50 Days: India's Poor Without Cards, Credit or Cash Collapse
NEW DELHI: As Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s demonetisation drive completes its 50th day, the nation presents gripping images of what the demonetisation project has done, or undone, in the informal sector which shares the largest section of the national economy, employing more than 85 per cent of the labour force in India. Here are the images of one of the biggest, but perhaps the most unplanned, economic moves taken by a government in the modern Indian history.
Image 1: Far flung areas of the nation continued to reel under a “cashless system,” with the poorest of the poor migrant labour returning to their home states because of scarcity of jobs. Hit hard India’s labour in agriculture and construction had to leave the urban centres to return to their villages for want of money.
Image 2: Dairy farmers protest in Gujarat, Surat against demonetisation by pouring milk on to the streets. Farmers have been protesting all across the country against the notebandi, that has impacted on the labour, the produce, and the sales. Small to medium farmers have been hit particularly hard.
Image 3: No cash days mostly turned out to be days of no sale, especially impacting vendors of perishable items like fruits and vegetables. No sale days that brought about market stagnation was a disaster for these daily wage earners. All reported low sales, with the farmers also lowering the prices to a fraction of the original to ensure meagre returns. (Photo credit: Times of India)
Image 4: The already marginalised found themselves in a system where they have no voice. To acquaint yourself with the idea that the system can overturn your bare minimum in a single 15-minute speech by the Prime Minister can be a haunting realisation. (Photo Credit: Northbridge Express).
Image 5: Perhaps one of the widely shared pictures of the month, it brings to the privileged users of social media an image speaking volumes about the unavailability of space to speak. A veteran finds himself helpless as he unable to get cash in the bank. (Photo Credit: Hindustan Times.)
Image 6: Long queues saw brawls, and helpless frustration turning soon into aggression. The demonetisation drive saw old people dying of strokes in queues, and many unable to reach cash counters even after waiting for long hours, from dusk till dawn. (Credit: The Hindu centre)
Image 7: In a country with internet penetration as low as 15.1% people find it amusing to agree with a cashless economy.
Such is the wonder of our governments. We remember the famous line by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.”
(Cover Photograph: farmers dump tomatoes in protest as prices slump because of demonetisation)