Meghalaya: Demonetization leave Tir Counters in dilemma; sleepless nights for dream catchers!


While the demonetization effect has had its impact-positive and negative  in various sections and domains of a common man's life-both personal and professional, there is this one sphere of business in Meghalaya that remains badly conjured due to curtailing of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes and that is the 'Teer' or 'Tir' counters.

The 'Teer' business was an ever flourishing and an undying trademark business of the state where the ritual of archery that has passed down through generations was kept alive by associating it with gambling that became a business quite unsurpassed in its nature. But the question is, for how long would this thrive in the same manner? The answer to this came on the midnight of November 8th 2016 when at around 8pm, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 would no longer be legal tender notes from the midnight of the very day.

It may be mentioned that as of 2011, the government on an average made Rs.2.6 million per year for issuing Teer licences. There were over 1,500 Teer licensees in Meghalaya by 2011. It is obvious that in 5 years, the government has given various license permits to many more Teer counters that have flourished in and around the state. Now imagine what demonetization must have done to the owners of these counters, leave alone the people addicted to taking part in them!

'Teer' also known as the game of Dreams has become an uphill task now that the dream interpreters have lost sleep due to spending sleepless hours outside ATMs and banks, lining up in queues to exchange their  illegal money for some viable cash!

As TNT-The Northeast Today delved deeper into the plight of those involved in this business, a revelation was underway. Kong Beth (name changed), a teer counter manager said, "It has been a hard time for us since Modi announced the demonetization policy. At first we were accepting 500 and 1000 notes given by people to us in return for the change we had but now, we have also run out of change. The few people who took part in Teer for an amount below Rs. 500 do not want to part with their valuable change anymore. We are running at a loss! There has been a 50 per cent drop in the earnings since that day. We do not know whether to continue or to close down. It is a difficult decision for us!", she sighed.

Kong Beth takes care of her 2 kids from the money she earns through managing the Teer counter at Jhalupara in Shillong. With an earning of Rs. 300 per day from the counter, she runs her family of 3 and now, she is in a dilemma so as to what must her next step be. Kong Beth and many like her are in a state of confusion and fear. Owners of teer counters who made lakhs per day are now at a fix.

Amidst the dilemma, it will be interesting to see the plight of the government which made almost 2.6 million per year from teer counters. Common men, women, children and government have not escaped this economic renaissance.

Teer is legal in Shillong. It is one of the most organized gambling systems in India. But you need a dream and a bit of luck to play this game! It will be interesting to see the dream catchers catch their sleep now before they can even dream of anything, leave alone the interpretation part!

Shweta Raj Kanwar for TNT-The Northeast Today

Image Courtesy: Maps of India