Most Indians can still recall their first meeting with the Rs 2,000 currency note, that crisp pink wafer of paper, the lion of the money food chain in India. Many of them may possibly even relive the emotions they felt — joy, relief, excitement, exhilaration or disappointment at that rendezvous — when they first held it, or stacked their wallets with it.
But like a filmstar or a cricketer who just fades away after a much-promising debut, the Rs 2,000 note, too, for the larger part, just disappeared from our lives.
There was more myth to it than truth, right from its birth. Most Indians have funnily recalled the acme of fake news spread by television anchors on the purported powers of this note.
What was a fact, however, was that it was the highest token of power in the Indian money world, and so predictably and soon, it mostly got bundled away — either by political parties or individual politicians collecting it as donation or commission, saving it for an election, or by bureaucrats and government officials as bribes, or even by big businesses and their liaison folk, who needed to deal in cash. Sometimes, the middle class got to handle it, too, withdrawing a few wads from their bank ATM, or paying the builder during a real estate transaction, but otherwise, it had little play in their lives.
The note had been born during the heyday of a hope that black money and corruption can be eradicated by the same people and power ecosystem that created those in the first place and need those to perpetuate their power. It was a replacement for the Rs 1,000 note, post demonetisation.
The Reserve Bank of India has now decided the party is over for the pink slip. But “demonetisation 2.0” is procedurally correct, being as it is cautious and coming with a long deposit/exchange deadline. It is not accompanied by any announcement of major policy objective or goal. Good move, for goalless individuals or initiatives can hardly fail.
As mentioned, the procedure also does not come with a time bomb. Since most citizens purportedly do not have it, and it continues to be legal tender, they can easily dispose of it by spending rather than deposit it in the bank. One can also easily change a part of it at different banks, within a limit.
So like many regular Indian citizens, or even governments, and many an institution — the Rs 2,000 note will die too — born with a lot of hope, but having failed to achieve much, likely having worked with the wrong people and for the wrong cause.
Most will part with it happily; there will be a few romantics and collectors who will retain some souvenirs, and in a few months, we will forget all about its short life of a little over six years. RIP, note; goodbye.