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News Entry# 288764
  
Dec 16 2016 (07:15)  Money, money, money (www.thehindu.com)
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Commentary/Human Interest

News Entry# 288764     
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Posted by: rdb*^  129373 news posts
At the Coimbatore Railway station, ANANDI MISHRA finds herself amid people struggling with the effects of demonetisation and hoping a homeward- bound train will take them to a better place
Ahomeless grandfather tries to shelter his granddaughter from the rain. His sons and daughter-in-law have abandoned him with the little girl and taken all the money with them.
Another labourer’s brother duped him of the savings of his lifetime. The daughters of a widowed mother are desperately trying to earn some money.
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florist who knows nothing about PayTm, a home-cook from the north (somewhere near Lucknow) and several others are heading home. Not because they have anything to go back to, but because they have no option. Her employers asked the cook to open a bank account. But she has no proof of identity.
These people have no idea what is happening. They first thought things would get back to normal, but it hasn’t. Not for them.
These workers have no where to go and are finding it tough to even find money for their next meal. Some are helpless, others angry. “We have always been law-abiding, why is the government bothering us now? The people I used to work for had wads of cash till last week, but they refused to pay me,” says an angry migrant labourer from Bijnaur.
The worst hit are the working class. A knife sharpener who peddles from street to street; a tea vendor; pavement shopkeepers... While the government encourages the public to make a move towards digital payment modes, these people are propelled in the opposite direction. While some have withdrawn their kids from school, the worst hit are the ones who have been deserted by their family. A 72-year-old says that his two sons and daughter-in-law took his grandson with them. “They left my three-year-old grand daughter with me. What am I supposed to do now? After 10 days, I ran out of money and the strength to make things work. I am going back home to Ghatampur, near Kanpur.”
On site labourers say that their contractors are unable to pay them due to lack of cash and are running away without clearing their dues. The weather is also adding to the people’s woes. “I am still trying to process where things started spiralling downwards. There were rumours and confusion in our locality. There were also talks that demonetisation might be rolled back because of its inefficiency. But now, it has been well over a month, and things are far from being settled. I started by withdrawing my children from school and then my contractor ran away without paying me. The final blow was being unable to open a bank account because I don’t have a proof of identity,” says 35-year-old Rajkumar, who is boarding a train heading north. He says he might get down somewhere in Madhya Pradesh if he hears of any opportunities there.
There are also people who don’t have anywhere to go and are begging on the streets. A colleague shared her recent experience. “A man approached me hesitatingly just as I came out of RHR on Trichy Road. He spoke in Hindi and asked if I could give him some money. I wanted to look away but something in his appearance made me speak to him. He told me that he and his family/friends had been brought to Coimbatore by a contractor for casual labour.
But the guy had fled leaving them high and dry. He was from Sangli in Maharashtra. Holding his ears, he said he would never leave his village again if I could help him get back home.”
I can only watch as the train carries these people northwards. I hope they will find better luck elsewhere.
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