On Tuesday, Arjun Singh was watching videos on his phone and sharing funny clips on WhatsApp. On regular days, Singh, who runs an electronics repair and accessories shop in Gaffar market, is busy dealing with customers.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to scrap the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes has brought Gaffar Market to a cringing halt,” Singh said. But he wasn’t sure if he was happy or sad about the decision.
Gaffar Market is one of Delhi’s largest grey market dealing in electronics items. India is worth more than Rs 55,000 crore in terms of counterfeit goods. Electronics contributes to over 18% -- an estimated Rs 10,000 crore -- to this.
“While we welcome the move and hail the fight against corruption, the government could have executed it better with more Rs 100 notes in ATMs so that our business and daily lives were not hit,” Singh.
No shopkeeper in the area or market was accepting Rs 500 or Rs 1,000 notes, he said.
“If nobody takes the money from us how will tender exact change to consumers and how will we accept payment from them,” Ravi Agarwal, another shopkeeper from Gaffar, explained. He said “small deals were still being done in some shops but large orders were not being accepted.”
Agarwal the footfall in the market had gone down drastically.
Similarly, Saddam Hussain, a laptop and mobile repair vendor who has a shop in Nehru Place -- another popular electronics market -- said consumers had stopped buying electronic items.
“Nehru Place does business of crores daily but it has taken a hit after the decision. There are no crowds. Nehru Place is full of people by mid-day but today there are so few customers,” Hussain said. A few shops that had card swiping machines were still doing business, he said.
Hussain said no repair was taking place as most vendors had no such machines. But he couldn’t quantify the loss that the whole market would incur for the two-day period before the new currency notes hit the market.
Both Singh and Hussain said that the cancellation had affected their daily lives. Singh said it was difficult to get to work because petrol pumps were not accepting Rs500 notes if change had to be tendered. Hussain said he could not buy essential items as he had no Rs 100 notes.
Another shopkeeper, who didn’t want to be identified, said that his daughter’s marriage was at stake.
But Singh and a few other shopkeepers seemed happy over the crackdown on black money. “While economically challenged people like us take a beating for two days, the illegal and black money holders will suffer after these days and that too for a lifetime,” Singh said.