Swapnil Patkar picks up card reader from drawer. Actually, this is just show, he puts device right back to side: "We've had server problems for a few days," apologizes kiosk owner. His client owes him ten Indian rupees for some biscuits, about 13 cents. Ranjit Sarvarkar, who is also in store, can help out: "We do this anyway without cash," he says, pulls out his smartphone, opens an app and assigns money to customer. The ten rupees owe it to him now.
Here in Dhasai in Indian state of Maharashtra This should actually work better. It was first non-cash village in country at end of 2016. Since n, trader Patkar and initiator Sarvarkar probably shown dozens of reporters, how is paid here. The journalists are making a pilgrimage to this place because y want to see what Prime Minister Narendra has been promoting for more than a year as Cashless India. In newspapers at that time re was a photo of a crowd, all holding up ir bank cards, in midst of finance Minister of Maharashtra – staging was perfect.
Yes, right, world's largest democracy is creating cash. Anyway, that's plan. It is part of a major digital India campaign, issued by ruling party BJP in 2015. It wants to digitize country's administration and bring entire population to Internet, so far only about one third have access. And banknotes should be gone too.
When Premier modes unannounced in November 2016 in a television speech, all 500 and 1,000 rupee notes were invalidated – about 86 percent of Indian cash flow – idea was not completely exotic. France, Greece and also EU have long since introduced upper limits for cash payments. Experts expect Sweden to print its last sham in 2025. Only: India's economy is based almost 80 percent on cash. Only half of population has a bank account. In recent years, government has created a free account for more than 300 million people, but around every second of m has never been used again after opening."The Indian elite is lawless"
Modes justified radical abolition of cash with fight against corruption and black money, against tax evasion and terrorism – all those demons that hinder whole country from Ascension. Many experts doubt that this argument is true. Arun Kumar, for example, who as professor Emeritus holds lectures on India's shadow economy, also in USA: "In People's minds, black money is equal to cash," he says. "That's wrong." Much of black money was invested in real estate, or lying on foreign accounts. While invalid notes have now almost completely disappeared from circulation, Indian fortune in tax havens has almost doubled, according to Bank for International Settlements between 2007 and 2015. "Technology alone is not solution, it is people behind it," says Kumar. "The Indian elite is lawless. In order to really change something, strong citizen movements must form. "
The first experiences with abolition of banknotes were sobering. For weeks, Indian citizens were queuing in front of bank branches, some collapsed in heat, re were deaths. Workers were not paid, housewives could not buy food, economy broke down and has not recovered properly until today. Neverless, many supported reform of Prime Minister because he tried to order where chaos reigned. The poor had no money anyway, so no additional problems. Ors wore inconvenience like a weapon: in queues in front of banks y knocked on ir shoulders, Modi's soldiers were fighting against those who enrich mselves in land, instead of helping m to size. And government drove Cashless India forward, including a lottery with big wins: Whoever paid with a card or one of many apps automatically took part in it. Everywhere in country, cashless places have become flagship projects of campaign.
In Dhasai, Ranjit Sarvarkar has made it his mission to bring cashless future into village. Those who want to flee from noisy Mumbai to this country idyll, take highway NS22 to east. After about 45 kilometers, shortly after next big city of Kalyan, mobile phone network breaks down, at least for customers of second largest supplier Airtel. After that road becomes even more bumpy, for total of 100 kilometers to Dhasai you need a good three hours. Green paddy fields glow in monsoon heat, mango trees stretch ir green arms across road.
Sarvarkar commutes this route at least twice a week. In Dhasai, he actually leads a young boarding school, in Mumbai he manages business of a foundation. Modi's reform he considers a courageous step. He wants to help people in village to get ir money. "I was wondering why you didn't just pay with your bank cards instead of withdrawing cash," he says. When he talked about it with some merchants, answer was simple: no one had a card reader.
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