Indian rupee

2008/9 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Currency

Indian rupee
रुपया (Hindi)
1000-rupee note Coins of various denominations
1000-rupee note Coins of various denominations
ISO 4217 Code INR
User(s) India, Bhutan
Inflation 5.3%
Source The World Factbook, 2006 est.
Pegged by INR = Bhutanese ngultrum

INR = 1.6 Nepalese rupee

1/100 paisa
Symbol Rs, ₨, रु, रू, or ৳
Freq. used 25, 50 paise, Re. 1, Rs. 2, Rs. 5
Rarely used 5, 10, 20 paise
Freq. used Rs. 5, Rs. 10, Rs. 20, Rs. 50, Rs. 100, Rs. 500
Rarely used Rs. 1000
Central bank Reserve Bank of India
Mint India Government Mint

The Indian rupee (Hindi: रुपया) is the currency of India. The issuance of the currency is controlled by the Reserve Bank of India. The most commonly used symbols for the rupee are Rs, ₨ and रू. The ISO 4217 code for the Indian rupee is INR. The modern rupee is subdivided into 100 paise (singular paisa).

In most parts of India, the rupee is known as the rupee, roopayi, rupaye, rubai or one of the other terms derived from the Sanskrit rupyakam (Devnagari: रूप्यकं), raupya meaning silver; rupyakam meaning (coin) of silver. However, in West Bengal, Tripura, Orissa, and Assam, the Indian rupee is officially known by names derived from the Sanskrit ṭanka. Thus, the rupee is called টাকা ṭaka in Bengali, টকা tôka in Assamese, and ଟଙ୍କା ṭôngka in Oriya, with the symbol ৳, and is written as such on Indian banknotes.

In Jan 2008 the exchange rate was roughly Rs 40 to USD 1.

Numeral system

As is standard in Indian English, large values of Indian rupees are counted in terms of thousands, lakh (100 thousand = 105 rupees, in digits 100,000), crore (100 lakhs = 107 rupees, in digits 10,000,000) and arawb (100 crore = 109 rupees, in digits 1,000,000,000). The use of million or billion, as is standard in American or British English, is far less common.

For example, the amount INR 1,25,84,729.25 is spoken as one crore twenty-five lakhs eighty-four thousand seven hundred twenty-nine rupees and twenty-five paise (see Indian numbering system).


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

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

Historically, the rupee, derived from the Sanskrit word raupya, 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."

In 1898, the rupee was tied to the gold standard through the British pound by pegging the rupee at a value of 1 shilling 4 pence (i.e., 15 rupees = 1 pound). In 1920, the rupee was increased in value to 2 shillings (10 rupees = 1 pound). However, in 1927, the peg was once more reduced, this time to 1 shilling 6 pence (13⅓ rupees = 1 pound). This peg was maintained until 1966, when the rupee was devalued and pegged to the U.S. dollar at a rate of 7.5 rupees = 1 dollar (at the time, the rupee became equal to 11.4 British pence). This peg lasted until the U.S. dollar devalued in 1971.

The Indian rupee replaced the Danish Indian rupee in 1845, the French Indian rupee in 1954 and the Portuguese Indian escudo in 1961. 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 divided into 100 naye paise (Hindi for "new paise"). In 1964, the initial "naye" was dropped. Many still refer to 25, 50 and 75 paise as 4, 8 and 12 annas respectively, not unlike the usage of " bit" in American English for ⅛ 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 towns of Nepalese side of Nepal-India border and some Indian shops in the United Kingdom.


East India Company, -1862

The three Presidencies established by the British East India Company ( Bengal, Bombay and Madras) each issued their own coinages up to 1835. All three issued rupees together with fractions down to ⅛ and 116 rupee in silver. Madras also issued 2 rupees coins.

Copper denominations were more varied. Bengal issued 1 pie, ½, 1 and 2 paise. Bombay issued 1 pie, ¼, ½, 1, 1½, 2 and 4 paise. In Madras, there were copper coins for 2, 4 pies, 1, 2 and 4 paisa, with the first two denominated as ½ and 1 dub or 196 and 148 rupee. Note that Madras also issued the Madras fanam until 1815.

All three Presidencies issued gold mohurs and fractions of mohurs, including 116, ⅛, ¼ and ½ in Bengal, 115 (a gold rupee) and ⅓ (pancia) in Bombay and ¼, ⅓ and ½ in Madras.

In 1835, a single coinage for the EIC was introduced. It consisted of copper 112, ¼ and ½ anna, silver ¼, ½ and 1 rupee and gold 1 and 2 mohurs. In 1841, silver 2 annas were added, followed by copper ½ pice in 1853. The coinage of the EIC continued to be issued until 1862, even after the Company had been taken over by the Crown.

Regal Issues, 1862-1947

In 1862, coins were introduced which are referred to as Regal issues. They bore the portrait of Queen Victoria and the designation "India". Denominations were 112 anna, ½ pice, ¼ and ½ anna (all in copper), 2 annas, ¼, ½ and 1 rupee (silver) and 5 and 10 rupees and 1 mohur (gold). The gold denominations ceased production in 1891 while no ½ anna coins were issued dated later than 1877.

