Thursday, January 18, 2018
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plastic currency

The Reserve Bank, it is hoped, will issue guidelines to the public on how to deal with the problem. It need hardly be said that often the banks make some noting on the currency notes issued. Some notes are stamped with the seal of the bank issuing the wad of currency notes.

Will the bank markings also invalidate the legal tender?
And what the RBI should not forget is that this is an age old practice which cannot be wished away so soon. The people should be given time. They should be told to deposit all such notes with the banks and not accept any note with anything scribbled thereon. They must advertise this in all newspapers and also  send this message on TV, Radio and electronic media as a whole. The announcement should be repeated every now and then till every citizen, especially those living in rural areas, become aware of it. If this is not done, the RBI plan would in a way mean cheating the public. If something was tolerated for centuries is suddenly branded as illegal, how can this happen in a democracy?

Now it will be very easy for any enemy of a concern or any angry worker  to scribble something on a note, just to put the owner to loss. The RBI should first give a foolproof alternative on which nothing can be written before issuing this draconian order. To make the people aware of something wrong is one thing. But to punish them for what they might not have done is something ridiculous. How can Rom, for instance, be held responsible for receiving a currency note with a marking that might have been made by Jack  at an earlier stage? The RBI will have to revise its stand. We do want clean currency. In fact soiled currency could even be  carrying germs if not virus. The manner in which people moist their finger with their saliva  while counting notes in a pack, could be highly dangerous, especially if a person is suffering from some contagious ailment. The emphasis should be on the removal of soiled and torn currency notes from the market instead of suddenly declaring illegal such clean currency notes as could be having a minor noting on it.  The people won’t take this lying down. Someone might even knock at the doors of the courts. After all, why should people be fined and punished for what they might not have done at all? If notes have scribbled matter on them, it shows that the bank authorities have failed to ensure that this should not be done. This did not happen in a day.
 And what about the much talked of plastic currency that was planned to be released in order to replace paper currency? It is still a dream. It is high time this was done.  Otherwise, would it not be better to issue coins for Rs50 and Rs100 as well? No one will be able to note down anything on them. Or the system should so evolve itself as to make it convenient for people to make payment by cheques. Online payment would still be better. Right now it is limited to those who possess a computer and an internet connection. But a day may come when online payment may take over. However, till then these currency notes will continue.  Hence the RBI should not bombard the currency system with an order that might paralyse the economic transactions of a common man.

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