Published On : Thu, Nov 17th, 2016

Inking fingers to prevent repeated cash withdrawals – ink and inking policy, both failing!


Nagpur: The demonetization farce is going from the macabre to the ridiculous.

Paranoid over its fears that the ‘Jugadu’ Indians were finding ways of confounding the govt. moves and exploiting loopholes to change their ‘ill gotten’ black into white they are finding strange solutions to defeat such attempts.

One of the brain waves has been to ink the fingers of those who have once changed money – from all notes to new – to prevent them from being “agents of the rich”.

How did this strategy come about?

As a Bank Manager of SBI explained to NT ” we had many people who were not our customers coming to exchange money – we suspect repeatedly. They could be agents who were being recruited to change money again and again, from our bank and other banks too, on behalf of the rich who had hoards of black money. To prevent this from happening, government has decided to put indelible ink, like what is put after voting, to identify these ‘racketeers’ and prevent them from doing what they were doing”.

But how does this system really work.

“Will fingers of genuine customers not be inked when they change money?”

“We will change their money once, then ask them to deposit money – old notes – in their accounts and withdraw money- new notes- from there” replied the Manager.

So even legitimate account holders will not have their money changed again, once it has been done?

NO, was the reply.

This solution is confounding many other bankers acrosss the country though.

“Poor planning in rolling out this programme has ended up preventing lakhs of people from withdrawing money from their own accounts. The decision to mark fingers of all customers with indelible ink to prevent repeated money exchange is like burning the house to catch a rat. This is going to put the public in more difficulty now,” D Thomas Franco, vice president, All India Bank Officers Confederation, said in Chennai.

Franco said that the Economic Affairs Secretary had no authority to take the decision on using indelible ink. “Such decisions should come either from the Reserve Bank of India or the finance secretary… How many marks would bank staff put on customers who exchange the limited amount in two or three stages?” said Franco.

A government official said that they are coming out with operating procedure on usage of the ink. “This will be circulated hopefully by tonight. This should clarify how a person can exchange old currency multiple times,” he said.

So there is confusion and different opinions among bankers about how the ink is to be used.

There is also the matter of enough indelible ink not being available across India. (Only one factory in Mysore makes it for elections). So some banks are using permanent markers – which get washed off easily!

As we said, it is turning into a drama of ridiculous.