In 1906, bronze replaced copper for the lowest three denominations and in 1907, a cupro-nickel 1 anna was introduced. In 1918 and 1919, cupro-nickel 2, 4 and 8 annas were introduced, although the 4 and 8 annas coins were only issued until 1921 and did not replace their silver equivalents. Also in 1918, the Bombay mint struck gold sovereigns and 15 rupee coins identical in size to the sovereigns as an emergency measure due to the First World War.

In the early 1940s, several changes were implemented. The 112 anna and ½ pice ceased production, the ¼ anna was changed to a bronze, holed coin, cupro-nickel and nickel-brass ½ anna coins were introduced, nickel-brass was used to produce some 1 and 2 annas coins, and the composition of the silver coins was reduced from 91.7% to 50%. The last of the regal issues were cupro-nickel ¼, ½ and 1 rupee pieces minted in 1946 and 1947.

Independent Issues, Predecimal, 1950-1957

India’s first coins after independence were issued in 1950. They were 1 pice, ½, 1 and 2 annas, ¼, ½ and 1 rupee denominations. The sizes and compositions were the same as the final Regal issues, except for the 1 pice, which was bronze but not holed.

Independent Issues, Decimal, 1957-

The first decimal issues of India consisted of 1, 2, 5, 10, 25 and 50 naye paise and 1 rupee. The 1 naya paisa was bronze, the 2, 5 and 10 naye paise were cupro-nickel and the 25 and 50 naye paise and 1 rupee were nickel. In 1964, the word naya(e) was removed from all the coins. Between 1964 and 1967, aluminium 1, 2, 3, 5 and 10 paise were introduced. In 1968, nickel-brass 20 paise were introduced, replaced by aluminium coins in 1982. Between 1972 and 1975, cupro-nickel replaced nickel in the 25 and 50 paise and the 1 rupee. In 1982, cupro-nickel 2 rupees coins were introduced. In 1988, stainless steel 10, 25 and 50 paise were introduced, followed by 1 rupee coins in 1992. Also in 1992, the 5 rupee coin was introduced.

The coins commonly in circulation are 25 and 50 paise, 1, 2 and 5 rupees. 5, 10, and 20 paise coins, although valid, have become increasingly rare in regular usage.

Circulating Coins
Value Technical parameters Description Date of
Diameter Mass Composition Shape Obverse Reverse first minting last minting
5 paise 22 mm (diagonal) 1.5 g Aluminium Square Emblem of India Value 1957 1994
10 paise 16 mm 2 g Ferritic stainless steel Circular 1961 1998
20 paise 27 mm (longest) 2.2 g Aluminium Hexagon 1982 1994
25 paise 19 mm 2.83 g Ferritic stainless steel Circular Emblem of India, value Rhinoceros 1973
50 paise 22 mm 3.79 g Parliament of India, map of India
Rs. 1 25 mm 4.85 g Emblem of India Value, wheat 1976
Rs. 2 26 mm 6 g Cupronickel Hendecagon Emblem of India, value Flag and map of India 1990
Rs. 5 23 mm 9 g Circular Emblem of India Value, flower 1992
For table standards, see the coin specification table.

The coins are minted at the four locations of the India Government Mint.


Officially, the Indian rupee has a market determined exchange rate. However, the RBI trades actively in the INR/USD currency market to impact effective exchange rates. Thus, the currency regime in place for the Indian rupee with respect to the US dollar is a de facto controlled exchange rate. This is sometimes called a dirty or managed float. Other rates such as the INR/EUR and INR/JPY have volatilities that are typical of floating exchange rates. It should be noted, however, that unlike China, successive administrations (through RBI, the central bank) have not followed a policy of pegging the INR to a specific foreign currency at a particular exchange rate. RBI intervention in currency markets is solely to deliver low volatility in the exchange rates, and not to take a view on the rate or direction of the Indian rupee in relation to other currencies.

RBI also exercises a system of capital controls in addition to the intervention (through active trading) in the currency markets. On the current account, there are no currency conversion restrictions hindering buying or selling foreign exchange (though trade barriers do exist). On the capital account, foreign institutional investors have convertibility to bring money in and out of the country and buy securities (subject to certain quantitative restrictions). Local firms are able to take capital out of the country in order to expand globally. But local households are restricted in their ability to do global diversification. However, owing to an enormous expansion of the current account and the capital account, India is increasingly moving towards de facto full convertibility.


  • 1991 - India began to lift restrictions on its currency. A series of reforms remove restrictions on current account transactions including trade, interest payments & remittances and on some capital assets-based transactions.
  • 1997 - A panel set up to explore capital account convertibility recommended India move towards full convertibility by 2000, but timetable abandoned in the wake of the 1997-98 East Asian financial crisis.
  • 2006 - The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, asks the Finance Minister and the Reserve Bank of India to prepare a road map for moving towards capital account convertibility. The report that came about was sharply criticized by experts.

Currency bill tracking

In 2007, a Currency bill tracking project ( TrackGandhi) was started to track the spread and usage of Rupee banknotes.

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