Even as most Indians think that the Narendra Modi government's demonetisation of Rs500 and Rs1,000 currency notes is a step for the larger good of the economy, not many feel India as yet is ready to become a cashless economy, a Business Standard poll has found.
Over 60 per cent of 732 respondents to the poll so far on whether India could go cashless said the country could not.
While 37.23 per cent respondents to the BS poll felt India could indeed transition to a cashless economy, 2.06 per cent could not say either way.
Speaking on Friday while laying down the foundation stone of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Bathinda, Punjab, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had again encouraged people to switch to digital transactions. Modi urged the Indian masses to use their phones for transactions. "Your mobile phone can be turned into your bank and wallet. Today's tech can help you use it for purchasing things, making payments," said Modi. However, how practical such a transition would be remains to be seen.
According to statista.com, 684.1 million of India's total population of 1.252 billion are mobile users in 2016. Of these mobile, only 29.8 per cent use smartphones. Further, India's network and mobile internet penetration is still lagging. Moreover, as of October last year, a PwC report showed that India's unbanked population still stood at 233 million, suggesting that much remains to be done.
On the critical question of whether the hardships being faced by all and sundry will be balanced by a payoff in reduced corruption and black money holders, a large part of the respondents to the Business Standard survey - 69.44 per cent of the 540 people who took this poll felt the government was on the mark with demonetisation and corruption and black money would see a reduction. Only 25.93 per cent disagreed with the government's claim that this was a master stroke against black money. Those undecided on the efficacy of the policy were 4.63 per cent of the respondents.
To another question on whether the government's move was politically incorrect, 75.1 per cent respondents did not think so. The question was was answered by 518 people. Of the respondents, 22.97 per cent thought there would be negative political consequences for the government and 1.93 per did not have a clear view on this.
According to a nationwide survey conducted by C-Voter, 80-86 per cent Indians admitted to the inconvenience caused but hailed demonetisation as a great move in the direction of combating black money menace.
The survey conducted on Monday among half the parliamentary constituencies in India by C-Voter, an international polling agency, showed that 86 per cent respondents in urban and rural areas said the inconvenience was totally worth it.
The Modi government's decision was endorsed the most by higher-income groups, with 90.6 per cent of them saying the move was good. Only 12.6 per cent respondents across income groups thought the difficulties caused were an "unmanageable disaster".
The centre has been facing a backlash from opposition parties, which have united to condemn demonetisation. Critics have labelled the move unplanned and hastily implemented.
Nevertheless, according to the survey, a broad consensus emerges that demonetisation was 'well implemented'. This sentiment was common among 71 per cent of those surveyed in urban areas, 65.1 per cent in semi-rural zones and 59.4 per cent rural parts of the country.
According to 38 per cent respondents in urban, 35.5 per cent in semi-urban and 36.8 per cent in rural belts, the problems caused by demonetisation are "little, easily manageable". Also, 55 per cent respondents do not want the prime minister to succumb to political pressure and roll back this courageous move.
On whether they had been facing a cash crunch since the demonetisation move, surprisingly only 34.7 per cent of the 683 respondents to that poll said they had faced such a problem. At least 65.3 per cent people seemed to have faced no hardship.