February 21, 2020
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Those Were The Days

Those Were The Days
In my university days in the early 1960s – and even a decade later – England used to be the cheapest in Europe, barring Spain. People from across the channel used to come to do their shopping in London, as well as to make use of the free national health service. England was a great place for abortions. It was also where Indian students to go for "higher studies".

In those days, a bar of Cadbury's chocolate cost six pence, the equivalent then of 30 paise. Today, the same bar is 35 new pence, which is Rs 20. A simple cup of tea and two buttered scones in a very ordinary London restaurant set me back four pounds, or a little over Rs 200. A good pair of bally shoes which you could once get of six pounds are 12 times as much. An Oxbridge education, as late as three decades ago, used to come to just 650 pounds a year, which included everything – academic fees, board and lodging, even holidays. At the then going exchange rat eof Rs 12 to the pound, that came to Rs 650 a month, quite affordable. Margaret Thatcher changed all that. Now, even if you are lucky enough to be admitted to Oxford or Cambridge, you (or your parents) have to shell out close to Rs two lakh a month. No wonder Indian students who want to go abroad now head for the United States – and most of them don't return – rather than England. No surprise, too, that the mindset of recent generations of Indians is more oriented to the United States than to Britain.

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