"How to convert black money into white money" was trending on Google as many Indians turned to the search engine giant seeking help after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's announcement on Tuesday night to immediately demonetise higher denomination notes with the stated aim of fighting tax evasion, corruption and financing of terrorism.
Rendering 86 percent of currency in circulation worthless, Modi's announcement of banning 500 rupee and 1,000 rupee notes undoubtedly blindsided everyone.
"This one decision will change the social culture, in the way people keep money and spend…The honest person has the satisfaction to be honest and the not-so-honest worry," Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was quoted saying to reporters on Wednesday about the government's move.
However, aside from Jaitley's comments about honesty, Google Trends results reflected the irony of the situation as Modi's home state of Gujarat leads the fray with most searches seeking instructions on money laundering, followed by Mumbai and Haryana.
Haryana, known for controversial real estate deals in the past, also topped the list if the Google Trends query was amended to "how to convert black money". Real estate and property is expected to be the sector that is expected to take the hardest blow after the government's move, according to brokers and analysts such as CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets, Credit Suisse Group AG and Nomura Holdings Inc. As much as 11 property stocks reflected in the S&P BSE India Realty Index plunged as much as 16.5 percent on Wednesday, the biggest drop since 2009 before, making a modest recovery on Thursday.
But overall, more Indians sought more information about the government's planned new currency notes that includes better security features. Questions on these were among the top five searched topics on Google from India on Tuesday.