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Sruthi Gottipati

India's startling announcement last month to swap out most banknotes in circulation — possibly the biggest currency change in decades anywhere in the world — went largely unnoticed outside the country. It was Nov. 8 and most people were captivated by a little election taking place on the other side of the planet.

But the move to flush out banknotes of the largest denominations, 1,000 rupees, worth about $15, and 500 rupees, had stunning reverberations in India, a country of 1.2 billion people, well over twice the size of the European Union and four times the size of the U.S.

Not surprisingly, chaos followed. Endless lines snaked out of ATMs, banks ran out of cash in a matter of hours. Millions of small businesses were disrupted. Strict limits of withdrawals left many more millions short of money. There were reports of dozens of people who died while waiting in line.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi says he introduced the so-called "demonetization" drive to root out corruption in India, one of his campaign promises. The move is aimed at bringing money that's unaccounted for back into the system. Already, Indian banks received $44 billion worth of Indian rupees within four days of the shock announcement.

There is no overestimating the stakes in India, which is still largely a cash economy. Most work, even perfectly legitimate work, is done in cash that fuels more than one-fifth of the economy. From shopkeepers and newspaper-sellers to farmers and domestic help, few have bank accounts. And yet, so far, Modi appears to be getting more nods of approval than the kind of hunger strike protests that are a hallmark of India's democracy. Poor and middle-class Indians are chinning up to take the punches. Many believe that the short-term suffering will be worth it if graft is reduced, and politicians and businessmen with stashes of illicit cash are forced to come clean. You can bet your last rupee they will do their best to avoid it.

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Society

Jehovah's Witnesses Translate The Bible In Indigenous Language — Is This Colonialism?

The Jehovah's Witnesses in Chile have launched a Bible version translated into the native Mapudungun language, evidently indifferent to the concerns of a nation striving to save its identity from the Western cultural juggernaut.

A Mapuche family awaits for Chilean President Gabriel Boric to arrive at the traditional Te Deum in the Cathedral of Santiago, on Chile's Independence Day.

Claudia Andrade

NEUQUÉN — The Bible can now be read in Mapuzugun, the language of the Mapuche, an ancestral nation living across Chile and Argentina. It took the Chilean branch of the Jehovah's Witnesses, a latter-day Protestant church often associated with door-to-door proselytizing and cold calling, three years to translate it into "21st-century Mapuzugun".

The church's Mapuche members in Chile welcomed the book when it was launched in Santiago last June, but some of their brethren see it rather as a cultural imposition. The Mapuche were historically a fighting nation, and fiercely resisted both the Spanish conquerors and subsequent waves of European settlers. They are still fighting for land rights in Chile.

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