The rupee’s fall from grace

May 23, 2012

Indian milk and dairy products producer Amul’s campaign has a new subject — the rupee.

The newspaper advertisement features the iconic Amul girl, in her polka dotted red dress, in a boat made of the rupee, about to sink in turbulent waters. She says ‘mujhe mere rupee se bachaao!’ in Hindi. Loosely translated into English, it would mean ‘save me from my rupee.’

The tagline, tongue in cheek, says ‘valued highly’.

The Amul mascot’s angst today reflects that of investors who have so far been bullish on the India growth story.

That the rupee has caught the Amul girl’s attention is no surprise. For over thirty years, she has commented on social, political and economic issues of the day making her as favourite a household name as R.K. Laxman’s common man.

Be it the ‘Hurry Amul, Hurry Hurry’ campaign when Mumbai saw the beginning of the Hare Rama Hare Krishna movement. Or, the Indian Airlines strike which led Amul to say ‘Indian Airlines Won’t Fly Without Amul’ (seems a bit of déjà vu’, doesn’t it?)

Analysts, otherwise considered a serious tribe, are also running short of epithets for the Indian currency.

A recent rupee write-up from IndusInd Bank’s head of assets liability management Moses Harding summed it all up – “RBI unable to arrest rapid fall in rupee…..who else can? God save rupee!!!”

Dariusz Kowalczyk, an economist with Credit Agricole, after a recent India field visit, had this as the first word in his report: Shocked. He was referring to the pessimism among domestic investors about the rupee.

The rupee may fall to 56-57 to the dollar in the short-term, with medium term expectations between 52 and 60. That was the feedback he received.

Rajeev Malik, India economist at CLSA, wrote a letter to God in the Business Standard newspaper, calling on the Almighty to come to the aid of a weakly-led coalition government at the mercy of fickle allies.

“Dear God, My sincere apologies for bothering you with this letter, but it has to be done,” he wrote.

I wonder what atheist Richard Dawkins, author of “The God Delusion”, would have made of it.

Citi analysts in India decided to take a U.S. trip to gauge overseas investor sentiment and came back with consensus rupee estimates at 60 to a dollar.

Alpari, a forex brokerage, said it expects the Indian rupee to extend its weakness to the official Indian retirement age — 58.

The rupee again hit a record low on Wednesday, falling below the psychological 56 mark.

The current Congress-led government completed three years of its second term in office on Tuesday, ironically in a week when things haven’t exactly been hunky-dory for India’s economy. Perhaps the sinking Amul girl reflects the fortunes of a government struggling to keep its head above water.

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//I wonder what atheist Richard Dawkins, author of “The God Delusion”, would have made of it.//

Rupee is not a stand-alone currency which could withstand a crisis which is as huge as global now.
Unless Amul, Dariusz, Rajeev and Sircar take the country back to (at least) a thousand year and introduce a barter system of trade between people. A system by which people shunned currency but chose to exchange a kilo of atta (wheat-flour) for a litre of oil.

God’s job was much easier though. He took a rib off man and made it into a woman.

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