HOW BHARAT COPES: By keeping it simple
HALIYAL: It’s harvest time in Hosur, a tiny village 10 km from Haliyal in Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka. For most part of the day, the villagers are busy in the sugarcane and paddy fields. They have little time to worry about the cash crisis that is bothering the rest of the country. Nor do they need to. Here, a family can manage with Rs 500 for two weeks. For now, they are making do with the small change they have.
The village has no buses. People have to walk to Tatwanagi village, 2 km away, to catch a bus. There is no ATM either. The population of 1,000 consists mostly of farm labourers. Their meagre existence means the villagers are yet to feel the pinch of the prevailing cash crunch. But they have heard about it.
The villagers leave their homes by 8 am after packing their lunch and return only by evening. They earn about Rs 150 for a day’s work in the fields. The contractors are still paying them in old notes or asking them to defer their wages. Many have not been paid for a week now. Those who don’t have any money are managing by buying groceries on credit from one of the two petty shops in the village. One of the shops is run by Jannat Nayak, a Siddi. She is one of the few graduates in the village. People like her are finding themselves in great demand.
Most of the villagers do not have bank accounts. “We are unaware of the ways of banks and are dependent on some educated villagers,” says Juben, a villager. “Many of the elderly people keep their savings in the discontinued denominations. They have to now exchange their money.” He said he found one elderly couple sitting at a bus stop in Tatwanagi village for more than half a day without catching any bus. When he asked them why, they reluctantly revealed that they were carrying Rs 3,000 with them and did not know where to go to exchange the old notes.
Mallesh, a tractor driver, says he has been helping people in his village to get their notes exchanged. “Most of the people have money ranging from Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,000. Banks in Haliyal are helping them with quick exchange,” he says. Miladri Doddamani, a former panchayat member, says villagers have learnt to live within means. “During the mango season we make lot of pickle which can be consumed with rice for many months. We also get mushrooms and tubers from the forest,” he says.