India’s demonetisation of high-value currency has hit hard the tens of thousands of Nepali migrant workers employed in India as security guards, daily wagers, domestic helps and others who receive salary in cash, as they are struggling to cope with the situation.
Shyam Chaudhary from Bardiya district in Nepal, who works at a roadside restaurant in New Delhi, said it took a while before he realised the implications of the ban on 500 and 1,000 Indian Rupee notes by the Indian government on November 8.
“I am struggling to meet my day-to-day needs,” said Mr Chaudhary. “Besides, I am worried how I am going to send money back home,” the Kathmandu Post quoted him as saying.
Mr Chaudhary said many Nepalis like him were seeking help from friends who had bank accounts.
“We are facing a lot of problems here,” he said.
Students who have bank accounts said they have not been able to withdraw money as many ATMs across India have run dry.
“We are taking the final exam. We are struggling to manage cash for auto and other expenses,” said Badal Basnet, a chartered accountancy student.
Many migrants send money back home on monthly basis. Now, with no new notes in hand and the old Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 notes becoming illegal tender, they wonder how they are going to remit the earnings.
“The transaction has gone down drastically by 70 per cent or so,” said Sunil Mishra, a representative from Prabhu Money Bank, a Nepali remittance company based in New Delhi.
“We have advised Nepalis who do not have bank accounts to use their friends’ accounts.”
There are about two million Nepalis living in New Delhi only.
Around 50,000 students annually arrive in India to pursue higher studies. There are many Nepalis who come for medical treatment, of them about 100 Nepalis come daily for health check-ups, the Post reported.
A Nepali government official, who was in India for medical treatment, said he was hoping that his debit card would work at the hospital.
“But unfortunately it didn’t. I had to spend five hours in hospital and one of my friends paid the bill,” he said.
Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB), the central bank of the country, has also banned the 500 and 1,000 Indian Rupee notes after the Indian government’s decision on demonetisation.
The NRB has said IRs 33.6 million in the denomination of 500 and 1,000 is within the financial system in Nepal.
The figure includes cash parked at vaults of banks, financial institutions and NRB.
According to the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, hundreds of thousands of Nepalese who work in India stand to lose their entire savings if the now-scrapped notes are not replaced with legal bills.