Editor's note: This article is a first-person account of Babu Ram, a cycle rickshaw puller in Delhi

For the past 15-16 years, this city has been my home. All these years, I have been working as a cycle rickshaw puller and life has been tough. But since last month, the situation has completely changed for me and hundreds of others like me who have been living in the city.

The note ban has entirely killed my daily savings. Earlier, I used to earn around roughly Rs 500 -Rs 600 a day. My daily expenditure includes rent for the rickshaw, food and beedis. I spend Rs 15 daily on beedis as it is the only bad habit that I have. 

I neither consume alcohol nor I indulge in gambling. Despite all of that, I used to save around Rs 200-Rs 300 a day and in every 10-15 days, I used to send some money to my family in village.

But now, all this has completely stopped. I don't remember a single day (after the note ban) where I could save some money by the end of the day. 

Babu Ram with one of his customers | Source: Sreeraj TK/ScoopWhoop News

 

All the factories of this area (Vishwas Nagar in Shahdara) are either shut or have cut down on their work. I used earlier earn Rs 50-Rs 100 from these factories for transporting goods. Now, it has all stopped.

The note ban has also hit my family which is staying in my village. I have a wife and three children- two sons and a daughter. All my kids are studying in a school in my village.

The eldest son also drives an auto-rickshaw. The other day, he told me how demonetisation has hit him hard because people have stopped taking auto-rickshaws. People now prefer to cover the 6 km distance from my village to Badaun city by walking.

People queueing a bank in Vishwas Nagar | Source: Sumit Sharma

 

The government says that note ban is for the betterment of the people. But I don't know how it is going help. I feel that the move has affected the poorest of the poor. There are many like me who are facing worse. I am not educated as I have never been to a school. The educated people will know when and how things will get better.

 The government says this move will ensure all the poor have bank accounts. But I already had a bank account in my village, which was opened years ago. But how will it help? I won't get free money. 

Everyday, I see people getting concerned about how to deposit their old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. I don't know if all that money is legal or illegal. But thankfully, I never faced any problems because I did not have a single Rs 500 or Rs 1000 note.

Sreeraj | ScoopWhoop News

 

Frankly, I am not very concerned about myself because I know I can manage. I sleep outside the shops in Vishwas Nagar after they close at night because I don't have a home in Delhi. But, I am concerned about my family back in my village. It will be difficult if my children's education suffers due to the lack of money. They should get a proper education, unlike me.

I have no other expenses to meet except the education of my children and their marriage. I have never taken any loan from anyone till date and I don't wish to do take one till my death. My daughter who is the youngest of the three, is just 12 years old. But I have to save enough for her by the time she reaches her marriageable age.   

Babu Ram, is a 40-year-old cycle rickshaw puller in Delhi, who migrated to the city from Uttar Pradesh's Badaun district around 15 years ago. He plies his rickshaw in Vishwas Nagar and nearby areas of Shahdara in east Delhi. 

(Feature image source: Sreeraj TK | ScoopWhoop News)