By Bikram Keshari Jena
For a common man, ‘change’ in monetary parlance has always been a bittersweet experience. It’s a double-edged, nay multi-edged sword in both its deficiency and sufficiency.
However, the demonetization winter has benumbed some of its fangs.
In day-to-day life, change or small denomination currencies (both coins and paper notes) are an effective tactical weapon of mass procrastination, repudiation, rejection, revocation et al.
It is surgically used as short change in an exchange, negation in a negotiation, disdain in a bargain, repudiation in a transaction and coerce in commerce, and also at times, it manifests as a providential waiver as a favor.
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Most of us who are daily commuters in mass transport must have borne the wrath of the change. There is this curious case of a taxi driver or an auto rickshaw driver who harbours an unexplained dislike towards your destination. He tries to euphemize his denial, by quoting a price way off the range, asking you to arrange the change, leaving you deranged. He knows well, how to throw riders into your ride to get rid.
Moving on to a debtor –creditor relationship – where a payer judiciously camouflages lack of money and intent, through lack of change. The change is roped in into the tug of war between the payer and the payee and the slugfest continues to extract and detract.
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Holding on to change is also a problem for some – most popular of the excuses being its weight, heft, clank and its abrasiveness on the wallet, which is perennially under the duress of one’s bottom. Well, following demonetization, banks started handing out neatly polythene-packed bags of Rs 10 coins in exchange of old Rs 1000 notes. If you entered the bank with the thought of your stash of old notes weighing heavy on your mind, you stutter out of the bank with bags of coins weighing down your trousers.
And sometimes, the change or the lack thereof, comes as a surprise- at times pleasant and at times as a confectionery. In a hard fought bargain, ‘no change’ makes the deal for you. The largest denomination currency in your wallet acts a good humbling agent for a persevering seller who belligerently bows down saying – ok take it, but don’t make it a habit.
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Talking of habit, it actually allows picking up one. The unorganized barter of candies and confectionaries of some sort for coins is more organized than one can imagine. Nowadays, it’s not at all surprising to see a container of candies flanking the cash box of a shopkeeper. Some have even made it a standard operating procedure to hand over a candy instead of change irrespective of whether they have change or not and in utter disregard to the taste and preference of the customers.
Demonetisation per se might not bring about a change in the manner change is dealt. But the ancillary movement towards online payment is seeing a change in pattern. It’s easier now to nail the change to even its second decimal with the click of a mouse.