Many of you may have heard about the financial crisis in India that occurred in November 2016. The depths of this move by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has negatively affected millions of people in rural India including the areas we serve. On November 8, Prime Minister Modi announced on an unscheduled television broadcast across the nation that all 500 and 1,000 rupee bills were no longer going to be accepted or in circulation. The 500 rupee bill is approximately $7.30 and these two bills accounted for about 85% of the total currency in the country and 90% of transactions in India are made with cash. The purpose in this new law was to eliminate all black money in the country. Black money is considered money that has been earned and not reported to the government either legally or by illegal action.
The Prime Minister stated that people could go to the banks and change their money, but the amounts they could exchange at each interaction were very low. They could change up to 4,500 rupees at first, but after many people were flanking to banks and atms the Prime Minister changed it to 2,000 rupees which is about $30.The banks could only exchange so much money per day. People were given credit to their accounts up to a certain amount if the bank did not have the cash to give back out. But, the rules keep changing. The lines at banks and atms were unending. People stood in line for days to have a chance to change money…these were the people who were lucky enough to have a valid government ID and availability of a bank. Only about 27% of the nationals live in an area with access to a bank or atm. Several hundred million of them do not even have a government issued ID. Most of the businesses in rural India operate on cash basis…receiving the most common denominations of rupees which are the 500 and 1,000 bill. For these business to not be able to take these bills caused major suffering and many to close. Many people who had stashes of cash were suddenly poor, many poor who had even a few of these bills were suddenly completely broke and they suffered. Millions of people could not even buy daily essentials like food.
Medical facilities and hospitals in India were deeply affected by the drop in patient inflow in the months of November and December. Our hospital took the hit as well. Patient intake was down 40%. Dr. James Thomas, our cardiothoracic surgeon, had scheduled 4 open heart surgeries in December but these patients had to cancel. Even though the services were almost free to them, they did not have the money to even travel or eat. Though with the Lord’s help and people like you we were able to withstand the hit and our numbers are rising. The revenue doubled in January compared to what was brought in during November and December. But, the crisis is still not over. Prime Minister Modi is working to make India a “cashless society”. He has promised to provide each village point of sale card machines. But, we aren’t sure how this will work as millions of villagers will still be unable to use them.
Our pastors and evangelists have also been affected by this, but they have been able to persevere. The Lord is faithful and always provides for them. As they continue during this crisis, please join us in prayer over this matter. Prime Minster Modi may have given a slight curb to tax evaders, but these criminals will find a way to get their black money once again. The hurt has been to the millions of innocent people who are just trying to get by in selling their goods and services and feeding their families. Please pray for our pastors and evangelists who are working very hard to help their believing families get through the crisis and back on their feet. Also, please pray for the thousands of patients who need our medical care but can’t even get to our doors. Please also pray for our medical staff who are still working to help them.