Bengaluru photographer captures heart-wrenching tale of demonetisation

5th Jan 2017
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Since the government's demonetisation move of Nov 8, 2016, India has become a perpetual country of unending queues. Bengaluru photo-journalist K Venkatesh captured this phenomenon by spending a month on the streets of urban and rural parts of the city. 

Built in the heart of Bengaluru, Chitrakala Parishat is a paradise for every art lover. With colonial architecture and canopied stretches, this popular exhibition centre welcomes you to a different world. As I step into the room that is lit with bright yellow lampshades, the white walls spin an engaging tale of what we have all been seeing around lately. Pictures of urban and rural Bengaluru affected by the recent demonetisation pepper the walls, bearing witness to the ways in which people have suffered the last part of 2016.

Beautifully captured by 51-year-old veteran photographer K. Venkatesh, these pictures display the flipside of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plan to curb black money. Citizens woke up to long queues at banks and post offices. With 85 percent of the country’s population being dependent on the lower denominations of Rs 500 and 1,000 notes, this sudden ban has curtailed basic transactions for the common man. Daily wage labourers, farmers, migrants, shopkeepers, small-scale merchants, pensioners, physically challenged persons were some of the people worst affected.

Kandavara Venkatesh
Kandavara Venkatesh

Venkatesh, who has been a photojournalist for the past 33 years, is associated with India’s leading media houses and, like most of us, was disturbed by Modi’s announcement and its shoddy execution.

Starting from November 10, he decided to capture the essence of the struggles the common man has been facing using his camera. For the next month, he went around Bengaluru, creating a repository of emotions that now recite a heart-wrenching tale of the common man grappling with the situation that demonetisation has presented.

Speaking to YourStory, he shares,

When the news was announced, I had mixed emotions about its execution. So I decide to take a stroll on the urban and rural parts of Bangalore and the results are right in front of you. Though each one of us is hopeful about the black money being eradicated, the shoddy implementation of the same is something that cannot be ignored.

Venkatesh today has a collection of over 1,000 pictures of which 60 were showcased at the three-day photo exhibition at Chitrakala Parishat. It was eventually extended to six days, owing to its huge success. While 'digital payments', and 'e-wallets' are the trending words in today’s world, let’s take a moment to see the other side of the story.

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Shot in Bangalore rural, the picture shows the long queues that citizens had to endure to exchange Rs 500 and 1000 notes.
Women and children remained one of the most affected.
Shot in urban Bangalore, this picture narrates the hardships women faced with their children in tow.
This heart-wrenching picture narrates the struggles elderly women had to face standing the queues for long hours.
An elderly person gets help for his bank challan from another person in the queue.
Aged women and lactating mothers couldn't escape the forest fire of cash crunch.
Some pictures speak louder than words.
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The feet tell the story of the struggles of the common man.

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The unsung heroes, the banks and post office officials who worked way beyond their working hours to help a struggling India fight the cash crunch.
The 50-day window that PM Modi had asked for to exchange old notes ended on a high note with citizens hoping the move will help curb black money.
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The demonetisation move saw a peak rise in bank account creations and Jandhan yojana accounts.
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The never ending queues did test the patience and resilience of the country.
If only adapting to the cash crunch came easy to rural India.
Such an endearing picture of an elderly couple redefining relationships in the wake of the cash crunch.
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When India came to be defined by its never-ending queues.


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