Like hundreds of others, sixty year old Maninder Tripathi joined the serpentine queue outside the Reserve Bank of India building to exchange his Rs 500 note for short change. The similarity ends there as the sixty year old came out empty handed while others managed to get their notes exchanged, with many flaunting the new Rs 2000 notes. The other dissimilarity, of course, is the fact that Tripathi is visually impaired and sells ‘agarbattis’ (incense sticks) for a living. The cruelest part of the story is that a ‘customer’ handed him the note while pretending to buy a packet, costing Rs 12 each, and “fled”, leaving Tripathi in the lurch.
“Usually I manage to earn around Rs 150 – 180 daily. But since Tuesday, earnings have reduced to half as people don’t have enough change. “I managed to sell only seven packets on Friday. The other day someone bought a packet and handed me a Rs 500 note. By the time I realised the man had fled. I went to RBI where they sought my identity card. But I could not show any so they refused to give me short change,” Tripathi said, sitting crouched outside the RBI building in New Delhi.
The currency demonetisation move of the Centre has aggravated the woes of Tripathi, who stays in a government run blind home in north west Delhi’s Sultanpuri alongwith hundreds of other differently abled people like him, especially those living in penury and mostly without any official identity card.