One of the central government’s many stated (and often shifting) objectives of demonetisation was to push India towards a cashless future. In the absence of physical currency, digital transactions would be unavoidable, and eventually become not only a preference but a habit. While the intent to go digital existed earlier – Akodara in Gujarat was reported to be a fully digital village in July 2015 – it was presumed that the audacious destruction of 86 per cent of India’s cash on November 8 last year would stand as a point of no return. However, as we approach the first anniversary of demonetisation, reality, as is its wont, appears to be more complicated.
Cash is reportedly on the rise again as network problems and a lack of credit and debit cards remain hurdles across the country, with the result that the rate of growth in digital transactions has returned to pre-demonetisation levels. Recently, Mirror visited four villages located in the south and west of the country that were hailed as examples of the future to find out whether digital has retained its stronghold, or whether reports of the death of cash have been greatly exaggerated.