While cash transactions have always been the norm at college festivals, due to demonetisation, these fests are witnessing cashless transactions and the use of e-wallets for the first time. Most of these fests are held in December and January, but there have been quite a few changes this year, in terms of preparations and the number of visitors. A major change is the use of e-wallets at festival stalls as well as registration counters to reduce the dependence on cash.
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At the MAEERs Arts, Commerce and Science College in Kothrud, the annual inter-collegiate festival ‘Srujan’ was organised between December 12 and December 14, a little over a month after demonetisation was introduced. Instead of a drop in the number of visitors, the festival managed to get a higher number of participants this year.
“We adapted to e-payment methods and students responded positively, We are using RTGS and NEFT methods to pay bills of higher amounts and for registrations, we introduced PayTM. It helped us a lot,” said Professor Radhika Pujari, cultural head of the college.
Sahil Deswal, student coordinator of the festival, said three of the four food stalls offered payment through e-wallets. “For the first time, we introduced an e-wallet payment option, because none of the students have much cash. The effect was evident as those stalls which had an option of e-payment got a far better response,” said Professor Pujari.
Similarly, most of the students who visited ‘Bankonomics’, a two-day event organised by the Symbiosis College of Arts and Commerce that took place between December 16 and 17, were willing to pay through e-wallets, introduced for the first time at the festival. Student organiser Arjun Pradhan said of the 10 stalls at the college festival, six stalls offered the option of paying with plastic money. Siddharth Jain, a student who had set up a stall where cashless payments were accepted, said “Most customers prefer the cashless mode of transaction… I am happy that I installed it.”
However, not all college festivals received an enthusiastic response, even after the introduction of e-wallets.
At ‘Enthusia’, the annual college festival of MIT School of Management, organised between December 15-17, student organisers observed a major decline in overall registrations as well as footfall. They said the shortage of cash was the reason behind fewer sponsors.
Dhanesh Shingvi, student coordinator of the festival, said, “We tried to adapt to the situation by introducing cashless transactions through e-wallets but that didn’t help much. There was a decline in registrations and it could be because of the cash crunch. However, we support the demonetisation decision and will catch up next year by making the event bigger.”
Meanwhile, other colleges have started preparations to deal with the effects of demonetisation. While ‘Troika’, the annual cultural festival of Brihan Maharashtra College of Commerce (BMCC), is scheduled to be held only in the first half of January 2017, student organisers have already started working out ways to deal with the cash crunch. Professor Bharati Upadhye, who is in charge of festival preparations, said the shortage of cash has affected planning as well.
“The overall process of preparation has slowed down. We are trying to cut costs by reusing some material… students are also trying to get sponsorship from an e-wallet company. If that happens, they will promote cashless transactions, which can help us too,” she said.