24 November 2016

Sudden currency move spoils business at Indian food market

In this Friday, Nov. 18, 2016 photo, a laborer sits on his cart waiting for work at Azadpur Mandi, one of Asia's largest wholesale market for fruits and vegetables in New Delhi, India. Business at the massive New Delhi market is evaporating, the food spoiling and wasted, two weeks after the government's surprise currency move made more than 80 percent of India's banknotes useless. By withdrawing all 500- and 1,000-rupee notes from circulation, the government is trying to clean India's economy of "black money," or untaxed wealth. Its success remains to be seen, but for now the move has created serpentine queues outsides banks and ATMs of people replacing their rupee notes or making small withdrawals.
The scale of India's cash economy can be seen in the Azadpur Mandi wholesale fruit and vegetable market. Trucks bring load after load of fresh produce to its grimy lanes every day. Then a complex web of wholesale merchants, smaller traders and retailers delivers the produce to most of north India.
Almost every transaction, like most in India, is done in cash. And business at the massive New Delhi market is evaporating, the food spoiling and wasted, two weeks after the government's surprise currency move made more than 80 percent of India's banknotes useless.