Mangaluru: An audio message of an anonymous individual is making the rounds among NRI Whatsapp groups wherein he attempts to dissuade expats from contributing to the Indian economy.
The unidentified person claims that this would be a great start to launch a non-cooperation movement against the Indian Government's "head-tilting" policies such as the newly-implemented Citizenship Amendment Act or the National Register of Citizens (NRC)
Specifically addressing the NRI community, the message states, “The value of the Indian rupee is declining against the US dollar. The main reason behind this is the economic slowdown. The foreign exchange rate depends on the money being sent home by NRIs. Therefore, I appeal to you to only send money to your family for expenditures and keep the rest with yourself.”
Elaborating on his reasoning behind the appeal, the speaker says, “This is not meant to be against the country. It is what Mahatma Gandhi taught us about how to launch a non-cooperation movement. The rupee is falling because there is more demand for the dollar. When there is more demand for a product but less supply, we have to purchase it with more money. In a similar way, we (India) are not getting dollars.”
He further advises NRIs abroad to boycott Indian-exported goods and instead, purchase products such as spices or clothes by visiting local stores or 'angadis'. "Just because the Indian government will get taxes, do not go for big purchases. For one year, keep all your money here (abroad) where it will be safe."
However, not everyone agrees with the narrator’s advice. Refuting the logic, Chal Industries Proprietor Giridhar Prabhu said, “It is a very interesting concept, but it will not help because there is no return elsewhere in the world, so NRIs will find better returns in India. Even if they keep it with themselves, Foreign Institutional Investors (FIIs) will invest so it will not impact as he says.”
Prabhu also said, “Withholding funds by NRIs will not deter inflows because, now, FPIs and FIIs have larger sums at their disposal. I am sceptical whether it will make an impact as we have 450 billion dollars’ worth of reserves and they are meant for various contingencies including a possibility of lower remittances which is taken into account”
“If the speaker is making a political message, NRIs are bound to accept or reject it based on their own experiences,” he added.
How exactly do NRIs contribute to the economy?
Contrary to popular understanding, Indian expats do play a major part in boosting India’s economy mostly through remittances. Currently, a good chunk of the country’s GDP (over 3.4 per cent) comes from NRI money transfers.
Elaborating on this, CA Valerian Dalmaida said, “High remittances increase the creditability of a country, enabling it to borrow more money. It’s not hard to understand how NRIs help the Indian economy. Each NRI money transfer adds to the country's foreign exchange pool. The fiscal deficit stood at 6.45 lakhs cr on 31.03.19. Fiscal deficit includes trade deficit on account of commodities and services and on capital account. In 2017-18, the NRI remittances stood at $ 69 billion which helped the financing of trade deficit by 43%. Taking this into consideration the NRI remittances are very vital for India.”
“The volume of fluctuation in remittances will play a significant role in the economy of the country and the lives of the people,” he added.
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