Consumers in the world's biggest democracy just got a big surprise.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced that 500 and 1,000 rupee banknotes would be withdrawn from circulation at midnight, saying it was part of a crackdown on rampant corruption and counterfeit currency.
India is hampered by so-called black money that is undeclared, untaxed or under the table, said Sasha Riser-Kositsky, lead South Asia analyst at research firm Eurasia Group. The unexpected step appears designed to bring billions of dollars worth of cash in unaccounted wealth into the mainstream economy, as well as hit the finances of Islamist militants who target India and are suspected of using fake 500 rupee notes to fund operations.
"The move to restrict the circulation of large-denomination currency notes represents a major step in the government's fight against black money," Riser-Kositsky said.