Happy Birthday ₹2,000 Note, the Inglorious Bastard of Indian Currency


Happy Birthday ₹2,000 Note, the Inglorious Bastard of Indian Currency

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

On November 10, 2016, not long after PM Modi defeated Donald Trump with demonetisation in the political reality TV show called, So You think You Can Shock, a new entity entered our lives and changed them forever: It was the ₹2,000 note — small and pink, looking like something cut out from Govinda’s magenta waistcoats from the early ’90s.

A shit-storm of politicking and social media squabbling ensued, and the government scrambled to explain the various uses of demonetisation. It’s widely accepted now that the move was an economical disaster for India, best put by right-of-centre policy expert Sadanand Dhume, who said, “You will lose weight if you chop off your leg. This doesn’t make chopping off your leg the best way to lose weight.”

Modi himself recently admitted that it might’ve caused some problems (a first for him) when he said in Varanasi, “Note ban caused problems for us,” while adding a “but” and listing its uses.

The thing is, whatever the BJP tries to get the public to forget the woes of demonetisation, the ₹2,000 note Modi announced so gleefully has become an inescapable symbol for the move. It invokes the too-real memories of people dying for a whim and standing in lines while the introduction of the monetarily large note had to be used to cheapen the name of our soldiers in Siachen. The very existence of the ₹2,000 note is emblematic of an ideological division among the people even greater than the one Poo’s quasi-feminism in K3G created, and its birthday will forever be intertwined with a black mark in Indian history.

We wish we were rich enough to burn you in a protest fire.

The note itself, the physical, tangible entity, is ugly and diminutive, imbuing a smallness quite opposite to the monetary value it denotes. We should want to hold the note, but we secretly don’t, only because of the timing of its birth. If introduced at any other time, in any other situation, it would be a cause for convenience but not this time, when it symbolises the beginning of the end for India’s economic boom.

So it is with mixed feelings that we wish the ₹2,000 note a happy birthday. You will never be as popular as the iconic image of the elderly man crying after missing his spot in the cue to exchange notes, and we wish we were rich enough to burn you in a protest fire but we’re not. You can buy us two Super Fan Day Passes to Comic Con so we’re going to use you. But just know that we’re doing it under duress.