January 4th, 2017
“The demonetisation announcement was a shock to the bank employees as it was to any common man in India. We weren’t aware about the consequences and the problems which we were going to face and also we weren’t prepared for such a big chaos because it was first of a kind experience for all the bank employees. We were just told by the superiors that we have to remain calm throughout the process no matter how badly a customer reacts and help as many customers as possible. I still remember my first day at the bank after the demonetisation.
There was more than 1 kilometer long line outside our bank and it was confusing and no instructions were given to us so it was like we were at the warfront. The situation in the initial days was a complete chaos with different instructions coming daily and amidst the cash cruch the employees were as baffled as the public since everyone had a different set of ideology on what’s good and what’s bad in this demonetisation. Where there were around few transactions a day but after demonetisation the number of transactions was increased to more than 20 times. Everyday we would attend around 1500-1600 people.
We used to do one transaction per minute which involves checking forms, identity proofs, veracity of the old notes and then giving back the exchange in new notes. Bank employees have never served public at such a large scale in such a short period. So it was exhausting and tough but still on the back of mind we all knew that we were doing it for the betterment of our country and were happy that we were serving our nation. Due to such a chaotic atmosphere sometimes cashiers couldn’t concentrate in the counting.
They often made mistakes while dealing with the crowd which lead to their own financial loss. If the accounts do not tally, then they have to pay from their own pocket that evening itself or take loan from others to settle the accounts before leaving the bank. Overall the people were very co-operative and we saw so many incidents were we realised that kindness and humanity still prevails in us, were humanity won over the currency. We had also provided a different line for senior citizens and had given facilities of tent and water but there were again some customers who would lose their temper and shout at us and most of them were educated people and they would say ‘You are just sitting in AC and aren’t doing anything’, but what they didn’t knew was that we used to work 12 hours daily giving our maximum output ignoring our family obligations, we have not bothered about our health, mental or physical fatigues, and tiffin or lunch and worked up to late nights to accomplish our social responsibilities towards distressed citizens.
Whenever a new instruction came from the Reserve Bank Of India or Government of India then people standing in a queue for over hours are told that they cannot withdraw more than a certain amount then everyone takes out their frustration at us even though we are doing our best to help them out. There have also been customers from high-income groups who were being rude towards those from low-income groups. One of our branch in a backward area of the city faced a very bad situation, there was a cash crunch in that branch and it was late in the evening so they closed the bank and all employees in the bank were females and no male officials were present. Few people who were drunk tried to break the door. Fearing an outbreak of violence, bank officials had to call in the police to control the situation but unfortunately police didn’t turn up and it was scary. There have been customers who always found loopholes in the rules and tried to get away with it, people found many corrupt ways to come out of this situation but unfortunately few of them have succeeded as Government was very much alert. So as a bank employee it was all in all a very different experience.
We all were prepared to handle more flaring tempers because we understand that times were difficult for the common man. I don’t know how far demonetisation will go in eliminating black money, but it’s an effective move to take out fake notes from the market. However the collateral damage this move has caused on people just cannot be measured.
It is too early to say that whether this move was successful or a big failure as we don’t know how bad the situation is in the rural areas but I can speak for our city. City like Ahmedabad should and must adopt cashless economy. I would appeal to the people to use more and more debit cards and make secure and easy use of internet banking , mobile banking. I feel even if you think this concept is a total failure let’s give it a try. Let’s be positive and join the war against black money.”
Story By – Pray Bavishi | Humans Of Amdavad
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