The Narendra Modi government’s intention to make the country a cashless economy by demonetising high-value currencies has been realised.
In Maharashtra’s Chikalthana village, nobody has any cash.
“Not the banks, nor the ATMs and certainly not the people queuing up in and around them in despair,” writes senior journalist P Sainath writes in the People's Archive of Rural India (PARI).
With one decision, farmers, landless labourers and daily wage workers have been rendered helpless and cashless, he adds.
Javeed Hayat Khan, a small vendor, cannot withdraw money for his daughter Rasheda Khatoon’s wedding.
“All I have in my account is Rs 27,000,” Khan told Sainath. “All I ask for is Rs 10,000 of that for my daughter’s wedding coming up in three weeks. And I’m not allowed to withdraw it.”
Khan’s is not an isolated case, Sainath further writes in PARI.
Farmers, landless labourers, domestic servants, pensioners, petty traders, all these and many other groups have taken a terrible hit. Several including those employing workers will go into debt, borrowing money to pay off wages.
Sainath not only questions the rationality of the policy, but also accuses the government for failing to realise the impact of the move on rural India.
In Lasalgaon, Nashik, onion markets have shut because of the cash crunch. In Vidarbha and Marathwada, cotton prices have plummeted by 40 percent per quintal. Except a few transactions here and there, sales have taken a hit.
“No one has any cash. Commission agents, producers and buyers alike are in serious trouble,” Sainath quotes says Jaideep Hardikar, a reporter with The Telegraph in Nagpur as saying.
(The piece quoted here was originally published in the People’s Archive of Rural India on 16 November 2016 and can be accessed here.)