Last Tuesday was not just eventful in the US.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the overnight withdrawal of 500 and 1,000 rupee banknotes from the economy. “Black money and corruption are the biggest obstacles in eradicating poverty,” Mr Modi said. 500 rupees is around US$ 7.63.
The initial announcement was that defunct notes can be exchanged at banks for 50 days. New 500 and 2,000 notes will be issued. The 1,000 is gone.
I don’t know that Switzerland could smoothly handle such a sudden change. Certainly not India. Chaos has ensued with runs on banks. Many emergency measures have been rolled out to keep the economy functioning during the crisis. Here we focus on impacts to travelers. All of this can, and is, changing moment to moment.
- Railways will accept old notes to November 24.
- Airport ticket counters were accepting old notes through today, November 14, I have not seen an extension.
- Airport parking fees waived for a week from November 14.
- Various road tolls are being waived through at least November 18.
The above measures and many more are to help the cash crunch. Many ATMs are out of cash. Merchants are not breaking notes, even 100s, into change.
Practically, travelers need to be resourceful and find cash alternates where possible. Ride-sharing services such as Uber that accept credit cards are booming.
My friend Alexander just arrived in Mumbai:
Arrived in MumbaiT2 last night. Every ATM out of service or empty. Money changers have ripoff rates and even they are running out of cash. Luckily the parking toll and the sea link toll are suspended for a time so I uber’d to my hotel and we able to find a standard charter ATM with cash. Now I’ve got a massive wad of 100 rupee notes but street vendors are increasingly unwilling or unable to make change for a 100.
I personally am wondering what to do about a small amount of leftover Indian notes I have from prior trips? Is there a bank in the US I can deposit them with minimal hassle?
I am not close to the ground so going on media and word of mouth reports.
Readers, what are your experiences and tips in the Indian demonetization crisis?