Now, end of Rs 2000 note looks increasingly inevitable
RTI response gives boost to speculation that the life of the highest currency denomination may not be that long.
November 8 last year, in a surprise televised address, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared that Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes would cease to be legal tender from midnight, and would be replaced by new Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 rupee notes.Read more ↓
With that the PM rendered 86 per cent of currency in circulation worthless even as the entire economy was simply running on cash till then. That also meant businesses refusing to accept the two notes as payment.
While the government gloated over demonetisation as a move to crack down on black money and tax evasion (with later rhetorical insertions of striking at terrorist funding operations as well as cashless economy), many initially saw the cash recall as a price worth paying to wipe out corruption – even if that meant the poor paying with their lives.
For the next one year, cash dominated every conversation in the country – from policy-makers to TV anchors, daily wagers to housewives – there was no one left untouched by the impact of PM’s “surgical strike”.
The nation was divided into two sides – pro-demonetisation (read pro-Modi) and anti-demonetisation – which also led to the tagging of “nationalist” and “anti-nationalist” depending on which side of the debate one was.
A year on, many who advocated and fiercely defended the PM’s move have come to the conclusion that they were perhaps wrong – demonetisation wasn’t a success after all – especially after the revelation that nearly 99 per cent of the scrapped notes have come back to the RBI. However, the advocates still stick to the “good intention” part of the argument behind the sudden move and believe demonetisation to be essentially a “good move that was badly implemented”.
The biggest visible after-effect of demonetisation was the introduction of Rs 2,000 notes. In the last one year, there have been several news reports which suggested that the new Rs 2000 notes too will be scrapped eventually.
Barely a month after its introduction, in December 2016, RSS ideologue S Gurumurthy warned everyone to think twice before hoarding Rs 2000 notes as the government will gradually phase them out.
In July, The Economic Times reported that the supply of Rs 2,000 notes from the RBI has declined, leading to the speculation that there might be a deliberate plan to limit the supply of these notes.
At the same time a Livemint report said the RBI has stopped printingthe Rs 2,000 notes and will not be bringing new notes of that denomination in the current financial year.
The government, however, has been consistently denying such reports. In April, government, in Rajya Sabha, said there are no plans to demonetise the new Rs 2,000 notes.
In August, finance minister Arun Jaitley when asked whether the government is considering to phase out Rs 2000 notes, he said: “No, there was no such discussion.”
Amid this uncertainty, India Today TV tried to find out the truth. We filed a Right to Information application before the Reserve Bank of India.
We got a response to our RTI query from the Security Printing and Minting Corporation of India Limited – a wholly owned company of the government of India engaged in the minting of coins and printing of currency/bank notes.
It said: “To print Rs 2,000 currency notes no demand has been made by the RBI to the SPMCIL.”
It further said that “presently under the printing presses of SPMCIL only Rs 500 (new) and other notes of lower denominations (but not Rs 5 and Rs 2) are [being] printed”.
The nodal body of the government, which is responsible for printing currency notes, is not printing Rs 2,000 notes. The RBI, which “regulates the issue of bank notes”, has asked it to do so.
It’s not clear from the SPMCIL’s response if this halt in printing is temporary or permanent. But if they stop printing it and start circulating lower denomination notes, there is a possibility that slowly the Rs 2,000 notes may be phased out.
If nothing else, the RTI response gives boost to speculation that the life of the highest currency denomination – the very pink, very fragile-looking Rs 2000 – may not be that long.
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