Benefits of Indian cash overhaul elusive as deadline passes.
Fifty days ago, India yanked most of its currency from circulation without warning, jolting the economy and leaving most citizens scrambling for cash. As the deadline for exchanging the devalued 500- and 1,000-rupee notes for new ones hit Friday, many Indians were still stuck waiting in long bank lines.
Empty ATMs and ever-changing rules prevented people from withdrawing money, and many small, cash-reliant businesses from cinemas to neighborhood grocery stores suffered huge losses or went under.
Despite those problems, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his Nov. 8 demonetization decree succeeded in uncovering tax evasion and cracking down on graft. The Indian government is urging patience, insisting it’s playing a long game that will eventually modernize Indian society and benefit the poor.