On April 30th the report of the Committee on Public Undertakings (COPU) was tabled in Parliament by its Chairman, V. Kishore Chandra Deo. The report drew attention to the outsourcing of printing currency notes to foreign countries. The report stated that the reasons for outsourcing, such as the bad condition of the notes, given by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) representative to the Committee were “far from convincing”.
It may be recalled that in the mid-1990s the Government decided to replace the company that provided machines for printing currency notes with the services of another company. The company being replaced had been printing Indian currency for over 100 years. It printed currency notes for ninety percent of the world’s nations. The new company had untested machines. It had failed in Russia. Overall it had a poor track record.
I petitioned the court to stay the introduction of the new machines because it would facilitate the printing of fake currency and pose a grave threat to national security. In the court hearing RBI accepted that the earlier machines had been most satisfactory. It admitted that the new machines would pose problems because of “teething troubles”. But the government insisted on the change in order to end the monopoly of printing currency notes worldwide enjoyed by the earlier company. The court accepted this inexplicable reasoning. It dismissed my petition despite my valid arguments and the concurrence of RBI with my facts.
It almost appeared as if fake justice helped create fake currency. Predictably fake currency started entering the market. It expanded exponentially. Because it was printed on machines similar to those printing official currency it was indistinguishable from genuine currency notes.
The RBI confronted by a police case admitted that it could not ascertain whether some currency notes being investigated were genuine or fake. In other words there was no legal tender in the country because there was no authority that could authenticate currency notes. Similar currency notes bearing the same serial numbers circulated, forcing RBI to strike off notes of those serial numbers.
Recently State Bank of India branches have been found circulating fake currency. The volume of fake currency has reached proportions that are mind boggling.
However, this did not worry the government. This helped boost our fake economy. The fake economy serviced by black unaccounted money became the major player in the Indian markets. Fake justice in its wisdom had foreseen how fake currency would help boost fake economy.
Unfortunately matters became worse as far as crime and terrorism were concerned. To hide its criminally stupid decision to introduce inferior machines to print currency notes the government resorted to desperate measures. It sought to undo the damage by revising arrangements for printing currency notes. But this required time. In the interregnum the government was forced to outsource the printing of Indian currency notes to USA, UK and Germany. This provoked COPU to severely criticize RBI and the Finance Ministry for outsourcing the printing of Indian currency notes amounting to a sum of Rs 1 lakh crore to the three foreign countries in 1997-98. The Committee described the move as “an unprecedented, unconventional and uncalled for measure.”
Such stringent criticism by COPU is unfair. If we can have fake justice that facilitates fake currency that services a fake economy, why can’t we live with fake sovereignty? Are not the honourable members of COPU familiar with the rich ethos of Indian culture? We believe our world is Maya that is illusion. We live in a fake world. So what’s wrong with fake currency or fake sovereignty?