As the demonetisation was announced on 8 Nov 2016 evening, there was a good joke saying that as US counts votes, India counts notes!
However in India’s case, both votes and notes are so crucially linked. America stopped counting votes but we are counting both votes and notes. It is an amazing swap arrangement whose scale and mechanism pales the swaps run in the financial market. The votes get you notes later. So you spend notes now to get votes.
One is already hearing stories that local politicians and other powerful people are controlling or trying to control the bank branches. People on news channels are allegating the same. So we have moved from booth capturing to branch capturing.
If there was any doubt about the linkages between the two, they have been confirmed by this announcement. Now, in order to get notes, one has to get his/her finger inked. A bank branch is nothing but a voting booth.
The RBI press release shows you how detailed thinking is gone behind the inking:
Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for putting indelible ink on the finger of the customers coming to a bank branch for SBNs
Please refer to our Circular No. DCM (Plg) No.1226/10.27.00/2016-17 dated November 08, 2016 on the captioned subject. Based on feedback received from various quarters, it is felt that there is a need to put in place a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for such exchange of Specified Bank Notes (SBNs). Accordingly, ROs are advised to put in place the following measures.
- While exchanging the SBNs, the concerned bank branch and post offices would put indelible ink mark on the right index finger of the customer so as to identify that he/she has exchanged the old currency notes only once.
- The indelible ink would be supplied to the bank/post offices by IBA in coordination with the banks and consultation with RBI.
- This procedure would be introduced to begin with in the metro cities and expanded to other areas later.
- Each bank branch will be provided with black indelible ink bottles of 5 ml each. The cap of the bottle includes a small brush for applying the ink.
- The indelible ink can be applied by the cashier or any other official designated by the bank before the notes are given to the customer so that while the exchange of notes is taking place, a few seconds elapse which will allow the ink to dry up and prevent removal of ink.
- Indelible ink on the index finger of the left hand or any other finger of the left hand may not be used as a pretext to deny exchange of old notes.
Specifying details as right index finger and so on. The third one even mentions 5 ml bottle with a small brush!
This is all becoming so much a political ground. One is not sure whether you are a noter or a voter.