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Demonetization Effect: 6 Months After India Currency Ban and Poor Still Feel the Heat of the Decision

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Like thousands of businesses as currency shortages ease, sales have bounced back for Charanjit Yadav, who sells generator sets and batteries in the business hub of Gurugram near New Delhi. (A. Pasricha/VOA)
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Like thousands of other small-business entrepreneurs in India, Charanjit Yadav saw his sales of generator sets and batteries plummet in the weeks after the government’s surprising move to scrap 86 percent of the country’s currency last November.

Six months on, as business booms, Yadav only recalls the currency ban when he looks at the crisp new notes that have replaced the old ones. “Everything is back to normal. It is absolutely OK for my work,” he said, glancing at the orders placed on another busy day.

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But less than a kilometer from the bustling market where his shop is located in the business hub of Gurugram, near New Delhi, the massive cash crunch that India faced for more than two months has left its mark.

Braving sizzling summer temperatures of 44 degrees C (111 degrees F), a group of construction laborers had waited since dawn at a junction where contractors normally come to hire daily wage workers.

Fewer opportunities

Dhani Ram left for his village in January after work dwindled as cash shortages stopped many real estate projects. He returned a month ago, hoping that finding work would be easier. That has not happened.

Cash shortages have eased, but Dhani Ram (in white shirt), a daily wage laborer, still finds it difficult to find work as the real estate sector continues to struggle. (A. Pasricha/VOA)
Cash shortages have eased, but Dhani Ram (in white shirt), a daily wage laborer, still finds it difficult to find work as the real estate sector continues to struggle. (A. Pasricha/VOA)

“I hardly get work for 15 days in a month,” he said. “Earlier, I used to get work for about 25 days a month.”

Unable to eke out a living from his tiny farm in Uttar Pradesh state, Gajinder Singh and 11 others in his village came to the city with a contractor who promised them work. But after four days, he had not been placed anywhere.

“I sleep at night under the rail station, I don’t know what to do,” he said in despair.

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Six months after India’s fast-growing economy was disrupted by the radical currency ban, growth is back on track in most sectors and stock markets are surging. But many poor people still scramble to find work as the country’s vast informal sector continues to struggle.

Growth last year is estimated to have been around 7 percent — less than the 7.9 percent recorded in the previous year, but not as severely dented as many economists had feared. Indian officials say these numbers give the lie to grim warnings that the drastic move, meant to flush out untaxed money, would put a grinding brake on the economy.

“It was clearly not doomsday. Looks like it was a blip, a banknote blip,” said chief economist D.K. Joshi at Crisil research and consultancy in Mumbai.

Auto sales jump

Many indicators support that. Automobile sales have jumped in recent months as serpentine lines outside banks to exchange old notes vanished. Automakers have lined up new launches as shoppers again open their purses.

The situation has normalized at banks and ATMs, which had drawn huge lines of people wanting to change old notes for new a few months ago. (A. Pasricha/VOA)
The situation has normalized at banks and ATMs, which had drawn huge lines of people wanting to change old notes for new a few months ago. (A. Pasricha/VOA)

Projections that the economy is poised for stronger growth has led stock markets to hit a record high in the past week. The rally has drawn tens of thousands of new middle-class investors into the market amid optimism that growth is rebounding.

Economists say most sectors of the economy are back to normal except those that depend heavily on cash transactions, such as real estate.

N.R. Bhanumurthy at the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy in New Delhi said it would take more time to assess the full impact of the currency ban on the economy. But he said he was optimistic it did not erode confidence as was widely feared.

He pointed to India’s strengthening currency — the rupee is at a nearly two-year high and has gained about 5 percent against the dollar in recent months.

“While other currencies in the world are depreciating because of the strengthening of the U.S. dollar, ours is the only major currency that is appreciating. So that shows that the foreign investor seems to be betting heavily on the Indian growth story,” he said.

‘Devastating’ for many

However, while it is largely business as usual for the middle class and formal sectors, economists say the impact on tens of millions of people who depend on the informal sector — hawkers, vegetable sellers and laborers in cities and small farmers in remote villages — has been much harder. India’s informal sector accounts for 40 percent of gross domestic product but employs as much as 75 percent of the country’s workforce.

Despondent laborers wait for work at a busy junction in Gurugram near New Delhi. Demand for labor has dipped as work at many construction sites slows down. (A. Pasricha/VOA)
Despondent laborers wait for work at a busy junction in Gurugram near New Delhi. Demand for labor has dipped as work at many construction sites slows down. (A. Pasricha/VOA)

Calling the move “devastating” for the informal sector, economist Kaushik Basu wrote this week in the Indian Express newspaper that “the brunt of the pain of demonetization has been shouldered by the poor and the lower middle class.”

