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Bikram B

By Bikram Keshari Jena

The note, we so dote,

leaves an endnote, with gloat.

Money, money everywhere,

so copious, yet impecunious.

Never one would have imagined that bank notes could be capable of such extracurricular activities, had the government not got a missile-lock on them.

As soon as the news broke out, these soon-to-be obliterated Rs 500 & 1000 notes broke into the social media like a clown on stage, with histrionics, which are peculiar at best and pecuniary at worst. While some rasping their cacophonous swansong, others are basking in the glory of the new-found utility.

There is a high likelihood that a lot of 500 and 1000 currency notes will survive the ‘surgical strike’ by the government. Not every piece of paper will be pinned to the ground with its own epitaph penned on it. Like an untimely death, the notes will have lot of years left in them and like an unannounced school bell a lot of them could never make it to the bank in time – hence they still can be minted for adoption into our day-to-day lives in other non-pecuniary forms.

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Scribbling on bank notes was a glorified public nuisance for quite some time, but it became a bankers’ privilege after government intervened.  Such cacographic impulses which can only be stirred by bank note can be cultivated once again and the public can be ushered back into the fold. There is so much promise here with all the liberty and the real estate of the note to play with. From scribbling one can regenerate to doodling, degenerate to squiggling et al. Use them as stick notes – missing, may be the carrot, stick they will.

Then there is the recreation of bimanual counting (hand counting). It fascinates a lot of people – a recent viral video also purported how much efficiency in the Indian banking system can be unlocked if the sleight of hands of cashiers can be improved. One went on to ponder whether it is the NPAs (Non Performing Assets) or the NPA (Non Performing Ambidexter) affecting the banking system. Well, with banking, one just could not tell!

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But with the obsolete notes, this faculty of finger aerobics can become household and the domestication of bimanual counting may go on to contribute to skill development, if not financial inclusion.

If one’s dealings were too transactional during its ‘legal tender’ age, there is equally no harm in developing an academic taste towards them in their illegitimacy. In notes there are lessons in linguistics, general awareness, graphology, cryptology, rudimentary arithmetic and of course, hide and seek.

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