Bollywood’s stars are joining forces for a cause in India: getting wealthy citizens to forgo the use of cash.
According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, some of Bollywood’s biggest stars have been making public service announcements vowing to support the move away from cash ever since the government last year put a ban on high-denomination currency to fight corruption. The actions on the part of the Indian government have resulted in shortage of paper currency. The poor in particular have been hurt by the shortage since many of them don’t have bank accounts and up until recently paid for everything with cash.
“We are the soldiers of our new economy,” says the celebrities’ pledge, according to WSJ. “We pledge to use less cash to make it available to those more needy in our villages.”
The celebrities, as well as bankers, bureaucrats and even bikers, are pledging to use electronic payments to enable more cash in circulation to go to the poor. The movement, while picking up steam, has also been the source of lots of comic videos, tweets and songs that make fun of the new currency program, noted WSJ.
In early November, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the country’s 500-rupee and 1,000-rupee banknotes were being taken out of circulation. Taking those notes out of the financial system represents an effort to stymie fraud efforts, corruption and “illegal cash holdings.” Modi stated that the illegal activities are among the “biggest obstacles in eradicating poverty” — with a bead being drawn on tax evaders, according to the BBC. In place of the 500- and 1,000-rupee notes, a new set of 500-rupee and 2,000-rupee notes are being issued as replacements.