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Indian Rupee

The Indian Rupee is the official currency of India. The issuance of the currency is controlled by the Reserve Bank of India. The most commonly used symbol for the Rupee is Rs or ?. The ISO 4217 code for the India Rupee is INR.

In most parts of India, the Rupee is known as the Rupee, Rupaye, Rubai, or one of other terms derived from the Sanskrit rupyakam , raupya meaning silver; rupyakam meaning (coin) of silver. However, in the Bengali and Assamese languages, spoken in Assam, Tripura, and West Bengal, the Rupee is known as a Taka, and is written as such on Indian banknotes


The Indian Rupee is subdivided into 100 paise (singular paisa). As is standard in Indian English, large values of Indian rupees are counted in terms of thousand, lakh (100 thousand, in digits 1,00,000), and crore (10 million, in digits 1,00,00,000). Use of million or billion, as is standard in American or British English, is far less used..


India has been one of the earliest issuers of coins in the world (circa 6th Century BC). The first "rupee" is believed to be introduced by Sher Shah Suri (1486-1545), based on a ratio of 40 copper-coin pieces (paisa) per rupee. Among the earliest issues of paper rupees were those by the Bank of Hindostan (1770-1832), the General Bank of Bengal and Bihar (1773-75, established by Warren Hastings), the Bengal Bank (1784-91), amongst others.

Historically, the rupee, a Sanskrit word which means silver, was a silver coin. This had severe consequences in the nineteenth century, when the strongest economies in the world were on the gold standard. The discovery of vast quantities of silver in the U.S. and various European colonies resulted in a decline in the relative value of silver to gold. Suddenly the standard currency of India could not buy as much from the outside world. This event was known as "the fall of the Rupee."

During British rule, and the first decade of independence, it was subdivided into 16 Annas. Each Anna was subdivided into either 4 paise, or 12 pies. Until 1815, the Madras Presidency also issued a currency based on the fanam, with 12 fanams equal to the rupee.

Following independence in 1947, the Indian rupee replaced all the currencies of the previously autonomous states. Some of these states had issued rupees equal to those issued by the British (such as the Travancore rupee). Other currencies included the Hyderabad rupee and the Kutch kori.

In 1957, decimalisation occurred and the rupee was now divided into 100 Naye Paise (Hindi for new paisas). After a few years, the initial "Naye" was dropped. However many still refer to 25, 50 & 75 paise as 4, 8 and 12 annas respectively, not unlike the now largely defunct usage of "bit" in American English for 1/8 dollar.

International use

With Partition, the Pakistani Rupee came into existence, initially using Indian coins, and Indian currency notes simply overstamped with Pakistan. In previous times, the Indian Rupee was regarded as an official currency of other countries, including Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the Trucial States (now the UAE), and Malaysia. The Gulf Rupee, also known as the Persian Gulf Rupee (XPGR), was introduced by the Indian government as a replacement for the Indian Rupee for circulation exclusively outside the country with the Reserve Bank of India [Amendment] Act, May 1, 1959. This creation of a separate currency was an attempt to reduce the strain put on India's foreign reserves by gold smuggling. After India devalued the rupee on June 6, 1966, those countries still using it - Oman, Qatar and what is now the United Arab Emirates (known as the Trucial States until 1971) - replaced the Gulf Rupee with their own currencies. Kuwait and Bahrain had already done so in 1961 and 1965 respectively.

The Indian Rupee is also linked with the Bhutanese Ngultrum. The Indian Rupee is also accepted in Nepal and some Indian shops in the United Kingdom.

The currency notes in circulation are Rs. 5, Rs. 10, Rs. 20, Rs. 50, Rs. 100, Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000. The current series which began in 1996 is called the Mahatma Gandhi series.

All the coins and currency notes are issued by the Reserve Bank of India, except the Re. 1 note which was traditionally issued by the Government of India until it was withdrawn from circulation. Each banknote has its amount written in 17 languages (English & Hindi on the front, and 15 others on the back) illustrating the diversity of the country.

The language panel on Indian rupee banknotes display the denomination of the note in all the national languages of India.

Security and tactile features 

Tactile features

Indian currency notes and coins have various tactile and visual features to assist significantly large number of its illiterate population, and help in speedy identification of various denominations.

  • Size All notes and coins have different sizes. 
  • Colour All notes have different colour combinations. 
  • Texture Most of the higher denomination notes have their denominations and some of the features embossed. Also, different geometric shapes (triangle, rectangle, etc.) are embossed on left of watermark window for visually impaired. 

Security features

  • Watermark White side panel of notes has Mahatma Gandhi watermark. 
  • Security thread All notes has silver security band with inscriptions visible when held against light. 
  • Latent image Higher denominational notes display note's denominational value in numerals when held horizontally at eye level. 
  • Microlettering Numeral denominational value is visible under magnifying glass between security thread and watermark. 
  • Fluorescence Number panels glow under ultra-violet light. 
  • Optically variable ink Notes of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 have their numerals printed in optically variable ink. Number appears green when note is held flat but changes to blue when viewed at angle. 
  • Back-to-back registration Floral design printed on front and back of note coincides when viewed against light.

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