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Indians hold currency notes of Rupees 500 and 1,000 denominations in front of a railway ticket booking counter in Allahabad, India , Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)

Imagine if your $50 and $100 bills became worthless overnight. That happened in India.

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi rendered 500- and 1,000-rupee notes worthless as of midnight Tuesday in an attempt to fight money laundering and corruption.


The goal is to force those holding the bills to trade in the old currency for new cash. That could reveal a lot of money stashed overseas or in "shady money," but it may also adversely affect poor and middle-class consumers who rely mostly on cash. 

I have three 500-rupee notes and only about 40 rupees (about 60 cents) in small change. I can either buy lunch or a bus ticket home.
Ankit Saini, Indian student

The bills will still be valid at "essential " services like hospitals and gas stations -- for a few days, anyway.


In the long term

ATM withdrawals in India will be capped at 2,000 rupees ($30) per withdrawal, to be slowly increased to 4,000 rupees within a week. 


The Indian government will issue new banknotes worth 500 and 2,000 rupees soon, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said. 

In the long term, the move is expected to bring billions of dollars back into India's economy and tax base, long hobbled by corruption and money laundering.

The 2,000-rupee note could arrive as early as Thursday.

Indians hold currency notes of Rupees 500 and 1,000 denominations in front of a railway ticket booking counter in Allahabad, India , Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)
Indians hold currency notes of Rupees 500 and 1,000 denominations in front of a railway ticket booking counter in Allahabad, India , Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)

Much of India's "shady money" is believed to be used for land purchases or hidden in overseas accounts. The scrapping of bank notes could send real estate prices crashing.

Some people took the currency change hard.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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