Daily wage labourers, street vendors and beggars in the national capital have been facing severe hardships post the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes. However, most of them are happy with the bold and historic decision taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and are ready to face the inconvenience for the “larger national good”.
A cobbler-cum-shoe polisher loitering around the Connaught Place area, who on other days earned about Rs 200-250, complained that his income has come down to half post demonetisation.
Ram Singh, another small vendor from Rajasthan, appreciated the PM’s demonetisation decision as he believes this would weed out corruption and black money from the country. He told this correspondent, “My business has been affected. The sale has dropped to an all-time low and on some days, we are just sitting idle. Most of the customers who come here want to pay us old currency, but why should we accept them? Bank ke line main kaun khada hona chahata, phir bhi agar poora 500 ya 1000 ka maal lega toh hum le lete hain (Who wants to stand in bank queues and if someone makes a purchase of Rs 500 or Rs 1,000 then we accept the old notes).”
A 60-year-old woman sitting outside a Metro station in Central Delhi asking commuters for alms said that she had not eaten a two square meals since the past seven days. “Chai peene ke bhi paise nahi de rahein hain koi aaj kal (Nobody is giving money even for a cup of tea ). Earlier, people used to give us money and I could at least eat three meals properly, but now I sit here throughout the day and don’t even get Rs 30.”
At the busy market area in Karol Bagh, street vendors also complained about the lack of business since the past 15 days. Lakshman Kumar, a street vendor who sells mobile covers on a busy roadside in Karol Bagh, said, “There has been little business since the announcement of note-baandhi (demonetisation). We do not have Paytm or POS card machines; so people are not coming to us to buy goods, they have taken to online purchases.”
In spite of this, Lakshman praised the Prime Minister for cracking down on black money hoarders. “We all are going through hardships, with little money and almost no business, but we know this will bring something good. Modiji has assured us that after 50 days everything will be fine. He will not let us down.”
The daily wage labourers are among the worst hit in the demonetisation process, said a daily wage labourer near the Old Delhi railway station.
A 53-year-old Badrinath, who transports goods from the railway station to the nearby Sadar Bazaar market in his loader, almost went into tears as he said he has no work for the past few days. “I have lost almost all my money towards feeding my children. We have no work, and our maalik(employer) is paying us in old Rs 500 notes. What will we do with the redundant notes? I am too old to stand in long queues outside the banks. Hope this comes to an end soon.” He added that the decision taken by the government is in “good faith”, but the government should consider a person like him who lives hand to mouth and arrive at a solution to ensure his livelihood.
A beggar sitting outside a temple in West Delhi also said that they have been affected by demonetisation. He told this correspondent, “People have stopped giving us food and money as they used to give us earlier. Bhandaras (community lunches/dinners) have also become less.”