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India's currency swap shock leaves huge queues outside banks


Indians are reeling from the prime minister’s decision to take certain bank notes out of circulation.

The measure to withdraw 500 and 1,000 rupee bills was introduced in an effort to stamp out corruption.

However, the move which came in a sudden announcement on Tuesday, has not been simple in an economy which is largely fuelled by cash.

The new 2,000 rupee and 500 rupee notes will be put into circulation over the next three to four weeks, meaning many were desperate for smaller bills.

“There is a huge shortage. We don’t have any small denomination bills. My pockets are empty and so is my home. There is a shortage of smaller bills everywhere. If you go to buy milk, the milkman is not accepting money. At petrol pumps, they are not fuelling for less than 500 rupees. The shortage is immense,” said one man standing outside a bank.

The idea is to flush out so-called ‘black money’ from the economy and bring millions into the tax system.

While it has hit many of the country’s poorer residents who often keep savings in cash, many in the financial community welcomed it as a bold move in the long-term, once the initial teething problems are resolved.

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