Noida's Barola village gives Narendra Modi's currency ban a thumbs-up

Shriya Mohan @ShriyaMohan | First published: 11 November 2016, 21:10 IST
Barola village currency ban
Shriya Mohan

They say one arrives at happiness at the behest of someone else's misery. That seems especially true in India right now. Call it a coping mechanism if you will but ever since the Prime Minister Narendra Modi demonetised 500 and 1000 rupee notes, the poor are willing to go without business or income for a few days to see the rich and corrupt put behind bars

"What's a few days of sacrifice if all our efforts will culminate to imprison those who are hoarding black money?" asks Vinod Kumar, a vegetable vendor at Noida's Barola market.

Watch: 'People hoarding black money will be dealt with'

Kumar has seen a dip of fifty percent sales at his vegetable shop since Modi made the historic announcement on 8 November.

Vegetable vendor Barola
Shriya Mohan
Vegetable vendor Vinod Kumar

Customers initially offered him 500 rupee notes to buy lots of vegetables and he accepted a few such notes but then put the brakes.

"Who wants to go to banks and stand for an entire day to exchange these notes? I need to make money that I can use right away to buy vegetables in wholesale," he says, handing out half a kilo of tomatoes in place of one to a customer. "People earlier bought vegetables for a few days. Now they buy just enough to get by for the day," he explains.

Online cab bookings put auto wallahs out of jobs

At the main road at sector 49, Raju is zipping through the crowded lanes if Barola in his auto, showing me the long queues at the ATMs.

Ever since the decision to demonetise currency was taken Raju and his friends have been sitting jobless waiting for passengers outside posh Noida apartments. "Three fourth of my daily passengers have stopped taking autos. I see them taking cabs now. They save on cash," he says. Raju has a smart phone so why doesn't he just get Paytm? "I don't understand it," he says.

Auto driver
Shriya Mohan
Auto driver Raju says 75% passengers have stopped taking autos

Raju is 17 today. He got his driver's license when he was 14. "If you live in Noida you are sustained by bribing," he explains. Which is the other thing that makes him jittery. According to him the Noida police are the most corrupt in India and they randomly stop him and take 100 rupees each time. And you always have to pay in change. Young auto wallas like Raju are easy targets to get free 100 rupee notes.

Watch: 'Good move, but earnings have gone down'

"Of the 16000 I earn each month I have to pay a rental of 8000 and a bribe of 2000 rupees each month. Since the announcement was made I've only been stopped for bribes more often than before," he says.