Come Diwali and Surtis rush to their banks to get crispy new currency notes. However, this time around, residents are upset as they are not getting fresh currency notes due to the short supply from Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the chests of nationalized banks have also run out of space since they still continue to stock scrapped currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000.
The tradition of possessing fresh notes is old. The day after Diwali (Lakshmi Puja) is believed by Gujaratis as ‘lucky money’ day, as it marks the beginning of New Year. It is a tradition in the community to hand over new currency notes to near and dear ones.
As a part of the ritual, the new currency notes are doled out as gift to children, servants, cooks, drivers and every other person closely associated with the family. It is believed that the new currency, when kept in the locker, will multiply and makes one more prosperous.
But, the scene at private and nationalized banks is not at all exciting for residents. Hardly five out of 100 people in the queue get fresh currency notes.
A senior officer of a nationalized bank said, “The chest of the bank is full as we have old stock of the scrapped currency. Then the RBI has sent us limited stock of new currency notes.”
The popular denominations are Rs 10, Rs 20, Rs 50, Rs 100 and the new Rs 200 notes. Bundles of such notes attract good premium during these weeks since all businessmen are willing to pay a little extra to get their hands on them.
Note bundles are cornered by brokers and there is often trading in these currency bundles — well outside the banking system — to cater to high demand for smaller denominations. Bankers admit that they cannot satisfy every customer’s requirement as supply is limited and more so this year.