India's demonetized currency may have found its way back into the system but analysts suggest that far from tarnishing Prime Minister Narendra Modi's image, the strategy will ultimately be viewed as a success.
"It's important to remember that the demonetization move was intended more as a political move than as an economic one," noted New York-based South Asia-focused Eurasia Group analyst Sasha Riser-Kositsky.
"The drama of demonetization allowed Prime Minister Narendra Modi to demonstrate in a very visible way his commitment to fighting corruption and black money."
Earlier this week, the annual report from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the country's central bank, found that a total of 15.28 trillion rupees ($239 billion) worth of cancelled high-value notes were deposited or exchanged for new money in the 10 months since the strategy was implemented – just one percent shy of the number in circulation before the plans came in.
The results suggest a damning failure for Modi and his flagship policy. In November last year, Modi announced the radical step to demonetize the currency notes in order to tackle the rampant problem of the so-called black money – billions of dollars' worth of cash in unaccounted wealth and fake currency notes. The government decided to introduce a new 500 rupee note and also introduce a higher denomination banknote of 2,000 rupees.
Opponents hit out at Modi and accused him of damaging the economy and tarnishing the country's credibility at home and abroad. First quarter gross domestic product (GDP) data released Thursday marked a three-year-low of 5.7 percent, versus 7.9 percent the year before. The RBI had to spend 79.65 billion rupees on quickly printing updated replacements for the 500 rupee ($7) and 1,000 rupee notes which were abruptly banned at midnight on November 8 last year, according to the central bank's annual report.