Finance Ministry were shocked to know this method of exchanging old notes!

Indians are masters when it comes to finding an easy way out. Jugaad is a Hindi word that means finding a low-cost solution to any problem in an intelligent way. We’ve seen television advertisements related to the same. Jugaad, is something that comes naturally to us. It may be a complex task, whether finding a job or getting a work done in Government offices, the ‘J’ formula always works for Indians across the globe. Post demonetisation, a lot of Indians failed to exchange their now defunct notes within the prescribed time period. You would expect them to give up.

No way! They had their Plan ‘J’ ready. The period for exchange of junk notes of Rs.500 & 1000 ended on March 31st 2017. However, this was applicable to all Indians living abroad. The NRIs were given an extended time period of a further 3 months, up to June 30, 2017. This was enough for some of the Indians to get their brain ticking. They had found an unusual & unconventional route, but it at least looked possible.

The Customs Department has cracked down a new method of sending demonetised Rs 500 & 1000 rupee notes abroad by courier to get them converted in India later. Citizens of the country were given a time period to exchange the old notes till December 30, 2016. A senior customs official said that a few cases have been registered, where demonetised notes were sent abroad by courier. Cash over 1 Lakh has already been seized in such notes.

People trying to send the old notes falsely declared them as articles such as books, he said. The motives are clear. These notes were sent abroad with an intention to get the old notes exchanged through their NRI relatives & friends. In two cases, couriers were booked from Punjab for Australia and the content inside them was formerly asserted as a book.

The officials from the customs department who had been keeping an eye on the outbound parcels at foreign post offices located in the country, found the demonetised notes in parcels. Similar consignments carrying non-functioning notes were booked for Korea & United Arab Emirates. The reserve Bank of India allowed Indians living abroad during NOV-DEC 2016 to exchange the scrapped notes up to March 31. The NRIs were given an extended period up to June 30.

The central bank had earlier designated its five offices – Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, and Nagpur – to exchange defunct currency notes post 50-day demonetisation period that ended on December 30. NRIs coming to India will be required to disclose to the custom authorities at the airport, the amount of demonetised notes and secure a certificate which will be given at the time of exchange by the RBI. Courier agencies will also be questioned in this regard.

The government tried its best to curb the menace of black money by implementing the historic demonetisation. The move which was taken with the intention to awaken the economy caused a certain amount of inconvenience for the common man. But, short-cuts know no border. The Finance Ministry at the centre is being given a heavy cerebral workout.

Alok Shetty