When Prime Minister Modi announced that at the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India would loose all its five hundred and thousand rupee notes, we did not know how majorly it was all going to hit us. Well, it is safe to say that that we have an idea now.
Now that the cold months have finally hit our skin and our palate is craving mad amounts of chaat, paratha, bhaturas, and what nots, the time has come to flock over to the street food hotspots in Delhi. But – you guessed it – the demonetization monster would rather have its way with us.
And don’t get us wrong, we’re all for the anti-black money movement and we do have our cashless payment app packed away in our smartphones. But sadly, my favourite chaat vendor at Lajpat and Chandni Chowk, isn’t yet well-equipped with cashless payment facilities. The Times Of India went around to map the situation in major street food hubs, and here’s what the picture looks like.
The Monetization Monster
And they aren’t the only ones. The cash crunch has seeped through the entire Capital paralyzing a number of street food vending businesses. Arbind Singh, a NASVI (National Association of Street Vendors of India) member, told TOI, “The street vendors’ business has gone down by 60-70%. When the demonetization scheme was rolled out, we had asked our vendors to give customers the option of e-payments. Kaafi logon ne shuru bhi kiya par koi khaas fark nahin aaya (a lot of people even started using cashless payments, but it was not all that effective). Even if a few customers are ready to use e-payment, wholesale shopkeepers wanted payment only in cash. We can just wait for the cash crisis to get over.”
That said waiting for the cash crisis just doesn’t seem like a valid option. Because for consumers, it’s leisure to snack on some paratha and rabri during winter, but for the vendors it is their source of income. A usually thriving jalebi stall owner in Old Delhi said “I have heated the oil thrice since morning, but there are hardly any customers. Every winter, there is a huge demand for jalebis, saal bhar ki kamai inn teen mahino mein ho jati hai. Iss baar lagta hai aisa kuch nahin hoga. Customer kahan hai? Sab toh ATM ke paas dhakke kha rahe hain (these three months make up for a whole year’s worth of income. Although this year looks grim because all the customers are lined up outside ATMs).”
And that’s the story of just one vendor. Multiply that buy the number of street food sellers in the entire capital and you’ll get a better prospective of things. Right from the tea sellers near India Gate to the ram laddu vendors of Lajpat, all of them have the same woe to share.
Demonetization may be a sure shot formula for India to leap frog into a cashless payment era. But are all of us on the same page?
Read the full article here.