That was a problem, because in such an under-the-table economy, it was a lot easier for people to avoid paying income tax. Specifically, 99 percent of the population. It also means that counterfeiting was a much bigger deal than in Western countries, where most purchases involve standing around dumbly until the chip reader screams at you. So Prime Minister Narenda Modi did the sensible thing: He got on TV and declared that the government would be issuing new, more secure bills. They would also be collecting the old ones, which would become worthless in, oh, about four hours. Not only that, but the announcement was made at 8 p.m.
It was absolutely necessary to do it this way, Modi explained, because otherwise the ne'er-do-wells would have had time to prepare. You gotta take ne'er-do-wells by surprise! Everybody knows that. Besides, even though citizens could no longer use their money, they would have 50 days to exchange it at the bank. See? Plenty of time! As long as you caught the broadcast, which was kind of hard for the 200 million Indians who do not own a TV, phone, or radio.
"Let's hope every one of them have kept up their newspaper subscriptions."