The less cash society bogey

When the government of India's ill planned move of demonetization of higher currency notes back-fired,  the propaganda machine of the govt. came up with a fresh idea. A less cash society. Surely if there is no cash, people could be forced (read motivated) to opt for less-cash measures.

What they forget to conveniently state that illiteracy is so high in India that many people still use thumb impressions instead of signatures. A large part of our country is still uncovered by the internet making cash the best option instead of digital transactions.

It certainly surprises me that the government would spend tons of taxpayer money for such a phony campaign that it sounds ridiculous and repulsive at the same time.

Consider this for example. Fuel pumps account for one of the largest cash transactions every day. If you use your card for payment, you would be penalized by these state-run pumps. You pay a debit card or a credit card surcharge but if you pay in cash, all is okay. The government of India will use our taxpayer money to organize lucky draws and what not for digital India, but not get these surcharges removed. Because that won't make a good newspaper copy.

Another example. You go to a railway station, pay cash and buy a ticket. Good idea. But dare you go online and pay for the same ticket, bad idea. Because again you will be asked to pay a surcharge. You can buy groceries from a department store chain without any penalty on using a card but no not government sold railway tickets. Just goes on to show you how serious the Narendra Modi government is to have a less-cash society.

One can head to any government department or office to see how cash is not only preferred but almost the primary way to make payments. Be it in form of utility payments or other misc charges, Point of sale machines are seldom used. Cheque and DD are still accepted but you might have to pay extra for DD.

Given that due to nature of the exercise, they wanted to keep demonetization a secret. But how could that have prevented the government to encourage online payments?

This concept is itself an afterthought because the government was never prepared to replace the 80% currency it banned. No proper thought or application of mind was put to it. Public relations and advertising guys should not be given free runs on policy decisions on the economy just as a vice versa would not be recommended. 

Thus, we all pay a price for a fishing expedition for a government looking for some votes in troubled waters.


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