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‘All these notes suddenly have no value:’

this field report on Day One of demonetisation.

In the borderlands of Chikka Tirupathi and Hosur, the first day of the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes by the Indian government was marked by problems in day-to-day trading for small businesses and a frenzied hunt for Rs 100 notes for families.

Shankar, who runs Ishwar Digital Studio at Chikka Tirupathi, a temple town about 20 km east of Bengaluru, saw much lower business at his photo studio on Wednesday. On an ordinary day, the photographer, who shoots everything from stills to video for functions, earns between Rs 2,000 to Rs 3,000. On Wednesday, he earned just Rs 100. “People do not have change,” he said.

The story across the border in Tamil Nadu was the same. In the industrial cluster at Hosur, Ahsan Basha was sitting idle in his auto rickshaw near a bus stand when Scroll.in spoke to him. Earlier in the day, he had given Rs 800 back as change to a passenger who gave him a Rs 1,000 note for a Rs 200 fare. He had no more change – and so, no more business.

In the 22-km drive from Chikka Tirupathi to Hosur, this is a narrative this reporter heard often – from Anand, a flower-seller in a market in Hosur and from those running a motley set of businesses – petrol pumps to hardware stores and auto rickshaws.

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