue outside the Reserve Bank in New Delhi stretched up to two kilometres.
Many people arrived in banks with documents to change the old notes.
Many people arrived in banks with documents to change the old notes.
Immediately after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced demonetisation, queues formed before ATMs. This is a scene in Noida.
Immediately after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced demonetisation, queues formed before ATMs. This is a scene in Noida.
Ten days after demonetisation was launched, this man went to an SBI branch in New Jersey. His request to get cash changed was refused. The Indian Embassy also never helped him. He had to travel to India to get his currency changed.
Ten days after demonetisation was launched, this man went to an SBI branch in New Jersey. His request to get cash changed was refused. The Indian Embassy also never helped him. He had to travel to India to get his currency changed.
This family came from Haryana in an early morning train to change cash, but could not make it to the bank counter in time. The bank informed that there was an extension of time, but it was for NRIs and not Indian residents.
This family came from Haryana in an early morning train to change cash, but could not make it to the bank counter in time. The bank informed that there was an extension of time, but it was for NRIs and not Indian residents.
Kartik Bhavsar is an NRI who lives in New Jersey in the US. Every winter, he visits his home in Meerut. That year, he travelled to Delhi to change his cash at the RBI office.
Kartik Bhavsar is an NRI who lives in New Jersey in the US. Every winter, he visits his home in Meerut. That year, he travelled to Delhi to change his cash at the RBI office.
Workers queue up in Sundergarh district in Odisha for cash.
Workers queue up in Sundergarh district in Odisha for cash.
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