Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the black money bull by its horns on November 8, when he declared that existing high-value notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 would be invalid, starting midnight. What was lauded as a "surgical strike" on defaulting Indians by the night transformed into a full-blown crisis for scores of citizens by the next day.
From state-authorised milk vends to petrol pumps, many an establishment that the government had directed to accept the currency for exchange threw the diktat out of the window and shortchanged the common man. Reports of petrol pumps forcing customers to accept Rs 300 cash in exchange for Rs 500 notes surfaced. Now some would argue that's fraud at the expense of the citizens, but we care about the greater good, don't we?
But, there is a silver lining to every dark cloud and the ones making good of the chaos are plenty. Mobile payment and e-commerce biggie Paytm is raking in millions in less than a day of the PM's masterstroke against corruption. It registered a 1,000 percent growth in money added to e-wallets. Interestingly, much like a government ad, Paytm advertised its cash-free service on social media and even the Hindustan Times.
Is PM Modi endorsing Paytm for a corruption-free India? We don't know.
A similar ad, albeit without the PM's face, by cash-free payment startup freecharge, followed Paytm's two-page ad.
Restaurant listing and food ordering app Zomato, and travel aps Ola and Uber also cashed in on the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 rupee note ban:
*ahem* pic.twitter.com/UExe649wIn— Zomato India (@ZomatoIN) November 8, 2016
Well let's just say Thank God for Ola Money!— Ola (@Olacabs) November 8, 2016
We've always said choice is a great thing. Switch to digital payment modes starting midnight #UberOn— Uber India (@Uber_India) November 8, 2016
Going cash-free and choosing digital payments will no doubt help curb the black money menace.
But a day after Modi's surgical strike, e-commerce giants are the ones witnessing an immediate fillip in profit, not the common man — possibly stranded at the bus stop unable to use the Rs 500 rupee note in exchange for a ride home.
Ab ATM Nahi, #Paytm Karo! pic.twitter.com/ACCgmKMyrL— Paytm (@Paytm) November 9, 2016
Local eatery, sells vada pav. Installed paytm. Said done it yesterday. For naysayers who think system can't adapt. pic.twitter.com/RtktroGj9b— Anuj Singhal (@_anujsinghal) November 9, 2016
Should the government's breakthrough for a corruption-free India come at the cost of common Indians?