This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Nandini Mazumder. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Demonetisation Is Just Hurting The Common Indian, Not Black Money Hoarders

More from Nandini Mazumder

By Nandini Mazumder:

I had a conversation with an auto driver this morning. I asked him how he was spending his money. He replied, “Bas chal raha hai. Dukh aur sukh toh do bhai hai.” (It’s just going on. Happiness and sadness are two brothers.) I told him that demonetisation was meant to be for the ones who had black money but they are the ones having a good time. I said, Woh cash mein thori na rakhe thhe. Unka kala dhan toh gold mein, properties mein, Swiss banks mein, aur benami Panama karobaron mei. Aapko aur humko aur baaki janta ko kyu dukh dena? Humare paas kala dhan hota toh hum bank ke qatar mein poora din khare rehte? Ya aap auto chalate ya mai auto mein beithti? ( They don’t keep it in cash. Their black money is stored in gold, properties, Swiss banks, undisclosed businesses in Panama. Why should you, me and the rest of the honest crowd made to feel saddened? If we had black money, would we have stood in lines for the whole day? Would you have driven the auto and would I be sitting on it? He replied back, Haan baat toh sach hai. Waise, kab tak rahega yeh sarkar?” (Yes, it is true. Till when will this government remain?) I told him that it will remain till at least 2019. He expressed his despair and shock.

 The conversation explains everything that is wrong with the decision to demonetise. Especially, since 86% of the currency in circulation was made redundant overnight.

Demonetisation is not hurting the interests of those who have hoarded the most amount of black money, as most of it is not in cash stashed away under the bed. The government does not want, or for whatever reasons is unable to, act against those who are named in the Panama papers. It includes ‘heartthrobs‘ Amitabh Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai, Ajay Devgn. Government-owned banks have been giving loans to those who are wilful defaulters like Vijay Mallya. Wedding of former Karnataka Minister Janardhana Reddy’s daughter cost 500 crores. See, how they all are related to the BJP in one way or the other?

The hardest hit by this policy are the common people, the poorest of the poor, those in the remotest areas of the country, those who live in areas where sighting a bank is as elusive as sighting a Royal Bengal tiger in one of our reserved forests, those without bank accounts, those without ID proofs. Scores of daily wage labourers, farmers, millions of working women who save money in cash.

However, I have reasons to be happy. Amidst the darkness, a majority of Indians are rising up from a deep slumber as expressed in the conversation with the young auto driver this morning. The government’s decision clearly shows its target vote bank is the urban middle class. The ones with smartphones, internet connectivity, Paytm accounts. But the disillusioned government forgets in its greed of serving the rich, the hoarders of black money, that India is still, by and large, a poor country.

The government’s vote bank, the urban and upper caste Indians, have come out in support of the government’s decision. We are disconnected to how the majority of Indians live.  Many send their maids, drivers or someone else to the ATM or bank, and don’t feel inconvenienced at all. Many refill food stocks using Grofers or order via Swiggy. So, they won’t empathise with complaints of hunger and hopelessness. Those who complain will be brazenly labelled as lazy, ‘anti-national’ and as someone who is whining all the time. They are expected to remain quiet and suffer for the larger good of the nation. Having such a mindset is the worst and is amplified during the demonetisation crisis.

As a privileged class, we have a lot of introspection to do. Lots of questions to answer. We have to explain why the 33 people who have died so far have failed to move us to anger, shame or sorrow. Why have the stories of people going hungry in the remote parts of the country, the farmer or the housewife committing suicide, not make us cringe at our own privilege? We have to take ownership of the privileged worldview and provide an answer to the millions who suffer much more than our swiggy-totting and smartphone obsessed existence can either imagine or even bear. We have to account for the blood money, whether or not we can account for the black money.

Personally, I will begin with trying as much as I can to help the small, local vendors. My husband is an ardent advocate against plastic money, especially credit cards. I am beginning to see why. The shameless, insolence that urban India has shown during this crisis towards our poorer fellow citizens, makes it even more important that we reject the plastic money and internet purchase syndrome and support the local vendors, as much as possible. Right now, I have no cash and only have a debit card. I have no choice but to refill my grocery from a large departmental store that accepts cards. But this shouldn’t become the norm as we now know who the government is trying to promote and who it’s trying to wipe out. We need to help the small traders because India is by and large, still about local traders, farmers, cash transactions, hardly any internet connectivity, grinding poverty, and of course, a vast majority without smartphones.

The vast majority of poor are currently suffering the most due to this decision to protect the real culprits by targeting the commoners. But people will show the government its place as 2019 is less than three years away.

_

Image source: Hindustan Times/ Getty Images

More from Nandini Mazumder

Similar Posts

By Gulraj Bedi

By Shantanu Mendhe

By Bedanta Upadhyay

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below