Few Takers for Online Transactions in MP’s First Cashless Village

Few Takers for Online Transactions in MP’s First Cashless Village

My Report

Video Editor: Varun Sharma & Abhishek Sharma

Cameraperson: Akanksha Kumar

A swanky ATM with two cash dispensing machines wears a deserted look in Badjhiri which happens to be MP’s ‘first cashless village.’

In December 2016, the ATM was inaugurated by the then state finance minister, Jayant Malaiya, under the Shivraj Chouhan-led government.

The initiative was meant to inculcate the habit of digital transactions among locals in the backdrop of the demonetisation drive.

Did the tag of ‘cashless’ change anything for the residents of Badjhiri? Not really!

Swipe Machine Increased the Cost for Shopkeepers

Anil Tilak runs a store for seeds and fertilisers, on the Bhopal-Sehore road, in Badjhiri village.

Soon after Badjhiri was declared as a ‘cashless’ village, like several other shopkeepers in the area, Tilak got a swipe machine from the Bank of Baroda.

It was assumed that when people would start using debit and credit cards frequently, these swipe machines will prove to be handy for those running commercial businesses.

Tilak, however, was soon fraught with the problem of paying extra charges on the swipe machine. Within six months, he returned the swipe machine and never asked the bank for a replacement.

Anil Tilak, a shopkeeper in Badjhiri village, claims he had to return the swipe machine six months after it was given by the bank in December 2016.
Anil Tilak, a shopkeeper in Badjhiri village, claims he had to return the swipe machine six months after it was given by the bank in December 2016.
(Photo: Akanksha Kumar/ The Quint)
“When the charges would be deducted and we would ask farmers to bear it, they were not willing to. Why would they? Why would I bear the loss? That’s why we prefer cash.”
Anil Tilak, Shopkeeper, Badjhiri Village

Also Read : Demonetisation, GST Effects Continue, Deepen Indore’s Jobs Crisis

Locals Prefer Cash for Daily Expenses

Naresh, a farmer admits that for daily expenses, ranging from Rs 10 to Rs 100, a card is not needed. Similar emotion is echoed by Balidh Verma, whose father deals in wholesale of onion and garlic.

“Whenever it’s about going to the mandi, my father goes with the entire stock. So, the card is not needed much, they take cash with them.”
Balidh Verma, Farmer’s Son

For Ramprasad, who earns Rs 200 daily by selling iron-made cooking ware, ‘cashless’ has no meaning at all. He shows the passbook received from the bank two years ago after a Jan Dhan account was opened in his name.

With Rs 22 as balance in his account, Ramprasad asks in an irritable voice, what’s the use of having a card when there are hardly any savings.

Ramprasad, an ironsmith, who earns Rs 200 daily, admits that there is no utility of the card issued by the bank.
Ramprasad, an ironsmith, who earns Rs 200 daily, admits that there is no utility of the card issued by the bank.
(Photo: Akanksha Kumar/ The Quint)
“I do have a card but when there is hardly any money in the account there’s no question of depositing or withdrawing.” 
Ramprasad, Resident, Badjhiri Village

Ramprasad’s wife Santrabai chips in as she explains how the family struggles to earn two square meals a day. Though they used to rear cattle sometime ago, that has come to an abrupt end.

“As soon as we get some money in hand, we spend it immediately.” 
Santrabai, Ramprasad’s Wife

The promise of transforming Badjhiri into a cashless village, thus, turned out to be a damp squib. Since locals have limited earnings, most of them are already disillusioned with the idea of online transactions. Ask them, who they will vote for and pat comes the reply.

“I don’t want to discuss politics with you,” laughs away a shopkeeper who had also returned the swipe machine after finding it to economically unviable.

Also Read : Cash Is King (Again) in India’s Cashless Village

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