It’s been over a year since Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the ban of India’s two most common bank notes, an economic gamble that left Indians in a state of financial panic.
This move to demonetize roughly 86 percent of Indian cash drew long lines outside banks and sparked protests as people frantically tried to exchange their bills. But the financial shock was all part of a multi-pronged effort to bring more of India’s citizens into the formal economy.
Currently, around two percent of Indians pay taxes, while a large and sophisticated black market, believed by many to be run on cash, continues to thrive. But in the first attempt by any nation on earth, the government is also trying to digitize all 1.324 billion of India’s citizens through a biometric program known as AADHAR.
VICE explores the legacy of these bold economic policies and what they could mean for the future of India.
This segment originally aired November 30, 2017, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.