Demonetisation: Ground Reports From Rural India Reveal Mixed Feelings
A large number of respondents lauded the move, while some said it was the wrong step to take.
More than two weeks after the government’s decision to demonetise 500 and 1,000 rupee banknotes, the effects are now becoming clearer. News18 teams fanned out in the rural areas of five states to get an accurate picture of what the people most affected by the move have to say about it.
The teams visited villages in Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
They put a series of questions to people about their thoughts on demonetization, efficacy of the move, difficulty in exchanging notes and the effect on curbing black money. Respondents comprised farmers, labourers, students, women, businessmen and bankers.
The questions asked were:
1. What do you think will be the outcome of this demonetization scheme?
2. What is the current status of queues outside banks and ATMs?
3. How much difficulty did you face? What is the situation now?
4. This is the time for Rabi season planting. How are you managing cash?
5. Will this initiative curb black money?
Most of the answers fell into three broad categories. A large number of respondents lauded the move, while some said it was the wrong step to take. Many people praised the decision but said the implementation was ill thought of.
Below is a sample of the responses.
Jichou village, Bhagalpur District, Bihar
Varied reactions came in from this remote village in Bihar’s Bhagalpur district. Sheikh Mohsen, a farmer said that the government should have thought a lot before taking the decision, which has inconvenienced people greatly. He said that though lines outside banks are getting shorter, many people have died while standing in the queues.
Mohammad Itekhan, another resident engaged in agriculture said that the lack of money had made it difficult to buy seeds for sowing and paying wages to labourers. “The decision is right but the implementation is wrong,” he said. However, Geeta Devi, housewife said that she supported the decision and that the situation has improved now. She opined that people who have black money must face problems.
Vijay Kumar an agricultural labourer said that demonetisation was curbing terrorist and Maoist activities and illegal businesses.
Balod District, Chhattisgarh
Pawan Kumar, a local businessman, said that there was no change available for the new Rs. 2,000 note. He said that villagers are facing problems. Though he supported the government decision he said that they should make smaller denomination notes available. Farmer Ramgopal Chandrakar said that even two weeks later there is no improvement in the situation.
Bhojpur village, Raisen District, Madhya Pradesh
Rajesh Yadav, a farmer, said that buying seeds and fodder and paying agricultural labour had become difficult. But he said that the problems are coming down slowly and bank queues were declining. He also expressed the view that hopefully it would rein in black money.
Biniya Bai, a female labourer, said that her sons had deposited some money in her account and getting it out was initially difficult, but she had the cash now and the situation is better. She said that demonetisation will help poor people because black money holders would find it difficult while people like her would benefit.
Bholeram, the village priest, said that although demonetization had thrown life out of gear, trade was slowly getting back to normal. Farmers were taking loans to till the land. Kavita Pandey, a homemaker, said they didn’t face too many problems and that change for the new Rs 2000 note in available now.
Rajesh Yadav, a farmer, said that redeeming cheques is the biggest issue. “Even the banks don’t have liquid cash to give us and this is the biggest difficulty,” he said.
There was a mixed reaction to demonetization in Baran district. While people praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to demonetize, they had several questions regarding its haphazard implementation. Farmers said that although the queues outside banks are getting shorter shortage of cash in banks has meant that they are not getting money to purchase agricultural inputs.
Daily wage labourers talked about not getting their minimum wage and thus not being able to meet daily expenses. Traders said that trade has all but stopped while women and students talked about standing in long queues.
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