Thursday, June 25, 2009

Sellling 10 rupees for 12- this is Old Delhi.


On the side-walks of the congested Chandni Chowk, the old curiosity shop is selling new glittering coins. Sitting on the pavement, Arun Aggarawal, 31, sells Indian money to Indians and is making profit out of it. And he is not alone; all the money changers and old coin sellers are onto this new business and it is thriving. The new ten and five rupee-coins from the RBI which haven’t yet been seen in the open are being sold in Chandni Chowk for Rs 12 and Rs 7 respectively as a dozen policemen book some illegal bike parkers just metres away.

The till-now-unseen ten rupee coins dated as 2006 and 2008 issued by RBI have not been circulated till now and when people see the shiny steel and copper coloured coin all along Chandni Chowk, they can’t resist buying it. “It is unique and I will show this coin to everyone because no one has seen it yet. It first thought it was a fake but now I know it is real but that doesn’t mean I will spend it,” says Vineet Bhardawaj, 24, an Employee in a MNC, moments after buying two coins worth Rs 20 for 24. “I know it sounds stupid but this is a collector’s item.”

The ten-rupee-coin has been minted in 2006 but not yet seen in the market. The 8 grams bi-metallic coin with Nickel- Copper on one side and ferrous steel on the other designed by National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad with the theme of Unity in Diversity is the black markets open heaven right now. When asked by The Newsline why the coins had not been circulated properly in the market, Raghu Raj, spokesperson of the RBI said he had no idea that this was happening and refused to comment .

Outside the Geeta studio in Chandni Chowk, a thickset man in his fifties squats besides two bowls full of these new coins perched on a small table. First, the coins attract few people and the people attract more people and soon the entrance to the studio is barred and curiosity shop is in bloom. The discoloured Victoria’s are pushed back, Lincoln’s semi hidden and even the rusted ones are discarded. It is the new coins which are attracting crowds.

“Which country’s coin is this”? asks a interested Waseem Ahmad while looking at the bowls. His hands fiddle with the coins and he finally picks up one. “India ke hain, kaheen aur nahi milenge. Sirf hamare paas hain. (These are Indian and you wont find them anywhere other than me).” Ahmad, 31, a software designer buys one.

“We have never done so much business as we have in the last 20 days. I must have sold 10,000 coins till now and I am selling,” says an equally busy Aggarwal.

Aggarawal buys the coins from an agent for Rs 10.50 in bulk and sells it for 12 in retail. “The person who sells me the coins is an RBI employee and now everyone has his own agents and we are earning good money,” says Aggarwal.

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