While the majority of India’s population is putting up stoically with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s demonetisation drive, with many saying the problems will not last long while the benefits for the country in the long run will be many, the ban on Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes has turned serious for daily wage labourers across the country. Take, for instance, workers/ labours who gather at Labour Chawk in Gurgaon in search of daily work contracts. They say their problems have turned severe over the last 10 days.
Many of these labourers have got no work since the Central Government has announced the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000. As per many workers, the contractors who come looking for labourers, try to dispose of these notes by paying them in scrapped currencies. Speaking with The Indian Express, a workers said that the contractors make them work for the entire day and then handover notes of Rs 500. As most of these workers don’t have bank accounts and ID cards, they cant even exchange the currencies. Above that, having a mouth-to-hand existence with almost no savings, we cannot afford to spend our time standing in queues. How will earn money for our families, said another daily wage labourer.
With the only option of getting their currencies exchanges, many workers went to the bank, but returned with grief as the banks ran out money. 30 out of 50 labourers, who gather at the Labour Chawk, get job in a day. Post demonetisation, this number has dramatically dipped down to 10-15 as contractors are not paying them in valid currency.
Hamid, a young labourer in the group told the Indian Express that they have been trying to manage their living by begging and borrowing and most of them not eat free meals at temples and gurudwaras regardless of their religion. Express his sorrow and anger towards the demonetisation move, Hamid said that if they (the government) had to cancel the currency, they should have told us. I had a saving of Rs 5,000 in Rs 500 notes, but its all waste now. Jeb mein paise hain lekin unse pet mein khaana nahi aa sakta, kya faayda? (Though we have money with us, but it cant buy us food. What’s the point?), he further asked.