Cashless Crawford Market

Cashless Crawford Market

In between meetings got 40-45 minutes in Crawford Market (CM) (near VT station, =ent of Kotwal Chavdi and Moore Market of yore and Chawdi Bazaar of delhi).

I have not seen CM as deserted and lean crowded in peace time; the last I saw it like this must be 1992 and 1993 during times of frequent riots or shut downs when only the locals would dare to go there. The car park attendant was half way into the road trying to virtually garner cars into parking lots (see empty lots) – in normal times he won’t even look at you.

The first few – panwala, vermilion and turmeric vendor and dry fruit shop all mirrored what one has been hearing – yes it is difficult, acchaa kadam, and we are willing to bear the pain for the sake of nation, once sufficient new currency is out business will be back to normal.  Except the dry fruiter who has been using POS credit card instrument said that the usual transaction size is Rs 150 – 750 and try as he might he has not been to push the card based sales beyond 50%. Our customers collect cash from theirs and don’t want to deposit it in bank and draw against them – all involving waste of time. He would rather dispose it on us. The interest rate in their market is about 3% per month.

Then I bumped into Quereshi, the genius and his partner (he is the 1st one after about 25-30 people I have talked to who seemed to mirror my views on this subject… so he can afford to live with the insult of being called a genius. He switched over to decent and fluent English once he assessed my scholarship with Hindi).

He doubted if this would deliver anything concrete and was critical of ill prepared implementation. The fruit vendor gets his supplies mainly from Kashmir and Shimla and distributes locally with transaction size of 200-400 – 2-3 crates at a time. They must have put more 500 notes on the market (and even later Rs 500 and 1000 not 2000). Many of them give me Rs 2000 now and i don’t know how to conclude the sales… we don’t have change to give. Sales have gone done from about 60-70K per day to 12-13K per day now.

But the bigger problems are the banks. They are not clear – lot of indiscriminate questions which serve no purpose. We did not have a bank account here in the market only near home in the suburbs. But we opened one after the announcement to make sure that from our end upwards dealings are in cheque – we have no hope our customers will be able to give cards. We are trying to deposit 12-13 k per day each last 5-6 days and everyday they ask same and different questions and we are spending 2 hours in queues and questions. Not an encouraging welcome to the world of banking and credit.

I asked him why his customers can’t give cards and pay thru Paytm etc. We don’t want to take credit risks on our customers – tomorrow he will cancel payments claiming fruits were rotten, etc. (think they were confused with cheques) and we also hear that Paytm and Cards take 3-4% charges and pay after some 15-20 days. Kaai Ko Junjut? (it was my turn to look confused perhaps ignorant for i have no knowledge of how the merchant reimbursements from Paytm and Cards take place).

I asked him about the benefits of wiping out black money … desh ke bare mea koyi nahi sochtaa … modi yaa Rahul. The last genuine politician was Vajpayee. He was doing something… building roads. Creating jobs and there was progress. Now there is nothing happening … no jobs.

About terror funding … aap kya sochthey… inke pass 1-2 lac crores hai that we want to immobilise. Kya bakwas? Excuse. They must hardly be having 6 to7,000 crores, at best. Isko nikaalne ke liye itna natak? So many people having to run around for so many days wasting precious time? Most of the funds are there with politicians and a few rich people.

But one benefit … the rich were getting richer fast. This will stop it getting worse. But at the same time he opined that more and more rules and controls that the Government is putting is to facilitate the rich; why disturb routine of the poor? (seemingly contradictory).

These apples used to cost 2-3 at the farm gate 15-20 years back and cost another 1-2 rs to get it here. Nowadays it costs rs 10 at the farm gate but costs Rs 15 to get it here and foreign apples are continuously getting cheaper, so we are earning less and less. Imports should be banned outright and we should get it from Shimla for far less here. (Trump would readily agree with his trade theories).

But he was also dismissive that the cash will have any adverse long term effect on their business. 6-7 weeks. Maximum by 1st Jan, things will be back to normal. Not a big bother.

The following from the Fund Manager of the 2nd largest private sector mutual fund.

  • Workers in Maurvi which supplies much of the ceramics for the construction industry have started in droves to go back to their home town in Bihar, Orissa and J’Khand …lost hopes about construction industry’s immediate revival prospects … cash now and GST later in an industry where nearly all transactions are in cash.
  • We have no data for analysing the long term consequences … if it will last 2-3 qtrs or 2-3 years and permanently pull down growth rates by 2-3 %.
  • More than half of our GDP comes from unorganised sector. They give 70% jobs. They all dodge tax in varying degrees. If you impose 18% GST on them, they will all become uncompetitive and a majority will have to shut down. This will leave lots of people at the lower most level jobless. This can create a huge social issue.


If the exercise ends up trapping at least 3-4 lac crores, it could be deemed a success. If it ends up mopping up 1 lac cr or less, Modi might end up looking a modern day Quixote and Jaitley his able assistant  Sancho Panza.



3 thoughts on “Cashless Crawford Market

  1. I would like to argue with the Fund Manager on this third point. Yes, a lot of the economy is in the unorganised sector. So, is that an argument about doing nothing to attack endemic evasion ???

    Tax evasion in the unorganised sector does not benefit the workers. It benefits the rich. The real estate sector is easily the largest tax dodging sector in the country. Are we to believe that the beneficiaries of all that cash sloshing around is the construction worker ?? It is the builders and buyers and sellers of property who are the beneficiaries of the parallel transactions. Yes, high rates of stamp duty is a significant reasons for the evasion. There is certainly an argument for bringing it down.

    Without making any comment for or against demonetisation, I take issue with the Fund manager’s apparent view that because something is so widespread it should not be tackled.


  2. Now with hindsight I can say: reports about labour deserting project sites and returning to villages were exaggerated. A silent initiative to make project workmen also open bank accounts and force employers to pay wages by cheque was under way several months before demonetisation. Project owners were instructed not to pay bills of contractors who pay their workmen in cash ! Somehow I feel the true benefit would come from transition to cashless economy. This would take time as infrastructure and education is not in place for a quick ramp up. Indians can learn damn fast, adopt and adapt …..

    While one may hate Modi’s style and while certainly the vested interests would go all out to protect their interests, we need to give this Govt (this man) a chance to try new, if bold, approaches.

    India must come out of captivity of politicians who have cut corners to make money. We need politicians to deliver top class services to citizens and then make a percentage ….that’s what developed countries we hold in awe have done !


    • approve. states are reporting 12-15% better collection of taxes in the last 2 months, reduction of crime, drug and female and child trafficking, etc. if it sustains good. by the time he is thru with housekeeping he will be voted out and congress will come and spoil things up in the next 10 years. somehoe i feel thic country is inherently congress leaning. whatever they do they enjoy certain brand loyalty and immunity from their mistakes, etc.


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