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How Demonetisation Crippled The Working Class

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By Vivashwan Singh:

The citizens are enraged in India after the decision of the government to demonetise by eliminating the legal tender of the notes of ₹500 and ₹1000. Thousands of people have been queuing up outside banks and ATMs. The people most hit by demonetisation are from the poorer sections of society. Domestic workers, labourers and others who live their lives by using cash. I did not have money to eat on November 11, despite having notes of ₹500 and ₹1000. I had to depend on a friend of mine for food. So, I can imagine what would have been the situation of the working class. Children have died in hospitals because their family members didn’t have money. Some women have committed suicide because all their cash savings had become worthless pieces of paper. It is an important time for the farmers and they have no money to buy fertilisers. People have lost patience now.

A Subzi Mandi branch of IDBI bank branch was attacked by an angry mob in Delhi on the morning of November 12. Bank officials were attacked with stones and several of them were injured. People looted the Metro Mall in Seelampur, Delhi. The whole country is in chaos and turmoil.

In a nation where banks are not accessible to a large section of individuals and many poor people don’t have banking knowledge, such plans create more ruckus instead of a solid economy. The executive has made the poor man’s life miserable currently.

According to a UNDP report, 80% of Indian women don’t have bank accounts. Furthermore, 95% of transactions are still done in cash in our country.

Many women save all their income in cash regularly, without anyone else knowing about it. The cash gets them food for their kids and medications when they fall sick. Many women in India are victims of abuse by their husbands who spend unnecessary amount of money on products like liquor. Demonetisation has financially crippled them.

Economist and former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan had stated earlier that demonetisation as a means of alleviating the menace of black money had been thought of before but hadn’t been implemented as they were not thought to be effective. Apart from Rajan, the former World Bank Chief Economist and India’s former Chief Economic Advisor Kaushik Basu in the Ministry of Finance said that the Narendra Modi government’s demonetisation drive was not ‘good economics’ and that the damage it causes will be greater than its benefits.

The people who are rich and have black money send their drivers and other household staff to queue at the banks to change their cash for them. The people from the poorer sections of the population are facing bureaucratic harassment and are also left at the mercy of others to have their hard-earned income converted into legitimate currency.

This move has resulted in deaths of senior citizens in Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh till now. It is shocking that no provisions have been made for the elderly and pregnant ladies. Most people do not use net banking in India. Many keep cash at home for medical emergencies. Lots of people live alone as well. What provisions have been made for them? The monster of demonetisation has resulted in the death of 47 Indians till now.

The government has said that those who deposit money above ₹2.5 lakhs will have to pay tax and pay a 200% penalty in case there is a mismatch in income. Why would anyone possessing black money make such a deposit?

This government shows how it has no understanding of capitalism.The monetary policy of introducing new high-value notes has the potential to create more black money in the future. Many are also doing business by exchanging old notes for new ones.

What sins have the poor people committed for which they have to go through all this? On the other hand, the rich people who have black money are not going through any trauma at all.

According to this logic, we should arrest all citizens of a colony and put them through torture. The criminals who confess to the crime should be arrested, and the honest ones would have nothing to fear as they would eventually be set free. We can get rid of all criminals in the society like this. It will be a ‘surgical strike’ on crime and a genuine masterstroke! BJP supporters might say, “Can’t we just go to jail for a couple days for the sake of the nation? What is this ‘minor inconvenience’ in comparison to the long-term benefits of a crime-free society? Don’t we all love India?”

A few days back Baba Ramdev made a statement. He said, “During war, our soldiers fight sans eating for 7-8 days; so can’t we do the same for our nation?” Ramdev’s Patanjali is doing great business. Shouldn’t he distribute his products as a goodwill gesture and live without profit for a few days?

A fake copy of the new ₹2000 note has already been found in Chikmagalur. It shows the failure of Modi’s decision in the very first phase of demonetisation. In the end, it is the poor who will end up paying the price for the bad habits of the rich.

You can call me a communist, socialist, anarchist, ‘Congi’, ‘anti-national’. Call me whatever you feel like.


Image source: Gerry Popplestone/ Flickr
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

Bidisha was selected in’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.

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