While the full impact on them may not yet have been reflected in statistics, the mood of despondency among those waiting for work in Gurugram gave support to such assessments. (VOA)

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7 Pro SEO Tips for Small Businesses

Learn to outsource when it gets too overwhelming and create quality content that is relevant. Slow and steady wins the race

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From text to graphics, this software does it all. Pixabay
This is very convenient for customers as it will save their time. Pixabay
  • Starting and running a small business can be a stressful task
  • In today’s high-tech world it is important that we take ful advantage of SEO
  • SEO can be easily learnt and used to our advantage

Why Bother?

Starting and running a small business takes dedication. In today’s high-tech world, small business owners must not only keep their eye on their physical presence but also their presence online. If you are not visible online, you effectively render yourself invisible.

In this article, you are going learn 7 pro tips for small businesses. The goal is simple – it is being seen, to stay relevant and to generate more sales.

 Also Read: These 10 Weird Museums around the World will Certainly Amuse You!

1. Keep It Real: Ensure Your Content the Real Deal

Creating relevant and valuable content is what will attract your desired customer base. Readers can tell if the content is genuine or forced so be sure to aim for quality, not just quantity.

Search Engine Optimization is a strong tool for Small Businesses all over the world. Pixabay
Search Engine Optimization is a strong tool for Small Businesses all over the world. Pixabay

A quality site, on the other hand, will generate more backlinks, sending you a steady flow of new prospective readers and seo juice.

2. Backlinks are Powerful: Get Them

Backlinks are such a vital component of SEO and many refer to them as the building blocks. Search engines such as Google give more credit to websites that are referred to by other relevant websites. The more the merrier.

Building connections and finding quality authoritative websites that are willing to provide a backlink will force you to build your online presence and to set yourself up as an authoritative source. However, effectively getting backlinks and optimizing anchor texts is one of the most difficult aspects of SEO. And most importantly, it is one of the most time-consuming aspects as well.

Backlinks make for a powerful connecting SEO tool. Flickr
Backlinks make a powerful connecting SEO tool. Flickr

If you find yourself struggling, do not be afraid of using backlinking services such as http://www.seoguestposts.com. However, you decide to build your links, watch out for PBNs or other black-hat tactics as you could risk getting your site penalized.

3. Keep Your Content Current

Along the same lines, check out your old posts using analytics. Those posts that got a lot of views but did not rank quite as high? Give them an overhaul and boost their rankings.

Consider:
· Updating outdated and cringe-worthy pictures
· Make sure your taking advantage of title tags and meta descriptions
· Proofread- do not lose credibility due to poor grammar
· Ensure your links work

4. Keep on Linking: Internal/External Links

Linking is one of the most important aspect of Search Engine Optimization. Pixabay
Linking is one of the most important aspects of Search Engine Optimization. Pixabay

Pique your reader’s curiosity and encourage them to dig deeper by providing internal links and external links, both to your own less-read posts and those to other authoritative sites. Your readers are bound to appreciate your fact-based approach. As an added plus, this can help eliminate the whine of salesy language.
Besides just helping the reader, it is an SEO best practice to link out to authority sites and to link to your own website.

5. Connect through various media and platforms

Who said you are limited to text web pages? Connect on social media, create eye-catching videos and infographics. Visual learners will be drawn to these types of content more than your
1000 blog post!

Also Read: Can The ‘Internet’ Replace Television And Newspaper In India?

6. Keep It Fast: Increase your page speed

Increase your page speed and OPTIMIZE. For every second your reader waits for the page to load the chances of them moving on increases exponentially. The faster your site, however, the faster you can land and interest clients. Google also penalizes slow sites. This means the faster your site the better your chances are of being on page 1.

Fast updating on pages will increase the traffic. Pixabay
Fast updating on pages will increase the traffic. Pixabay

Some tips for increasing your site speed is reduce the size of your images, use website code that is not bloated (such as WordPress) and to use a CMD. If all of this seems too complicated, several speed-optimization tools exist to help you out.

7. Remember Patience is a Virtue

Building quality content and increasing traffic naturally takes time. There are no shortcuts in this business and if there are they are based on a scam and will only hurt your rankings.

Patience is indeed a virtue while using the SEO. VOA
Patience is indeed a virtue while using the SEO. VOA

So, stay patient and stay diligent. Learn to outsource when it gets too overwhelming and create quality content that is relevant. Slow and steady wins the race, in both Aesop’s tales and in search engine optimization.