India’s Prime Minster Narendra Modi abruptly withdrew 500 and 1000 rupee bank notes from circulation overnight, with no thoughts to what such an action would wreak on the lives of the common people.
Turns out, it can cost a baby its life.
Modi, in a bid to crackdown on rampant corruption and fake currency, which he asserts is being used to fund militant operations, demonetized India's largest denominations (which only amount to $7.4 dollars and $14.8). He did so without warning.
A historic step to fight corruption, black money and terrorism. pic.twitter.com/CpsUA68rQm— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) November 9, 2016
It’s not yet clear whether Indian government has benefited from the movement, but the motion was expected to hit small businesses and the common man badly. And it certainly did when a premature baby died after a hospital refused to give it life-saving treatment because the parents had only 500 rupee notes.
Kiran Sharma gave birth to a baby boy one month early at her home and was quickly taken to Jeevan Jyot Hospital in Govandi, a suburb on the east of Mumbai. The doctor administered preliminary treatment to the baby and charged 6000 rupees ($88.7) for the full treatment. But she allegedly refused to accept the payment in the out-dated 500 rupee bank notes offered by Sharma.
The couple took the baby to another hospital but its condition had already worsened and it died before it could be treated.
This isn’t the only such incident that has occurred in India. Three other people reportedly collapsed and died while waiting outside banks to change their savings while others have allegedly committed suicide after they were unable to acquire new notes against the high denominations.
The situation is serious. Very grim. People are suffering.We will meet the Hon. President tomorrow, no matter what #DeMonetisation— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) November 15, 2016
Many people have turned desperate in an attempt to have their money changed and dubious currency swaps are on the high. According to a local newspaper, currency traders are charging 60 percent to exchange the demonetized notes. People are given 400 rupees ($5.9) for a 1000 rupee bill and 200 rupees ($2.95) for a 500 bill.
“We have a baby and need to buy milk, vegetables and other things daily,” Nitika Dhamija, resident of Chandigarh, said. “What if someone’s car or bike breaks down and the mechanic does not accept cards or checks?”
Most of the country’s emergency services, included hospitals, are still allowed to accept the old currency but there are reports of widespread confusion.
The crackdown may certainly be able to deal with the black money rampant in India, but at what costs to its innocent civilians?