Sudhanva Shetty Shetty
Writer, coffee-addict, likes folk music & long walks in the rain. Firmly believes that there's nothing more important in a democracy than a well-informed electorate.
Demonetisation has affected every Indian, but it has hit the agricultural sector the hardest. Farmers, who are the backbone of our national economy, were severely affected by the note demonetization of 8 November 2016 which invalidated 86% of India’s currency. Invariably, the majority of these effects were – and continue to be – negative in nature.
Agriculture in India accounts for 50% of the workforce. The agrarian economy of India is primarily cash-based and village-based. Farmers tend to be unable to avail digital services as such they tend to be digitally illiterate; in many parts of India, farmers don’t even have bank accounts. Their main and in many cases only source of income is from the crop produce of their land.
It must be noted that the timing of demonetization was highly damaging to farmers. It came following an above-average monsoon season, but farmers were unable to cash in on the benefits of abundant rainfall due to the overnight implementation. The situation was made more dire and desperate as most farmers have their savings only in cash and the winter sowing period was severely hit, and farmers were forced to sell their produce at abysmally low rates. Furthermore, when banks failed to exchange the farmers’ old notes or give them loans, local moneylenders exploited the situation by charging inhumanly high-interest rates.
Below are a few of the examples of the instances that prove that farmers bore the hardest brunt of demonetization.
Whatever be your opinion on note demonetisation, there can be no doubt that it was highly damaging to India’s farmers. We – the Government and the electorate – need to empathise with them, try to understand how and why the situation escalated in such a short span of time, and debate amends which can alleviate the farmers’ position.
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