Impact of Demonetization on Tibetans in Diaspora

An activist of Congress party holds banned 500 and 1000 rupee notes during a protest against the government's decision to withdraw high denomination notes from circulation, in front of Reserve Bank of India. in Hyderabad, Nov. 28, 2016.
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The Indian government's decision to demonetize Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 8, have impacted Tibetans in India and the diaspora in general.

"The demonetization's limit on cash withdrawal has created a problem to disburse relief funds in the Tibetan colony. The banks does not allow us to withdraw more than Rs 24,000 a week and we need around Rs 450,000. We don't know when the situation will improve," says Lekey Dorjee, the Welfare Officer of Tibetans in Delhi.

It has also affected the businesses of individual Tibetans. "With little cash in hand, we can't rotate money. Liquidity has stopped," says Tenzin Kalsang, a tour and travel agency.

"The sales are down to 70%. Normally, now is the peak time for business, when I used to employ six to seven salesmen. Thesedays, however, one is enough," says Tsewang Dorje, owner of a Tibetan handicraft shop in Majnu Ka Tila, Delhi. Dorje adds that the only business available at the moment is that of currency exchange.

When asked about his opinion on demonetization, he was skeptical. "It is said to curb black money and corruption. I don't know the long term effects, but from what I have observed, black money and black businesses have increased. The Tibetans coming from Tibet for pilgrimage are also having a difficult time in India, where the money changers are looting them."

He added that due to the cash crunch, many Tibetans from abroad have also cancelled their trip to India to attend the Kalachakra teaching scheduled to start the first week of January 2017.