Money & Banking

Maids, drivers, carpenters bear the brunt

Rashmi Pratap Mumbai | Updated on January 15, 2018 Published on November 09, 2016

bl10 worker

With no bank accounts, many who have saved thousands, are in a bind

Dalip Mandal, a carpenter in Navi Mumbai, doesn’t know what to do with the ₹46,000 he has saved in the last eight months. A resident of Budaun in Uttar Pradesh, Mandal has no proof of residence in Navi Mumbai.

The owner of his chawl does not sign any written agreement with his tenants. And Mandal could never open a bank account here. For the last nine years, Mandal would save money, visit his family in the village every few months and give them the cash. Back home too, his family, mostly working as daily wagers, don’t have a bank account.

In NCR’s Noida, Meena, a domestic maid, has been hiding money from her drunkard husband. She always lied about her actual salary, keeping some money in the rice canister in her house. Her kitty has reached ₹17,000 but she isn’t sure anymore about the future of the ₹500 and ₹1,000 notes in her canister. Meena, a migrant from West Bengal, too doesn’t have a bank account.

Unbaked population

According to a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers India, India’s unbanked population was 233 million in 2015, almost half of 557 million in 2011. With the government scrapping ₹500 and ₹1,000 notes, crores of these blue-collared workers, daily wagers and others who don’t have bank accounts and have been saving informally will have a problem at hand.

“I was to leave for my village today. In this situation, I don’t know what to do? And will anyone exchange my notes worth ₹46,000 even in the next few days?” asks Mandal. While notes worth ₹4,000 can be exchanged at post offices and banks, any amount above that will require a valid government identity card like PAN or election card. And that is something the likes of Meena and Mandal don’t have.

“My landlady has offered to give me ₹13,000 (in denomination of ₹100) in exchange for my ₹17,000. For now, that seems to be the only way to save at least some of my money,” Meena says.

The situation is similar with small farmers. Ram Pawar, an onion farmer in Nashik, sold his crop at the Lasalgaon Agriculture Produce Market Committee just two days back. He has cash of over ₹40,000, with which he was planning to buy household items as well as manure and other inputs for the next crop. But nobody is willing to accept the currency with him.

Without a bank account, Pawar is stuck with the money. “My wife has suggested buying gold. I don’t know if the goldsmith will also accept the notes,” he says.

Ansari, a taxi driver with Mumbai’s famed kaali-peeli taxis could not buy his blood pressure medicine today, as chemists at a government hospital and a private hospital refused to take his ₹500 note.

“I have run out medicine,” he said, worried not just that he had not had his BP medicine for the day, but also at the thin crowds hailing taxis. “On a regular day, I make about ₹900 by noon, but today I am barely touching ₹400, and that too needs to be paid to the person who owns the taxi,” he said.

On the rounds since the morning, Ansari said, chemists were downing shutters as they were not prepared with smaller currency denominations to give their customers. “They were downing shutters fearing attacks from customers if they don’t accept ₹500 notes,” he recounted.

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Published on November 09, 2016
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