Mumbai. A 45-year-old man starved to death with a Rs.1000 note in his pocket. Sivesh Chaudry, a beggar, had spent the previous three weeks trying to get change for the note without success. Police are investigating the source of the note, but it is rumored that the authorities are seeking a “rich man” on manslaughter charges. Officials say that this is the largest sum given to a beggar since the US government last bailed out its domestic banking sector.
“He’d come in the evening when I was cashing up,” said a local paan stall holder, “but I never had enough to change it. In the final days he’d crawl up and offer to tear off a piece in exchange for Rs.10. I offered to swap his Rs.1000 for Rs.10, but he said that he hadn’t eaten in weeks so he’d be damned if he couldn’t afford ‘foie gras’ as his first meal, no idea what that is, but then he did used to beg outside the Hyatt.”
Lacking earthly assistance, Sivesh prayed for divine intervention daily at the local Lakshmi temple. The temple offered to “unburden” him by accepting the Rs.1000 note as a donation, but would not change the note. Faking News argued that being the temple of a deity with the wealth mandate, it was a fundamental failure not to provide change as part of its operating practices.
“Oh, not us, but Lakshmi sometimes deals in change,” our correspondent was told, “there have been many miracles like that – people pin a Rs.500 note on the idol and by the end of the day it’s morphed into a Rs.100 note, or is simply vanished – it has been collected by the Goddess.”
Faking News called Mukesh Ambani to ask if he had given the Rs.1000 note to the unfortunate beggar. His spokesman denied the claim; correctly pointing out that Mr. Ambani now lives his life at an altitude of between 100-10000m and therefore does not descend to street level.
The problem of getting loose change is widespread in India. Approximately 92% of the country’s chewing gum is bought solely because the buyer needs change.
Earlier this year a Chennai shopkeeper was given change for his Rs.1000 note by a passer-by in an Ambassador in exchange for a small “commission”. A week later the shopkeeper received a letter congratulating him for his purchase of a part of the 2G spectrum.
“We need safeguards against this kind of thing,” said economist Professor Lalit Dutta, “money needs to be more than a symbolic store of value. Change is such a problem that India needs to add practicality to its Rs.1000 notes.”
Together with a local chef, the Professor has created an edible Rs.1000 note.
“This note promises to give the bearer Rs.500 on demand, but it also gives him 500 gms of calories and a tangy fresh minted kick,” he said, “the Rs.1000 note will taste of butter chicken and the reflective strip will be mouth-freshening fennel.” Faking News asked if a “foie gras” flavored note was on the cards, but the idea was dismissed as “disgusting”.
Meanwhile experts have warned that more such cases of poor being “fatally hit by charity” could come up as many billionaires of the world have pledged to donate half of their fortune for such purposes.