The falling rupee is worrying not just the Reserve Bank of India, but also me. At this rate, the price of single malts will soon be sky-high. To understand the knotty issue, I interviewed an expert economist.
Me: Why is the rupee in such bad shape?
Economist: Because we import much more than we export, silly.
Me: Ah. What can be done about it?
Economist: Didn’t you hear the finance minister exhorting us not to buy gold? We import a lot of gold and if you stop buying it, those imports will stop. It’s quite simple.
Me: Will that be enough?
Economist: We import a lot of crude oil also. We could stop buying that as well.
Me: How will I get to work?
Economist: Walk, cycle, buy a bullock-cart. That way, you boost the domestic economy too, apart from staying healthy.
Me: Is that all?
Economist: We import coal too. And gas. You could cook less, you know, eat more raw stuff. Have you tried sashimi?
Me: No, sir. Could I buy one of those induction cookers instead?
Economist: Of course not. You need gas and coal to produce electricity. Better to switch off the lights. Sit in the dark. Look at the stars.
Me: You inspire me, sir. I would like to do more for the country.
Economist: Well, you could sacrifice that foreign vacation. Or if you absolutely have to loll on the beaches of sunny Spain, you could try and increase our exports.
Me: Wonderful. How do I do it?
Economist: Take a cartload of T-shirts made in India and sell them there. When you want to take a break from the beaches, of course.
Me: Ummm…..I’m not a very good salesman. Can’t the finance minister do it? He’s going abroad to attend the G20 meeting.
Economist: It’ll be very competitive there. All the other finance ministers will be hawking their T-shirts too.
Me: Oh. Is there something else that can be done?
Economist: Look at how the government is desperately trying to bring in dollars by opening up foreign investment. You could do your bit by telling your uncle in the US it’s his patriotic duty to send you dollars.
Me: I’ll do it right away.
Economist: We import a lot of fertiliser too.
Me: I’m patriotic, I never buy fertiliser. Also, how do we fix the fiscal deficit?
Economist: We must urge people to stop taking subsidised food grains from ration shops. Children should avoid the mid-day meal programme. That will prune the food subsidy Bill, besides keeping the kids alive.
Me: And how do we tackle unemployment?
Economist: Some of us must give up our jobs, in the larger national interest. That way, there will be enough jobs to go around.
Me: And inflation?
Economist: Most of the inflation we have today is food inflation. By far the best way of fixing that is to stop eating.
Me: Great way to lose weight. What exactly is this brand of economics called?
Economist: It’s an entirely new theory. I’m going to name it Chidunomics.
Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint
Views expressed by the author are personal