The Costs of Demonetisation: Industrial Workers Suffer in Delhi and Punjab; Money Ban Cannot Be Questioned

A daily round-up on the human impact of demonetisation.

Industrial workers suffer in Delhi and Punjab

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 50-day deadline for a return to normalcy post demonetisation is fast approaching, but the economy is far from returning to normal. Industry is coming to a standstill. More than 1,800 factories in Mayapuri Industrial Area in West Delhi have come to a halt, the Indian Express reported. Meanwhile, in Amritsar, nearly 30 textile processing units have shut down, according to the Hindu

As per the Indian Express report, people who were employed in the factories were laid off in the absence of demand post-demonetisation. Most factories in Mayapuri have continued to function with fewer workers. Those who lost their jobs are now being employed by banquet halls in the area to wash dishes. The former factory workers are being forced to eke out a living doing odd jobs while looking for new skills. The alternatives that they are able to find to earn a living are not sustainable and do not pay as much.

In Punjab, the units that shut down in Amritsar had a domino effect on the textile industry, with about 700 to 800 factories responsible for different parts of the manufacturing process being affected, the Hindu reported, while those that are still running are doing so at about 35% below capacity.

“Demand from wholesalers and retailers for the fabric has dipped to an all-time low as most of them are cancelling their orders. In winters, usually, we see a rise in sales. But this year, due to  the cash shortage, retail sales of woollen-based fabric have been hit the most.” Vipin Mittal, who runs a factory, told the Hindu. 

Demonetisation cannot be questioned

The Indian Express reported that a 48-year-old man was beaten up in Delhi for criticising demonetisation. Lallan Singh Khushwaha, who was assaulted, told the Indian Express, “I was not standing in the ATM queue, but I saw people standing and I felt that only the poor people are suffering. So I criticised the demonetisaton scheme. Suddenly, one person at a departmental store started abusing me verbally. When I asked him the reason, he started hitting me and asked how I could criticise the prime minister. Soon after, others joined him. I sustained injuries on my head and started bleeding.”

The incident occurred on December 15 when Khushwaha was on his way to buy a television set. He said that he was spared only when others intervened. A case has been registered with the police.

Cash crunch in Dharavi leather industry

Leather retailers in Mumbai’s Dharavi area have been experiencing a slump after demonetisation, with demand for leather goods having fallen steeply. Arshad Khan, a leather retailer, told the Business Standard that the fall in demand was unusual because, “The December quarter, which coincides with the beginning of winter, is the peak business period for us,” when demand for leather jackets is especially high.

According to the report, retailers in Dharavi have had their businesses decline by up to 80% and as a consequence, retail orders at manufacturing units have also declined. According to the Business Standard, Dharavi has about 4,000 leather manufacturing units, largely in the informal sector that are dependent heavily on cash to make payments, procure goods, etc.

Gold jewellery craftsman commits suicide

Muruganatham, a gold jewellery craftsman from Coimbatore, committed suicide because he was unable to bear losses following demonetisation, India Today reported. He was unable to pay the few craftsmen that he employed and clients were unable to pay money owed to Muruganatham in the new currency. Orders also dwindled and sustaining his workshop had become difficult.

Muruganatham was found dead by his family on Sunday, December 18.

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