The Costs of Demonetisation: Shoe Sellers Lose Out; Milk Trade Stalls

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

A security guard reads a newspaper inside an ATM counter as a notice is displayed on an ATM in Guwahati, India, November 27, 2016. Credit: Reuters

A security guard reads a newspaper inside an ATM counter as a notice is displayed on an ATM in Guwahati, India, November 27, 2016. Credit: Reuters

Banks become enemies

According to The Indian Express, after the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) refused to exchange old notes for a woman, she removed her clothes and sat topless in the front of the iron gates in protest. The case comes amid reports that the RBI has refused to exchange notes, going back on its promise that it would allow holders of old notes to exchange their money after the December 30 deadline.

Elsewhere in the country, farmers in Sheopur, Madhya Pradesh were given new Rs 2000 notes that did not have a photo of Mahatma Gandhi printed on them. The notes were distributed by the local State Bank of India (SBI) branch, which initially maintained that the notes were original but then later took them back. “The incident took place at Shivpuri Road branch of SBI. The notes were not counterfeit, but probably there was some printing error. They were taken back as soon as it was detected,” said Sheopur district’s SBI manager, Akash Shrivastav, The Times of India reported.

Shoe sellers lose out

Punjab’s shoe sellers have been been coming to terms with the new reality of demonetisation, as they witness a drop in sales. Upvinder Singh, who runs a shoe shop in Sangrur spoke of his ordeal to The Hindu. “It’s been more than a month since I registered on Paytm, but who’s going to use it here?” Taneja said. “In over a month, I’ve received only about ₹2,000-3,000 through Paytm.” The amount he earned in a month from the app used to be his daily income, but those have almost halved now. Sales are at an all time low with the reduced numbers of customers in the markets.

Added to that, hosiers have it hard too. Om Prakash Jain, owner of Sanya Creation in Ludhiana said, “We are now left with just about 15-20% of the labour,” indicating that the situation is the same for much of the industry in the city. He added, “Traders are asking wholesalers not to send goods because their existing stocks were not being picked up, owing to the cash crunch faced by consumers.”

Fatal times for women farmers

In northern Karnataka, where women are the backbone of the farming community, problems are not a new occurrence. Demonetisation simply added onto a long list of problems that included dealing with droughts, barren lands and farmer suicides. The Quint reported on the lives of the women farmers in the region. Shops have stopped giving credit and the lack of banks has been compounded by the farmers’ inability to access their own money in the form of cash.  Since the farmers don’t have money, they in turn are struggling to hire labourers, many of whom also happen to be women, spreading the problem through the agricultural sector.

Stalling milk trade

As farmers across the country try to adapt to demonetisation, rural trade is stalling. The Indian Express reported on the Loni cattle market in Ahmednagar district, Maharashtra. The period of October-January is usually peak season as cows produce more milk at this time, enabling the traders to sell more cows. Munnabhai Jaghirdar, who is a trader at the market said, “During this period, I normally do sales of around 20 cows every week. These days, though, I would be lucky to do even two.” Commenting on his customers from Gujarat, who make up the majority of his customer base, he said, “About 80% of my customers are farmers from that state. Since notebandi, they have virtually stopped coming.” Owing to the cash crunch, farmers have had reduced profits which has negatively affected this trade season.

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    On top of all this, the president expressing ‘ some reservations’ of the economic slowdown sums up the situation in the country. And yet, there is no remorse from the rulers. They are intent on having their way in helping the corporates and USA business tycoons. Common people are losing out the battle due to the huge control of politicians ..