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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Indian Coinage ! ~ buzz around Rs.10 coins ..

In the modern World, there are no rules for spending ~ one need not have anything to spend – not even Credit cards (plastic money) ! – people are wary of carrying coins – yet the Rs.10 coin has created so much of buzz that RBI is sending messages ! urging people that it continues to be a legal tender !!

There are legal tenders and there are  commemorative notes in coins – for example, in 2015, Reserve Bank of India  issued   10 coins to commemorate the International Day of Yoga - the obverse of the coin bears the Lion Capitol of Ashoka Pillar in the center with the legend "सत्यमेव जयते" inscribed below, flanked on the left periphery with the word "भारत" in Devnagri script and on the right periphery flanked with the word "INDIA" in English. It also bears the Rupee symbol "" and denominational value "10" in the international numerals below the Lion Capitol. The reverse of the coin bears the logo of "International Day of Yoga", with inscription "सामंजस्य एवं शान्ति के लिए योग" in Devnagri Script and "YOGA FOR HARMONY AND PEACE" around the logo and design.

The  Government of India has the sole right to mint coins. The responsibility for coinage vests with the Government of India in terms of the Coinage Act, 1906 as amended from time to time. The designing and minting of coins in various denominations is also the responsibility of the Government of India. Coins are minted at the four India Government Mints at Mumbai, Alipore(Kolkata), Saifabad(Hyderabad), Cherlapally (Hyderabad) and NOIDA (UP). The coins are issued for circulation only through the Reserve Bank in terms of the RBI Act.   Coins in India are presently being issued in denominations of 50 paise, one rupee, two rupees and five rupees. Coins of  50 paise are called 'small coins' and coins of Rupee one and above are called 'Rupee Coins'. Coins can be issued up to the denomination of Rs.1000 as per the Coinage Act, 1906.

Coinage of India, issued by imperial dynasties and middle kingdoms - Cowry shells was first used in India as commodity money.  Metal currency was minted in India  during the famed  Mauryan Empire.    Coins of the Indian rupee were first minted in 1950. New coins have been produced annually since then and they make up a valuable aspect of the Indian currency system.  After Indian independence, British Indian coins were in use as a frozen currency until India became a republic in 1950. 

The first rupee coins of the Republic of India were minted in 1950. These included 1/2 rupee, 1/4 rupee, 2 anna, 1 anna, 1/2 anna & 1 pice coins, and are referred to as the anna series or pre-decimal coinage. Under the anna series, one rupee was divided into 16 annas or 64 pice, with each anna equal to 4 pice. In 1957, India shifted to the decimal system, though for a short period of time, both decimal and non-decimal coins were in circulation. To distinguish between the two pice coins in circulation, the coins minted between 1957 and 1964 were printed with the legend “Naya Paisa” (“New Paisa”).  The word "naya" was dropped in 1964 and a new denomination, the 3 paisa, was introduced into circulation.  Stainless steel coinage of 10, 25 and 50 paisa was introduced in 1988.  In 2005, the 10 rupee coin was minted for the first time.  On 30 June 2011, all coins in denominations of 25 paisa and below were officially demonetised.

Now it is the 10 rupee coin that is at the centre of controversy making the need for Indian Central Bank to send out   hundreds of millions of text messages   to protect the value of the Indian currency. It's powerful evidence of just how seriously governments take their task of ensuring the illusion that the cash in our pockets actually has value.  The issue is rather  simple: at some pockets especially in rural India,  people don't seem to believe that the 10 rupee coins are real and, as a result, they are unwilling to accept them.

Factually,  14 different kinds of 10 rupee coins have been issued by the bank between 2009 and 2017 ~ social media adding to the confusion circulating stories that a  man on his way to a job interview was forced to get off the bus because the conductor wouldn't accept 10 rupee coins, the only currency he had ! (there can be another movie on what happened to him by not attending the interview or a girl intervening to buy a ticket and a different story thereafter !)

Me too received a text   from the central bank urging me to accept the 10 rupee coins "without fear". The no. when called had a   recorded message, explaining that the Indian government has minted a number of different 10 rupee coins over the years, each with a different pattern, and that all are valid.  Members of the public should, it exhorted, "continue to accept coins of the 10 rupee denomination as legal tender in all their transactions without any hesitation".

Currencies are legal tender  - you take it for some service – and are able to buy anything of its value with everybody accepting it – other than the trouble of carrying coins in bulk, there should be no other impediment.  The worth of money isn't based on the inherent value of the paper or metal - it's forged from a collective act of trust.   The Indian central bank's PR offensive in defence of the 10 rupee coin is an attempt to ensure that the peoples' faith in the rest of the country's cash isn't undermined.

The recent circular issued by Reserve Bank of India reads :  It has come to the notice of RBI  that in certain places there is reluctance on part of traders and members of public to accept 10 coins due to suspicion about their genuineness. It is clarified that the Reserve Bank puts into circulation, the coins minted by mints, which are under the Government of India. These coins have distinctive features to reflect various themes of economic, social and cultural values and are introduced from time to time. As coins have longer life, coins of different designs and shapes circulate in the market at the same time. So far the Reserve Bank has issued 10 coins in 14 designs and the public has been informed of their distinctive features through Press Releases (list appended). All these coins are legal tender and can be accepted for transactions. The Reserve Bank has also advised banks to accept coins for transactions and exchange at all their branches.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
21st Feb 2018.

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