On Thursday, the Centre announced that no over-the-counter exchange of demonetised Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes would be allowed after midnight on November 24. The government said that the decision was made to “encourage people, who are unbanked, to open new bank accounts” and also because of the “declining trend” in the over-the-counter exchange of the scrapped currency.
When Prime Minister Narendra Modi had caught Indians unaware with his announcement on November 8 that high-value notes had been scrapped, many took respite in his assurance that the exchange limit of Rs 4,000 would be increased from November 25. Little did the public know that this was “subject to review”, as a clause in a Reserve Bank of India notification put it – and that the exchange of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes at banks would come to an abrupt stop.
Across the country, people have been baffled at the series of arbitrary rules declared by the government since the decision to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 banknotes came into effect, removing 86% of the country’s cash from circulation. The crackdown on the shadow economy has brought large parts of the Indian economy to a virtual standstill.
On Friday, advertising executive and book critic Sanjay Sipahimalani put out a series of hilarious tweets comparing the ever-changing rules by re-imagining them as in-flight announcements.
The announcements begin by warning the passengers to “fasten their seatbelts” as that they might be “in for a bumpy ride.”
What follows is a sly reference to the November 8 announcement that the over-the-counter exchange cap will be limited to Rs 4,000 which will be reviewed after 15 days.
Next, Sipahimalani addresses the limit of cash that can be withdrawn, which was increased to Rs 4,500 on November 13, but brought down to Rs 2,000 only four days later.
The following tweets are a comment on the unpredictable nature of notifications meted out to the general public.
Followed by a remark about how citizens were promised to be allowed to exchange their old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes till December 30.
And then, suddenly, on November 24, when they were told they would not be allowed over-the-counter exchange.
Here is another sly reference to the monumental requirement of bringing along photocopies of signed identification documents.
A comment on the shortage of currency notes.
The next tweet is an allusion to families being allowed to withdraw Rs 2.5 lakh cash for purpose of wedding ceremonies. This notification came with its own set of stiff conditions.
Sipahimalani ends his spot-on comparison with a classic spin on Modi’s emotional speech in which he said that he was “pained by inconvenience faced by common people.” But that citizens should continue to bear the “small inconvenience for the good of the nation”.