These Indians are still “celebrating” Demonetisation

All stories showcased below are thanks to People’s Archive of Rural India (PARI). You can visit this page to read PARI’s coverage of demonetisation to learn how India’s most marginalized have been affected by it over the past year. 


On Nov 8th 2016, the government decided to casually demonetise 86% of the country’s banknotes in circulation. In terms of an operating strategy, the government very prudently decided to have none. They allowed under-resourced incompetent banks and other government institutions to figure things out . To keep it interesting, withdrawal limits from ATMs and mechanisms to exchange currency  were changed every week. And we learned that the rationale for demonetisation included but was not limited to killing black money, halting fake currency, stopping terrorism, annihilating Naxalites, making India a cashless utopia  and overall showcasing that this government means business.

We are now celebrating one year of hapless citizens trying to figure out why their livelihoods were disrupted. Some of the Indians that are most celebratory are ones in rural India. These Indians, were introduced overnight to #NewIndia. A place where apparently everyone has easy access to bank accounts and ATMs stashed with cash and all systems work seamlessly while incorporating cashless transactions.

Celebrating with bounced cheques & indebtedness: Deepak Badavne, 31 yrs, from Karajgaon village near Aurangabad in Maharashtra harvested 31 quintals of cotton from his 2.5 acre farm in November 2016. He is owed Rs 1.78 Lakhs by a trader for this cotton. By October 2017, Deepak had received 3 cheques for this amount, all of which bounced. Deepak lives in a joint family and has two children. Others in his village, including his brother have faced the same issue post demonetisation. The trader who owes Deepak, cites ‘cash crunch’ for the problems. Deepak has now borrowed Rs. 2.4 lakhs from a private moneylender at 3 per cent interest per month. He already has a debt of Rs. 2 lakhs from a private moneylender.

Celebrating massive losses in sales: G.R. Raghavendra from Roddam village near Anantpur, Karnataka sold 20 bags of rice (weighing 25 kilos each) in October 2016. In November he sold 10. Other shop keepers in the area have the same story. One used to sell three cartons of soap every week. In the first week of December, 2016, not even one carton could be sold.

Celebrating joblessness: Manwara Bewa, 45 yrs, from Murshidabad, West Bengal lost her job post demonetisation because the beedi factory she worked at closed down. Many beedi factories including one of the largest brands Pataka beedi closed down within a week of demonetisation. Manwara, a mother of two and landless labourer became a beedi maker after her husband passed away. Approximately 20 lakh workers, mostly women, work in beedi factories across West Bengal. One of the factory owners said he needs to make payments of 1 to 1.15 crores per week to workers. After demonetisation, he was allowed to withdraw Rs 50,000 per day from his account.

Celebrating by destroying his own crops: Sandeep Thavkar, 28 yrs from near Nagpur, Maharashtra drove a tractor over his own tomato fields in December 2016. Sandeep had toiled for four months to grow the tomatoes but the market crash after demonetisation made it more economical to destroy the fields than paying labourers to harvest and then transport the tomatoes to market. Sandeep was expecting to sell his tomatoes at Rs 8-10 per kilo, but the cash crunch meant that the price he was getting was closer to Rs 1 per kilo.

Celebrating by becoming an orphan: Akhila Balayya (pictured here with her grandmother) lost her father Varda Balayya, 43 yrs, from Dharmaram village of Siddipet district in Telangana to suicide shortly after demonetisation. Varda had a loan of ~10 lakhs before demonetisation. Being hounded by money lenders, Varda was looking to sell his land, but could not find a buyer after demonetisation due to the lack of cash. Many in this region don’t even have bank accounts. Varda sprayed pesticide over a special chicken meal he cooked for his whole family. Akhila and her grandmother are vegetarians, so they survived.

Demonetisation was an inconvenience to the country’s upwardly mobile urban Indians. To rural Indians, many of whom already live in heavy indebtedness, a loss of a few weeks of wages translates into hunger, desperation and sometimes death. But let’s not allow these inconvenient incidents to dampen our celebratory spirits. #AccheDin are here and we will  continue to find ways to justify and rationalize any government action.

All stories showcased here are thanks to People’s Archive of Rural India (PARI). You can visit this page to read PARI’s coverage of demonetisation to learn how India’s most marginalized have been affected by it over the past year. 

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12 thoughts on “These Indians are still “celebrating” Demonetisation

  1. Only BJP has white money now wah. All others are having black money. How the election expenses are borned. Purchasing politicians of other party which BJP has become super master.Enjaging Ed & others for other than BJP. Last but not the least Mulul. It is better we don’t talk about black money

  2. My locality has mostly small businessman. None affected. However, Congress and TMC politicians are unhappy. Reasons understood. CPM is also unhappy for a different reason. They are looking for Muslim vote bank. Since Muslim does not like BJP as a genetic property, CPM is opposing demonetization

    1. it is possible in cities but vast of the land and population is in rural where banks and net work is not there.every month iam moving 1000s km in rural and remote villages. corrupt methods preventing digital currency. go to hotel they reduce price to avoid gst.

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