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We Spoke To Street Vendors And Auto Drivers About Demonetisation And Most Of Them Aren't Complaining

No pain, no gain.

17/11/2016 5:23 PM IST | Updated 18/11/2016 4:40 PM IST
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It doesn't take a genius to figure that the poor and the small business owners have taken a big hit, following the demonetisation move. Small businesses which solely operate on cash transactions -- your roadside paan wala, momo vendor, bhelpuri vendor, chai wala, auto drivers, flower sellers, fruit sellers etc -- are in a fix because potential customers are staying away due to the cash crunch.

We visited Delhi's commercial and financial hub Connaught Place to speak to five street vendors about how demonetisation had affected their business and what they thought of the government's offices. Most say that their business has been disrupted by the cash crunch, but not everyone is critical of the government's move.

Sonam Joshi
Ajay Shukla at his stall in Janpath, Connaught Place.

Ajay Shukla, clothes stall owner, Janpath

Twenty-three-year old Ajay Shukla has been managing father's clothes stall for the last four years. He claims to have a B.A., B.Ed. and M.Sc and says he never landed a job due to deep-rooted corruption everywhere.

Average sales per day before demonetisation: Rs 20,000

Average sales per day after demonetisation: Rs 5000-6000

On how demonetisation affected business:

My business has reduced by 60% -- I have only sold one piece today. Earlier, I would make sales worth Rs 20,000 but now it has dropped to Rs 5000-6000 since November 9. We don't expect this to improve for the next one week. There are very few people who come to the market, and those who do only carry a 2000 rupees note. They ask for change or give us old 500 and 1000 rupee notes. But we refuse, if I stand in the line all day to exchange them, then who will man the shop?

My business has reduced by 60% -- I have only sold one piece today.

We stand in the queue for a few hours every morning and withdraw Rs 4000 from the bank every morning to keep change for customers. Today morning, a customer came who chose a jacket for Rs 350 but gave me a Rs 2000 note. I had to refuse.

I had bought these winter clothes before November 8, but haven't been able to purchase new ones because the merchants from whom we buy them haven't been accepting old currency. We hope to collect enough money from the sales to buy new stock in the next few days.

On the government's decision:

Even I have studied economics from Kurukshetra University, and I think what the government has done is good for the economy, there will be some improvement. In the Indian constitution, Ambedkar sahab has said that after every 10 years, currency can be changed. I think it will reduce inflation. If the black money held by corrupt industrialists and politicians goes to the government then the economy will improve. There will be better roads, electricity, water supply and housing. Everybody will benefit from it.

Even I have studied economics from Kurukshetra University, and I think what the government has done is good for the economy, there will be some improvement. In the Indian constitution, Ambedkar sahab has said that after every 10 years, currency can be changed.

If he (Modi) has taken this bold decision as a Prime Minister, then we will have to bear some trouble too. I think the decision is praiseworthy. There is a problem, but I think it will be sorted out in 20-25 days. In my village in Panipat too, the banks have the currency. Yes, I think its benefits will reach me eventually.

Sonam Joshi
Arvind Singh at his stall in Janpath, Connaught Place.

Arvind Singh, clothes stall owner, Janpath

Arvind Singh's stall is situated next to Ajay Shukla, but he has a completely antithetical view of demonetisation. Singh, who has been running a shop selling children's clothes in Janpath since 1990, is very critical of the move.

Average sales per day before demonetisation: Rs 15,000

Average sales per day after demonetisation: Less than Rs 5,000

On how has demonetisation has affected business:

There has been a 70% reduction in my business with no improvement in sight. It is already the middle of the day, and I have sold just two pieces. If I don't take Rs 500 notes, then I won't even get enough to eat. Earlier there would be sales of Rs 15-20000, but I know it hasn't risen beyond Rs 5000. With the daily wages to be paid, there is hardly anything left. What do I do? I will have to resort to stealing from people's purses and wallets, I don't think there is any other option.

If I don't take Rs 500 notes, then I won't even get enough to eat.

There will be no benefit from this, there will only be harm. There will be more starvation, thefts and a rise in crimes. People will not even get enough to eat, and they may even rob others. If your monthly expense is Rs 40,000 and you can only get Rs 20,000, then isn't that bhukhmari? I think there will be more thefts.

On the government's decision:

I belong to Sultanpur in Uttar Pradesh. It is Varun Gandhi's constituency. I had voted for him in the last elections, but I won't vote for them next time. I went to the ATM and in the middle, it ran out of money.

