You may have heard that on November 9th, the Prime Minister of India Mr Narendra Modi announced that the currency of 500 and 1000 rupee notes had been demonetised, and will no longer be valid. His government took this decision in order to fight corruption and black money in India. Since then, ordinary Indian citizens have been queuing up outside banks for many hours daily in an effort to change their old notes for valid currency. Over 80% of India’s economy being a cash economy, unlike in developed countries, and with millions of Indians outside the banking system, this has caused much distress among the poor, most of whom belong to the informal sector and are on daily wages. The government is making every effort to deal with this crisis that will take time to ease due to the huge population needing cash for their daily lives.
In the midst of all this chaos, I heard amazing stories in the Asha communities that I was deeply touched by. Stories of neighbours helping each other with cash that is so rare, people displaying untold generosity towards each other, community members standing with each other and supporting one another, and people still displaying good cheer and optimism through this period of adversity. And all this without any respect for religion, caste, gender, colour, or status at a time when boundaries and walls are defining the perspective of vast numbers of people all over the world.
What a wonderful example the members of Asha communities set for us all! May we see equal worth and significance in every human being, and may we display the highest standard of generosity and kindness as we watch them in action during one of the most trying times in India.
Here are a few glimpses from my visit…