In an unscheduled announcement last night, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a crack down on black money in India, by making the notes of the current Rs 500 and Rs 1000 denominations illegal tender after midnight, starting November 9.
While that was a shock big enough, the announcement came after 6 PM when banks had closed for the day, with an additional caveat that they will remain closed through November 9 as well, in order to adjust to the sudden change.
The night has now passed. You’ve had enough time to swallow the landmark move, the first one of its kind in almost three decades. Now is the time to plan and prepare for a more breezy, cashless way of life and transition from where you are to where PM Modi wants you to be.
Calm Down, Collect Your Breath
First things first, calm down. A lot seems to be changing this morning of 9/11 and panicking isn’t going to help anyone.
So go and fill up all fuel tanks. Re-stock your ration for the month. Replenish your medicine box and as my doctor says, “there couldn’t be a better time to get one of those elaborate, super expensive full body checkups”.
Digging Up Your Godrej Almirah
Now, to take care of your Godrej almirah’s valuable contents.
Step 1: Dig out ALL the currency from your wallet, drawers and safes, secret kitchen jars, bed-boxes and even your bank locker, tomorrow.
Step 2: Weed out the Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes. Count them and make a note of the total. Keep a few to show your grandkids.
Step 3: Make bundles of amounts that can be legally exchanged at banks and post offices over the next few weeks - Rs 4000 in value can be exchanged daily (between 10-24 November). Values higher than this will have to be deposited in your bank account.
Step 4: Prepare yourself mentally for dreadfully long queues at banks starting tomorrow. Download Fruit Ninja (do people still play that?) on your phone to kill time while you wait. Rant on Twitter about the hideous purple coloured new currency. Toast to the crores stacked in our babus’ mattresses that mean nothing anymore. Cry over Trump.
Step 5: Take time out today to make a list of all the serial numbers of the old notes you will submit or exchange. With the RBI and the Income Tax department tracking these, today would be a good time to introspect on how much of it you can reasonably explain.
Fill Up Your Electronic Pockets!
No matter how much you hate this book to Kindle, cash to card business, the truth is that this move brings us a step closer to becoming a cashless economy. There’s barely anything– other than auto fare and bus tickets, but it’s only a matter of time– that eWallets can’t pay for. I mean, just ask the guys over at PayTM. It’s a good day to activate that net-banking account sitting idle in your top drawer too.
So yes, as much as you despise it, fill up your electronic wallets for the month to pay for food delivery, cabs, electricity, gas & phone bill payments, online shopping (including groceries) and even EMI payments for cars, now!
There’s Paytm, PayUmoney, FreeCharge, MobiKwik and even Ola Money to choose from.
Plan Your Next Holiday
If you’ve got some money lying around, use it to fulfil your wanderlust. Plan your next major international holiday, even if it’s six months down the line. You can pay thousands in cash at the airport counter over the next 72 hours to purchase your travel tickets!
There, the money is off your hands and you get to go to vilaayat. Win-win! And God forbid, if for some grave reason you have to cancel your tickets, you needn’t worry. The amount will be refunded back into your account (pertaining to airline rules), as white as snow.
Do Your Bit, Calm The Panic
While Modi’s decision is a welcome move to reset the scales by rendering crores of black money either redundant, or open to scrutiny and inspection, those caught in the cross fire are the daily wagers- domestic helps, drivers, vegetable vendors, panwaris.
They don’t have access to real-time information that you and I do, and so, could be more susceptible to ‘DOUBLE YOUR MONEY’ kind of vile ponzi schemes. Sit with them and explain what they can and can’t do at banks and post offices post 9 November. Some may not even have bank accounts or valid ID cards. Educate them and help facilitate the process.
If need be, extend your good deed by giving them a short term loan to help them tide over the confusion and chaos.
It doesn’t cost anything to help someone, even though in this case, you might be more than happy to make some cash payments.