Checks on terrorism, corruption and counterfeit money, lower interest rates, lower property rates, increased tax collection and lower taxes... these are the obvious effects of demonetization that everyone has talked about. But there are some indirect/cascading effects that nobody cares to mention. Or maybe they don't even notice it? This post is about those effects.
1. The Strength Of A United India
I said it in my previous post, and I'm saying it again. The way people have patiently stood in queues, and supported the move, despite all the problems they faced, is beyond anything that I could have ever imagined from this country.
Those who have experience working with teams will know what I mean. Even 125 people can turn into an angry, destructive, uncontrollable "mob". But here, we had over 1.25 billion people... with different temperaments, different backgrounds, different literacy levels, different personal challenges... and they all worked together in allowing this operation to complete peacefully.
The whole world was keeping an eye on India during those 50 days of demonetization, and the impression that has been conveyed to them is that of a united nation, a strong nation, a nation that is willing to work together with its elected leader. That is some global statement.
2. Digitalization Of the Unorganized Small Business Sector
This operation has already started creating awareness about digital modes of payment, in the so-called 'uneducated' sector. And I'm not talking about that tea vendor interviewed on TV, or even that chana-jor-garam-waala whose picture was circulating on Whatsapp and Facebook. I'm talking about people I've personally seen.
When I was out shopping with my sister (in the first week of December), I saw a long line of autos at an auto-stand here. One of them had a paytm sticker on it. (By now, probably, there are a lot more of them.) Similarly, there is this street in Vaishali Nagar, lined with food vendors on both sides. (Golgappe, momos, chowmein, pav bhaji, you name it!) I saw the paytm sticker on one of those thelas too.
3. Importance Of Education
There's an 18-year-old maid in my building, who didn't get her Aadhaar card made because she was camera shy! After demonetization, her employer refused to pay her salary in cash. But she needed the Aadhaar card to open her Jan-dhan bank account. So she was forced to overcome her inhibitions finally.
Youngest of 4 sisters, she's the only female in her family who can read and write (thanks to that same employer). Her mother, who is also a maid in my building, used to say very proudly that she hadn't sent any of her daughters to school! But now, when they've all had to open their bank accounts, she realizes the importance of education, even for girls.
4. Desire To Learn
My own maid is comparatively more progressive. She already has her Aadhaar card (although it is currently at her permanent residence in her village). She doesn't have her own bank account, but she's already learnt how to deposit money through Cash Deposit Machines. The day Mr. Modi announced about demonetization, she said she simply took all her cash and deposited it into the "ATM", in her brother's account. Now she is super excited about getting her own bank account.
"Main to kabhi bank ke andar nahi gaya, abhi khaata khul jayega mera?
Wahan to sab saahab log aata hai! Aur main bhi jayega!
Paisa seedha khaate mein chale jaayega? Aap kompooter se bhejega na?
Fir main card se nikalega usko? ATM mein se?"
She kept on blabbering like a little girl! Reminded me of the time when I first went to the bank... alone! That sense of pride, on learning to do something new!
Human psychology is weird. Most people resist change and are scared to adopt the new. Sometimes, we need to be pushed out of our comfort zones. This demonetization exercise has provided that necessary push, and forced people to embrace technology and growth.