Are Pakistani spies flooding vast amounts of fake cash into the Indian economy with the intend ot devaluing the rupee? That the question that India Today wants you to ask this week with its cover story titled Fake Currency, The New Threat. It’s a solid topic for an investigative piece, too bad they don’t have any evidence for the claim.
Quoting a mid-level minion on Maharashtra’s Anti-Terror squad named Param Bir Sing, reporter Malini Bhupta claims that 8 out of every 1000 notes are counterfeit. Never mind that the anti-terror squad doesn’t have jurisdiction over currency matters, the rate of .8% isn’t exactly staggering.
Which is to say, in absolute terms, peanuts.
The real story killer comes when you start to read the data they’ve collected. In 2007, when counterfeiting in the country was at its absolute worst, the police seized about Rs. 10 crore (about $4 million) worth of fake notes. In addition to those busts, all commercial banks in the country combined reported receiving rs 5 crore ($2.5 million).
By contrast, in 1993 alone, the US seized $120 million in counterfeit currency.
Given that India’s GDP is $3.319 trillion. It would take billions of fake notes to even come close to making a dent in the economy. Counterfeiting isn’t much of a problem at all. In fact, the total fake currency detected by the government between 2001 and 2007 comes to just 61.7 crore rupees, or about $15 million. Which is to say, a little less than a nice apartment in Mumbai.
There is no way that a story like this should pass through even a rudimentary fact checking process, let alone end up on the cover of a national magazine. India Today is becoming the Fox News of South Asia. The claim of a counterfeit menace doesn’t even stand up to its own internal logic and seems only aimed at scaring readers into believing that Pakistan is up to no good dirty tricks.