I belong to Sultanpur in Uttar Pradesh. It is Varun Gandhi's constituency. I had voted for him in the last elections, but I won't vote for them next time.

Sonam Joshi
Dharam Singh selling ram laddoos at Connaught Place.

Dharam Singh, street food vendor

Dharam Singh has been selling ram laddoos -- a popular deep fried Delhi street snack -- in cart for the past 30 years. When we spoke to him, he has stationed his cart near a serpentine queue in front of Connaught Place's Scindia House.

Average sales per day before demonetisation: Rs 800-900

Average sales per day after demonetisation: Rs 1000-1200

On how demonisation has affected business:

I think the government's decision is good because there people are lining up and my work is going well. My sales have actually increased in the last week thanks to the queues. I usually sell my food near Shastri Bhavan, but I have been coming here since the last four days. I usually make sales of Rs 800-900 every day, but now it has increased to Rs 1000-1200.

I think the government's decision is good because there people are lining up and my work is going well. My sales have actually increased in the last week thanks to the queues.

I haven't had trouble with currency. Since each plate only costs Rs 10 or 20, people mostly pay me the exact amount. I came here at 12 pm and will probably stay till 4 pm. I usually roam in several roads, but come here during the lunch hours.

On the government's decision:

There is nothing I have except for this basket -- earning and eating. I don't even have any bank balance. The poor haven't been affected by the government's decision at all. It is the rich who have been affected. What do the poor have apart from earning their wages for the day and eating their daily bread.

The poor haven't been affected by the government's decision at all. It is the rich who have been affected.

Sonam Joshi
Surinder Pandit drives an auto rickshaw in Delhi.

Surinder Pandit, autorickshaw driver in Connaught Place

Originally from Bihar's East Champaran district, Surinder Pandit came to Delhi when he was 11. He has been driving an autorickshaw in the city for the last 40 years. He lives with his two sons, and the rest of his family stays in his village.

Average sales per day before demonetisation: Rs 700-800

Average sales per day after demonetisation: Less than Rs 500

On how demonetisation has affected his business?

People will take a ride, only when they have cash, right? Today for instance, I have only got two rides since the morning. The little money I got, I spent on filling CNG and having lunch. Now, I have no money in my wallet. Thankfully I own this auto so I don't have to pay any rent.

We are farmers, and need to buy seeds for the sowing season. However, we have not been able to get the new notes there and the merchants are not accepting old notes.

In my village too, my family is facing a problem. We are farmers, and need to buy seeds for the sowing season. However, we have not been able to get the new notes there and the merchants are not accepting old notes. Only those who have contacts have been able to get hold of the new currency. My daily savings are much lesser, but I am not starving. I hope things get better in 10-12 days.

On the government's decision:

We earn and eat. There is neither any benefit for us nor any loss. Government did the right thing. There is some discomfort now but it will get ok in a few days.

Government did the right thing. There is some discomfort now but it will get ok in a few days.

However, I do think that releasing the 2000 note instead of the Rs 100 and 500 notes created the problem. If they had brought these out first, it would've been easier. Every work takes it time. When the cash comes, the situation will be okay.

Sonam Joshi
BC Jain sells cigarettes and candy in Connaught Place.

BC Jain, cigarette stall owner

BC Jain owns a small stall selling cigarettes, chocolates, chewing gum and other eatables in Connaught Place's inner circle. Originally from Rajasthan's Dholpur district, he has been running the stall for the last 35 years.

I think the decision is good, but the government has to ensure it doesn't get lax in the future, especially because the public is praising the move even after bearing so many inconveniences.

On how demonetisation has affected his business:

There has been a 20% decline in my sales. My customers have stopped buying more expensive items like big Cadbury chocolate bars. People do come but there is a reduction in the amount of money they spend. A guy who used to buy an entire pack of cigarettes is now just buying a few loose cigarettes.

On the government's decision:

Business should pick up in a few days. I think the decision is good, but the government has to ensure it doesn't get lax in the future, especially because the public is praising the move even after bearing so many inconveniences. If it gets lax, then the sacrifices of the public will go to waste.

If the government keeps up its strict control, then it is okay, but if it loosens its rules later, then the public will understand that it is a political agenda. Everybody will benefit from this. If there is no black money, there will be more cash in the market.