Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das announced on Tuesday that banks may now start using indelible ink to deter people from appearing at cash counters of banks again and again. The move is apparently aimed at stopping people from turning their dirty money from black to white by sending people in groups to exchange their money at banks. It is apparently also aimed at reducing crowds at banks and ATMs. However, the government is yet to give clarity on the issue and there are lots of questions that many are now asking.
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Indelible ink doesn’t fade away for at least two months. If every time the bank puts indelible ink on a person appearing at a bank counter, how many times can it repeat it?
How would the banks keep track of the date as to when the ink was applied? It’s a question that troubles many as a mark put a day before can be confused for being put today. In such a scenario, the bank will not entertain the customer and that person will wrongly be denied access to his/her money.
If a person has multiple bank accounts, then according to rules the person can withdraw money from those accounts on the same day. However, it is also not clear whether the banks will allow transactions on the same day if a person has withdrawn money from another bank’s account on that day.
Also, there are byelections on November 19 this year and state Assembly elections in February. There will be issues that the Election Commission might want to discuss as the indelible ink is primarily used by the EC to ensure voters cast their vote only once.
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Every day there are long queues seen outside banks and ATMs. Indeed, many people queue up again after withdrawing money. However, this move just seems like a knee jerk reaction to the panic built up as a result of the widespread criticism faced by the government. The government claims it had a plan to handle the demonetisation process and subsequent reintroduction of currency flows smoothly.
Therefore, using measures like indelible ink on bank customers seems like firefighting an unanticipated situation, nothing else. The move will affect households, working class people, people with weddings to manage in coming days, elderly people who can’t stand in line and have to send someone to withdraw money from their banks etc. The troubles of the people are immense and the solution seems to be ill conceived.