My first journey from India to foreign lands began in 1952 when I boarded the Italian passenger ship MV Neptunia. My destination was London. The ship first berthed at Aden and the passengers came ashore, so did I, to see the place and do some shopping. I was carrying Pounds sterling and Indian rupees. The shopkeepers wanted payment in rupees, avoiding sterling and no one mentioned the US dollar. I found the same story in Port Said and crossing Suez at Port Suez. Arriving in Europe I found in Switzerland that rupee was quoted in top banks as one India Rupee equalled a Swiss Franc.
The dawn of India's independence saw Rupee at par with US Dollar, that is one rupee was equal to one dollar. The tragedy was the British government had linked the rupee to sterling at a disadvantageous rate of exchange to the rupee. That government had given a lethal blow to the rupee on September 24, 1931 when it removed the goldlink of the rupee and linked it to the worthless pound sterling. That single act of the colonial power resulted in rupee depreciating as it was now linked to a depreciating currency, the Pound sterling.
Author: Prem Prakash, ANI
Images: Respective Agencies