”We are poor and we don’t have money, those were the rich who get affected by demonetization, we people earn and consume in a single day”, said Ghantul Sada while tracing the effect of demonetization in the deep remote area of Khagaria district at Bihar.
In the 50 days of demonetization many stories are viral, advocating the effectiveness of being digital economy while ignoring the economical nature, especially the spending habits and financial literacy in rural India which account 60 percent of total labour force. While asking Ghantul Sada on whether he has a bank account, he said he has one but hardly makes any effort to use it for any transaction.
It's not shocking that Ghantul earns more than 300 to 500 each day but officially falls under the BPL category. Anyway, the concern here is the financial literacy. As per his words, ATM card is something which is just to withdraw money and he has never used any. A point to be noted here is that his earnings are somewhere between Rs. 9,000 to Rs. 15,000, but he has never used banks for any purpose. Also, the Bank is out of his reach since the nearest Gramin Bank is 12 KM away from his residence.
Demonetization is nothing less than a paradox which left the great section of the uneducated rural population in a chaotic situation and rumors poorly have ruined their confidence in any financial institution. Rukmani Devi, who is involved in self-help group said, “Now the government is again planning to roll out the banknotes of 2thousand and to reintroduce the old banknotes of 1k and we are so scared about which banknotes to keep?”
While asking about the Prime Minister’s claim in rolling out terrorism and corruption, people in the crowd said, “What do we have to do with Pakistan? These are the talks of elite people; we only need our hard earned money to survive.” “Many elders fainted while standing in the queue at the bank and we were also forced to leave our work to join the rush, and it’s disastrous for us,” shouted, Chinya, a married women from the crowd.
There were also some Rich Vs Poor narratives which were giving some solace to them. A boy named Pahari said, “Modi did right to the rich now they will understand the situation of living without money, those rich people never care about us since we are poor and Modi Ji made us vocal.”
Many daily workers are facing great difficulties because of big notes. Their lords are postponing their rewards for their work. Kunkun, an agricultural worker reveals he is in crisis since the introduction of 2k banknotes, “we are unable to buy grocery or other food stuff with this new note, shopkeepers often hesitate to accept since they themselves run out of small banknotes,” he concluded. Kunkun neither has, any bank accounts and he is much away from any financial inclusion. In this 50 day of entire demonetization episode, he added that Modi Ji has done wrong to him and off the camera; he revealed his savings were eaten by brokers in the process of exchanging the old notes with new ones.
Rampari, a mid-aged woman runs a small shop in her locality. While interacting with her she opened some interesting facts. She is in her business for 15 years and as per her words, this act of demonetization has badly affected the underground running liquor business and pushed consumers away from any purchase. However, she also admitted that her old enough grocery shop is running out of stocks and the same time she is losing her customer which is severely affecting her savings as well as income.
Digital and plastic currency or any app like Paytm remains alien to them since there is no internet connectivity either. Cell phones to them are mostly for listening to music, as it is only a source of entertainment.