29 September, 2020

Down, Yet Vaguely Happy

In UP, it’s the time for sowing the rabi crop and farmers don’t have enough money to buy anything, but there is hope

Common Notes
Desperate, tired faces crowd a bank counter at Basendua village in Bulandshahr, Uttar Pradesh
Photograph by Getty Images
Down, Yet Vaguely Happy

Satyabir Singh, a Jat farmer in Dabali, a village in a wheat and veg­etable-growing region near Uttar Pradesh’s Agra city, tends his 1.5 bigha farm by day; at night he is a watchman in a leather factory. The factory job is essential for small farmers like him, for it brings in cash to run the household.

These days, however, Satyabir is only working the farm along with his two sons. The factory has run out of cash since the government invalidated Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes. The loss of income has several consequences—without Satyabir’s Rs 400 daily wage, the family worries about long-term goals like children’s hig­her education, and immediate concerns such as how to hire farm labour. There’s still time to sow the next rabi season crop, but it’s running out fast: wheat must be planted within the next week, as the rabi sowing season ends on November 30.

“I can sow in early December too, but after my children stood in line at the bank for two-three days, they managed to get a Rs 2,000 note. If we had got Rs 100...



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