Modi’s pink 2,000 rupee note making people see red

Fifteen months after demonetisation, people are fed up with the ₹2,000 note. It’s a bane in the hands of the working class, who say a ₹2,000 note in the pocket is as good as having no cash at all

Photo by Parveen Kumar/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Photo by Parveen Kumar/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Supriya Nidhi

You’ve been through this. You need to pay the auto, buy a bus ticket, make a photocopy, or grab a cheap bite and all you have is a ₹2,000 rupee note in your wallet. No auto walla, roadside dhaba or thela walla has adequate change. Shop owners refuse to swipe your card for such a low amount. And yet ATMs continue to liberally spit out the pink notes, forcing you to make multiple withdrawals of ₹1,500 at a time in order to avoid the monster note. The added bank charges seem the lesser evil, especially when it comes to paying your domestic help and small suppliers, who recoil at sight of the pink notes. You put up with the difficulties silently because you know that others are facing even greater problems, and you have no choice anyway.

After demonetisation, the introduction of ₹2,000 note hit the working class and small vendors badly. Even fifteen months after demonetisation, exchanging the bigger notes at small vendors is a task. The situation is such that people now joke that if you have a ₹2,000 note in your pocket, it is as good as having no cash at all.

The problem is that most small shops and service providers are not willing to give out change for such a large denomination unless one is buying goods or services worth at least 50% of the value. However, only a tiny percentage of Indians spend that much on daily needs of travel commute, food and groceries.

Indu Kumari, a resident of Badarpur in South-East Delhi, travels by bus to work in houses as a domestic help. If she is paid her wages only in 2,000 rupee notes, it becomes difficult for her to commute because the bus conductor can’t provide change for ₹2,000 note. Besides, if she goes to a shop in her area with this note, she has to buy goods at least worth ₹250, even if she does not need them.

Raamvati, who works as a domestic help in Ghaziabad in the NCR, is extremely frustrated with the ₹2,000 rupee note as it is difficult for her to shop for her daily needs with it. “I still feel a stranger to this note. For me, having a ₹100 note daily is more useful than to have the ₹2,000 rupee note at the end of the month. At times I have to walk very far away from my home to get even milk if I have this note, because the smaller shopkeepers refuse to give change for this note.”

Shopkeepers say they have their own difficulties. “Whenever I see customers come with a ₹2,000 note, it makes me sweat because it extracts all the change in my box. Earlier it was easy, when there was ₹1,000 but now it has doubled the pressure on us for change. I heard talk that government is planning to remove this note and I am hoping it’s true,” said Arun, a shopkeeper.

Pushpa Burman, a domestic help who hails from Bardhaman, West Bengal and lives in Madanpur Khadar in South East Delhi, says “Yeh gulabi note laane se Pradhan Mantri ne bahut pareshaan karke rakha hai (PM Modi has left us very stressed by bring this ₹2,000 note). If a poor person loses even one ₹2,000 note, it is near to their entire monthly earning. We feel scared to even touch this note. In our area, the drain cleaners and sweepers don’t take this note. Modi is least bothered about the problems we poor people are facing due to this note of his, he is too busy in his foreign tours.”

People hope for relief from ₹2,000 note burden

"It is hard to get change whenever I tender this note in the market. I usually go the local Mother Dairy to get change before I head to the market to shop. Such a big denomination shouldn't have been introduced in the first place. It doesn't seem to have been well thought out on the government's part to introduce such a big currency," said Prakash Paswan, a domestic help in South Delhi who hails from Koderma in Jharkhand.

“RBI should use the demonetisation to introduce a note of lower denomination that would bridge the gap between ₹100, ₹ 500 and ₹2,000,”said Vikram Singh, Patna.

Jay Prakash, a government employee in Bihar, said “Notes of ₹2,000 was introduced to curb the corruption and black money, but isn’t paying bribes much easier with a ₹2,000 note?”

“After demonetisation, ₹2,000 notes were introduced and ₹1,000 notes were withdrawn. It was said that this ₹2,000 note shall have special features which would prevent forgery. But forged ₹2,000 notes are still in circulation so what is the use,”asked Swarnami Mondal, Kolkata.

“It is still difficult to use ₹2,000 note for smaller transactions, but ATMs often dispense only ₹2,000 notes when I need a smaller denomination," said Vivek Punj in Ranchi.

“I am a poor vendor, I have to be very careful with ₹2,000 notes. If I lose even a single pink note, it would affect my monthly budget,”said Govind Kumar, Uttar Pradesh.

Anjani Saxena, a senior citizen and home maker always grumbles when she sees a ₹2,000 note as it is difficult for her to pay house helps with this note. “₹1,000 and ₹500 note is understandable and manageable but how do I pay my house help with ₹2,000 rupee note? I always end up buying unnecessary things just to get change for this note.”

Ram Dayal, who sells vegetables in South Delhi, however says that he is happy to have ₹2,000 notes because now he does not have to carry a whole lot of money to the wholesale sabzi mandi to buy vegetables and his small pocket can comfortably carry a large amount of money.

“As a seller it troubles me, but as a bread earner it makes me happy. The reason is, it tells me that I have enough money for me and my family. That gives joy to me. It creates a problem but so far I have managed,”said Wasim, a vegetable seller.

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