In a shocking announcement, the Indian government has demonetized the country's largest banknotes in an effort to reduce corruption and counterfeit. The snap decision has left a majority of the country's population, as well as foreign tourists, without usable cash.
As of midnight on Tuesday, November 8, 2016, India's 500 and 1,000 rupee banknotes have been officially withdrawn from circulation. The sudden announcement left millions without usable currency, thus prompting locals and tourists alike to line up outside banks in hopes of having their money exchanged.
The decision came alongside an anti-corruption movement by India's Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. According to ABC News, the action was apparently done in order to bring unaccounted wealth and fake money back into the Indian economy.
Reports indicate that 500 rupee banknotes have been targeted for counterfeit practices by Islamic militants. In addition, with cash bribes being popular among politicians and government officials, Modi hopes that the demonetization will result in the reduction of graft and corruption in the country.
While a majority of the population agrees that the taken course of action will result in a better future, several have been struck by inconvenience. With ATMs remaining closed and the Indian government only allowing a fifty-day allowance for currency exchange, long lines of irked citizens have plagued India's banks.
Furthermore, as stated by Telegraph UK, tourists in India have found themselves virtually bankrupt due to the lack of usable currency. With the larger Indian bills rendered useless, tourists in the country were left without money for food or transportation.
The report indicates that a majority of tourists have traveled with money purchased in their own countries, converted into the unusable 500 and 1, 000 rupee bills. Due to the long chaotic lines outside of banks, several foreigners have resorted to begging and performing along the temples of India in an effort to raise cash.
Despite the lack of cash, India's foreign offices maintain that credit and debit cards are still usable throughout the country. Locals and foreigners alike are advised to use these digital payment forms for the duration of the exchange period.
Following the 50 day exchange period, the Indian government has announced that new 500 and 2,000 rupee bills will be issued to the country. The government has also moved to note that the old denominations shall only be valid for exchange if the owner provides valid identification.