New York, USA. Over five hundred Indians living in New York gathered yesterday outside the Indian consulate to celebrate the first “India Shining” day, as the American currency continued its rise against the rupee, reaching a record Rs 59 per US dollar.
Ever since the dollar started its recent skyward ascent, Indians (desis, not natives) in the US have been watching with bated breaths to see how far it would go. Western Union and other banks have been doing brisk business as remittances have reached record levels.
There were plenty of tales of sacrifice at the venue. We met people who had been sleeping on empty stomachs, not using toothpastes or deodorants, walking 5 miles to office instead of taking the subway, terminating their DishTV subscriptions and forgoing the daily dose of soaps, all so they can save dollars and maximize their gains out of this unprecedented opportunity.
We talked to Bob, real name Bhupinder, who works as a taxi driver in Queens. Bob said that he had been saving money for a second taxi, but sent it all back home after seeing the exchange rate
“Sirjee, a second taxi will not make as much money as this dollar rate is making for me,” he said in heavily accented English, as three other people standing next to him nodded in agreement.
Some people back in India are suspecting that this falling rupee is actually a clever strategic move of the government to get NRIs on their side.
“They are rich. They have traditionally leaned towards the ‘right’ and are seen as ‘natural voters’ of BJP. But the UPA government has been able to impress them with falling rupee,” was the insightful observation of an analyst from a Delhi based think-tank we talked to.
“You can consider it as the first overseas implementation of the Direct Cash Transfer scheme of the government,” the analyst added.
There is also speculation that the actual beneficiary of the rupee slide is the real-estate mafia, as NRIs are lapping up an unprecedented number of 2-3 BHK apartments and plots in Gurgaon and Greater Noida.
“No comments,” said the analyst when asked if a certain son-in-law and a certain real estate company could have been the biggest beneficiary.