Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Duty-free shops in India do not accept Indian currency

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INR not accepted!

Last year, India introduced a symbol for the Indian National Rupee (INR) amidst a lot of criticism and praise. Not only did the new symbol give our currency a new meaning and essence but also added it to the series of globally recognised currencies. INR today shares space with currencies like dollar, pound, yen, euro etc. For a country like India, especially when it’s trying to make its mark on global forums, such currency design initiatives not only add intrinsic value to the currency but also make it globally recognised and help it to be at par with the world's leading currencies.

There seems to be an aura of celebration and pride whenever our currency becomes stronger vis-à-vis dollar or euro. However, such celebration and pomp end as soon as one enters India's internaitonal aiports. Duty free outlets, especially at departure terminals, in almost all countries accept dollars, euros and the resepective country's national currency. Additionally, duty free shops also mention the price of products/commodities in the world's leading currencies along with their national currency. Surprisingly, this is not true in case of Indian duty-free outlets at our international departure terminals. Indian duty-free outlets at any international departure terminal in India do not accept INR, nor do they mention prices of commodities/products being sold, in INR.

This not only insults INR, which is trying hard to come at par with the global currencies, but also decreases the very essence of our own currency. Imagine the plight of a tourist who is left with some INR and would like to shop at these duty-free outlets. He/she would have to get his/her INR converted into dollars (pay a commission/tax for conversion) in order to buy products at the outlets. Indian duty free shops should not only mention the prices in INR but also accept it. The Indian government should also force these outlets in Indian departure terminals to promote INR. Our government should also have talks with various other nations where the Indian rupee is still not accepted and have proactive quid pro quo arrangements with such nations.

With the opening up of T3 at IGI, Indian airports have entered the league of the best airports of the world. And with India being talked about in various global forums, it is expected that our international airports are seen as an advertisement for what India has to offer. To that extent, let's hope that we absolve ourselves of useless inferiority complexes as those that exist now.

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