Keeri who loved humans

Keeri who loved humans
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Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Money, Money, Moneeey...

Was definitely not funny, Chaos reigned with the de-monetisation, as they called it.

Last time I went to my bank in India my rather lovely bank manager gave me half my 'entitlement' (my money had become inaccessible overnight) for that week, and said, 'You don't really need more, do you?'  Made me think. 

 I was travelling all over India all of the next week and wondered whether I'd find myself in some god-forsaken village with no access to coffee-money. But she was right and I managed without. A quick exercise in budgeting. I bought one Paragon biriyani rather than two, which my greed required, and one packet of Halwa for gifts rather than two. I gave my maids old thousand-rupee notes, which they could legitimately change at the bank counter and felt a bit guilty. At the bank they may not get the same treatment I got - coffee with the manager and all services done by her very efficient assistants for me.

   In Chennai, though the new thousand and five-hundred notes had now arrived, people were still struggling. The taxi driver could not provide change and neither could the small way-side merchants from whom every-one usually bought their vegetables and fruit. They lost out.

   So did the fishermen in Kochi, who could not sell their catch to the local buyer.From day to day the goal-post was shifting and we had no idea what we could manage the next day. Back-packing tourists just gave up as they found they could not pay for way-side purchases. I waved my Barclaycard around a lot and lost hugely in the exchange. This could be done in the big stores only.

   The queues in the early weeks were long and exhausting; eventually people left a marker - chappals, plastic bag, newspaper... and sat near by. Rumours that a few millionaires had shifted huge mountains of money overseas weeks before the cash-drought made the average citizen very angry. And the farmers in remote villages did not even realise that their market-economy had gone bust, as they continued to trade in valueless paper money long after the demonetisation. 

   A wealthy friend of mine mentioned in passing that two BJP apparatchiks had asked him to launder money for them. He was amused.

   I am not a Modi supporter - God forbid. But I did think the fundamental idea was good though the execution was disorganised and untidy. It also hit the poor most.

   Then again - Indians are good at getting past rules. There is a whole underground network building up, finding ways to get past the new rules.

Why do I think only the poor got wiped out with this demonetisation trial? As usual?

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