Time to say Adieu to the “PINK NOTE”… or is it?

The RBI has now maintained that in line with its “Clean Note Policy”, the Rs 2000 notes are now at the end of their lifespan of four to five years

The Reserve Bank of India pulled a surprise on the people by announcing on May 19 that it was yanking the Rs 2000 note out of circulation by September 30; yes, the same “pink note” that was introduced with all the hoopla in November 2016 soon after demonetisation to meet the urgent currency requirement in the wake of the ban on the then Rs 1000 and Rs 500 rupee notes. It has been said that the Rs 2000 note was only a short term objective; and now some even make the point that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi was not in favor of it.

All said and done, the RBI has now maintained that in line with its “Clean Note Policy”, that the 2000 rupee notes are now at the end of their lifespan of four to five years (given that they were stopped printing in 2018-19), the currency has been withdrawn from circulation. In fact an argument has been made in some quarters is that if the RBI really wanted to stick with its Clean Note Policy why not simply replace the old notes with newer ones? Has the note policy been followed with other denominations has been another query. Some of the notes of various denominations would seem to be far ahead of their date to meet a shredding machine or an incinerator.

Mercifully the RBI has spared the country of the crazy run around times of the demonetisation days. It has given folks time until September 30 to either deposit or cash in small tranches of ten notes at a time. And the State Bank of India, for instance, has been living up to its word of encashing without the hassles of filling out forms and identification proofs; others insist on a formality. By and large the process has been hassle free, but the RBI has left at least one lingering question in the minds of many: what is the meaning of saying that the Rs 2000 notes would continue to be “legal tender”?

Folks may not have found their way to the banks for exchange but reports had it that gold merchants were simply having as heyday with the yellow metal finding itself as a hot item for exchange for the pink note; and so were those in the foreign exchange business where the greenback would have been the most sought after currency. All this is not to forget the hawala person waiting to cash in. But the final word is yet to be said on all those supposedly keeping the “precious” note in suitcases and containers for a rainy day!

Dr Krishnaswami is Editor-In-Chief at New India Abroad ®. Earlier he was the Foreign Correspondent in Singapore and the United States for The Hindu and PTI

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