By Tenzin Monlam
New notes of 500 and 2000
DHARAMSHALA, DEC 19: With the Kalachakra Initiation to commence in Bodh Gaya early next year, the cash scarcity caused by the Indian government’s demonetization policy have put Tibetans from abroad attending the initiation in a dilemma whether to attend or scrap their plans.
Tsering Dorjee, a Tibetan living in New York, said he had plans to attend and even sought leave from his work but that he was now considering cancelling it simply because he is unsure about availability of cash for his trip with family.
Facing the brunt of the cash crunch currently looming large in India, Tsering Dolker, a 67-year old Tibetan from Vermont, stood for five hours in queue at an exchange counter ‘managed by only one staff’ at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in the Indian capital for only 4000 rupees.
“The queue at the counter was so long that I was able to get out of the airport around 7:30 a.m. when I landed at around 2 a.m. On top of that the money exchange agencies outside give only 55 rupees for a dollar against the official rate of 66 rupees. I had no choice but to accept the given rate,” she said while expressing her dissatisfaction with the experience.
Money exchangers in Majnu Tilla, the biggest transit in Delhi for Tibetans travelling from all over the world, are also running dry with shortage of cash.
“We are not exchanging foreign currencies. Likewise most of the agencies here are not exchanging due to the cash crunch, we have to also make a living,” said an agent on condition of anonymity.
There are also few cases of Tibetans borrowing money from their relatives and friends living in India for their expenses during their stay for one of the largest religious congregations for Buddhists.
“I have to manage all the expense on rent and daily necessities with a limited money. Since we don’t hold bank account here it is difficult to access the bank and the queues outside the ATMs are very long,” said Ngawang Choedon, 71, from Minnesota who has already arrived in Bodh Gaya.
With an estimated 200,000 devotees attending, the Buddhist teachings and initiation scheduled from January 3 to 14 was requested and organized by the Tibetan government-in-exile.