In the days after Narendra Modi sprang his demonetisation surprise on black money hoarders and small people alike, fruit seller Ashok Prasad would raise his eyebrows if a buyer picked up a kilogram of applies and came up with a Rs 2000 note to pay for it.
Who had change for Rs 2000 then? The question has not gone away in the 30 days we have lived in the age of demonetisation. Who has change now?
Prasad has a shop in Kankarbagh, Patna’s prominent market quarter. Sales have been low all month, as they have been almost everywhere else in the country. But the customers have not stopped coming. And they pick up a bag of applies and out comes the pink note.
Now Prasadji just tells them to go away.
A buyer Mukesh Kumar had such an experience on Thursday when New Indian Express visited kankarbagh for a month-after assessment of what has been wrought by the big D.
Having received the expected response from Prasadji, Mr Mukesh Kumar told me his party of the story: “The ATMs are still giving this note only. Most ATMs in Patna are either shut or defunct, and the rest dispense only Rs 2,000 notes. It’s been a daily crisis for me.”
Prasadji knows it all too well. He said the past 30 days have wrought mayhem in retail markets all over Patna. There are ATMs of five banks in the vicinity of Kankarbagh and not one dispenses anything but the pink thing.
“I’m not against notebandi (demonetisation) at all,” Prasadji assures me. “I support any drive against black money. But we should have enough notes Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. Which vegetable seller in Patna uses PayTM or has a swipe machine?”
“This is India, and we are in Bihar.”