Tuesday, February 10, 2009

"Note" it well

By: Paritosh Chakma

The cover story “Fake currency: The New Threat” in the latest edition of India Today serves as an eye opener but it is equally frightening, given the proportion of socalled “economic terrorism” waged against India by its enemies. To me, all citizens should read this issue to enlighten themselves with this emerging menace that could have devastating effects on our economy if not nipped in the bud.

IT’s report gives a terrible feeling of fear to know that: 10-20 per cent of total Indian currency in circulation, which is currently Rs 6,10,000 crore, is counterfeit! According to National Crime Records Bureau of the Ministry of Home Affairs, 2,204 cases of fake currency notes (about Rs 10 crore) were “reported” during 2007.

Even the intelligence agencies agree that this is only the tip of the iceberg. The NCRB figure does not represent the real picture.

Over the past three years, the number of fake Rs 100 notes seized has declined by more than 60% but the seizures of fake Rs 500 notes and Rs 1,000 notes have gone up by 75% and 300% respectively. This highlights the serious nature that has affected India’s economy.

What is more frightening is the fact that fake currency notes are being dispensed even by banks and ATM machines. The Banks are not following the RBI guidelines according to which the Bank requires to seize any fake Indian currency note (FICN) and lodge an FIR with the police.

As the IT has reported, the Banks often only either destroy or return the FICN to the customer after marking “FORGED” on the fake note. This is not enough to tackle the problem.

I have had a similar experience recently. In my case, the bank staff did not even write “FORGED” but just gave a small “cross mark” before returning the fake Rs 500 note to me. However, I destroyed it by tearing off.

The sophistication of the counterfeit is so high now-a-days that it is quite not possible to detect fake currency notes without expertise. The customers are the worst affected, as the banks won't accept their own notes, say, after the same has been withdrawn from the bank's ATM. In my case I also felt sad over the loss in these days of recession.

As the editorial puts it: “The currency notes may be fake but their consequences are very real”. Experts say, the worst consequence is the erosion of faith of the Indians in their own currency.

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