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We write this exactly a month after the demonetisation of high-denomination currency notes. Over the past month, reams of news print and hours of television broadcast time have focussed on evaluating its economic merits and demerits. There has been much discussion on whether the idea itself is good or if its implementation is flawed, but inadequate attention has been given to understanding its impact on rural life. It is a gross mistake to evaluate the success of any financial intervention in rural areas by looking at it through the lens of the urban middle/upper middle-class banking experience.
Although the quantum of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 rupee notes in rural areas appears lower than in urban areas, the scale becomes high because social security pensions/NREGA wages are paid in higher denomination notes. In Chhattisgarh, for example, the wages for a week of NREGA work are Rs 1,002. For a vast majority of the rural poor, access to banks is a major imped
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