Monkeys and foreign currency reserves


Monkey by Mayank

The Indian economy has nothing serious to worry about because a) Its foreign currency reserves as of May 11, remain at a healthy $291.8 billion dollars, according to the Reserve Bank of India and b) Its simian reserves remain healthy enough for monkeys, both the rhesus and the langur, to have practically overrun the streets of Delhi, according to The New York Times.

Give me a moment or two as I establish a connection between a) and b). But before I do that a note for those who may not know it. Doing a quirky feature about the monkey menace in India’s capital is like the required rite of passage for all foreign correspondents. I am told the Indian government has the provision under which it can revoke a foreign correspondent’s visa if he or she does not write at least one monkey story during their posting in Delhi. Now that the Times’ new correspondent Gardiner Harris has successfully dealt with that rite of passage he can get on with the more serious reporting on cows jamming traffic.

Coming back to the growing concern about the falling rupee, foreign currency reserves and simian population, there is some precedent to this. It was exactly two decades ago that India was in the midst of its worst foreign currency reserves crisis. It was sometime in 1991-92 timeframe that India realized that it barely had enough dollars to pay for about two weeks of imports.

Among the measures put in place to shore up the reserves was the export of rhesus monkeys to the West for medical research. There was considerable controversy among animal rights and environmental groups about this decision. The former were worried about the cruelty that such research invariably entails and the latter about it upsetting the ecological balance.

Two decades hence, we know that the rhesus population is going strong and so are the country’s foreign currency reserves. That means the Indian economy is generally doing well. I don’t think any serious economics professor would have the courage to teach this theory. The point is if India ever confronts the kind of crisis it did back then, it can always start aggressively exporting the aggressive population of rhesus monkeys.

Some of you might know that monkeys are worshipped in India as representatives of the monkey god Hanuman. I remember some residents of Delhi rationalizing the export of rhesus monkeys in the early 1990s as Hanuman’s progenies doing the ultimate sacrifice to save India’s honor. In the Ramayan, it is Hanuman and an entire army of apes and monkeys that help save Ram’s kingdom against Ravan. So there, I proved it. Problem solved.

A note of caution: My tongue has remained firmly in my cheek while writing this post.

P.S.: After writing the post I got the following via an unimpeachable source:



About chutiumsulfate

South Asians can infer from my name what I am. View all posts by chutiumsulfate

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