‘Do you have change?’ is a question that most of us either face or ask right through the day depending on the periodic need for this fast disappearing commodity.
Hopefully, it is one question that will be heard with diminishing frequency from October 2, the Gandhi Jayanti day, at least in and around Kozhikode. Members of the Jithinam Heritage Museum and Arts Library in Kozhikode are embarking on a unique endeavour - they will ply a vehicle, branded ‘Chillara Vandi’, to different parts of the district and will distribute loose change to those who need it. The group has collected more than Rs 30,000 in coins so far.
“Shortage of coins is one of the main problems that the common man is facing today. Disputes over loose change is a common sight in buses and autorickshaws these days; shopkeepers often demand that one pay the exact amount as they have no coins. This is what fuelled us to plan such a project,” says Jithinam Radhakrishnan who is one of the brains behind this quaint project.
Anyone who approaches them for loose change will be given coins of various denominations totaling Rs 10. And Gandhi Jayanti was a conscious decision, says Radhakrishnan.
“We found that the highest demand for coins came from rural areas. So most of our efforts will be focused on these areas and what better day to serve the villages than on the birthday of the man who branded them the heart of the country,” he adds.
They had to look in some unusual place to procure the necessary change. “We got a lot of coins from banks but one of our main sources for coins was temples. They have a huge number of coins in their deposit boxes and they were only too happy to exchange it for currency notes,” he says. The new service is being looked upon with a sense of anticipation by those plying buses and autorickshaws in the city.
“This is a very welcome and much-needed initiative. Acute shortage of coins of denominations less than Rs cool tempers in many parts of the city,” said Balan Nair, secretary of the CITU-affiliated auto drivers union in the city.