Investopedia defines demonetisation as, “the act of stripping a currency unit of its status as legal tender. Demonetisation is necessary whenever there is a change of national currency. The old unit of currency must be retired and replaced with a new currency unit.” The demonetisation of banknotes policy was enacted by the Government of India ceasing the usage of all Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 banknotes as a legal tender in India with effect November 9, 2016. The government claims that the demonetisation is an effort to stop counterfeiting of the current banknotes allegedly used for funding terrorism, crack down on black money, reduce corruption, drug trafficking and smuggling.
The objective of the article is not to detail whether the act of demonetisation is successful or beneficial in curbing the wrongdoings. We need to explore avenues that are wide open to individuals and exhibit Individual Social Responsibility in easing out the pain owing to demonetisation process. Demonetisation, with reduced availability of physical cash, has certainly thrown open a sling of opportunities towards building less cash economy. The Indian economy has to adapt to various modes of digital transactions to exchange and transact business operations. It is the only way that is ahead of us to embrace towards digital revolution that would transform Indian economy to the next level.
Demonetisation or otherwise, few facts that need to be understood in right perspective in embarking the journey towards digitalisation of cash transactions. India is booming with its demographic dividend and approximately half of 1.2 billion population is under the age of 26. Access and availability to physical cash has been considerably impacted owing to the demonetisation process. Not everyone has an operating banking account and one of the leading national newspapers had reported that around 53% India’s population has bank accounts. Internet Society reports that India records 15.1% of internet user penetration.
Given the above realities, there are three action points for an individual to drive towards cashless economy. It is one of the best ways of converting and constructing the constraints into stepping stones that would help us build cashless economy towards cashless economy. First, accept the demonetisation act, support and promote the government initiatives in making it meaningful for the fellow countrymen. Second, build awareness on the importance of having a bank account and help open create a new bank account for the needy and encourage them to operate for daily purposes. There are national schemes such as Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana for financial inclusion to ensure access to financial services in an affordable manner. The scheme helps an individual to open a bank account in any bank branch or business correspondent (Bank Mitr) outlet with the help of Aadhaar card. These accounts could also be opened with zero balance. The best way of beginning such a worthwhile service is to ensure that the house help, newspaper vendor and the immediate neighborhood grocer has an operating bank account and encourage them towards conducting cashless transactions.
Third important step is to put the best foot forward by creating future soldiers. Technology and children have amazing connection. Children have no inhibition in trying their hands at smartphones and need no time in adapting to new technologies and processes. There are over 96% of the children in schools and studying, there’s no better than a public school to begin the campaign in creating awareness on cashless transactions and spread word around cashless economy. An individual could reach out to schools within one’s geographical cluster covering no less than ten schools impacting over a couple of thousands of children. The next big block to reach out is the youth in colleges. Around 20% of the population in the age range of 15 to 24 years and pursuing college education. It is all about setting the trigger and making them foot soldiers in the journey of making India a cashless economy.
However the first step has to be taken by the individual to initiate the change. It is one of the greatest times of our era to own the responsibility, come forward and show individual social responsibility in building one of the largest and vibrant economies of the world. It is important to be part of the history but it is even more exciting to partake in creating history. It is apt and even more meaningful to remind ourselves Gandhiji’s saying about the change, “you must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
About the Author
Nirbhay K is a CSR professional and an IIT alumnus. Author can be reached @NirbhayK2.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the article are solely of the author in personal capacity and do not in any way represent views of any institution, entity or organisation that the author may have been associated with.