Curious case of Bihari Das

It’s nearly 9 am, the line outside a bank in Bundelkhand is huge.

Bihari Das is pretty much exhausted. He walked ten kilometres to get to this bank – for the fourth consecutive day. “It’s incredibly frustrating for me. I can’t afford to do this each day, but I have to,” said the 65-year-old farmer.

Every time he has made his exacting journey to the bank, there is no cash to speak of.

He wants 10,000 rupees urgently in order to purchase fertilizer required for the crops he has just planted in his village. After so many years, Bundelkhand, full of small farms, got a good monsoon.

But then government decided to outlaw 500 and 1,000 rupee notes. The sudden currency shortage means farmers are struggling to get seeds and fertilizer  that is an absolute must to sow the winter crop.

It’s 10 am, though the bank manager has arrived, the branch has still not opened. Anger is on a rise. “Do you think I am lying? That we are all lying? Do you think we don’t need the money? Come to our villages and see what we are going through,” pointed out one farmer.

Just 40 minutes later, farmers are given notice that there is no cash. Bihari Das has not yet got any.