10 interesting facts about the Indian rupee
Everyone is talking about the sad demise of the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. Your friends and family may be too. If you want to make a mark, add a dose of interesting tidbits to your conversation.
Here are 10 pointers for the information-buff in you:
- Paper currency notes
Your paper currency notes date back to the 18th century. They were first printed by private banks like the Bank of Madras, Bank of Hindustan, Bank of Bengal and the Bank of Bombay. In 1861, the government took on the right to print currency notes. It thus passed the Paper Currency Act to have the monopoly.
- One rupee note
The first bank note printed in independent India was the humble ‘One-rupee’ note. If adjust the amount for inflation, Re 1 from 1947 is equivalent to about Rs 65 today. Of course, if you held the note and sold it to a currency collector, you are likely to get a few thousand rupees for the note.
- Currency worth Rs 17.5 lakh crore
If someone gave you all the currency notes in circulation in India (including the Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes), you would get Rs 17.54 lakh crore. If you take out the Rs 500 notes, you would be Rs 7.89 lakh crore less. Without the Rs 1,000 notes, you would lose out on another Rs 6.84 lakh crore. This leaves behind just about Rs 2.8 lakh crore. That’s what people are going to be scrambling after when you line up outside banks and ATMs to withdraw cash.
- The Rupee symbol
The Indian rupee got its symbol only in 2010. The design is basically a combination of the Devanagari and Latin script for letter ‘Ra’. The parallel line gives the symbol a look of the Indian tricolor. It was designed by D. Udaya Kumar.
- Gandhi’s image
Mahatma Gandhi’s image on the currency notes is not an illustration. It’s an original photo in which he is smiling at a person nearby. This expression was captured in 1947 and later cropped for printing on the Indian rupee notes.
- Coin minting
The Indian rupee coins are minted at four locations in India. You can figure out where the coin in your hand was minted in. Just look for the symbol below the year on the coin. If you see a dot, the coin was printed in Noida. If it’s a diamond, then it’s from Mumbai. If you see a star, then it came from Hyderabad. If you see no symbol, then know that it is from Kolkata. Of course, the RBI has minted coins in other countries too in the past due to shortages. This brings us to…
- The coin shortage in 2007
There was an acute shortage of coins in Kolkata in 2007. This was because the coins were smuggled to Bangladesh, where they were melted down to make razor blades. To meet such a shortage, shopkeepers bought coins at a higher value from beggars to collect change.
Have you noticed the designs and motifs appearing on the Indian currency notes? There’s a reason behind every single one. They reflect India’s social-cultural ethos. For example, the oil rig on the Rupee 1 note and the farm-related symbol on the Rs 5 note symbolize the progress of the nation. Meanwhile, the Konark Wheel and the Peacock on the Rs 10 and Rs 20 notes stand for Indian art forms.
- Pakistan’s dependence after Independence
Did you know that Pakistan depended on the Indian currency even after its Independence? Here’s how: They stamped the Indian rupee notes with a ‘Government of Pakistan’ sign until they had enough of their own currency.
- A single currency note for Rs 10,000
If you thought the new Rs 2,000 note is the highest denomination, then you are wrong. There was a time—in 1938, to be precise—when there were currency notes for Rs 5,000 and Rs 10,000. They were put out of circulation in 1946 only to have a rebirth in 1954 and a second death in 1978.