‘Day of rage’ protests in India over currency chaos

0
34

But the response to the “day of rage” called by opposition parties has been patchy, with the demonstrations only affecting daily life in opposition-ruled states. 

It has been 20 days since Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the country’s 500 and 1,000 rupee notes (worth between about £5 and £12) would be demonetised, effectively making 86% of the country’s total cash illegal.

The policy was introduced in a bid to counter corruption, weed out black money, or counterfeit currency, and to tackle terrorism.

A severe shortage of the new 500 and 2,000 rupee notes, which replaces the old currency, led to long queues at banks and cashpoints, creating a cash crunch on a scale never seen before.

Indian activists from the Trinamool Congress (TMC) political party listen as the Chief Minister of eastern state of West Bengal and TMC leader Mamata Banerjee speaks during a rally as part of a nationwide protest against demonetisation in Kolkata on November 28, 2016. Tens of thousands of people turned out November 28 for nationwide protests against India's controversial ban on high-value banknotes, which opposition party organisers say has caused a 'financial emergency'
Image Caption:Indians demonstrating in Kolkata as part of the nationwide protests

The government has responded by restricting cash withdrawals to just 24,000 rupees (£280) a week, causing cashpoints to empty within hours.

Some banks have drafted in police to deal with agitated customers and more than 70 people are reported to have died since the notes were demonetised, many from heart attacks brought on while queuing to change money.

There have also been reports of murder and suicides as Indians struggled to cope with the sudden hardship.

Opposition parties have hit out at government, saying it mismanaged the currency change and that Mr Modi should address parliament to explain his decision.

Mr Modi is keen for people to switch their banking online, but this is easier said than done as more than half of the population does not have a bank account and internet access is limited.

An Indian protestor holds placards of banned 500 and 1000 rupee notes during a protest against demonetisation, in Mumbai on November 28, 2016. Tens of thousands of people turned out November 28, for nationwide protests against India's controversial ban on high-value banknotes, which opposition party organisers say has caused a 'financial emergency
Image Caption:Protesters against the currency policy in Mumbai on Monday

In India, more than 90% of transactions are conducted in cash causing contract workers, shopkeepers, small traders and farmers – who make up some 94% of the labour market – to be hit the hardest.

Markets and manufacturing have slowed because people have been reluctant to spend their limited cash, economists have warned there could be a decline of 2% in India’s GDP, and opposition parties have stalled the winter session of parliament for more than a week.

In a stinging attack, former prime minister Manmohan Singh called the decision to demonetise the notes a “monumental management failure” and “a case of organised loot and legalised plunder of the common people”.

LEAVE A REPLY

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *