Hawala or hawalat

Jug Suraiya writes about his wonderful experience with hawala-

A very small thing. Namely the amount of foreign exchange Indian citizens were allowed by the RBI to take out of the country, and which in those days amounted to the princely sum of $8. Bunny and i planned to get gainful employment in London, and till such employment was got we’d stay with one or other of my sisters. However, the thought of setting off to a foreign country for the first time, as it was for the both of us with just 16 dollars jointly between us and total penury was daunting. My boss, JS editor Desmond Doig, came to the rescue. Desmond had an older brother, Stan, living near London. I could give rupees to Desmond in Calcutta and Stan would give me pounds sterling in London. Bob’s your uncle. And so the great hawala deal was struck. For the right royal amount of 50 quid. Which, at the then exchange rate of Rs 18-something to the pound, was all that i could afford. Anyway, 50 pounds was 50 pounds. And should see us through till we got jobs and started earning…

I don’t think its a good idea to write about bending the law, even if such indiscretions are three decades old. Can’t trust the government and its pit bulls, which includes the Enforcement Directorate, the statute of limitations notwithstanding. FERA, after all, was invented to make life hell for honest people.

As an aside, I wonder if Suraiya is a libertarian. Don’t have too many of them in India, particularly in the media. I guess I will find out if he continues writing what he writes after filtering out the sarcasm. Liberty and humor don’t go well together. My opinion. But then who will read Suraiya if he stops being sarcastic.

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