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Insights on Demonetisation from Rural Tamil Nadu

Understanding Social Networks and Social Protection

Isabelle Guérin (isabelle.guerin@ird.fr) is at the IRD-Cessma (French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development, Centre d’études en sciences sociales sur les mondes américains africains et asiatiques), Paris, France and is associated with the French Institute of Pondicherry (IFP), India. Youna Lanos (lanosyouna@gmail.com) is a doctoral student at University Paris Dauphine, DIAL (Développement, Institutions et Mondialisation), and is associated with IFP. Sébastien Michiels (sebastien.michiels@ifpindia.org) is at IFP. Christophe Jalil Nordman (nordman@dial.prd.fr) is at the IRD, Paris and is associated with IFP. Govindan Venkatasubramanian (venkat@ifpindia.org) is at IFP.

Drawing on survey data from rural Tamil Nadu, the effects of demonetisation are documented. Serious concerns arise with regard to the achievement of its stated goals. The rural economy was adversely affected in terms of employment, daily financial practices, and social network use for over three months. People came to rely more strongly on their networks to sustain their economic and social activities. Demonetisation has probably further marginalised those without support networks. In a context such as India, where state social protection is weak and governmental schemes are notoriously subject to patronage and clientelistic networks, dense networks of supportive relatives, friends and patrons remain key for safeguarding daily life. With cashless policies gaining currency in various parts of the world, we believe our findings have major implications, seriously questioning their merit, especially among the most marginalised segments of the population.

We thank Barbara Harriss–White, Xavier Oudin, Véronique Gille and Anne Hilger for their constructive comments and gratefully acknowledge the fi nancial support for the Networks, Employment, dEbt, Mobilities and Skills in India Survey data collection from “Nopoor” project, IMTFI and Développement, Institutions et Mondialisation (French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development).

All errors and omissions are our own.

Drawing on survey data from rural Tamil Nadu, the effects of demonetisation are documented. Serious concerns arise with regard to the achievement of its stated goals. The rural economy was adversely affected in terms of employment, daily financial practices, and social network use for over three months. People came to rely more strongly on their networks to sustain their economic and social activities. Demonetisation has probably further marginalised those without support networks. In a context such as India, where state social protection is weak and governmental schemes are notoriously subject to patronage and clientelistic networks, dense networks of supportive relatives, friends and patrons remain key for safeguarding daily life. With cashless policies gaining currency in various parts of the world, we believe our findings have major implications, seriously questioning their merit, especially among the most marginalised segments of the population.

Updated On : 29th Dec, 2017

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