As managing sufficient change has become one of the most arduous task post discontinuation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 banknotes, the paucity and desperation to seek change has driven some city residents to even chase beggars.
As majority of beggars are also aware of the demonetisation move and how keen everyone is to arrange banknotes of low denomination, they are also busy earning commission from this potential business opportunity. For instance they are returning Rs 80 or Rs 90 against Rs 100 which is generally being accepted by them. This way beggars are not only making easy money but are also getting rid of their treasure of infinite coins and banknotes of Rs 10s and Rs 20s.
Besides, a railway station, a bus stand and local markets, beggars are being approached, of course on a very polite note even at traffic lights for small change. With each passing day and ‘word of mouth’ , it seems more and more residents will look out for beggars.
“This morning, I exchanged Rs 200 from two different beggars at the railway station. While one of them gave me all the coins of Rs 10s amounting to Rs 120 while another one gave me banknote of `10s which I need the most as I commute by public transport such as local bus and autos daily where exact change is required,”said Rupinder Singh, a clerk at a college who did not mind giving a commission of Rs 30 to both the beggars.
He added, “It’s not that I did not visit my bank to exchange the currency but due to heavy rush I had to return empty handed twice. But getting change from beggars is too easy as you don’t have to face any hassle.”
Some residents even shared some anecdotes of currency exchange involving beggars and couldn’t stop laughing while narrating these. Karanvir Singh, a student who asked for `100 change from a beggar at Sarabha Nagar recently, recalled that, “I wanted just banknotes but the beggar wanted to get rid of his coins. He was quick to search all his pockets that were stuffed with so many coins but we negotiated that the exchange should be half in coins and half in banknotes. He agreed to it but was a bit hesitant,”said Singh.
Some shopkeepers too especially who do not have the facility of charging the customers through cards are also taking help from beggars. Satish Kumar, a shopkeeper from Shimlapuri said, “Although, I began issuing credit slips to the customers who did not have exact change but as all were not ready for it, this was affecting my sales. So, when my grandson shared with me that he saw beggars giving change to someone in one of the markets, it seemed like a good idea to arrange change that we desperately need,” said Kumar.
Jagtar Singh, a city-based writer and poet took a jibe saying that city residents who often criticise rising number of beggars in the city and even blame local administration for failing to curb this menace may have never thought that one day the same beggars will be so useful to them. “With beggars taking little commissions, it also reminds me of an old adage that one man’s loss is another man’s gain. Of course, for beggars it’s time to gain.”