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Cashless in India

Sunday, November 20th, 2016

Des Kumari (left) with her husband and daughter holding their Indian State Bank cheque. All pics: Seulki Lee


Nepalis working in India, students, pilgrims and Nepali patients at Indian hospitals have all been hit hard by the sudden demonetisation of Indian 500 and 1,000 rupee notes last week. Most Nepali workers and students here do not have bank accounts and therefore cannot deposit their old currency, patients and pilgrims who came to India with large denomination bills are in a fix.

Bhim Kumari Roka is from Arghakhanchi and has been living in India for seven years. She had INR 50,000 in Indian 500 rupee notes which she wanted to take home later this month. “We have to wait in line the whole day to exchange the notes and our turn never comes, I don’t think I can return to Nepal,” Roka says. She does not have a bank account, and is trying to see if she can deposit the money in her daughter’s account and withdraw the money in new notes. However, there is a limit to how much she can deposit there too.

Others like Padam Bahadur Malla who owns a garment shop at the Tibetan Refugee Market near Kashmir Gate doesn’t have a problem with currency exchange but has seen a huge drop in business because of the demonitisation.


Padam Bahadur Malla“My customers are down by half because they can’t use old notes,” Malla said, “and even when they have new notes we cannot have change to give.”

Many Nepalis are depending on the goodwill of their Indian friends, colleagues or neighbours, but the Indians have problems themselves and cannot help even if they want to.

Some like Viki Shrestha from Butwal works in a momo shop in Okhla and doesn’t have any problems with demonetisation because he never had notes more than INR 100, since his customers all use the smallest units of currency.


Viki Shrestha

Nepalis like Des Kumari of Tekhand neighbourhood who have husbands here with Adar Cards or bank account do not have problem with demonetisation. “Our only problem is that we have to stand in line for a long time and there is limit to how much we can deposit,” she explains.

Mina Devi is from Nawalparasi and moved to New Delhi to be with her son who works in a factory in the industrial suburb of Okhla. “I have about 5,000 rupees in the old notes and I don’t know how to change it, my son is trying to get it changed but he cannot wait in line because he has to go to work,” she says. “There are lots of Nepalis here who are really worried.”

Dina Nath Aryal is originally from Gulmi and has been working in New Delhi for the past 14 years. “Why should I talk to a Nepali newspaper, how can you help me?” he asks. “Rich people can change any amount of money they want, but us poor families in India and Nepal with the old currency notes are in real trouble. The bank doesn’t have enough new notes to give us.”


Dina Nath is better off than most of his Nepali neighbours who do not have bank accounts or ration cards. He has deposited all his spare 500 and 1,000 notes in his bank account, and the only inconvenience is that there is a limit of how much he can withdraw in new currency notes. “We have to wait in line from 4AM all day, and cannot go to work, how can we live like this. The Nepal government should talk to the Indian government and sort this out for us.”


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One Response to “Cashless in India”

  1. RabinsXP on Says:

    That is why I always focus on being self-dependent.

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