On Saturday, Moushumi Ghosh made an online bank transfer of salary to her driver. That was almost a fortnight after she went into home quarantine after the outbreak of Covid-19. But as month-end approaches, she is worried about how to pay the salary of her domestic help. Neither is the latter conversant with online banking nor is the branch of the bank close to her house open for withdrawing money.
Ghosh is not the only one who is facing this problem. Lockdown has compelled most Kolkatans to grant paid leaves to domestic helps and drivers. As month-end approaches, paying salaries to helping hands is another worry plaguing many. Online transfers are easier option for those familiar with digital money. But the problem is with the rest who either don’t have the accounts or do not have branches close to their residence. In the absence of public transport, reaching banks to withdraw money is no less a challenge. In times of social isolation, there is also a fear of large crowd not being allowed at banks to withdraw money in the beginning of the month.
Both the driver and maid of retired professor Tapati Sengupta, who stays in a city highrise, had called her up to assure that she shouldn’t worry about paying their salaries now. While Sengupta is moved by their gesture, her son will do a bank transfer of her driver’s salary. “One of the part-timers, who stays in a nearby slum, may come to the reception and collect the money after seeking special permission,” Sengupta said.
However, the greater problem is with the one who has to take a train and travel for over an hour to reach this highrise. Neither does she have a bank account nor a smart phone. “I have spoken to her. She is ready to collect it after 15th. The bigger worry also is accessing ATMs by us and them,” she added.
Ghosh too has similar problems. “Being on home quarantine, we have absolutely no physical connection with the outside world. I am worried about my maid since there is no use transferring the money to her account. She said the bank close to her house will only open after April 14,” Ghosh added.
Champa Srinivasan’s domestic helps stay close by but the problem that’s making her anxious is the availability of hard cash. She lives in a highrise along with her husband while her children are out of town. The elderly couple has decided to pay an advance of two months’ salaries to their domestic helps. “All this while, we have been using plastic money for transaction. I can’t drive and for cash, my husband has to drive to an ATM to withdraw sufficient cash,” said Srinivasan, anxious about whether or not the nearest ATM outlet will be open and sufficient funds available for withdrawal.
Source: Times of India