Outsmarting the counterfeiters: Govt sizes up fake currency problem

  • Rajesh Ahuja, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • |
  • Updated: Apr 23, 2015 09:49 IST

What are the chances that those crisp 1000-rupee notes tucked into your wallet are fake? The bad news is that it’s possible, given that counterfeits keep popping up all over the nation.

The good news is that the chances aren’t very high, at least not yet, and the best news of all is that the government is close to getting a fix on the size of the problem. The National Investigation Agency (NIA), in collaboration with the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), is now trying to figure out the total volume of the Fake India Currency Notes (FICN) in the country, officials in the exercise have told Hindustan Times.

“At the moment, the data on total FICN in circulation in the Indian economy varies from Rs 1,500 crore to Rs 5,000 crore depending on the agency projecting it. FICNs undermine the economic security of the country and are also a way to fund terror activities, so it was necessary to arrive at a common figure after a scientific analysis of the data collected by different agencies,” said a home ministry official on condition of anonymity.

The government made the NIA the nodal agency to conduct the study in partnership with the ISI on November 3 last year.

“It was a 14-week study but took a little longer due to vast amount of data collected from all stakeholders: the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), National Crime Records Bureau, Intelligence Bureau, Research and Analysis Wing, Central Economic Intelligence Bureau, CBI and others, to complete the study. It is now in the final stages,” added the official.

Every year, FICNs of value between Rs 15 crore and Rs 25 crore are recovered countrywide. The RBI too has data on FICNs as police reports are registered only when four or more fake currency notes are recovered.

“The FICNs in circulation in India are of very high quality and only a sovereign state can have the capability to get that kind of paper, ink or printing process. Even FICNs recovered in Cambodia or Thailand or Malaysia have been found with Pakistan links as most couriers were Pakistanis,” said an NIA official.

The new study now will reconcile data of all agencies to come to figure on the basis of a mathematical formula. The study will also suggest ways and means to fill gaps in data collection as well, said sources.

 

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