"Hey, how are you? It's been a while since I met you last!"
"Of course Gayathri, I think this is the first time we are meeting after we left university."
"Yes it is. I do not even have your mobile number. Can I have the number please?"
"Why not, I will tell you. Will you write this down?" said Anisha. Gayathri searched every corner of her bag for a paper.
"Looks like I don't have a piece of paper."
"Me neither." Anisha was embarrassed.
"Don't worry! I'll write it down in this currency note!" and then Gayathri took a Rs. 10 note out of her wallet.
Does this conversation sound familiar to you? Have you ever used a currency note for purposes other than paying for a service or a product? Haven't you ever used a coin to open a tin of biscuit? I am sure you are guilty of at least one of these. We consider these also as crimes.
Although people, who do these, are not practically penalised at any point but just like other criminals, they can also be considered wrongdoers.
Out of all these little crimes, scribbling on currency notes is very common. When a paper is not available, currency notes come in handy to take down notes. Our bus conductors fold all the notes in a nice manner and hold it between their fingers. It looks neat, but it speeds up the tearing of the note. However, nobody seems to understand the gravity of what these people do.
Money is not something we hold on to. It circulates among different kinds of people at different levels of the society. The hundred-rupee note I have today, may have been with a beggar yesterday.
Tomorrow it may be with the President. You never know. During circulation, notes lose their crispness, while coins lose their colour and shine.
We could easily find certain notes, which are taped, and torn on the edges.
Everyone likes to have new notes and shiny coins, else why would they try so hard to get rid of the damaged ones?
Money buys us everything we need for our perfect life; it can give us all the luxuries in life, and it helps us to bring smiles on to our loved ones' faces.
If money plays an important role in our life, why shouldn't we give some respect to our currency notes and coins?
Keeping this in mind, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CB) has launched a program to create awareness among people of the correct way to handle money. It is not about how to spend wisely. It is about 'how to take care of the notes and coins'.
They have started a series of newspaper advertisements highlighting the importance of 'loving your currency'.
In one of their recent advertisements, CB raised some important questions for the society, giving us something to think. "Have you considered loving your currency notes and the coins we use every single day?"
"We all love to have crisp notes and sparkling coins what would you feel if you get damaged, folded notes with drawings and giving out a bad smell?," inquired the bank. They also open our eyes on a situation we rarely tend to think about - that is how a foreigner will react when they see our dirty notes. This is how it was worded in the advertisement.
"The first thing a foreigner would use in our beautiful paradise will be our currency. What would be his first impression on us? Will that be admiration or detestation?" Then the advertisement queried, "Don't you want your homeland to be inviting, clean and hygienic?"
According to CB Deputy Governor Dr. Dharma Dheerasinghe, hundreds of currency notes are soiled and have writings on them making them useless for legal tender, under the law.
The tendency to mutilate the currency notes have increased in recent years. The distressing part of the story is when banks take money to the CB; the CB's highly sensitive machines detect and reject these notes, unlike the less-sophisticated machines used by commercial banks.
We all need money to live. Therefore, why do we damage and ruin those notes? Let us use currency notes with care, without folding, and scribbling on them.
If someone has written notes like addresses and messages on these; these are identified as intentional defacement and will be charged under the Monetary Law Act No.58 of 1949. Therefore, if you deface them or accept defaced currency like that, the least penalty is it could be yours for a lifetime.