New Delhi. The Indian Rupee reached a record low of Rs 53.75 to a US Dollar today, continuing an unprecedented run over the past few weeks. While the markets welcomed the volatility and Gujarati traders made crores on trading bets, there has been another welcome side-effect of this sudden fall in the Rupee’s value.
The NRIs are suddenly back in demand, now that their dollars translate to more rupees. From relatives to luxury brands, everybody wants a slice of the NRI action. N Srinivas Reddy wrote in to Faking News from Seattle, where he works for Microsoft:
“It is unbelievable. The last time I went to India I carried a pack of Ferrero Rocher chocolates. When my cousins saw the box, they merely rolled their eyes and offered me the tastier, imported Toblerone chocolates they had bought from the grocery shop down the street. I cried myself to sleep that night and didn’t go to India for the last five years. Today I got a call from my sister who was asking when I am coming next. She even added coyly, ‘don’t forget those yummy chocolates.’ I feel so special! This time I’ll carry Godiva.”
Shopkeepers and beggars in Delhi’s Janpath market too have changed their strategy with US Dollar getting dearer. Not only are they luring the easily identifiable NRIs (wearing expensive shades, a bottle of mineral water in the hands, men wearing shorts, women with funny haircuts, and a horde of scruffy beggar kids chasing them around), they are now accepting dollar bills.
“Earlier they weren’t worth the trouble with cops and Western Union, but now we easily get 40 rupees for a dollar after ‘cuts’. Enough to get two Pizza McPuffs from Mc Donalds,” said Raghubeer, a beggar kid, flashing his US dollar.
Raghubeer claimed that NRIs have started giving dollars to beggars after Paris Hilton did the same earlier this year.
A security guard manning the Delhi’s T3 terminal’s arrival gates had the last word: “Over the last few weeks, all international flights are running full. They come with bags full of gifts, and return with household supplies.”
“Arbitrage”, he added knowledgably.
“You should see the warm welcomes they get these days. Paisa bolta hai saab (it’s all about the money).”
He looks away woefully, perhaps wishing he had sent his brother to work at Atlanta airport when they had the chance 6 years back.
While things do look rosy for NRIs in India, there have been reports of Indian bodyshoppers blocking salary increments for desi folks back in the US, attributing it to the strong dollar. Allegedly, some firms have been quoted as telling employees that the 14% rise in dollar value translates into a much larger pay raise than what they would get otherwise.
(reporter tweets here)