With the Prime Minister, Modi suggesting cashless economy, there are some sectors that cannot go cashless at all. Fishing industry, for instance, is one such where the impact is being felt at the highest. Distress sales, market closures and anchoring of fishing fleets have been reported by the fishing communities in West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
The crisis is huge as the fishing industry constitutes 1.1 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP). A quarter of these people work along the 8,118 kilometre coastline and 10 million along the 197024 km of inland waterways.
Merchant charges by banks –of 2.5 per cent on credit cards, 0.75 per cent (on debit cards) and even one per cent merchant fees charged by Paytm, the digital wallet is unaffordable by the fishing people, even if the fishing villages have good internet access, which they usually do not. Most of the fishermen/ women do not have a bank account or have a phone, leave alone smartphones.
Even the fish retailers earn INR 3000 to 4000 every day of which the profit is INR 300 to INR 400. If they paid 1 per cent as Paytm charge to withdraw their money which comes to INR 30 to 40, something that is highly unaffordable for them.
One survey revealed that 70 per cent of the fishing people whether wholesalers or retailers are illiterate. They neither use phones nor have bank accounts and rely on day to day cash transactions. They do not know how to swipe machines and most wholesale markets run in early hours of morning so how will they use a swipe machine at night in the docks which are badly lit.