Demonetization And Weekly Markets

On a usual Wednesday morning I wake up before the alarm rings. It’s the weekly market day of Mhaswad. My accommodation being pretty close to the animal market location, the bellows and bleats of the animals are loud enough to work as an alarm. But, on 8th of November, the scene was unusual. Instead of the animal sounds, noise of quarreling and arguments was louder. The reason being decision of government to demonetize the high currency notes taken the night earlier. I regularly visit this weekly animal market to collect import and export statistics with the current highs and lows in the market; which is later aired over the radio.

Being working with a community radio and equipped with the recording instruments; this time I visited with a different purpose. It was to see how market proceeds and record opinions of the farmers and dealers on demonetization decision. To my surprise, some part of the market was unaware of the government’s decision and people were accepting demonetized currency without any hesitation. While, other part of the market was in confusion whether to accept high value currency or not.

The market committee staff was also unable to guide the farmers on this decision as they were waiting for decision from higher authority. Usually, the market session comes to an end by 10 AM but this time it got extended further due to the decision. Later, opinions of the market dealers and farmers was recorded to find out if they agree with government’s decision or not. It turned out to be a series of mixed opinions. But, from the market’s statistics, it wasn’t a good day.

The market transactions came down to almost half of the usual numbers. Many of the farmers and dealers waited for some time and left the market without doing any transactions looking forward to next Wednesday. Some farmers sold their cattle due to financial urgencies and had to do the business at a lower price against their will. That morning brought forward a completely unexpected scenario.

Later in the day, vegetable and grocery market started and it was the same scenario there also. People were in confusion holding their HVCNs and were busy making alternate arrangements for that week’s grocery. By the end of the day, i was able to collect opinions of more than a couple of dozen people. A few of the opinions were completely against this decision whereas majority of them looked at it positively. And finally, it was soothing to conclude that despite of this harsh and swift decision, majority of the people have patience. Also, they are ready to face discomfort to an extent if the promised outcomes of this decision are achieved.

Nilay Wankhade

2016 fellow, placed with Manndeshi Tarang Vahini in Mhaswad, Maharashtra as part of his fellowship. Working on strengthening the community radio and making it a more vibrant space.